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Small Town Series: New Zealand

Updated: Jul 22, 2020


Good Morning!

Here is another installment of the Small Town series. Today's country is New Zealand. All of these small towns have 50,000 inhabitants or less. I will be covering 9 different towns in today's post. I have included as much as I can about each small town.

Population numbers come from worldpopulationreview.com

 

Upper Hutt- 38,400 inhabitants

Upper Hutt is a city in the Wellington Region of the North Island of New Zealand, and one of the four cities that constitute the Wellington metropolitan area. Upper Hutt is in an area originally known as Orongomai, and that of the river was Heretaunga (today the name of a suburb of Upper Hutt). The first residents of the area were Māori of the Ngai Tara iwi. Various other iwi controlled the area in the years before 1840, and by the time the first colonial settlers arrived the area was part of the Te Atiawa rohe. Orongomai Marae is to the south of the modern city centre.

Richard Barton, who settled at Trentham in 1841 in the area now known as Trentham Memorial Park, was the first European resident. Barton subsequently subdivided his land and set aside a large area that was turned into parkland. James Brown settled in the area that became the Upper Hutt town in 1848. Having divided the land into 100 acre block, the settlers set about clearing the land of its indigenous forest and turning it into farmland. Sawmillers milled larger trees, such as Totara, for building materials and burned off the remaining scrub and underbrush. Upper Hutt Blockhouse was built as part of a stockade in 1860, during the New Zealand Wars.

Alarmed by unrest in Taranaki and sightings of local Maori bearing arms, settlers in the Hutt Valley lobbied for the construction of fortifications in Upper and Lower Hutt. The government and the military responded by constructing 2 stockades in the Hutt Valley in 1860. While the stockade in Upper Hutt was manned for 6 months, the threat of hostilities soon passed and neither installation ever saw hostile action. The railway line from Wellington reached Upper Hutt on 1 February 1876. The line was extended to Kaitoke at the top end of the valley, reaching there on 1 January 1878. The line continued over the Remutaka Ranges to Featherston in the Wairarapa as a Fell railway, opening on 12 October 1878. By the beginning of March 1914, the area of Upper Hutt controlled by the Upper Hutt Town Board had its own water supply. The supply capacity was increased when the Birchville Dam was built in 1930.

On the evening of 28 March 1914, fire broke out at the Benge and Pratt store in Main Street. An explosion killed 8 of the volunteers fighting the fire and destroyed the building. For many years Upper Hutt was a rural service town supporting the surrounding rural farming and forestry community. Serious urbanisation of the upper Hutt Valley only started around the 1920s but from the late 1940s onwards Upper Hutt's population exploded as people moved from the crowded hustle and bustle of inner city Wellington into a more secluded yet sprawling Hutt Valley. In 1950 Trentham Memorial Park was created with an area of almost 50 hectares. In July 1955, the electrification of the railway line from Wellington to Upper Hutt was completed, allowing fast electric multiple unit trains to replace steam- and diesel-electric-hauled carriage trains. Later in November, the 8.8 km Rimutaka Tunnel opened, bypassing the Remutaka Incline and most of the existing line between Upper Hutt and Featherston, and reducing the time between the two from 2.5 hours to just 40 minutes.


 

Papakura- 28,010 inhabitants


Papakura is a suburb of Auckland, in northern New Zealand. It is located on the shores of the Pahurehure Inlet, approximately 32 kilometres south of the Auckland CBD. It is under the authority of the Auckland Council. Papakura is a Māori word believed to have originated from papa, meaning earth or flat ) and kura meaning red, reflecting the rich, fertile soil upon which the community was founded.

An old highway, the Great South Road, runs through Papakura, forming its main street. The road was constructed during the New Zealand Wars to transport supplies to the Waikato campaign. It was guarded by armed constabulary and was a designated military road. During the major reformation of local government in 1989, Papakura became a district. Prior to that time, a smaller area was known as Papakura City, which was a small city of New Zealand, but the new district included parts of the surrounding rural countryside that had previously been part of Manukau City. After the major change "Papakura City" went to "Papakura District", and instead of being an independent city, the area was amalgamated, including it into the Auckland Region. The whole district counts as part of the Auckland urban area for statistical purposes, forming part of its southern boundary.

