Morrinsville is a provincial town in the Waikato region of New Zealand's North Island, with a population of approximately 7,000 in the 2013 Census. The town is located at the northern base of the Pakaroa Range, and on the south-western fringe of the Hauraki Plains. Morrinsville is around 33 kilometres east of Hamilton and 22 kilometres west of Te Aroha. The town is bordered by the Piako River to the east and the Waitakaruru Stream to the south.

History and Culture

Pre-European settlement

Prior to European settlement of New Zealand, the hills around present-day Morrinsville were occupied by the Ngati Werewere Māori people of the Ngati Haua Iwi, and the site of the present-day town was on or near to an old Māori route between the upper Waihou-Piako basin and the Ngāruawāhia area.

Following European settlement, some early European traders are believed to have traversed this route prior to 1834 when the Rev. J. Morgan travelled up the Piako River to near the future town site and crossed west to Horotiu, near Ngāruawāhia. First recorded contact with European settlers occurred around 1850, with John Johnson trading with the Māori from 1852.

Post-European settlement

The 1860s saw an influx of European settlers to the area between Te Aroha and Matamata, and on 13 December 1873 a settler from Auckland, Thomas Morrin, purchased the Kuranui No.1 Block from the local Māori and founded the Lockerbie Estate, which Morrin named after the Scottish town from which his father emigrated. In May 1874, Morrin purchased two further blocks, Motumaoho No.1 and No.2, and his estate then totaled over 30,000 acre. The fledgling village was to be the service centre for Morrin's Lockerbie Estate and he built a blacksmith's shop, manager's house, the Jolly Cripple Hotel and general store and donated land for a school. Morrin hired Irish navvies from the gold fields to dig a network of ditches to drain the land, enabling it to be used for agriculture. In 1882 Morrin surveyed the land for the site of the town proper, and deposited plans for ten streets: Anderson, Hamilton, Studholme, Moorhouse, Lorne, Canada, Cureton, Somerville, Thames and Thorpe (the first and last three streets being named after family members).The Thames Valley and Rotorua Railway Company began construction of a railway line from Morrinsville to Rotorua in 1879, and on 1 October 1884, the line from Hamilton to Morrinsville was opened. With construction progressing towards Paeroa and the line to Te Aroha opening on 1 March 1886, the town's population was listed as 633 people. With further expansion of the railway towards Thames and Tauranga, alongside extensive drainage of swamp land to the south and west of the town making available large areas for dairy farming, Morrinsville was declared a town district in 1908 and in 1921 was constituted as a borough.


Morrinsville has two marae: Kai a Te Mata and its meeting house Wairere, and Rukumoana or Top Pā and its meeting house Werewere. Both marae are affiliated with the Ngāti Hauā iwi and its Ngāti Werewere hapū, and with the Waikato Tainui iwi.


Morrinsville is covered by two area units, East and West, which had these census figures -

Apart from Morrinsville, the largest number of commuters go to Waihou from Morrinsville East and Tahuroa from West. In 2013 11.6% of the population of Morrinsville East and 26% of West were Māori.


Morrinsville College is the town's co-educational state secondary school, with a roll of as of .

Morrinsville Intermediate is the town's co-educational state intermediate school, with a roll of .

The town has two co-educational state primary schools for Year 1 to 6 students: Morrinsville School, with a roll of ; and David Street School, with a roll of ;

A third primary school, Motumaoho School, is located south-west of the town on State Highway 26; it has a roll of .

St Joseph's Catholic School is a co-educational state integrated Catholic primary school, with a roll of .


Morrinsville is one of three towns, along with Te Aroha and Matamata, that serves one of New Zealand's most prosperous dairy farming areas.

Dairy processing has been a notable industry in Morrinsville, most notably through the Morrinsville Dairy Company since 1922. The dairy company retained the Scottish link through prominently using the name Lockerbie. Today, after a series of mergers, the dairy factory is now operated by the Fonterra Dairy Co-operative. The factory processes 1.2 million litres of milk per day during the peak of the milk production season, producing milk powders, cream, butter and canned butter for tropical countries where refrigeration is not always available.

