Westport, New Zealand

Infobox Settlement
name = Westport
population_total = 3,900
population_as_of = 2006
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = New Zealand
subdivision_type1= Region
subdivision_name1= West Coast
subdivision_type2= District
subdivision_name2= Buller District

pushpin_label_position = top
latd = 41
latm = 45
lats = 29
latNS = S
longd = 171
longm = 36
longs = 8
longEW = E

Westport is a town in the West Coast region of the South Island of New Zealand. It is located on the northern bank and at the mouth of the Buller River, close by the prominent headland of Cape Foulwind. It is connected via State Highway 6 with Greymouth 100 kilometres to the south, and with Nelson in the northeast, via the Buller Gorge.

The town is thought to have been named for Westport in Connacht, Ireland,Fact|date=June 2007 although the choice of name was no doubt also guided by the town's location. The population of the Westport urban area was 3,900 in the 2006 Census, an increase of 117 from 2001. Including the surrounding areas of Orowaiti and the Buller River Inlet, the 2006 population was 4,515. [cite web|url=http://www.stats.govt.nz/census/2006-census-data/final-counts/west-coast-region.htm|title=Final counts – census night and census usually resident populations, and occupied dwellings - Buller District|publisher=Statistics New Zealand] The Buller District Council gives a 2007 population of about 5,000.


There is evidence that Māori settlers lived in the Buller ("Kawatiri") area from very early on. Legends actually place the first visit as early as 950 AD via the waka Tahiriangi with its chief Ngahue. The settlers appeared to live mostly coastal lives, though they explored the mountains for pounamu (jade or 'greenstone'), which they then traded with other iwi. [http://www.bullerdc.govt.nz/main/History/ History] (from the Buller District Council website)]

The first white settlers came to Westport in 1861 as gold miners, [ [http://www.westcoast.org.nz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7&Itemid=16&PHPSESSID=69a89b6b0cd3bc66d408e889d2b9675c Welcome to the Buller District] (from the 'Buller Community Development Company Ltd' website)] and the first European vessel known to have entered the river was the sealing schooner "Three Brothers" in 1884. The 1880s saw many exploratory parties of geologists and surveyors combing the area for the presence of valuable resources and taking the measure of the land. Amongst them were Charles Heaphy, William Fox and Thomas Brunner. While gold brought initial interest to the area, and for example, led to large areas of the coastal areas (covered by sediment from the river) being dredged for the valuable mineral,Fact|date=June 2007 the area soon became much more famous for coal mining, still a dominant concern in the region today. The first railway of the area was being built as early as 1874, extending from Westport up to 18 km to the coal fields, most of them located to the north of the town. [ [http://rsnz.natlib.govt.nz/volume/rsnz_76/rsnz_76_03_004250.pdf Westport Harbour] (PDF) (from the "Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 1868-1961")] The first section of railway from Westport to Fairdown via Sergeants Hill opened on 31 December 1875; this line ultimately reached Seddonville in 1895 and was known as the Seddonville Branch. From this beginning, an isolated network of branch lines was developed and it was not linked to the national network until the completion of the Stillwater - Westport Line through the Buller Gorge in 1942.



The Westport climate is strongly influenced by the high amount precipitation from the Tasman Sea, with all months except February being rather wet on average. While colder than the more northern parts of New Zealand, average temperature changes over the year are not extreme. Infobox Weather
location =Westport
Jan_Hi_°C =20
Feb_Hi_°C =20.4
Mar_Hi_°C =19.5
Apr_Hi_°C =17.2
May_Hi_°C =14.7
Jun_Hi_°C =13
Jul_Hi_°C =12.6
Aug_Hi_°C =13.2
Sep_Hi_°C =14.3
Oct_Hi_°C =15.3
Nov_Hi_°C =16.9
Dec_Hi_°C =18.6
Year_Hi_°C =16.3

Jan_Lo_°C =12.4
Feb_Lo_°C =12.7
Mar_Lo_°C =12
Apr_Lo_°C =9.8
May_Lo_°C =7.3
Jun_Lo_°C =5.3
Jul_Lo_°C =4.6
Aug_Lo_°C =5.5
Sep_Lo_°C =7
Oct_Lo_°C =8.3
Nov_Lo_°C =10
Dec_Lo_°C =11.5
Year_Lo_°C =8.8

Jan_Precip_mm =189
Feb_Precip_mm =133
Mar_Precip_mm =171
Apr_Precip_mm =192
May_Precip_mm =209
Jun_Precip_mm =199
Jul_Precip_mm =187
Aug_Precip_mm =187
Sep_Precip_mm =201
Oct_Precip_mm =198
Nov_Precip_mm =183
Dec_Precip_mm =215
Year_Precip_mm =2274
source =NIWA Climate Datacite web
url=http://www.niwascience.co.nz/edu/resources/climate/|title=Climate Data|accessmonthday=November 2|accessyear=2007
accessdate =1971 – 2000


Economic activity is based around fishing, coal mining and dairy farming. Historically, gold mining was a major industry, and coal mining was much more extensive than today (especially in terms of employment numbers). However, the region still is home to New Zealand's largest opencast mining operation in Stockton. [ [http://www.solidenergy.co.nz/mines-stockton.htm Stockton (Opencast)] (from the Solid Energy website)] Some native forest logging occurred in the area until cessation around 1999. The Holcim company has a large cement plant in the southwest near the city.

