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History of Onemana

Thousands of years ago Onemana was an island, separated from the mainland by the Opoutere and Whangamata estuaries which were then joined over time. Silt build-up and planting of forests led to the shrinkage of the estuaries and Onemana became part of the mainland.

In 1947 a Hawkes Bay farmer began a search for the “perfect place”. This culminated in the discovery of Onemana, or as he called the farm which extended down the peninsula towards Whangamata, “Shangri-La”.

For many years surfers came to ‘Shangri-La’ in search of the perfect wave and many of the old school surfers still remember it as a farm.

In 1973 Brian Bambury purchased the land and established Onemana (prestigious beach). He created a subdivision of 355 sections. Regrettably the oil price spikes of the 1970’s as well as the unsealed roads put paid to people travelling from Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga to investigate this new beach settlement, and his planned development did not really take off.

However by 1985, approximately 50% of the sections had been developed. Today there are very few undeveloped sections in Onemana.

Onemana is a now a modern well kept village in a beautiful setting offering the best of all worlds – a friendly relaxed beach lifestyle with easy access to nearby Whangamata.

Historical Photos

Photos taken by Whites Aviation in 1974.  Obtained from the National Library of NZ.

Taken 12 September, 1974

Taken 12 September, 1974

Taken 12 September, 1974

Taken 17 January, 1979

There are some unique and special features to Onemana. The first is the geographic amphitheatre which means that unlike many other “flat” beachside towns, most sections have a sea view. In addition there is a very large grassed beach reserve for all to use, and not something just for beachfront properties to enjoy.

This beach reserve offers two astro-turf public tennis courts, a petanque court and marvellous kids’ Pirate ship adventure playground. Onemana also boasts a lake reserve behind the commercial centre, complete with ducks, water lilies and picnic tables. There is also a Spa/pool complex for residents.  Amenities include a dairy and café.

The Beach: The white sandy crescent beach is framed by the grassy beach reserve. There is good swimming particularly at low tide, when there are rock pools at either end of the beach. The Onemana Surf Life Saving Club patrols the beach over the Christmas/New Year period until late January, and at Easter and Labour Weekend.

There is no boat launching facilities at Onemana, although plenty of people launch their kayaks and small dinghies from the beach. Fishing too is popular, both from the beach and rocks.

The Birds: Onemana is home to the endangered New Zealand Dotterel. Areas of the beach are fenced off at certain times of the year (usually September to March) in an effort to protect the Dotterels and variable Oyster catchers during nesting season.