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Market day pahiatua 1st dec 2007 1.JPG
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Coordinates: 40°27′12″S175°50′27″E / 40.45333°S 175.84083°E / -40.45333; 175.84083 Coordinates: 40°27′12″S175°50′27″E / 40.45333°S 175.84083°E / -40.45333; 175.84083
CountryFlag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand
Region Manawatu-Wanganui
District Tararua District
Settled28 February 1882
Incorporated (borough)25 July 1892
Founded byW. W. McCardle
Electorate Wairarapa
   Mayor Tracey Collis [1]
103 m (341 ft)
 (June 2018) [2]
Time zone UTC+12 (NZST)
  Summer (DST) UTC+13 (NZDT)
Area code(s) 06
Website[ ]

Pahiatua is a rural service town in the south-eastern North Island of New Zealand with an urban and rural population of over 4,000. It is between Masterton and Woodville on State Highway 2 and the Wairarapa Line railway, 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Masterton and 30 kilometres (19 mi) east of Palmerston North. It is usually regarded as being in the Northern Wairarapa. However, for local government purposes it is in the Tararua District part of the Manawatu-Wanganui Region; which encompasses Eketahuna, Pahiatua, Woodvillle and Dannevirke.

North Island The northern of the two main islands of New Zealand

The North Island, also officially named Te Ika-a-Māui, is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the larger but much less populous South Island by Cook Strait. The island's area is 113,729 square kilometres (43,911 sq mi), making it the world's 14th-largest island. It has a population of 3,749,200.

Masterton Territorial authority in Wellington, New Zealand

Masterton is a large town in the Wellington Region of New Zealand and the seat of the Masterton District. It is the largest town in the Wairarapa, a region separated from Wellington by the Rimutaka ranges. It is 100 kilometres north-east of Wellington, 39.4 kilometres south of Eketahuna, on the Ruamahanga River.

Woodville, New Zealand Place in Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand

Woodville, previously known as The Junction is a small town in the southern North Island of New Zealand, 75 km north of Masterton and 25 km east of Palmerston North. The 2013 census showed that 1401 people reside in Woodville.


Unusually for a town of its size Pahiatua has retained several amenities that were lost to similar towns around New Zealand in the 1980s and 1990s, in particular banking, postal services, and a cinema. The town is served by two banks, a post office, a supermarket, three schools (2 Primary, 1 Secondary), [3] a volunteer fire brigade, [4] and a public library. [5]

There are conflicting accounts of how the town acquired its name. When translated from Māori, the name Pahiatua means "god's resting place". The explanation accompanying this translation is that a chief fleeing from his enemies was led by his war god to this hill to seek refuge. [6] However, the town's founder, William Wilson McCardle, claims to have given it its name. [6] [7]

Māori language Polynesian language spoken by New Zealand Māori

Māori, also known as te reo, is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. Closely related to Cook Islands Māori, Tuamotuan, and Tahitian, it gained recognition as one of New Zealand's official languages in 1987. The number of speakers of the language has declined sharply since 1945, but a Māori language revitalisation effort slowed the decline, and the language has experienced a revival, particularly since about 2015.

William Wilson McCardle New Zealand politician

William Wilson McCardle JP was a member of the New Zealand Legislative Council. Born in Scotland, he came to New Zealand as a young man and lived in a variety of places. He was a nurseryman and advocated for land reform. He established the town of Pahiatua and it was in the Wairarapa district that his local government involvement was most influential. He stood in a number of general elections for Parliament, but was never successful. A committed liberal politician, he was appointed to the Legislative Council by the first Ward Ministry in 1907 and served for one term until 1914.

History and culture


The Wellington Land Board decided in December 1880 to offer land in the Pahiatua Block for settlement. This consisted of 12,000 acres (4,900 ha), of which 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) was offered on a deferred payment basis. Applications for the land closed in February the following year, but there seems to have been little interest at first. Sales of land from the original offer continued over the next few years.