From October 2010, after a review of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, the entire Auckland Region was amalgamated into a single city authority. As well as the Papakura District, other territorial authorities such as North Shore City, Rodney District, Waitakere City, Auckland City, Manukau City, and the Franklin District were abolished and the entire area was dissolved into a single Auckland city council. The suburb of Papakura and other suburbs of the Papakura District are now in the Manurewa-Papakura Ward of the Auckland Council. The Papakura Military Camp was established on the outskirts of the town in 1939 and remains an important army base for New Zealand. Built by the Stevenson family it incorporates the New Zealand SAS training area. In the early 2000s some land was set aside for new housing developments.

 

Blenheim- 26,550 inhabitants

Blenheim is the most populous town in the region of Marlborough, in the north east of the South Island of New Zealand. The surrounding Marlborough wine region is well known as the centre of the New Zealand wine industry. It enjoys one of New Zealand's sunniest climates, with warm, relatively dry summers and cool, crisp winters. Blenheim is named after the Battle of Blenheim (1704), where troops led by John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough defeated a combined French and Bavarian force. The sheltered coastal bays of Marlborough supported a small Māori population possibly as early as the 12th century. Archaeological evidence dates Polynesian human remains uncovered at Wairau Bar to the 13th century. The rich sea and bird life of the area would easily have supported such small communities. As the Māori population of the area increased, they developed the land to sustain the growing population. In the early 1700s canals and waterways were dug among the natural river courses, allowing for the first forms of farming in the area including that of fish and native water fowl. A total of approximately 18 km of channels are known to have been excavated before the arrival of European settlers. Māori in the Marlborough Region also cultivated crops, including kumara (sweet potato).

The area is also home to the first serious clash of arms between Māori and the British settlers after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Wairau Affray which occurred in what is now the village of Tuamarina. The settlement was originally known to Europeans as The Beaver or Beaverton due to its frequent flooding. Although the early history of Marlborough was closely associated with the Nelson settlement, the people of Marlborough desired independence from Nelson. In 1859, nineteen years after the original Nelson settlement, the request of Marlborough settlers was granted, and Marlborough became a separate province. Although gold was discovered in the province in the early 1860s the resulting boom did not last, and while the gold rush helped to expand the region, it was the development of pastoralism which provided the greatest long-term benefits. Marlborough squatters developed huge sheep runs that dominated the countryside, rivalling Canterbury's sheep stations in size and wealth.


 

Masterton- 20,100 inhabitants

Masterton is a large town in the Greater Wellington Region of New Zealand and the seat of the Masterton District (a territorial authority or local government 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. Masterton businesses include services for surrounding farmers. Three new industrial parks are being developed in Waingawa, Solway and Upper Plain. The town is the headquarters of the annual Golden Shears sheep-shearing competition. Masterton was founded in 1854 by the Small Farms Association. The association was led by Joseph Masters – after whom the town was named – and aimed to settle working people in villages and on the land. At first Masterton grew slowly, but as its farming hinterland became more productive it began to prosper. In the 1870s it overtook Greytown as Wairarapa's major town. It became a borough in 1877 and was reached by the railway line from Wellington in 1880.

The railway became for a time the main line from Wellington to the north of New Zealand and its arrival cemented the town's position as the Wairarapa region's main market and distribution centre. In essence providing support services for rural industry - living off the sheep's back - Masterton's real growth ended with that sector's retrenchment after the 1974 British entry to the trade and political grouping now the European Union. Efforts to decentralize industry to New Zealand's provinces gave Masterton a print works and some other industries but the lost economic activity was not restored. From the 1970s, people and businesses left for opportunities elsewhere. In the 1980s, with government deregulation and protective tariffs lifted, more businesses closed and the town declined further. In April 1965 one of the country's worst industrial accidents occurred at the General Plastics Factory on 170 Dixon Street. It did not quite qualify to be a city by 1989 when the minimum population requirement for that status was lifted from 20,000 to 50,000.


