Katikati is best known as the mural town of New Zealand but it's also one of the most "liveable" towns, according to a study into 130 of the best places the country has to offer.

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research found the top places to live were often not so good for running a business so the study released late last year combined liveability with livelihood.

After analysing 37 years of census data, the study said the top eight towns in New Zealand were Whitianga, Motueka, Coromandel, Queenstown, Mapua, Moerewa, Opotiki and Katikati.

Dr Arthur Grimes, Senior Fellow at Motu and one of the report's authors, said: "Households and firms prefer different amenities, which means places with high quality of life often have low quality of business.

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"For instance, households appear to prefer sunny, dry locations near water, while firms appear to prefer to locate in larger cities."

Most residents of Katikati would agree. The Tata family have lived here for six years, after stints in Auckland, Rotorua and failing to find suitable housing in Tauranga.

"I like that we get to be busy with life as opposed to being busy stuck in traffic," Janneke Tata said.

"We're on the beach or we are at the river. We get to engage with our children and with nature and I really enjoy that."

The family-of-seven paid $350 per week for a large, four-bedroom house, before moving into a home owned by family.

The five children were home-schooled, leaving plenty of time to enjoy all Katikati had to offer.

"There's just so much access to rivers and beaches, and everything's really close by."

With the median price of a home in Katikati at $560,000, a steady number of buyers were coming from Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

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But it was not just the scenery and affordable housing attracting people to the vibrant town.

Western Bay of Plenty District reported a 6.5 per cent growth in employment in the area, with kiwifruit and avocado orchards as well as the building industry bringing in millions of dollars.

Aroha Koria was born and bred in Katikati and now worked as a teacher at Katikati College, the same school she went to growing up.

Koria said Katikati has a sense of community, which could be hard to find elsewhere.

"Māori or not Māori, this is the kind of community that comes together when anything happens.

"We've had whānau in the past lose their homes to fire, and i witnessed the community band together and support that family with furniture and clothing.

"Families who are a little destitute come here for seasonal work and have been homeless and we've been able to help them out with kai and services."

And while most of the town agree it was a great place to live, it still had issues.

"If you look down the street, people cant even park," Cobus Van Rooyen said.

"And this road, State Highway 2, everyone talks about it as the death road. So many accidents on the road because of the many vehicles."

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