The Pahiatua village was not a settlement initiated by the government, but rather one that had its origin in land speculation. Several subdivisions were established by private landholders including W. W. McCardle, H. Manns, A. W. and Henry Sedcole, and W. Wakeman. It is claimed that the first settlers were John Hall who arrived on 28 February 1881, followed by John Hughes the next day. These men, plus the brothers of Hughes and their families, comprised Pahiatua's population the first summer. Precisely when the town of Pahiatua came into being is not clear as it has not been established when McCardle's first land sale took place. However, by the summer of 1883 he was advertising grassed suburban sections, "improved" acres, and other unimproved lots. In November 1885 he sought to dispose of a large portion of one of his subdivisions at an auction in Napier.

Napier, New Zealand Urban area in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Napier is a New Zealand city with a seaport, located in Hawke's Bay on the eastern coast of the North Island. The population of Napier is about 63,900 as of the June 2018. About 18 kilometres (11 mi) south of Napier is the inland city of Hastings. These two neighbouring cities are often called "The Bay Cities" or "The Twin Cities" of New Zealand. The total population of the Napier-Hastings Urban Area is 134,500 people, which makes it the sixth-largest urban area in New Zealand, closely followed by Dunedin (122,000), and trailing Tauranga (141,600).

Development of the land quickly produced results, and by August 1883 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) had been cleared, several hundred head of cattle were being grazed, and the population stood at 150. The efforts of the early settlers were sufficient to attract storekeepers and even a hotel.

The government belatedly decided to get involved and agreed to survey a township reserve in December 1882. They later changed their minds and postponed any decision, citing the need to wait for the final determination of the route of the railway. The settlers, also desirous of being close to the railway to improve land values, made strenuous efforts to have the line run through the town, but like their southern counterparts in Greytown, were ultimately unsuccessful. The legacy of this plan can be seen today in the unusual width of Pahiatua's Main Street which was designed to accommodate the railway down the centre. The intended railway reserve became a grassed median after it was decided to build the railway line to the west of the town.

Greytown, New Zealand Place in Wellington, New Zealand

Greytown, population 2,202, is a rural town in the heart of the Wairarapa region of New Zealand, in the lower North Island. It is 80 km north-east of Wellington and 25 kilometres southwest of Masterton, on State Highway 2. It was awarded the title of New Zealand's Most Beautiful Small Town 2017.

In 1981 Pahiatua celebrated its centennial with a weekend full of historical events, and in 2006 its 125th anniversary with a grand parade of 125 floats, vehicles and horses.


Formerly the racecourse,
the camp in 1944 Photo of Pahiatua, and Life at the Camp (10806515755).jpg
Formerly the racecourse,
the camp in 1944

On 1 November 1944 838 Polish refugees, of which 733 were children, were sent to a refugee camp about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) south of the town. The camp had been used as an internment camp for foreigners at the start of World War II. The settlement was expected to be a temporary measure, but with the rise of communism in eastern Europe after the end of the war, the refugees stayed on at the camp until 1949 at which point they were naturalised. [8] [9] [10]

Poles people from Poland

The Poles, commonly referred to as the Polish people, are a nation and West Slavic ethnic group native to Poland in Central Europe who share a common ancestry, culture, history, and are native speakers of the Polish language. The population of self-declared Poles in Poland is estimated at 37,394,000 out of an overall population of 38,538,000, of whom 36,522,000 declared Polish alone.

A refugee, generally speaking, is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. Such a person may be called an asylum seeker until granted refugee status by the contracting state or the UNHCR if they formally make a claim for asylum. The lead international agency coordinating refugee protection is the United Nations Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The United Nations have a second Office for refugees, the UNRWA, which is solely responsible for supporting the large majority of Palestinian refugees.

Refugee camp temporary settlement for refugees

A refugee camp is a temporary settlement built to receive refugees and people in refugee-like situations. Refugee camps usually accommodate displaced persons who have fled their home country, but there are also camps for internally displaced people. Usually refugees seek asylum after they've escaped war in their home countries, but some camps also house environmental- and economic migrants. Camps with over a hundred thousand people are common, but as of 2012, the average-sized camp housed around 11,400. They are usually built and run by a government, the United Nations, international organizations, or NGOs. There are also unofficial refugee camps, like Idomeni in Greece or the Calais jungle in France, where refugees are largely left without support of governments or international organizations.