Tourism has some famous destinations in this area, such as the Oparara Basin Arches, and Cape Foulwind with its large fur seal colony. Rafting and Jet Boating in the Buller Gorge are also popular. [ [http://www.tourism.net.nz/new-zealand/about-new-zealand/regions/west-coast/history.html West Coast - History] (from the Tourism New Zealand website)] Many South Island visitors do however pass by this quieter area, opting instead to go to Abel Tasman National Park, to Hanmer Springs or, if they do visit the west coast, to Greymouth and the Fox- and Franz Josef glaciers further south. Westport is also a base for trips to Karamea. The 'Coaltown Museum' in Westport illustrates the history of the Buller District. [ [http://www.geocities.com/coaltownnz/index.html Coaltown Museum] (official museum website)]


The city has one cinema / theatre, the St James Theatre, able to seat 424 patrons for film screenings, theatre productions or other activities. [ [http://www.bullerdc.govt.nz/main/Theatres/ Theatres] (from the Buller District Council website)]

The Holcim company manages the day-to-day operations of Westport's port, using it to ship their cement product to market, [ [http://www.bullerdc.govt.nz/main/Harbour/ Harbour] (from the Buller District Council website)] [http://www.bullerdc.govt.nz/main/Buller_live/ Westport] (from the Buller District Council website)] for example to the Port of Onehunga in Auckland. There is also a small airport, served once daily by Air New Zealand from Wellington, and on Monday to Friday by Air West Coast (2007 data). [ [http://www.bullerdc.govt.nz/main/airport/ Airport] (from the Buller District Council website)]


Buller High School is a secondary (years 9-15) school with a roll of 345. [cite web|url=http://www.tki.org.nz/e/schools/display_school_info.php?school_id=301|title=Te Kete Ipurangi - Buller High School|publisher=Ministry of Education] The school celebrated its 75th reunion in 1997 [cite journal|url=http://www.edgazette.govt.nz/notices.php/notices.php?action=view&id=53969|title=Jubilees & reunions: BULLER HIGH SCHOOL|journal=Education Gazette New Zealand|volume=76|issue=1|date=27 January 1997] [cite book|title=75 years of memories 1922-1997 Westport Technical High School, Westport Technical College, Buller High School|author=Centennial Committee|year=1997] but also claims to have been operating for over 100 years. [cite web|url=http://www.buller.ac.nz/|title=Welcome to Buller High School|accessdate=2008-07-19|publisher=Buller High School]

Westport North School and Westport South School are full primary (years 1-8) schools with rolls of 303 [cite web|url=http://www.tki.org.nz/e/schools/display_school_info.php?school_id=3235|title=Te Kete Ipurangi - Westport North School|publisher=Ministry of Education] and 176, [cite web|url=http://www.tki.org.nz/e/schools/display_school_info.php?school_id=3236|title=Te Kete Ipurangi - Westport South School|publisher=Ministry of Education] respectively. The schools were founded in 1942 [cite book|title=Westport North Primary School Jubilee and reunion 1942-1992|first=Amber Jo|last=Illsley|year=1992] and 1941 [cite book|title=Westport South School 50th Jubilee 1941-1991|author=Jubilee Committe|year=1991]

St Canice's School is a full primary (years 1-8) school with a roll of 169. [cite web|url=http://www.tki.org.nz/e/schools/display_school_info.php?school_id=3220|title=Te Kete Ipurangi - St Canices School, Westport|St Canices School|publisher=Ministry of Education] It is a state integrated Catholic school [cite web|url=http://www.ero.govt.nz/ero eppub.nsf/Institution/73D10793EEAE4AFDCC2573D9000611D3/$File/3220.htm|title=Education Review Report: Saint Canice's School|date=December 2007|publisher=Education Review Office] and has operated since at least 1882. [cite news|url=http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=NZT18830112.2.12|title=St Canice's School Westport|publisher=New Zealand Tablet|date=12 January 1883]

All these schools are coeducational. All have a decile rating of 4, except Buller High School, which has a decile of 3.


External links

* [http://www.westport.org.nz/ Westport] (official town website, Tourism New Zealand)
* [http://www.buller.ac.nz/ Buller High School website]
* [http://www.westportnorth.school.nz Westport North School website]

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