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Te Awamutu is a Māori word meaning "the place of the red-crowned parakeet". The first European settlers in Te Awamutu were William King and Charles Brown, who arrived in 1849. The town was founded by Brown and his family on 3 February 1850 as they settled at what is now known as Browns Point. They had been sent from Auckland to find suitable land for farming, with instructions to keep an eye out for possible sites for new towns along the way. By May that year there were 14 families living there; by December this number had grown to 65 adults and 29 children under 12 years old, making it one of New Zealand's earliest inland settlements (after Wellington).