Town near the shores of Tauranga Harbour, 35 km north-west of Tauranga. In 2013 the population was 4,056. It is a favoured retirement location, with 34.4% aged 65 and over, compared to the regional figure of 18.5%.
Katikati is part of a special Protestant settlement established by George Vesey Stewart in the 1870s. Settlers included tenant farmers and immigrants with capital from the north of Ireland, in particular County Tyrone, where Stewart had tenants.
Stewart first envisaged a town at Te Kauri (Kauri Point) for settlers who did not want to farm, such as retiring military or civil officers of India. This did not develop until lifestylers arrived in the 1970s. In the early 1960s there were important archaeological investigations of an old Māori settlement at Te Kauri.
The present town, originally named Waterford or Uretara, with a hotel and store, was laid out in 1879 on the south bank of the Uretara River. Reputedly the name Waterford was changed to Katikati because Stewart did not want to pay extra on telegrams from Britain by adding the words ‘New Zealand’ (the original Waterford being in Ireland).
Business with Waihī gold miners, and subsequently dairying, sustained farms and the township. Katikati is also the centre of an important kiwifruit district. The town itself is known for its open-air art, notably murals and a haiku pathway.