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Palmerston North

Mother nature has endowed Palmerston North and the Manawatu area with endless opportunities to experience the great outdoors, from short walks in splendid native bush, half day walks through the spectacular Manawatu Gorge, to tramping in the majestic Ruahine, or Tararua Ranges.

Museums, gardens and arts & crafts abound, with many cottage industries to be discovered in the beautiful Pohangina Valley. The area provides every type of accommodation – top class hotels, motels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, home and farmstays. An excellent array of restaurants and bars to suit all palates are a popular feature of the city.

Palmerston North is situated on the banks of the Manawatu River at the foot of the Tararua Mountain Range. The subdivision of Palmerston North began in 1866, with the most important stimulus to the growth of the town being the development of pastoral farming. As early European settlers cleared the native forest with axe and fire, a new vegetation of grasses and clovers provided the basis for cattle and sheep farming. The city has been able to maintain a complementary relationship between the modern conveniences and technology of big city life, and the quality and ease of small town lifestyle, offering visitors and residents alike ‘the best of both worlds’.

Palmerston North is a vibrant youthful city with the active student population, nearby Linton Military Camp, and several knowledge organisations. Since 1930 the City’s economic base has been broadened by the establishment of Massey University and the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute, hence it bears the distinction of being New Zealand’s `Knowledge City’., all adding to a cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Shopping to rival that found anywhere in New Zealand awaits the serious ‘retail therapist’, whilst connoisseurs of fine food, a good espresso or a great nightlife will find themselves spoilt for choice from the tasty smorgasbord of restaurants, cafes and bars. One professional and two amateur live theatre companies, New Zealand’s most successful multiplex cinema, and the recent 12 million dollar complete refurbishment of the city’s magnificent ‘Regent on Broadway’ make Palmerston North a popular destination for enthusiasts of the screen and stage.

The calibre and central locations of the city’s many venues ensure that Palmerston North hosts a number of national, international and special shows and events annually. Although on the doorstep of Manawatu’s rural playgrounds, Palmerston North is home to an array of activities and attractions. An interactive Science Centre & Manawatu Museum, galleries, golf courses, parks and walkways, indoor climbing and karting…just a sample of those on offer! Each October to March the city roars to life with the popular Stockcar season, including World Championship races, while February hosts the family Esplanade Open Day, an extravaganza of stalls, entertainment, displays and music all set in the beautiful Victoria Esplanade Gardens. March brings the annual International Festival, a colourful celebration of the ethnic diversity embraced by the people and city of Palmerston North.

Palmerston North is served by an excellent international airport only a short distance from the city. It has a very good record for all weather operation, and the 1500 metre runway is capable of taking all domestic and some international aircraft currently flying within New Zealand. Both Air New Zealand and Ansett New Zealand operate first class trunk services, while Freedom Air operates a trans Tasman service. A considerable number of commuter aircraft also serve the City, including Mount Cook Airlines, Air Nelson, and Eagle Airways. In April 1996, the first International flight departed Palmerston North Airport, which now boasts 4 International flights per week to Sydney, Brisbane and return.

By road, Palmerston North is only seven hours drive from Auckland and two hours from the capital, Wellington. The City’s central location also places it within easy two hour drives of the North Islands Central Plateau skifields, the beaches and wineries of the Hawkes Bay, Mount Taranaki and historic Maori sites of the Taranaki region, and the rural splendor of the Wairarapa.

Mother nature has endowed Manawatu area with endless opportunities to experience the great outdoors, from short walks in splendid native bush, half day walks through the spectacular Manawatu Gorge, to tramping in the majestic Ruahine, or Tararua Ranges. Museums, gardens and arts & crafts abound, with many cottage industries to be discovered in the beautiful Pohangina Valley. The area provides every type of accommodation – top class hotels, motels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, home and farmstays. An excellent array of restaurants and bars to suit all palates are a popular feature of the city.

Area:       32,594 hectares (the Council administers an area of 32,594 hectares which includes the communities of Ashhurst, Aokautere, Whakarongo, Linton and the Palmerston North urban area.)
Population:                                  95,000
Rateable Properties:                  29,600

Demographic Information

Age Distribution
Palmerston North has a relatively young age profile that reflects, among other things, the Citys important tertiary education, and training and military sectors.  However, like elsewhere in New Zealand, the Citys population is gradually aging as the proportion of people in the older age groups increases.

Ethnic profile
Palmerston Norths ethnic profile is different to that of New Zealand as a whole.  European:  76%
Maori:  13%
Pacific Island: 2%
Asian:  5%
Other: 3%

Palmerston North’s average mean daily maximum temperature ranges from 22 degrees celsius in February (14 deg. cel. overnight minimum) to 12 degrees celcius in July (2 deg. cel. overnight minimum).
Palmerston North averages 20 days per year above 25 deg. cel.
There are on average 200 rain-free days.
Rain actually only falls 5% of the time.
The average rainfall is 960mm.
July has the highest average rainfall of 97mm while the lowest is measured in February at 60mm. Fog is a rarity and hence the Palmerston North Airport is open 99.5% of the year which is more than any other airport in the country. The prevailing wind is a westerly breeze and in spring can be stronger, but rarely reaches galeforce.

