Topic: Katikati Railway Station by Ellen McCormack
This article on the Katikati Railway Station and the East Coast Main Trunk Line was written by Katikati Historian Ellen McCormack in 2010.
Though there may be no evidence today of there ever having been a railway line with station, station houses, goods shed and water tower, Katikati once had all these things. The Katikati Railway Station was a very busy place, with people, animals and goods coming and going both north and south.
As early as 1886 the East Coast Main Trunk Railway Line had reached Te Aroha with the opening ceremony taking place there on 2 March 1886. A large number of excursionists travelled from Auckland that morning to attend the ceremony.
By 1904 the line had still not reached Waihi as a good deal of trouble was being encountered with the swamps along the way. A tunnel also needed to be built through the hills between Paeroa and Waihi.
In 1918 the section between Athenree and Katikati finally commenced.
During all these years of the line approaching from the north, the line from the south was progressing well towards Tauranga. The vital link was, therefore, the section between Katikati and Tauranga.
Ten years later, on Wednesday 28 March 1928, the great day arrived and the culmination of many years of effort to secure the railway line was officially opened with the prospect of great benefit and prosperity to the Bay of Plenty. This was the biggest day so far in Tauranga’s history and the Bay of Plenty Times devoted most of its newspaper to the event.
From this momentous day onwards the settlement of Katikati, with its dreadful windy and dusty metal roads, had another means of transport. The train even brought children to school from the Athenree area and the story of those children's escapades along the way is another one in itself.
School holidays saw the Taneatua Express booked out with parents and children heading off to Auckland through the tunnel and joining the main trunk line at Hamilton and then on to Mercer and Auckland.
Train at Katikati Railway Station (6 June 1978). Photo: Len Baker.
For the next fifty years the train served the Katikati district extremely well, but then came the Kaimai Tunnel and the line was doomed to failure and closure.
Even though there was a huge force of people trying to retain the line, and with great ideas for its future use, all was to no avail.
The disused Railway Station was also of great interest to many for a wide variety of purposes, but in May 1988 it was burnt to the ground in an act of arson. Another piece of Katikati’s history gone forever.
by Ellen McCormack (2010).