During the late 1920s a company was formed to develop the flax industry on the extensive low-lying areas west of Morrinsville. Several thousand acres were acquired for the planting and milling of New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax), but prevailing economic conditions forced the early abandonment of the project. Most of this land has reverted to dairy farming or fat-lamb production, and the original English grasses used by earlier settlers have been replaced with higher producing Italian ryegrass and nitrogen-fixing white clover. During the town's formative years the area also contained a number of commercial sawmills, most of which closed by the 1930s as land was cleared for farming. Meadow Mushrooms, one of Morrinsville's biggest employers, ceased its local operations and relocated to Canterbury in 2010, with the subsequent loss of around 160 jobs.

As a service centre for the local dairy industry, many of Morrinsville's businesses are geared towards supporting this industry and associated rural activities, and today the town is still home to large stockyards and regular livestock markets. There is also a chemical plant producing hydrogen peroxide, fertiliser and other agri-nutrients located on the southern outskirts of the town.



Historically, Morrinsville was the railway junction of the Auckland–Thames and Auckland–Rotorua lines, which subsequently became the Thames Branch and the East Coast Main Trunk Railway (Tauranga) lines. Morrinsville Railway Station was opened on 1 October 1884, to the east off Studholme Street, at the junction of the two lines. A footbridge over the track was opened in 1913, connecting the station with the town from the end of Canada Street. The station was described as consisting of "two asphalt passenger platforms, and the station buildings contain a ladies' waiting room, a large general waiting room, a post office lobby with post and telegraph offices, a ticket office, and offices for the Inspector of Permanent Way. There are also large goods and engine sheds, and cattle loading yards. Five workmen's cottages adjoin the station, and the Bank of New Zealand Estates Company has a large building connected with the siding for seed-cleaning and storage purposes." The station was moved about towards Hamilton in 1923. The original station building was demolished in 1984 and a smaller building was erected approximately 300 metres to the west off Marshall Street, which is still used by KiwiRail for freight services.Passenger services are no longer provided to or from Morrinsville Railway Station. The Thames Branch closed on 28 June 1991 and the track subsequently lifted, although in 2004 a short shunt line – the Waitoa Industrial Line – reopened to facilitate freight trains for the Waitoa Dairy Factory. The East Coast Main Trunk Railway provided passenger services between Auckland and Rotorua – the Geyserland Express – and Auckland and Tauranga - the Kaimai Express; however, in 2001 it was announced that these services were too uneconomic to continue, and the last trains ran on 7 October 2001.

Passenger traffic reached a peak in 1944, as shown in this table and the graph -

Road network

Morrinsville is located on State Highway 26 (SH26), running from Hamilton in the west to the Firth of Thames and the Coromandel Peninsula via Mangatarata in the north east. From the town centre it is approximately 7.5 km to the junction of State Highway 27 (SH27) in the east, providing access to the provincial town of Matamata to the south.

Public transport


A Rotorua to Auckland bus runs via Morrinsville once a day each way, provided by InterCity, but a service between Hamilton and Coromandel via Paeroa ended in 2017, and those by nakedbus, which ran daily between Hamilton and Whitianga in 2018.

Local bus services to Morrinsville are provided by the Waikato Regional Council with a daily service (#22) between Hamilton and Paeroa via Te Aroha.


A walkway runs beside Waitakaruru Stream and one of beside the Piako River. There was a plan in 2008 to combine these walkways into a route of . There are also shorter walkways on the north east edge of town.

Sports Clubs

  • Kereone Rugby Football Club, established in 1869
  • Morrinsville Sports

    Notable people

  • Stephen Shepherd Allen (1882–1964), mayor of Morrinsville
  • Constable Edward Best (1899–1941), born in nearby Annandale
  • John Money (1921–2006), psychologist and author known for his research in gender identity
  • Hemi Taylor (born 1963), former Wales rugby union player
  • Jacinda Ardern (born 1980), current Prime Minister of New Zealand and leader of the Labour Party