 

Whakatāne- 18,602 inhabitants

Whakatāne is a town in the eastern Bay of Plenty region in the North Island of New Zealand, 90 kilometres (56 mi) east of Tauranga and 89 kilometres (55 mi) north-east of Rotorua, at the mouth of the Whakatane River. Whakatane District is the encompassing territorial authority, which covers an area to the south and west of the town, excluding the enclave of Kawerau. The site of the town has long been populated. Māori pā (Māori fortified village) sites in the area date back to the first Polynesian settlements, estimated to have been around 1200 CE. According to Māori tradition Toi-te-huatahi, later known as Toi-kai-rakau, landed at Whakatāne about 1150 CE in search of his grandson Whatonga. Failing to find Whatonga, he settled in the locality and built a pa on the highest point of the headland now called Whakatāne Heads, overlooking the present town.

Some 200 years later the Mātaatua waka landed at Whakatāne. The Maori name Whakatāne is reputed to commemorate an incident occurring after the arrival of the Mataatua. The men had gone ashore and the canoe began to drift. Wairaka, a chieftainess, said "Kia whakatāne au i ahau" ("I will act like a man"), and commenced to paddle – something that women were not allowed to do. With the help of the other women, the canoe was saved. Wairaka's efforts are commemorated by a bronze statue of her at the mouth of the Whakatāne River, which was installed in 1965. The region around Whakatāne was important during the New Zealand Wars of the mid 19th century, particularly the Volkner Incident. Its role culminated in 1869 with raids by Te Kooti's forces and a number of its few buildings were razed, leading to an armed constabulary being stationed above the town for a short while. Whakatāne beach heralded a historic meeting on 23 March 1908 between Prime Minister Joseph Ward and the Māori prophet and activist Rua Kenana Hepetipa. Kenana claimed to be Te Kooti's successor.

 

Cambridge- 15,192 inhabitants

Cambridge is a town in the Waipa District of the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand. Situated 24 kilometres (15 mi) southeast of Hamilton, on the banks of the Waikato River, Cambridge is known as "The Town of Trees & Champions". Cambridge was a finalist in the 2017 and 2019 New Zealand's Most Beautiful Large Town awards, run by Keep New Zealand Beautiful. It was awarded the title New Zealand's Most Beautiful Large Town in October 2019.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans there were a number of Maori pā in the vicinity of what would become Cambridge. In the 1850s missionaries and farmers from Britain settled in the area and introduced modern farming practices to local Maori, helping them set up two flour mills and importing grinding wheels from England and France. During the 1850s wheat was a profitable crop but when merchants in Auckland began purchasing cheaper grain from Australia the market went into decline. The European town of Cambridge was established when the 3rd Regiment of the Waikato Militia were settled there in 1864 following the Invasion of the Waikato. The town was named after Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army at the time.

 

Queenstown- 15,000 inhabitants

Queenstown is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island. The area was discovered and first settled by Māori before non-Māori arrived. The first non-Māori to see Lake Wakatipu was European Nathanael Chalmers who was guided by Reko, the chief of the Tuturau, over the Waimea Plains and up the Mataura River in September 1853. Evidence of stake nets, baskets for catching eels, spears and ashes indicated the Glenorchy area was visited by Māori. It is likely Ngāi Tahu Māori visited Queenstown en route to collect Pounamu (greenstone). A settlement called Te Kirikiri Pa was occupied by the tribe of Kāti Māmoe which was situated where the Queenstown Gardens are today, but by the time European migrants arrived in the 1860s this settlement was no longer being used.

European explorers William Gilbert Rees and Nicholas von Tunzelmann were the first non-Maoris to settle the area. Rees established a high country farm in the location of Queenstown's current town centre in 1860, but the discovery of gold in the Arrow River in 1862 encouraged Rees to convert his wool shed into a hotel named the Queen's Arms, now known as Eichardt's. Many Queenstown streets bear names from the gold mining era (such as Camp Street) and some historic buildings remain. William's Cottage, the Lake Lodge of Ophir (now Artbay Gallery), Queenstown Police Station, and St Peter's Anglican Church lie close together in a designated historic precinct.

 

Waiuku- 9,660 inhabitants

Waiuku is a rural town in the Auckland Region in the North Island of New Zealand. It is located at the southern end of the Waiuku River, which is an estuarial arm of the Manukau Harbour, and lies on the isthmus of the Awhitu Peninsula, which extends to the northeast. It is 40 kilometres southwest of Auckland city centre, and 12 kilometres north of the mouth of the Waikato River. The town serves to support local farming, and is the residence of many employees of New Zealand Steel at Glenbrook, which is four kilometres to the northeast.

