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Marlborough, New ZealandPicton History

Picton | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History

Picton is an important port town, nestled deep in the Marlborough Sounds. Picton has offered a safe harbour and port to travellers for centuries.

Picton History Overview

The town of Picton is named after Sir Thomas Picton, the Welsh military associate of the Duke of Wellington, who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo.

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Sailing Marlborough Sounds, Marlborough, New Zealand
Sailing Marlborough Sounds
Marlborough, New Zealand
Photographer Ivor Wilkins
(ivorw@xtra.co.nz)

If you arrive in the region by sea or air, the intricate detail of the Marlborough Sounds engages your interest immediately.

Early History

The site of modern day Picton was originally a Maori Pa (fortified village) called Waitohi or Te Wera O Waitohi. The name Waitohi means Wai or water and Tohi - the Tohi ritual in which tohunga (Maori Priest) dipped Karamu branches in the sacred stream and brushed the right shoulder, of warriors before battle. It is believed that this village had existed for more than 300 years before Francis Dillon Bell and Sir George Grey (the then governor of New Zealand) purchased the land in 1844 and helped the local Maori re-locate their pa to Waikawa Bay.

This village existed for more than 300 years until in 1844, when Francis Dillon Bell and Sir George Grey (Then Govenor of New Zealand) of the New Zealand Company purchased the land and helped the local Maori re-locate their village (Pa) at Waikawa Bay. Waikawa Bay was still a Maori centre in 2010.

The site of Picton was first surveyed in 1849 and the new town was called Newton. However, over the next ten years the town was known by many names, until finally its was named Picton in 1859 in memory of Sir Thomas Picton, the hero of Badajoz, who fell at the Battle of Waterloo fighting Napoleon. At this time the Marlborough Province was created and Picton was the provincial capital.

In 1865 the Marlborough provincial council debated shifting the capital from Picton to Blenheim. Determined to keep the capital in Picton, councillor Arthur Beauchamp, grandfather of Katherine Mansfield, engaged in an unsuccessful stonewall by speaking for 10 hours and 40 minutes, concluding by saying, "With these preliminary remarks I will now proceed to speak to the matter under discussion". At the end he collapsed and had to be carried from the chamber.

Following its founding, Picton quickly became a vital link between the South and North Islands, with Wool, Grain, Fruits and Meat being shipped to the North Island, Australia and to as far afield as London.

Picton Accommodation

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

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Useful Picton Links

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Picton Region Information


Picton Tourism Operators

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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.