In 1951 the camp was used for over 900 refugees from Eastern Europe.

In 2004 the New Zealand Polish community celebrated its 60th anniversary and the 65th anniversary celebrations were held in 2009 at which former Polish president Lech Wałęsa was to have been the guest of honour. [11] [12] The local museum opened a new exhibit in 2017 to tell the story of the refugees' experience in New Zealand. [13]


Pahiatua had its own hospital, located on a site at the southern end of the town, since 1902. In November 1997 the hospital, then under the jurisdiction of Palmerston North-based Mid Central Health, was informed that it would soon close as the Health Funding Authority could no longer afford to keep it open. This was despite numerous assurances given to the town from 1992 by successive health authorities that the hospital was in no danger of being closed. The closure date was set at 30 June 1998, by which time the only services offered by the hospital were an x-ray department, maternity, a general ward, and geriatric, palliative, convalescent, and rehabilitation care. However, part of the complex remained open until the last patients could be relocated to a new facility at Waireka Home that was still under construction. [14]


The residents of Pahiatua were politically active from early on, advocating for their own Roads Board around June 1883. By August 1886 Pahiatua had gained town district status and only two years later, in October 1888, the Pahiatua County Council was established. The town was constituted as a borough on 25 July 1892. [15] The council remained the political master of the town and surrounding area until the local government reforms of 1989 merged the town into the Tararua District Council.

At central government level, Pahiatua was located in the Wairarapa seat until 1881, at which point the electorate was split into Wairarapa North and Wairarapa South (later to become Masterton and Wairarapa respectively in 1887). Part of the Masterton seat was divided off into the new Pahiatua seat in 1896 which remained the political home of Pahiatua until the electorate was amalgamated with the Wairarapa seat in 1996.

Natural disasters

Pahiatua was the location of one of New Zealand's most powerful earthquakes when on 5 March 1934 a magnitude 7.6 quake struck at Horoeka. It was felt as far away as Auckland and Dunedin. [16] [17]

The 2007 Pahiatua Christmas Parade. Shoppers at Pahiatua 1st dec 2007.JPG
The 2007 Pahiatua Christmas Parade.


The local Pahiatua Marae and Te Kohanga Whakawhaiti meeting ground is a traditional meeting place for Rangitāne and its Ngāti Hāmua and Te Kapuārangi sub-tribes. [18] It includes Te Kohanga Whakawhaiti wharenui (meeting house). [19]


Historical population counts show a steady increase in the size of the town throughout most of the 20th century.


As of the 2013 census, Pahiatua had a resident population of 2,412 residents in 990 dwellings. This was a decrease of 147 people since the previous census. Of these, 1,089 were male and 1,320 were female, while 20.9% were aged 65 or over and 22.1% were aged under 15 years. [20]

Pahiatua is one of several northern-Wairarapa towns to have experienced an increase in popularity as a place to live as evidenced by a 43% increase in average residential property prices between 2005 and 2008. [21] The ethnic composition of the population was European, 86.0%; Māori, 21.5%; Pacific Islanders, 1.8%; Asian, 2.4%; Middle Eastern/Latin American/African, 0.3; Other, 2.6%. [20]


The economy is based on support for sheep and beef farming and the dairy industry with the Fonterra Dairy factory and Tui Brewery both located on the outskirts of the town.

Fonterra's Pahiatua dairy factory, a manufacturer of milk products and milk powder for local and export markets, is a significant employer in the area. Other major employers include Betacraft and the Tui Brewery at Mangatainoka. [9]


The town's public transport now consists of a single trip from Tuesday to Friday and on Sunday Masterton – Palmerston North and return bus service (with an extra service on Fridays) run by Tranzit Coachlines. [22]

RM 31 (Tokomaru) going for a run through the Pahiatua station yard. NZR RM class Standard 03.JPG
RM 31 (Tokomaru) going for a run through the Pahiatua station yard.

