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For other uses, see Masterton (disambiguation).
Location of Masterton District in Wellington Region
Location of Masterton District in Wellington Region
Country  New Zealand
Region Wellington
Territorial authority Masterton District
Town founded 1854
Electorate Wairarapa
 • Mayor Lyn Patterson
 • Territorial 2,299 km2 (888 sq mi)
 • Urban 100.66 km2 (38.87 sq mi)
Elevation 111 m (364 ft)
Population (June 2015 estimate)[1]
 • Territorial 24,400
 • Density 11/km2 (27/sq mi)
 • Urban 21,000
 • Urban density 210/km2 (540/sq mi)
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
Postcode 5810
Area code(s) 06

Masterton (Māori: Whakaoriori[2]) is a large town and local government district in the Wellington Region of New Zealand. 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, 28 kilometres south of Eketahuna, on the Ruamahanga River.

Masterton has an urban population of 21,000, and district population of 24,400 (June 2015 estimates).[1]

The Wairarapa Line railway allows access to Wellington, Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt.

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 suburbs include:

  • In the northern part of town: Opaki, Lansdowne & Te Ore Ore.
  • In the eastern part of town: Eastside & Homebush.
  • In the western part of town: Upper Plain & Akura.
  • In the southern part of town: Kuripuni, Solway.


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. This cemented the town’s position as the region’s main market and distribution centre.

In the 20th century Masterton kept growing, but never enough to dominate the region. From the 1960s, 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.[3]

In April 1965 one of the country's worst industrial accidents occurred at the General Plastics Factory.[4]

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.


At the 2006 census, Masterton District had a population of 22,623, an increase of 6 people, <0.1 percent, since the 2001 census. There were 9030 occupied dwellings, 1248 unoccupied dwellings, and 123 dwellings under construction.[5]

Of the population, 10,869 (48.0%) were male, and 11,754 (52.0%) female.[5] The district had a median age of 40.4 years, 4.5 years above the national median age of 35.9 years. People aged 65 years and over made up 16.8% of the population, compared to 12.3% nationally, and people under 15 years made up 21.3%, compared to 21.5% nationally.[5]

Masterton's ethnicity was made up of (national figure in brackets): 77.9% European (67.6%), 16.9% Maori (14.7%), 1.7% Asian (9.2%), 2.7% Pacific Islanders (6.9%), 0.26% Middle Eastern/Latin American/African (0.9%), 12.1% 'New Zealanders' (11.1%), and 0.05% Other (0.04%).[5]

Masterton had an unemployment rate of 4.8% of people 15 years and over, compared to 5.1% nationally.[5] The median annual income of all people 15 years and over was $21,700, compared to $24,400 nationally. Of those, 46.7% earned under $20,000, compared to 43.2% nationally, while 12.3% earned over $50,000, compared to 18.0% nationally.[5]


Masterton enjoys a mild temperate climate grading towards a Mediterranean climate. Due to the geography of the Wairarapa valley and the Tararua Range directly to the west, the town's temperature fluctuates more than nearby inland city of Palmerston North. Masterton experiences warmer, dry summers with highs above 30 °C possible and colder winters with frequent frost and lows below 0 °C.

Climate data for Masterton
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 24.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.1
Average low °C (°F) 11.8
Average rainfall mm (inches) 44.4
Average rainy days 7.1 7.6 10.1 9.2 11.0 13.2 14.1 14.1 11.7 12.8 10.0 9.7 129.8
Average relative humidity (%) 76.0 82.9 84.2 87.0 89.5 91.3 91.1 89.6 83.5 79.0 78.8 76.9 84.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 238.6 204.4 169.2 155.6 132.0 99.9 114.9 128.6 148.0 184.0 185.6 221.3 1,964.2
Source: NIWA Climate Data[6]
Golden Shears sign.


Between 1877 and 1989, Masterton Borough Council governed the area. An early mayor was the storekeeper Myer Caselberg (1886–1888).[7]

The Masterton District Council (MDC) governs the Masterton District territorial authority. It is made up of an elected mayor, a deputy mayor/councillor, and 9 additional councillors. They are elected under the First Past the Post system in triennial elections, with the last election being held on Saturday 12 October 2013.[8]

The Mayor of Masterton and five of the councillors are elected at large, while one councillor is elected from the Rural Ward (outside the Masterton urban area), and four are elected from the Urban Ward (Masterton urban area).

