Ruakura Development Timeline

Ruakura is an intergenerational development project creating a thriving business and lifestyle hub with logistics and port facilities.

The early years

Ruakura derives its name from a pit in the area that was used to burn iron oxide. The iron oxide was found in the surrounding swamps.  Once burnt it created a red pigment, staining the pit red. Thus giving rise to the name Rua (hole or pit) kura (red).

2014-09-12_17.33.40 In pre European times the topography of Ruakura was generally flat with gentle rolling hills and shallow gully systems covered in wetlands and interspersed with mixed forests of native trees. There was a network of pathways or walking tracks along the ridgelines of the area to give easy access to these wetland food resources. Many now are major roads such as SH26.

Ngaati Wairere and Ngaati Haua are tangata whenua over the Ruakura area and form part of the extended Waikato-Tainui iwi. The earliest evidence of habitation of the area was between 1550 and 1625 based on charcoal deposits  discovered in Hukanui Road in 1996.

1840 – 1860

Was seen as a golden period for Waikato-Tainui. Flourishing flax and flour mills along the Waikato river generated international trade to Australia, England and America. The waterways and forests also provided enough kai (food) to sustain our people and uphold the principle of manaakitanga.

waikato tainui

Te Kiingitanga


Beginning of the Kiingitanga movement. Pootatau Te Wherowhero becomes the first Kiingi Maaori. Kiingitanga was established to unite the tribes of NZ to stop the alienation of Maaori lands.


Waikato land wars started when colonial armed forces crossed the Mangatawhiri River and resulted in 1,202,172 acres of land confiscated in the Tainui tribal area.



The second Maaori Kiingi Tuukaaroto Matutaera Pootatau Te Wherowhero Taawhiao led a party to England to petition Queen Victoria over the confiscation of the land.


The third Maaori Kiingi Mahuta Taawhiao Pootatau Te Wherowhero, looked to bring Maaori and Paakehaa closer and accepted Premier Richard Seddon’s offer of a seat on the Legislative Council and in the ministry.


The fourth Maaori Kiingi Te Rata Mahuta Pootatau Te Wherowhero travelled to London with Tupu Taingaakawa Te Waharoa to present a petition to the British Crown as Kiingi Taawhiao had some 30 years earlier.

The shaping years

Ruakura Farms In the late 1800’s the wetlands and forests were removed around Ruakura to allow for the establishment of intensive farming activities and the Ruakura AgResearch Station was formed in the early 1900’s.

1975 – 1992

Return of the sacred Taupiri Mountain, Hopuhopu army base and Te Rapa airforce base land to Waikato-Tainui.




* Image used with permission

Waikato-Tainui became the first major iwi to settle a historical grievance when The Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Settlement Act 1995 was signed on the 22nd May. This included an apology by Crown, return of lands (only 3% was returned and 3% was gifted to Aotearoa), cash, interest, relativity clause, outstanding claims section 8 (2)(a), making the total package $170m.

* Queen Elizabeth and Dame Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu – Photograph taken by John Nicholson. Reference No: EP/1995/4375B/33A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

The planning years


Waikato Expressway

NZTA – Waikato Expressway. The route selection and alignment of the Hamilton Section was determined as part of a wider project which commenced in 1995 and covered the long term development of State Highway 1 (SH1) between Ohinewai and Cambridge. The Notice of Requirement for the original designation was lodged in 2001 and the designation was secured in 2005. In July 2012, the Government identified the Waikato Expressway as one of seven Roads of National Significance (RoNS), which are considered to be the Country’s most important transport routes, requiring significant development to reduce congestion, improve safety and support economic growth.


Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council (HCC), Waipa and Waikato District Councils and Tangata Whenua embarked on the development of a sub-regional growth strategy, known as FutureProof. Ruakura was included in the strategic document as a key employment area.


The first of the outstanding claims to be settled was the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Claims (Waikato River) Settlement Act 2010 that has an overarching purpose of the settlement “to restore and protect the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River for future generations.”

Waikato River


Waikato Regional Policy Statement. The Proposed Waikato Regional Policy statement (PWRPS) was notified in November 2010. Ruakura was included as a strategic industrial node located in Central FutureProof area showing industrial land allocation and timing. Economists Castalia produced a report for the RPS quantifying the magnitude of opportunity and benefits that Ruakura will bring to the region.


The Ruakura R1 area transferred from Waikato District into Hamilton City on 1st July 2011. The R1 area is 822 ha and increased the size of Hamilton’s urban land area by 8%.


Hamilton City Proposed District Plan (PDP). The HCC PDP was notified in December 2012. The Ruakura structure plan was included following a collaborative development process between Tainui Group Holdings, Chedworth Properties and HCC.


Ruakura Board of Inquiry – On 24 June 2013, the Tainui Group Holdings Limited and Chedworth Properties Limited submitted an application requesting a change to the operative Hamilton City District Plan in relation to the proposed Ruakura Development. The Minister made her direction by declaring the Ruakura Development Plan Change request as a project of National Significance and referred the request to an independent board of inquiry. Following a full public process, including notification in national newspapers, submissions, hearings a decision to accept the Ruakura Development Plan Change request was released on the 9th September 2014 approving 389ha of land for development.


The alteration to designation was confirmed, locking in the full diamond interchange at Ruakura. This will provide the direct connection to the Waikato Expressway (SH1).

Hamilton City Council notified the Ruakura Variation to its Proposed District Plan (PDP) in November 2015 for public consultation and submissions.  The  Variation will rezone all the 822ha of land in Ruakura.


Resource consents have been granted by Hamilton City Council (March) and Waikato Regional Council (May) comprising a total area of 85 hectares. This incorporates the Logistics precinct including the first stage of rail for the inland port totalling 48 hectares. The balance is in the Explore precinct and will create public open space, screening, lizard and fish habitat, stormwater reserves and roading. 

NZTA started construction of the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway.

The independent commissioners’ decisions on the Ruakura Variation were notified in November 2016.