People of Rotorua

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about individual people or groups of people from Rotorua.

Colour photo of a mural at Rotorua Library. It shows Hinemoa and Tūtānekai standing on an island in the middle of a lake.

Image: Hinemoa & Tūtānekai, part of a mural (by Design Tank Ltd, 2018), Rotorua Library | Te Aka Mauri. Courtesy of Rotorua Library.

Which people can I learn about?

Here are some people related to Rotorua you could find out about:

Early Polynesian and Māori explorers

Early Polynesian and Māori explorers
Tama-te-kapua and Īhenga.

Find out about early Polynesian and Māori explorers
Early tourism guides

Early tourism guides
Showed tourists around attractions like Whakarewarewa. Includes Sophia Hinerangi and Rangitīaria ‘Rangi’ Dennan.

Find out about tourism guides
Early missionaries

Early missionaries
Rev. Thomas Chapman and Marist Priest, Father Michel Borjon.

Find out about missionaries

Tips: These are just some examples of people you could research. You may have someone different you're interested in finding out about. Just use their name as your search terms in the resources below.

Local iwi:

Note: Iwi are listed in alphabetical order. This list was put together to the best of our knowledge. If there are any other iwi to be included, please let us know.

Rotorua resources

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about individual people or groups of people from Rotorua.

Pakiaka | Rotorua Heritage Online

A digital heritage platform managed by staff at Rotorua Library. It includes images, publications, maps, and audio-visual items.

  • Search using a name as your keyword.

  • You can use the Filter By to choose a date or type of item eg audio, story, and more.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Rotorua Library Heritage Blog

Rotorua Library | Te Aka Mauri has put together a blog that has many articles written on Rotorua people, places and events. The articles are written by the library's Heritage and Research team.

  • Search your keywords using the site's search box. The search box is on the right-hand side of the screen Search This Blog.

  • Use the tags listed at the bottom of a blog post to find other relevant posts.

Tips: Blogs can be good for looking at how things have continued or changed over time. Remember, stories can be told in different ways so it’s helpful to look at multiple information sources to find different perspectives.

Te Arawa Digital Storehouse | He Pātaka Pūrākau

The Te Arawa Digital Storehouse contains a collection of stories about people, places and events that are applicable to Rotorua and the people of Te Arawa. Great Te Arawa Stories was developed by Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru Education Trust to introduce learners to Te Arawa stories. The website is managed by Rotorua Library | Te Aka Mauri.

  • Use the drop-down menu headings at the top of the page to explore the articles organised by time periods eg Pre-1700's, 1800's, 1900's, 2000's.

Rotorua Library | Te Aka Mauri

Rotorua Library has several Heritage Collections, which tell the stories of Te Arawa and Rotorua. These primary and secondary sources can only be viewed in the library.

  • Find the library at 1127 Haupapa Street in Rotorua.

  • The collections are in the Don Stafford Room and Community Archive on the second floor.

Tips: Historical sources like newspapers, archives, and books can be useful for finding different perspectives on a topic. Keep in mind that they may not fairly show a wide range of views or experiences.

General New Zealand resources

These are websites which have information about all of New Zealand. They also have good information about the history of people of Rotorua.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

This website, which is part of Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, has over 3,000 biographies of New Zealanders.

Tips: DNZB belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable. The other thing to keep in mind is that DNZB does not include people who are alive.

Māori Maps

Māori Maps is a great website to find information and photographs of the tribal marae of Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Enter the name of the Rotorua marae into the search bar or explore the marae in the Rotorua district using the map.

  • Under About you can read a short description about the marae.

  • Key Information may list the name of the Whare (meeting house), Wharekai (dining hall), Urupā (burial site), Waka (canoe), Maunga (mountain), Iwi (tribe), Hapū (subtribe), Rohe (tribal territory) and which Company of the Māori Battalion men belonged to.

28th Māori Battalion

Launched in 2009 by the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage this site is a record of honour and information about the Māori Battalion's contribution to Aotearoa New Zealand in World War One and World War Two.

  • To learn more about the history of the 28th Māori Battalion go to

    Story of the 28th.

  • You can search the Battalion Roll using the search box on the homepage. You can also browse the roll.

  • Soldiers are listed alphabetically by surname.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About this site link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.


NZHistory is a great website for information about Aotearoa New Zealand, including Rotorua. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Enter a keyword in the search box eg the name of a person.

  • Choose an article to read.

Tips: Websites like this one that have .govt in the address are Government sites and are reliable sources of information.

Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Search for the name of a person or group of people.

  • Or go to the section on Māori New Zealanders then select Iwi.

  • Choose an iwi to find out information about them.

Papers Past

Papers Past is a searchable collection of early New Zealand newspapers (19th and 20th centuries), letters, diaries, magazines, books and Parliamentary Papers digitised by the National Library of New Zealand and partners.

  • Select Newspapers, then explore By Region and Bay of Plenty.

  • The Hot Lakes Chronicle is the earliest known Rotorua newspaper in existence. A selection of papers are available from 1895-1910.

  • Rotorua stories may also be covered in the Bay of Plenty Times.

  • Or you can search using keywords related to a person or group.


There are a number of books that have been written about Rotorua history - check out your school library or local public library to see what they have there.

Here are a few recommended titles:

More about Rotorua

Places of Rotorua

There are many places that are significant to Rotorua including lakes, geothermal wonders, mountains, pā settlements, and more.

Learn about places of Rotorua

Events of Rotorua

Lots of things have happened that have had an impact on Rotorua. The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

Learn about events of Rotorua