How it all started

The 'Project Kiwiana' story

In 1971 the Otorohanga Kiwi House opened – the first Kiwi House in NZ to display and breed kiwi. Otorohanga became known as the ‘Kiwi town’.

Then in 1999 a talented marketing consultant and designer, David Walmsley, suggested extending Otorohanga’s Kiwi Town theme to celebrate all things uniquely Kiwi – New Zealand icons, heroes and traditions (in other words: ‘Kiwiana’)… and Otorohanga became the ‘Kiwiana Town’.

“Project Kiwiana”, a team of community volunteers, was formed in September 1999 under David’s creative guidance. He has inspired, helped and advised the “Project Kiwiana” team ever since to create Otorohanga’s Kiwiana-themed projects.

Project Kiwiana’s aims are:

To create Kiwiana attractions that make Otorohanga a ‘must see’ destination for visitors

To promote Otorohanga as New Zealand’s official ‘Kiwiana Town’

To have fun!

Our achievements:

Kiwiana Displays

Kiwiana display cases in town showcase a wide variety of Kiwiana themes including Buzzy Bee, the All Blacks, Team NZ, Sir Edmund Hillary, Rural Life, the Sheep Story, Pavlova, Colin Meads…

Ed Hillary Walkway

Opened on 12 December, 2008 by Lady June Hillary, the Walkway connects Maniapoto Street (the main street on State Highway 3) with Wahanui Crescent. It houses an arcade of Kiwiana display cases, informative Kiwiana poster panels and a series of giant Kiwiana photo Murals.


  • International Sun Alliance Vintage Car Rally (February 2000) – 6 days of Kiwiana themed community events for visiting Rally drivers
  • Touchdown TV feature (April 2002) – with Touchdown TV celebrity guest, Marc Ellis
  • Team NZ Parade & Gala Dinner (5 September, 2002) – a celebration of the ‘Rural Connection to Team NZ
  • Otorohanga officially recognised as ‘New Zealand’s Kiwiana Town’ by Prime Minister, Helen Clark (5 September, 2002)
  • New Zealand’s first Great Kiwiana Festival (March 2005)
  • New Zealand’s Second Great Kiwiana Festival (March 2006)
  • New Zealand’s Third Great Kiwiana Festival (March 2007)
  • A series of Kiwiana-themed community ‘mini events’ over the years

Website project

The Kiwiana website: (first version launched October 2001)

Main street Kiwiana icons

14 popular Kiwiana icon ‘cut outs’ hang on the lamp posts along the main street

Murals and sculptures

  • 4 large murals celebrate Kiwiana themes
  • Two highly decorated 3-metre high corrugated-iron kiwi identify the north and south entrances to Otorohanga
  • Colourful steel butterflies on a wall in the main street acknowledge our Project Kiwiana sponsors
  • Large entrance signs to the town inform visitors about the Main Street Kiwiana displays

Information / Merchandise / Kiwiana props

  • Kiwiana brochures – available at the Otorohanga i-SITE
  • Custom-made Kiwiana mugs and stickers
  • Kiwiana postage stamps in collaboration with the Otorohanga i-SITE Visitor Information Centre
  • Kiwiana posters
  • Kiwiana props and costumes to enhance Kiwiana-style events (contact us if you would like to arrange hire)

Project Kiwiana collaboration and partnerships

  • Otorohanga Public Toilets – Kiwiana themed exterior and interior refurbishment (in collaboration with the Otorohanga Community Board)
  • Kiwiana-themed redesign of interior and exterior of Otorohanga i-SITE (in partnership with the Otorohanga District Development Board and Otorohanga i-SITE)
  • Design and funding of the Ed Hillary Walkway (in partnership with the Otorohanga Community Board and Otorohanga District Council)
  • Kiwiana-themed school tours (in partnership with the Otorohanga i-SITE and Waitomo Educational Services)

None of the above would be possible without the volunteers that make up the Project Kiwiana Committee.

Project Kiwiana receives income from sponsorships, community rates, grants funding and fundraising events.

We maintain close links with the Otorohanga Community Board and the Otorohanga District Council, the Otorohanga District Development Board, local schools, businesses and community organisations. We’re always there to lend a hand in any local events and activities with a Kiwiana slant.

Project Kiwiana is proudly supported by: