A railway from Geraldton to Mullewa was constructed in 1894 and passed through the area. By 1908 a station was opened in the location of the town and had the name 55 mile siding. Later in 1908 the name of the station was changed to the Aboriginal name of a nearby gully, Kockatea. The station name was changed again almost a year later tois also Aboriginal in origin. The meaning is unknown. The town site of Tenindewa was gazetted in 1913.