History of Palmerston North

When the Borough Council came into existence in 1877, Palmerston North was an isolated village, set in the midst of a native forest which covered inland Manawatu. The population of the town was approximately 800 people and sawmilling was the main industry of the district.

Roading was the first priority for the new Council. The town had 28 miles of street, but only 6 were formed and metalled – the other 21 were identified only by survey pegs in the forest. The Council raised a loan of £10,000 in 1878 and spent most of this money on clearing the road lines, and forming and metalling the streets.

As the forest around Palmerston North was cleared and farms were established, the borough grew in prosperity. By 1885 the Council was brave enough to raise a public works loan of £50,000 and used this money to provide a public water supply (1889), a primitive sewage disposal system (1890) and further improvements to streets and stormwater drainage.

By 1902, when the borough celebrated its 25th anniversary, the population had reached 7,000 people, and Palmerston North was a rapidly growing agricultural service centre, set in the midst of a prosperous agricultural district. During the next 30 years a massive upgrading of civic facilities took place. All major streets were re-built, a new water supply and sewage system was constructed (1905-07), a public library was opened (1900), an opera house was built (1905) and a series of parks and reserves established throughout the borough. The Council also became involved with trading activities, purchasing the local gas works in 1915, the local abattoir in 1917, and establishing a bus service in 1921. An electric power station was also erected in 1924 and generated sufficient electricity to meet the needs of the borough for some years.

In 1930 the population reached 20,000 and city status was bestowed by the Governor General, but during the next two decades the development of the city was restricted by the economic depression of the 1930s and the World War of the 1940s. The only major projects undertaken by the Council during this period were the construction of a new bridge across the river at the end of Fitzherbert Avenue (1935) and the establishment of the airport at Milson (1936).

After the war a tremendous period of growth took place, with the population rising from 25,000 in 1945 to 58,000 in 1977. The city expanded its boundaries in 1949, 1953, 1961 and 1967 and the Council undertook another massive upgrading of the civic amenities. All the principal streets were reconstructed, a new dam and water treatment plant was built (1953-56) and the old septic tanks were replaced by a new sewage treatment plant (1968). The Airport was provided with a sealed runway in 1958 and natural gas was introduced in 1970.

Recreational and cultural facilities were also expanded during this period. Playgrounds and community halls were established in new suburbs, the Opera House was upgraded (1955), an art gallery was established (1959), a new Library building was erected (1965), the Lido swimming centre was built (1966) and a museum was opened (1971).

After the Government removed the railway station and railway yards from the centre of the city (1964-66), the Council developed a complex of civic buildings on the old railway land. The first of these was the Art Gallery (1977), followed by the Civic Administration Building and Council Chamber (1979) and the Globe Theatre (1982). A portion of the old railway land was also utilised for the construction of a new Fire Station, but the remainder of the land has been retained as a green, open space in the heart of the City.

During the 1980s the Council also developed the old agricultural and pastoral Showgrounds into a major recreational asset for the region, with the largest improvements being the Manawatu Sports Stadium and the grandstand.

As part of a nation-wide reorganisation of local government, a new Palmerston North City Council was constituted on 1 November 1989. The boundaries of the City were extended to include Ashhurst, Whakarongo, Aokautere, Linton and some adjacent rural areas previously administered by the Kairanga and Oroua counties. The size of the Council was increased to 16 elected members (15 Councillors and 1 Mayor), and the City was divided into 6 wards for electoral purposes.

As a result of new legislation, the Council established Local Authority Trading Enterprises (LATEs) (limited liability companies) to carry out its gas, electricity and bus services, but market competition subsequently resulted in the closing down of the bus service, the sale of gas undertaking and the merger of the electricity business with a neighbouring company. The Airport was also transferred to the control of a Council-owned company, which completed a new terminal building and developed facilities for an international air service to Australia.

Other major projects completed in recent years include the roading flyover at the intersection of Summerhill Drive and Tennent Drive, a new Science Centre and Manawatu Museum, a new Library building, improvements to the small dam at the Turitea waterworks, the restoration of the Regent Theatre and the building of the community swimming pool at Freyberg High School.

The subdivision of this area began in 1866, when a township was laid out by J.T. Stewart, an employee of the Wellington Provincial Government. Mr Stewart’s plan consisted of a series of wide and straight streets, laid out in a rectangular pattern, with the focal point for the new settlement taking the form of an open space of 17 acres, subsequently known as The Square.

The original name of this township was “Palmerston”, bestowed in honour of the Third Viscount Palmerston (Henry John Temple), a former Prime Minister of Great Britain. The suffix “North� was added in 1871 by the Post Office, in order to distinguish the settlement from its namesake in the South Island.

The Maori translation of Palmerston North is “Pamutana”.