NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group
Welcome to the kūmara capital of New Zealand. Dargaville, 55km west of Whāngārei, has slightly more than 4000 residents, many of whom work in farming or forestry. The town isn't particularly high on visitor bucket-lists, and locals are happy to poke fun at themselves for it (the slogan "Visit Dargaville, We Dare You" comes to mind). They alternate between wanting travelers to discover their region and wishing to protect their off-the-beaten-track status. Many of today's Dargavillians have slipped away from Auckland, seeking a slower pace of life. Others descend from the first gum-diggers, plenty of whom arrived from Croatia in the 1880s. And slightly more than 30 per cent of the population is of Māori descent, which is almost twice the national average at 16.5 per cent. There's a word that often pops up in conversation along the Kauri Coast, and that's "community". What Dargaville (and the broader Kaipara region) might lack in shopping, nightlife or café culture, it makes up for in heart. Locals look out for one another, whether sharing produce, lending a hand on a project, or acting as a shoulder upon which to lean when life gets a little harsh. It's a region not unlike the kūmara; its sweet delights are contained in a plain, knobby exterior.