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The Republic of Whangamomona

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Whangamomona: not part of New Zealand.

This quirky little town in the (although, it is controversial to say this) Manawatu-Wanganui Region in the North Island is its own republic. The republic is complete with presidents, however, only two have been human, and passports and passport stamps to ensure safe passage through Whangamomona.

Certainly off the beaten track, only a hardcore New Zealand backpacker would make sure they add the Republic of Whangamomona stamp to their passport! You can get to the town by following the Forgotten World State Highway.

What you need to know about the Republic of Whangamomona

Just when you thought you had gone through the immigration process to get into New Zealand, now you need another passport stamp! Don’t worry, all you need to know about the republic is in this article:

  • How Whangamomona became a republic
  • Learn about all the presidents!
  • Save the date for Republic Day
  • How to get your Whangamomona passport.
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How Whangamomona became a republic

It all began in 1988 when the local council planned to split Whangamomona into two regions: Taranaki and Manawatu-Wanganui districts.

Much to the locals’ dismay, as most of them associated themselves as part of Taranaki and they were not consulted about the change first, the residents decided to declare Whangamomona as a republic complete with a president!

 Tambako The Jaguar on Flickr

The presidents of Whangamomona

Probably the most interesting part of Whangamomona’s republic status is its presidents.

The first president of Whangamomona was human. For some reason, the republic didn’t seem to take itself seriously until 2015 when the first woman was elected. Here’s a brief history of Whangamomona’s presidents.

 

Ian Kjestrup (1989–1999)

Kjestrup did not plan on becoming president for 10 years, as his name was put in the ballot without his knowledge.

Billy the Kid (1999–2001)

Billy was the first elected goat. He won the election by eating the other challengers’ ballots. Unfortunately, he died in office after serving for 18 months. Short life spans are just one reason why animals should not be presidents.

Tai the Poodle (2003–2004)

Tai retired after an assassination attempt left him a nervous wreck.

Murt “Murtle the Turtle” Kennard (2005–2015)

Murt was doing a fine job, as he kept being reelected! But just when the republic thought they had solved the problem of the animal presidents having short lifespans, unfortunately, Murt too died in office.

Vicki Pratt (2015- Present)

Whangamomona displayed itself as joining the 21st Century when electing the first women president. Vicki was picked by her fellow countrymen and women against her wishes while she was working in the kitchen.

Whangamomona Hotel

Whangamomona Republic Day

To celebrate the republic’s sass, Republic Day is held every second January – the month Whangamomona gained independence.

New Zealanders far and wide flock to the town for this event! Some good old country activities are enjoyed such as sheep racing, gumboot throwing, whip cracking, possum skinning, gutbuster racing, hold-ups and shoot outs. We don’t know what half of those activities are, but they seem pretty exciting.

The presidential elections are also held on this day.

For more events worth checking out, see our New Zealand events calendar.

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Where to get your Whangamomona passport

So you’ve heard all about the fascinating story of Whangamomona, so what is there to do there? Well, not a huge amount, to be honest. However, it makes a great pit stop when travelling on the Forgotten World Highway!

The main attraction of the town is the Whangamomona Hotel. The hotel not only provides accommodation, but it’s also a classic New Zealand pub. Stop by for some food and a couple of drinks with the locals. Oh yeah, and most importantly, get your passport stamped! It’s just NZ$2 to get a Whangamomona stamp in your passport.

Note: The Whangamomona Hotel has irregular opening hours during the low season (winter months) so be sure to call ahead to see if they’re open.

For more things to see along the Forgotten World Highway, check out 10 Places You Can’t Miss on the Forgotten World Highway.

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