It was part of the Franklin District prior to it being abolished in 2010. Most of the town is now within the boundaries of Auckland Council, with the balance in the area of Waikato District Council.

The Māori name Waiuku comes from a legend that two prominent brothers, Tamakae and Tamakou, vied for the hand of a beautiful high-ranking Waikato chieftainess. Tamakae was the cultivator, provider and Tamakou the orator. Tamakou was the first to meet her, but she requested that Tamakae be presented to her. He was working in the kumara gardens and had to be washed in the wai (water) and uku (a particular type of mud) at the stream that flows into the Manukau Harbour just behind the Waiuku Museum, before he was able to meet her. Tamakae won her heart and married her. From then the place was named Waiuku.

Waiuku came into existence as a port in about 1843, on the then important trade route between Auckland and the agricultural area of the Waikato. It was also the terminal of an ancient Maori portage between the Waikato River and the Manukau Harbour. Waiuku was marked out by the Government as a town in 1851. During the Waikato War (1863–64), Waiuku became a frontier stockade guarded by a blockhouse. One of the founders of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Waiuku in the 19th century was Captain Sir John Makgill. Makgill arrived with his family in Waiuku in 1882 and established a farm called 'Brackmont' at Taurangaruru. He eventually increased his holdings there to about 2500 acres, and also bought land at Orua Bay. Sir John Makgill died at Brackmont on 14 November 1906. His wife was Margaret Isabella Haldane, sister of Lord Haldane, and their eldest son was George Makgill who spent most of his adult life in Scotland, becoming 11th Baronet of Makgill on his father's death.

One other son John E Makgill continued to farm at Taurangaruru, while another Robert Haldane Makgill was a key figure in the development of New Zealand's public health system. He was one of the country's first district health officers, at a time when central government took on greater responsibility for public health. He was to play an important role during the 1918 influenza pandemic and its aftermath, notably as ‘the chief architect’ of ‘the most useful legacy of the 1918 influenza pandemic’: the 1920 Health Act.

The Waikato War ended the traffic responsible for the early development of the town as a trading post. Waiuku later grew as a farming centre under road board administration, and in 1914 became a town district. It was constituted a borough in 1955, and subsequently amalgamated into the Franklin District Council in 1988. A major development for the town was the government sponsored establishment, from the mid-1960s, of New Zealand's first steel plant at Glenbrook to convert ironsand brought from the black sand deposits at Waikato Heads into steel. After many changes of ownership and name, the company has returned to being called New Zealand Steel and is a division of BlueScope of Australia. The company continues to be a major employer in and influence on the town.


 

Ōtaki- 3,400 inhabitants

Ōtaki is a town in the Kapiti Coast District of the North Island of New Zealand, situated half way between the capital city Wellington, 70 km (43 mi) to the southwest, and Palmerston North, 70 km (43 mi) to the northeast. Ōtaki is located on New Zealand State Highway 1 and the North Island Main Trunk railway between Wellington and Auckland and marks the northernmost point of the Wellington Region. The construction of the Kapiti Expressway and the Transmission Gully Motorway are currently underway and will cut traveling times to Wellington. The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage gives a translation of "place of sticking a staff into the ground" for Ōtaki.

Since the early 19th century, the area has been home to Māori of the Ngāti Raukawa iwi who had migrated from the Kawhia area from about 1819, under the leadership of Te Rauparaha. They had supplanted the Rangitāne and Muaūpoko people. At the request of Te Rauparaha, missionaries Henry Williams and Octavius Hadfield visited the area in December and Hadfield opened the first mission in the Wellington Region at Otaki. At the nearby Raukawa marae is the Rangiātea Church, the original of which was completed in 1851. Burnt down in 1995, it was completely rebuilt by 2003. The community has two marae, affiliated with the iwi of Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and its hapū. Te Pou o Tainui Marae and Kapumanawawhiti meeting house are affiliated with the hapū of Ngāti Kapumanawawhiti. Raukawa Marae and meeting house are affiliated with the hapū of Ngāti Korokī, Ngāti Maiotaki and Ngāti Pare.

 

There you have it another 9 small towns. Have an awesome day :)

 

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