As of October 2013, the current council members are:[9]

Mayor Lyn Patterson
Councillors – At Large Brent Goodwin
Pip Hannon
David Holmes
Jonathan Hooker
Chris Peterson
Councillors – Rural Graham McClymont (Deputy Mayor)
Councillors – Urban Doug Bracewell
Gary Caffell
Mark Harris
Simon O'Donoghue

Nationally, Masterton is part of the Wairarapa general electorate and the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Māori electorate.[10]


Masterton's schools were reviewed over 2003 to take into account a changing demographic of the population, with several primary schools closing and merging. Today, there are five state primary schools in the township – four state contributing primaries: Douglas Park, Fernridge, Masterton Primary and Solway; and one state full primary: Lakeview. In addition, there are five state full primary schools in the surrounding district: Mauriceville, Opaki, Tinui, Wainuiouru and Whareama, and two state integrate primaries: St Patrick's, a Catholic contributing primary, and Hadlow, an Anglican full primary.

Masterton Intermediate School, with 400 students, is the only intermediate school in Masterton (and the Wairarapa), bridging the gap between the state contributing primary schools and the secondary schools.

Two state secondary schools serve Masterton: Wairarapa College is the largest of the two with 1050 students, serving the western side of the town, while Makoura College with 320 students serves the eastern side of town. Four state integrated schools also serve the town: Chanel College is a coeducational Catholic school with its own intermediate department; Rathkeale College and St Matthew's Collegiate are Anglican boys and girls schools respectively, with St Matthew's having an intermediate department; and Solway College is a Presbyterian girls school with intermediate. There is also a composite (primary/secondary combined) Māori immersion school in the town: Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Wairarapa.

Masterton has its own polytechnic, run by UCOL (Universal College of Learning).



Times-Age offices and printing works

The only daily newspaper based in Masterton is the Wairarapa Times-Age, formed by a merger between the Wairarapa Age and the Wairarapa Daily Times on 1 April 1938. The Times-Age circulates throughout the greater Wairarapa region. The current senior management is Andrew Denholm, commercial manager, Louise Clark, advertising manager, Dave Saunders, editor and Kim Hildred, circulation and newspaper sales manager. The Times-Age also published Wairarapa Midweek, a weekly community paper circulation 19,000. The Wairarapa Times-Age is part of the APN newspaper group.


The Masterton telephone exchange opened in 1897 with 53 subscribers. On 31 May 1919, Masterton became the first town in New Zealand to have a completely automatic (Rotary) telephone exchange.

Masterton and nearby Carterton were the first towns in New Zealand to introduce the emergency number 111, in September 1958.[11]

Before the 1991 to 1993 changes, the area code for Masterton was 059. Today the area code is 06, and numbers generally begin with 370, 372 (rural areas), 377, 378 and 946. 946 numbers are companies only.

Radio Stations

Masterton is serviced by two local radio stations. Wairarapa's 89.5 / 105.5 / 105.9 MORE FM Wairarapa broadcasts locally from 6am to 10am daily from studios in Kuripuni. The station was founded by controversial Broadcaster Paul Henry, as TODAY FM 89.3 in Carterton in 1991. Later the station was rebranded as Hitz 89FM, Wairarapa's Best Music. The MORE FM Breakfast Show has been hosted by well-known local broadcaster Brent Gare, since 2004. The Saturday sports show at 8am has been hosted by local sports-caster Chris "Coggie" Cogdale since 1992. The Hits 90.3 takes local programming from the Wellington station from 9am-3pm, at all other times a network feed is taken from The Hits Auckland.


In 2007 there were two wireless internet service providers based in Masterton, providing high speed broadband access to the towns and rural areas of the Wairarapa. WISE Net (purchased by Orcon Internet Limited in 2006, and in January 2007 Canning & Associates purchased Orcon WiseNet Wireless Network) and WIZwireless LTD formerly Canning & Associates. ADSL and VDSL access is widely available. On 3 December 2015 the UFB rollout to the town was completed.[12]


Masterton is serviced by all the major national television channels. The main television transmitter for the town, and most of the southern half of the district, is the Otahoua transmitter atop Bennett's Hill, north-west of the town. TV3 transmits from the Popoiti transmitter east of Greytown. In the northern half of the district, Palmerston North's Mount Wharite transmitter provides the television service. Satellite television, both free-to-air and pay television, is available to all residents.