An electric tramway system was considered for Pahiatua but never constructed. [23]

Rail transport to Pahiatua was available from 3 May 1897 when the town's railway station opened, marking the completion of the Wairarapa Line as far north as the town. The line was completed through to Pahiatua's northern neighbour, Woodville, several months later on 11 December 1897. Improvements made to the region's road network in the latter half of the 20th century led to a decline in the popularity of rail for public transport. The service was finally withdrawn in 1988 when the last passenger train between Palmerston North and Masterton stopped at Pahiatua on Friday, 29 July. [24]

Pahiatua is the home of the Pahiatua Railcar Society, a non-profit railway heritage organisation based at the town's railway station, whose purpose is to preserve and restore to working order railcars formerly in revenue service on New Zealand's railway network. Some of the notable vehicles in their collection include a Standard class railcar (RM31), a Wairarapa class railcar (RM5), and a Twin Set railcar (RM121). The society leases the railway station from KiwiRail and opens their museum to the public once a month.


Healthcare in Pahiatua used to be provided via private doctor's clinics and the town's hospital. Following the closure of the hospital in 1998, hospital-level care has been provided at Palmerston North hospital as the town is in the jurisdiction of Mid Central Health. [14]

Also subsequent to the closing of the town's hospital was the establishment of the Pahiatua Medical Centre which now dispenses general practice health care to the town's residents and, via outreach clinics, to residents of Eketahuna and Woodville. It is run by the Tararua PHO (Primary Health Organisation). [25]

The old Pahiatua hospital complex has been refurbished and converted into a private conference and accommodation business called Masters Hall. [26]


The area code for Pahiatua is 06 as for telecommunications purposes it is part of the Manawatu-Wairarapa-Hawkes Bay region in the lower North Island. Local numbers generally begin with 376, with the next digit being 0, 6, 7 or 8.

Broadband internet is available to customers in Pahiatua using digital subscriber line technology. Incumbent telecommunications operator Telecom is planning to upgrade their infrastructure in Pahiatua, which will improve the delivery of broadband internet services, by October 2011. [27]

The Tararua District Council formed an alliance with the telecommunications companies Inspire Net, Inspired Networks, Digital Nation and FX Networks to link the four major towns in its jurisdiction to Palmerston North with a fibre optic cable. The link between Palmerston North and Pahiatua was expected to go live on 31 July 2008. [28] The service is now available to some rural residents and urban customers. [29]

Tararua College is one of 14 schools nationwide set to become the first to benefit from the government's broadband in schools initiative. Funding of $34 million has been allocated for the programme, of which the schools will receive $5 million for upgrades to their information technology equipment. [30]


Local TV station "Tararua TV" filming at the 2007 Christmas Market day. Tararua TV.JPG
Local TV station "Tararua TV" filming at the 2007 Christmas Market day.

Free-to-air television broadcasts are available in Pahiatua, including the major national channels offered by TVNZ and Prime from Sky Television. Also available is digital television from both Sky Television (via satellite) and Freeview (either via UHF terrestrial broadcasts or by satellite).

Pahiatua is the home of regional television station Tararua Television. The founders Hart Udy and Jonathan McLean had a vision to broadcast free-to-air family-friendly television programs and the vision came to life. The channel began in a studio at Tararua College in 2004 and officially opened by Martin Matthews CEO of Culture and Heritage. The studio then moved to Pahiatua Christian Fellowship where they produced their first live program, celebrating their first birthday. At that time, TTV was broadcasting to an audience of approximately 5,000 in Pahiatua and Woodville. A local fund-raising effort enabled the station to increase its coverage to Palmerston North, Foxton, Bulls, Marton, Feilding and Ashhurst and a ceremony to mark the occasion was held on 1 May 2008. [31]

