Whangamomona is a small town with quiet ambition.

In 1989 the town achieved cult status when it revolted over the redrawing of its boundaries, becoming a self-proclaimed republic.

"The powers that be decided to take Whangamomona out of the Taranaki regional area because of the water table and where the water flows, and put us in the Manawatū," said republic committee member, Vanessa Kennedy.

"We weren't happy with that because we are in Taranaki, so a few people decided at the pub one night that we would revolt and hence the republic was born."


The remote republic currently has a human as President but over the 30 years the role has been held by an array of other animals including a goat, a poodle and a parrot.

Elections are held on Republic Day, every second January.

"We celebrate by closing off the main road here with borders," Kennedy said. "You have to buy a passport to get in. It's a good money-spinner for us.

"The money goes to the republic and we spread it out to the schools and the halls and other things that need money."

Recently, a portion of the republic's funds bought a public artwork by Whanganui artist, Jack Marsden-Mayer, who himself has been a tourist in the small town.

"I was travelling around New Zealand," said Marsden-Mayer. "Went down the Forgotten World Highway and found that little place, stayed at the campsite, had a few beers in the pub."

The driftwood sculpture of a large bullock will be officially unveiled next month.

"The bullock was a big part of breaking this country in, bullock teams pulling the logs out back in the day," said Kennedy. "So I thought it would be fitting for our area, a bullock pulling a log."


Despite its remoteness, tourism is skyrocketing for Whangamomona. There's plenty of visitors for walking and mountain-biking, and a unique business recently started making use of old train tracks using modified golf carts for scenic trips.

The Whangamomona Hotel is the heart of the town and the "seat of government", issuing passports and providing an old-school kiwi experience.

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