Karanui has a rich history, weaving together traditional Maori gardens, American military camps, stone walls and farming.
Karanui was historically a centre of extensive Maori gardening, predominantly kumara cultivation, which was supported by the rich volcanic soils of the area. The entire area is of strong cultural significance to Maori, with strong spiritual ties for the local iwi and hapu.
The Karanui land remained in the hands of its traditional Maori owners until the late 1860’s, when it was purchased by Henry and Neil Mclean, who were responsible for building the first stone walls on the property.
While remnants of these walls remain, most of the existing stone walls were built as part of Depression-era work schemes, with many Maori and Dalmatians working on the walls through the 1930s.
Following the Mcleans, the land was farmed faithfully from 1896 by three generations of the Howie family. The ashes of Hilda Howie, her husband Clifford Smith and son Ray are scattered on the central knoll within Karanui, that is now marked by a memorial, for residents to respect and enjoy. In 2013 the land was sold to allow the development of Karanui.
The Meaning of Karanui
‘Karanui’ is a name thoughtfully derived from the impressive local geology and landscape of the area, with ‘kara’ meaning basalt rock and ‘nui’ meaning many or place of.