With the switch off of analogue television services within the Manawatu-Whanganui Region on 29 September 2013 and to ensure business continuity, Tararua Television has secured resource consent and licensing to broadcast on DTV27 via Freeview from its own stand-alone transmission site on Wharite capturing a potential primary audience in excess of 133,000 throughout the Manawatu-Whanganui Region predominantly in the Manawatu, Horowhenua, Rangitikei and Tararua districts. From small beginnings Tararua Television continually strives to succeed and grow within an environment dominated by mainstream television and today is a force to be reckoned with. Locally owned and operated Tararua Television provides an alternative viewing platform of locally produced community-focused and family-safe television programmes from throughout the region that involve the community yet are non-judgmental. Tararua Television is a member of the Regional Broadcasters Association (RTB) and is the only regional television station between Nelson in the south to Hawke's Bay in the East and Central TV Matamata in the North.


There are three primary schools in Pahiatua serving the education needs of students from years 1 to 8. One of these schools, St. Anthony's School, is state-integrated while the other two, Hillcrest School and Pahiatua School, are state schools. Tararua College, which was founded in 1960, [32] is based in Pahiatua and is the main provider of secondary education in the area.

A consultation document proposing the reorganisation of educational facilities in the Tararua District was released by the Bush Education Plan working group in July 2009. Amongst its recommendations was the closure of several schools in the district, such as Hillcrest School, and for their rolls to be merged into other schools such as Pahiatua School. [33] The plan was scrapped a month later when the working group was dissolved after a vitriolic response from local residents and a statement from the Minister of Education that she had no plans to close any schools in the region against the wishes of the local community. [34]

See also

Related Research Articles

Wairarapa region in New Zealand

Wairarapa, is a geographical region of New Zealand. It occupies the south-eastern corner of the North Island, east of metropolitan Wellington and south-west of the Hawke's Bay region. It is lightly populated, having several rural service towns, with Masterton being the largest. It is named after its largest lake, Lake Wairarapa.

Palmerston North City in North Island, New Zealand

Palmerston North is a city in the North Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Manawatu-Wanganui region. Located in the eastern Manawatu Plains, the city is near the north bank of the Manawatu River, 35 km (22 mi) from the river's mouth, and 12 km (7 mi) from the end of the Manawatu Gorge, about 140 km (87 mi) north of the capital, Wellington. Palmerston North is the country's seventh-largest city and eighth-largest urban area, with an urban population of 86,600.

Eketahuna Place in Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand

Eketahuna is a small rural service town, the most southerly in the Tararua District in the Manawatu-Wanganui region of the North Island of New Zealand, but is considered to be in northern Wairarapa. It was called Mellemskov, but was renamed soon after its founding, and was colloquially known as Jackeytown. The 2013 census recorded Eketahuna's population at 441; down from 456 in 2006.

NZR RM class (88 seater) class of 35 New Zealand railcars

The NZR RM class 88-seaters were a class of railcar used in New Zealand. New Zealand Government Railways (NZR) classed them RM , the notation used for all railcars, numbering the 35 sets from RM100 to RM134. They were known unofficially as "Articulated", "Twinsets", "Drewrys" or "Fiats". They were purchased to replace steam-hauled provincial passenger trains and mixed trains.

Wairarapa Line

The Wairarapa Line is a secondary railway line in the south-east of the North Island of New Zealand. The line runs for 172 kilometres (107 mi), connects the capital city Wellington with the Palmerston North - Gisborne Line at Woodville, via Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Masterton.

NZR RM class (Wairarapa) class of 7 New Zealand railcars

The NZR RM class Wairarapa railcar was a class of railcars on New Zealand's national rail network. They entered service in 1936 and were classified RM like all other classes of railcars in New Zealand; they came to be known as the "Wairarapa" class as they were designed to operate over the famous Rimutaka Incline to the Wairarapa region on the Wairarapa Line. They also acquired the nickname of "tin hares" in New Zealand railfan jargon. The first two to be introduced re-used the numbers RM 4 and RM 5 that had previously been used by the withdrawn experimental Model T Ford railcars. The class consisted of six passenger railcars and one passenger-freight railcar. It is often described incorrectly as a class of six railcars.

