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Manawatu, New ZealandPalmerston North History

Palmerston North | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History

Palmerston North is the largest centre of Manawatu region and has an interesting history. Explore the natural and cultural history of the Palmerston North.

Palmerston North History Overview

Palmerston North City is located 140 kilometres north-east of Wellington and 546 kilometres south of Auckland, with a population of more than 81,000 residents. It is an educational centre of New Zealand and is known for its Massey University.

Name

The city is named in honour of Viscount Palmerson, a former British Prime minister. The word "north" was added later in 1871 by the Post Office to distinguish it from Palmerston in the South Island. The Maori names are "Pamutana" - the transliteration of "Palmerston North" and "Papaioea" - which is believed to mean "How beautiful it is".

Early History

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Ceremonial Waka, Manawatu, New Zealand
Ceremonial Waka
Photographer: Fay Looney
(www.faylooney.com)

The Maori trace their occupancy of the region back about 700 years. Ngati Rangitane were the local Maori iwi living in the area known as Te Ahu-a-Turanga, when a trader, Jack Duff, became the earliest known European to explore the area in 1830. He came on a whaling ship, and explored as far inland as the site of Woodville. He reported his discovery on arrival back to Porirua. Colonel Wakefield heard of the potential that the Manawatu had for development and visited in 1840. In 1846 Charles Hartley, another trader, heard of a clearing in the forest and he proceeded through the dense bush and forest and discovered it for Europeans. A settlement was planned in 1866 in the natural clearing.

The land was sold to the Crown in 1864 and in 1866 a township, designed by J. T. Stewart, was laid out in the clearing. In 1878 Rangitane and Ngati Raukawa asked, unsuccessfully, that the town be named Te Marae o Hine. The first settlers were Scandinavians. They, and later others, worked at first on road-making. Links built to the Rangitikei and through the gorge reduced the isolation that Palmerston North had to contend with.

As the settlement grew, the forest diminished to make way for farms, and today virtually no remnant of it survives.

By 1877, when the Borough Council came into existence, Palmerston North was an isolated village in the midst of the native forest that covered inland Manawatu Region. The population was approximately 800 people and sawmilling was the main industry of the district. The arrival of the railway in 1886 saw an increase in the speed of growth, and by 1900 the population was 6,000. By this time the town was at the centre of a lucrative agricultural district.

In 1930, the population reached the 20,000 threshold and Palmerston North was officially proclaimed a city.

Palmerston North Accommodation

Palmerston North is a popular tourist destination and offers a wide range of accommodation options:

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Useful Palmerston North Links

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Palmerston North Region Information

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Featured

 
Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

Mainstay NZ Hotels

Large collection of independent hotels.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

Holiday packages for any occasion.

Distinction Hotels

Distinction Hotels

Great hotels in great NZ wide locations.