HistoryIn preparation for organised European settlement, in 1847 a party that consisted of Joseph Thomas, R J Harrison, and Charles Henry Kettle surveyed the area of land known as the Otago Block, lying between the Clutha and the Tokomairaro Rivers. The surveyors identified the present location of Kaitangata as suitable for a village on their map. When Europeans settled in the area through the early 1850s, sheep and dairy farming started.
Frederick Tuckett had discovered coal in the nearby area in 1844 at Coal Point, but access meant that mining did not commence until the late 1850s. At Kaitangata mining began in 1862, just after the township commenced with the sale of its first 40 sections on 28 February 1862. In August 1862, 25 sections were sold in the township for an average of £14 per section. The Presbyterian Church acquired a site for a church in late 1862. Mr James Kirkland was the first Minister appointed on 10 September 1863. The town by 1862 had a customs house, a police station, and stores. A resident magistrate, Andrew Chapman, was the first Postmaster, appointed on 15 September 1863. Chapman was later adjudged bankrupt because he was not a competent businessman, and a new Postmaster was appointed on 1 February 1865.
A primary school was established in 1866 and its roll reached 50 pupils in April 1873. Flax mills opened in early 1870. In November 1870 a Volunteer Unit, part of the No 1 Clutha Rifles, formed. A sawmill had been established sometime before 1872. In 1873 a town library commenced operations. Cheese manufacturing started. A minor property boom occurred in 1875–1876 with the arrival of rail in the town, with sections selling anywhere up to £100 by June 1876. The telegraph arrived some time in 1877 and a new Presbyterian Church opened in October that year.
Today Kaitangata remains a coal mining town and continues to have community facilities including a primary school and community centre.