NZR RM class (Standard) class of 6 New Zealand railcars

The NZR RM class Standard railcars were a class of railcar operated by the New Zealand Railways Department in the North Island of New Zealand. Officially classified as RM like all other railcar classes in New Zealand, they acquired the designation of 'Standard' to differentiate them from others. They were introduced in 1938 and withdrawn in 1972.

The Wairarapa Mail was a passenger train operated by the New Zealand Railways Department (NZR) between Wellington and Woodville, continuing on to Palmerston North as a mixed train. It ran from 1909 until 1948 and its route included the famous and arduous Rimutaka Incline.

Mangatainoka Place in New Zealand

Mangatainoka is a small settlement in the Tararua District of New Zealand's North Island. It is located on the banks of the Mangatainoka River, 5 km (3.1 mi) north of Pahiatua.

Masterton railway station railway station

Masterton railway station is a single-platform, urban railway station serving the town of Masterton in New Zealand's Wairarapa district. Located at the end of Perry Street, it is one of three stations in Masterton, the others being Renall Street and Solway. Masterton station is the terminus for Wairarapa Connection passenger services on Metlink's Wairarapa Line from and to Wellington. The average journey time to Wellington is one hour and forty-three minutes.

The Palmerston North–Gisborne Line (PNGL) is a secondary main line railway in the North Island of New Zealand. It branches from the North Island Main Trunk at Palmerston North and runs east through the Manawatu Gorge to Woodville, where it meets the Wairarapa Line, and then proceeds to Hastings and Napier in Hawke's Bay before following the coast north to Gisborne. Construction began in 1872, but the entire line was not completed until 1942.

Woodville railway station, Manawatu-Wanganui railway station in New Zealand

Woodville railway station is the northern terminus of the Wairarapa Line and is located at the junction with the Palmerston North - Gisborne Line in the small Tararua town of Woodville, 27 km (17 mi) east of Palmerston North in New Zealand's North Island.

Newman railway station railway station

Newman railway station was a station on the Wairarapa Line in the Tararua District area of the Manawatu-Wanganui region of New Zealand’s North Island. It served the small rural community of Newman, 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) north of Eketahuna. It is accessed via Cliff Road, but is now located on private property.

Pahiatua railway station railway station

Pahiatua railway station is on the Wairarapa Line in New Zealand’s North Island. It was opened in May 1897, shortly before the line was opened to Woodville in December of that year. The station is 1.7 kilometres (1.1 mi) from Pahiatua, in contrast to the original plans for the railway line to run through the town.

Mangamahoe railway station railway station

Mangamahoe railway station served the small rural community of Mangamahoe in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand’s North Island. It was located on the Wairarapa Line between the stations of Mauriceville and Eketahuna with vehicular access from Station Road. It is the northernmost station site on the Wairarapa Line within the jurisdiction of the Greater Wellington Regional Council before the line passes into territory governed by Horizons Regional Council.

Opaki railway station railway station

Opaki railway station served the small rural village of Opaki, 6 km (3.7 mi) north of Masterton, in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand’s North Island. It was located on the Wairarapa Line between the stations of Masterton and Kopuaranga with vehicular access from Wingate Road.

Eketahuna railway station railway station

Eketahuna railway station was a station on the Wairarapa Line, a railway line that runs through the Wairarapa region of New Zealand's North Island. Located between the stations of Mangamahoe and Newman, it served the small southern Tararua town of Eketahuna and was one of the few attended stations on the northern section of the line.

1942 Wairarapa earthquakes

Two 1942 Wairarapa earthquakes shook the lower North Island of New Zealand; on 24 June and 2 August. They were large and shallow with the epicentres close together east of Masterton in the Wairarapa region. The June earthquake was sometimes referred to as the Masterton earthquake but both caused damage over a wide area, from Dannevirke, and Eketahuna to Wellington Whanganui and Otaki. There was one death in Wellington, on 24 June.


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Further reading