Whanganui means ‘big harbour’, which comes from the great river that flows through it. The Whanganui River is tapu (sacred), and is seen by Māori as a a living being, connecting the mountains to the sea. The township is known for its heritage buildings, museums and gardens. It is surrounded by beautiful rolling green hills, rivers and mountainous views. Whanganui was the major military centre for the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s, giving it a rich history. It is also home to many working artists, giving it strong creative energy.