Digital terrestrial television (Freeview HD) was introduced to the Masterton area in July 2011, in preparedness for the area's digital switchover in September 2013. The service broadcasts from the Popoiti transmitter, necessitating Masterton residents to rotate their UHF aerials to pick up the signal from Popoiti instead of Otahoua, and in some cases, replace them to pick up the signal from a longer distance.[13]


Masterton is very well served by public transport with rail and bus links. Despite Masterton and the Wairarapa valley being reasonably close to Wellington, they are separated by the Rimutaka Ranges with State Highway 2 cutting a winding hill road through the range, and the Rimutaka railway tunnel. Unlike other parts of the country, the Wairarapa has seen passenger rail services remain, largely due to its proximity to Wellington and the Rimutaka Tunnel's advantage over the Rimutaka Hill road. There has been talk of constructing a road tunnel through the ranges for decades, but this has been ruled out due to the extremely high cost.[14] According to the latest transportation plan from the Greater Wellington Regional Council,[15] the only work planned is for upgrades to the Rimutaka Hill road and the addition of passing lanes between Featherston and Masterton.


Masterton is linked to Wellington and the Hutt Valley by the Wairarapa Connection, a Tranz Metro passenger service run for Greater Wellington Region's Metlink, primarily operating at peak times serving commuters from Masterton and the Wairarapa with five return services on Monday to Thursday, six on Friday and two at weekends and public holidays. There are three railway stations in the town; Masterton, Renall Street and Solway. To cope with an increase in logging in the Wairarapa, an additional 2.5 hectare rail freight hub is due to be operational in Norfolk Road, Waingawa by March 2016.[16]


Four Yak-52s
Wings over Wairarapa airshow 2007

There is a local Metlink bus service in Masterton operated by Tranzit. The buses operate on five routes: three suburban and two regional [1] including:

Metlink Bus Services Termini
Route 200
Wairarapa Hospital
Featherston Station
Route 201
Masterton West
Masterton – Church Street
Worksop Road (Woolworths)
Route 202
Masterton South & East
Masterton – Church Street
Masterton – Church Street
Route 203
Masterton – Lansdowne Circuit
Masterton – Church Street
Worksop Road (Woolworths)
Route 205
Featherston Station

There is also the MPN: Masterton to Palmerston North (via Woodville) service, not operated under the Metlink brand.


Hood Aerodrome is south of Masterton though as of 2015, there are no commercial flights from it. From early 2009 until late 2013 Air New Zealand provided flights to Auckland, operated by subsidiary Eagle Airways six days a week, mainly to serve business customers in the Wairarapa.[17] There have been a few other unsuccessful attempts at commercial air travel in Masterton, mostly failing due to its proximity to major airports in Wellington and Palmerston North. The most significant was by South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand (SPANZ), which operated daily flights using DC3s during the sixties to destinations nationwide until the airline's closure in 1966.

Sister cities

Masterton has Sister City relationships with:


Masterton is the antipode of Segovia, Spain.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2015 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2015.  For urban areas, "Infoshare; Group: Population Estimates - DPE; Table: Estimated Resident Population for Urban Areas, at 30 June (1996+) (Annual-Jun)". Statistics New Zealand. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "List of Place Names". Māori Language Commission/Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Schrader, Ben. "Wairarapa places - Masterton". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved January 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d e f Quickstats about Masterton District
  6. ^ "Climate Data". NIWA. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Christensen, Margaret. "Myer Caselberg". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Elections". Masterton District Council. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "Councillors". Masterton District Council. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  10. ^ "Find my electorate". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  11. ^ "Fiftieth anniversary of 111 emergency service" (Press release). Beehive. 8 May 2008. Retrieved 25 June 2009. 
  12. ^ "Masterton ultra-fast network complete". NZME. 13 December 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  13. ^ Crombie, Nathan (16 September 2010). "Town may get HD television". Wairarapa Times-Age (Masterton: APN News & Media). 
  14. ^ Farmer, Don (23 May 2008). "Rimutaka road tunnels back on the agenda". Wairarapa Times-Age (Masterton: APN News & Media). Retrieved 4 February 2012. In their report to Transit the consultants contend tunnels would be an excellent service linking Featherston with Upper Hutt but costs would rule them out as a viable, economic option. 
  15. ^ "Greater Wellington Regional Council Wairarapa Corridor Plan, December 2003" (PDF). Retrieved 5 September 2005. 
  16. ^ "New Masterton rail freight hub opens in 2016". DieselTalk. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  17. ^ "Air NZ announces Masterton-Auckland route". Fairfax New Zealand. 29 September 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 

External links

Coordinates: 40°57′10″S 175°39′30″E / 40.95278°S 175.65833°E / -40.95278; 175.65833