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It is traditionally recorded that one of the great fighting chiefs of the Ngati Kahupungapunga, Tokoroa by name, was slain by Ngati Raukawa during the siege of Pōhaturoa, a volcanic plug adjacent to Atiamuri, 27 km south of Tokoroa on the main Taupo highway. It is possible that some early surveyor applied the name Tokoroa as a tribute to the old chief's memory.The name Tokoroa first appeared on the early maps of the 1860s, although this was for an area 50 km north east of today's Tokoroa

Surrounding the township are many dairy farms and plantation forests. There are many scenic reserves around the town – the artificial lake 'Moana-Nui' (formed by damming the Matarawa Stream) lies within a popular recreational park.

Tokoroa lies in the centre of a triangle made up of the popular tourism destinations of Rotorua, Waitomo and Taupo. There are also some forty-five, popular recreational lakes within less than an hour's drive of Tokoroa.

Tokoroa is in close proximity to four main cities and towns: Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua and Taupo.

Tokoroa is a town of over 13,600 people.

Tokoroa is a multicultural town, with about 35% of the population being Maori and another 20% from the Pacific Islands (mainly the Cook Islands). The remaining 45% of the population is made up mainly by NZ Europeans. Tokoroa has New Zealand's largest Pacific Island community outside of Auckland and Wellington, and the largest proportion of any city or town.

Talking Poles

Since 1997, Tokoroa has been "sprouting" Talking Poles, consisting mainly of carvings representing ethnic culture, sports recreation, industry in the town and stories about the town. This one, photographed shortly after its unveiling in 2004, is a chainsaw carving of a deodar cedar which died from natural causes. It is representative of the Greenman in Welsh mythology and is located on State Highway 1, immediately adjacent to the town's information centre.

As at October 2008, 42 Talking Poles are displayed around the town. Tokoroa Talking Poles symposium is convened every two years at the Tokoroa campus of Te Wananga o Aotearoa. The Greenman was carved in 2004 by Mr Andy Hankcock