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Kapiti Island seen from Waikanae Beach, Kapiti Coast.


The Kapiti Coast (formerly known as The Golden Coast) is the name of the section of the coast of the south-western North Islandmarker of New Zealandmarker that is north of Wellingtonmarker and opposite Kapiti Islandmarker. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Wellington Regional Councilmarker. Kapiti means "joining" or "boundary": the island was at one time the boundary between the rohe (territories) of two Māori iwi.

Geography

The district stretches from Paekakarikimarker in the south to Otaki in the north. It includes the towns of Te Horomarker, Waikanaemarker, Paraparaumumarker, Raumati Beach, and Raumati South, and smaller localities such as Maungakotukutukumarker, Otaihangamarker, and Peka Pekamarker. Along the thin coastal plains at the foot of the Tararua Rangemarker, the Kapiti Coast in common parlance also includes the neighbouring areas south to Plimmertonmarker to the north of Porirua Harbourmarker, and in the north includes some of the coastal areas of Horowhenua such as Waikawa Beach and even Hokio Beach, close to Lake Horowhenuamarker. Kapiti Coast District extends inland to the top of the Tararua Range, whereas in the public perception the inland hill country is rarely considered as part of the coast. Kapiti is possibly most famous for its island, Kapiti Island. This is a bird sanctuary, and a permit is required to visit.

History

Māori chief Te Rauparaha established a base on Kapiti Island, and from this position, he was able to launch attacks on other tribes during the Musket Wars of the early 1800s. Around this time, Europeans began whaling in the area, and on 16 October 1839, William Wakefield of the New Zealand Company arrived in the Kapiti region to purchase land for permanent European settlement. Te Rauparaha sold him land in the Nelsonmarker and Golden Baymarker area.

European settlement of the Kapiti Coast only took place on a significant scale after the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company (WMR) opened its railway line from Wellington to Longburn, just south of Palmerston Northmarker. The line was opened in 1886, with the final spike driven in on the Kapiti Coast at Otaihanga. Paekakariki was quickly established as a significant steam locomotive depot due to the need to swap locomotives at the location; powerful, heavy locomotives were required to handle trains over the rugged section from Wellington Paekakariki, while lighter, faster locomotives were more suited to the relatively flat terrtain north of Paekakariki. In 1908, the WMR was purchased by the New Zealand Railways Department, who incorporated the line into the North Island Main Trunk Railway.

In June 1940, the Wellington-Paekakariki section was electrified as electric locomotives provided better motive power. This meant trains would swap from steam (and later diesel-electric) to electric traction in Paekakariki and it retained its status as a significant locomotive depot. It also became the northern terminus of the Wellington commuter railway network until 8 May 1983, when it was extended to Paraparaumu, its current terminus.

During World War II, Queen Elizabeth Parkmarker - a large tract of parkland between Raumati South and Paekakariki - was the location of two United States Army and Marines camps, McKay and Russell. US troops were stationed at the camps in 1942-44 prior to being sent into combat in the Pacific Ocean theatre.

After World War II, Wellington's Rongotai Airport was closed due to safety reasons in 1947 and Paraparaumu Airportmarker became the main airport for the Wellington Regionmarker. In 1949, it was New Zealand's busiest airport and helped to stimulate growth on the Kapiti Coast. The Wellington International Airportmarker was opened in 1959 and Paraparaumu Airport never regained its status, with some of its land sold for residential development in the 1990s and 2000. It is now primarily used for minor commercial activity such as that of airline Air2there and for private and hobby flights.

Recently, the Kapiti Coast has seen a significant population surge and is one of New Zealand's fastest growing areas. This has led to considerable growth in all towns apart from Paekakariki, where development is geographically limited.

Economy

The Kapiti Coast is well-known for its cheeses and other products from Lindalemarker.

Many of the Kapiti Coast's residents are not employed in the area. Instead, they commute to jobs in Wellington. Tranz Metro operates electric commuter trains along a portion of the North Island Main Trunk Railway referred to as the Paraparaumu Line, and its Capital Connection commuter train from Palmerston North to Wellington provides a service for commuters north of the electric terminus in Paraparaumu.

Film and television

The Kapiti Coast area has also made appearances in television and film. Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings and King Kong fame) is from Pukerua Bay and went to high school at Kapiti College in Raumati Beach. Scenes from both of the aforementioned movies have been filmed on the Kapiti Coast. During the filming of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, some of the seminal battle scenes in the fields in front of Minas Tirith were shot in part at Queen Elizabeth Park. Kapiti Island figured in King Kong with the scenes approaching the lost island of King Kong shot in the waters between Raumati Beach and the island.

Andrew Niccol, a screenwriter and film producer, was born in Paraparaumu. He has written and produced (or co-produced) a number of movies, including Gattaca, The Truman Show, S1m0ne and Lord of War. Also from Paraparaumu is young actor James Ashcroft who has acted in numerous TV productions, including occasional appearances in Battlestar Galactica.

Sport

Kapiti has been represented in soccer by Damon Nikorima a soccer legend at the age of 13 so visit soccer legends - Kapiti Coast soccer League Club Inc. The Club was founded in the 1970s and was the home of Kiwi and Melbourne Storm player Stephen Kearney. The Kapiti Bears operate out of Matthews Park, Menin Road, and are affiliated with the Wellington Rugby League Association.

In soccer, Kapiti is represented by Kapiti Coast United, who play at Weka Park in Raumati Beach. The club was formed by the merger of Raumati Hearts and Paraparaumu United in 2003.

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