|Settled||28 February 1882|
|Incorporated (borough)||25 July 1892|
|Founded by||W. W. McCardle|
|• Tararua Mayor||Tracey Collis|
|• Wairarapa MP||Kieran McAnulty|
|• Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP||Meka Whaitiri|
|Elevation||103 m (341 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+12 (NZST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+13 (NZDT)|
Pahiatua is a rural service town in the south-eastern North Island of New Zealand with a population of 2,820. It is between Masterton and Woodville on State Highway 2 and along 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. For local government purposes, since 1989 it has been in the Tararua District, which encompasses Eketahuna, Pahiatua, Woodvillle, Dannevirke, Norsewood and the far east of the Manawatū-Whanganui region.
Unusual 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, including banking, postal services and a cinema, the Regent Theatre. Originally built by Kerridge Theatres NZ in 1940, the 600 seat Regent closed in 1977 and was purchased by the Pahiatua Repertory Society who converted it into a 230 seat cinema in the upstairs area and a 220 seat live theatre facility in the downstairs area. At that time the name was changed to Upstairs Downstairs Theatre. In 2001 an extensive restoration of the facade and foyer took place and the building's name reverted to the original name, the Regent. In 2015 the cinema converted from 35mm projection to fully compliant DCI digital projection. Still owned by the Pahiatua Repertory Society, today it operates as two separate entities: The Pahiatua Upstairs Cinema Society (a registered charity) and the Pahiatua Repertory Society Incorporated (also a registered charity). In 2021 Westpac Bank closed its Pahiatua branch leaving the town with no full banking facilities. However Kiwi bank operates a banking agency at the NZ Post Shop at 91 Main Street Pahiatua. The town is also served by a public swimming pool, an extensive sports complex, a supermarket, a Kohanga Reo, two kindergartens, an Early Childhood Centre. two primary schools, a secondary school, a volunteer fire brigade, and a public library.
The town was named by its founder, William Wilson McCardle. Pahiatua was already the name of the wider Pahiatua Block. When translated from Māori, Pahiatua can mean "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.
Pahiatua covers an area of 3.86 km², all of it land.
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.
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.
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.
Historical population counts show a steady increase in the size of the town throughout most of the 20th century.
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. The 1934 Pahiatua earthquake was felt as far away as Auckland and Dunedin.
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 camp even had a Polish elementary school (until 1949) and a Polish gymnasium (until 1946). The settlement was expected to be a temporary measure, but with the occupation of Central Europe, including Poland, by the Soviet Union and its subsequent imposition of communist regimes after the end of the war, the refugees stayed on at the camp until 1949 at which point they were naturalised.
In 1951 the camp was used for over 900 refugees from Central and 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. The local museum opened a new exhibit in 2017 to tell the story of the refugees' experience in New Zealand.
The estimated population of Pahiatua reached 2,760 in 1996, 2,660 in 2001, 2,547 in 2006, 2,403 in 2013, and 2,682 in 2018.
Average residential property prices increased 43% between 2005 and 2008.
Pahiatua Marae, featuring Te Kohanga Whakawhaiti meeting house, is a traditional meeting place for Rangitāne and its Ngāti Hāmua and Te Kapuārangi sub-tribes. It includes Te Kohanga Whakawhaiti wharenui (meeting house).
Pahiatua & Districts Museum opened in 1977.
Pahiatua has an estimated population of 2,820 as of June 2021, with a population density of 730.57 people per km².
Pahiatua had a population of 2,682 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 279 people (11.6%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 135 people (5.3%) since the 2006 census. There were 1,053 households. There were 1,269 males and 1,413 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.9 males per female. The median age was 40.4 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 603 people (22.5%) aged under 15 years, 429 (16.0%) aged 15 to 29, 1,092 (40.7%) aged 30 to 64, and 561 (20.9%) aged 65 or older.
Ethnicities were 87.6% European/Pākehā, 23.5% Māori, 2.5% Pacific peoples, 2.5% Asian, and 2.1% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).
The proportion of people born overseas was 9.4%, compared with 27.1% nationally.
Although some people objected to giving their religion, 46.3% had no religion, 41.7% were Christian, 0.4% were Hindu, 0.1% were Muslim, 0.3% were Buddhist and 3.1% had other religions.
Of those at least 15 years old, 192 (9.2%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 621 (29.9%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $23,900, compared with $31,800 nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 825 (39.7%) people were employed full-time, 312 (15.0%) were part-time, and 114 (5.5%) were unemployed.
The economy is based on support for sheep and beef farming and the dairy industry with the Fonterra Dairy factory in Mangamutu and Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka, both located just outside of the town. Other major employers include Betacraft also located in Mangatainoka.
In 2018, 16.9% of the workforce worked in manufacturing, 5.8% worked in construction, 5.0% worked in hospitality, 3.4% worked in transport, 7.9% worked in education, and 9.8% worked in healthcare.
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. 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.
As of 2018, among those who commute to work, 71.0% drove a car, 4.7% rode in a car, 2.9% use a bike, and 2.9% walk or run. No one commuted by public transport.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
The old Pahiatua hospital complex has been refurbished and converted into a private conference and accommodation business called Masters Hall.
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.
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. The service is now available to some rural residents and urban customers.
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.
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.
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.
When the Tararua District moved to digital TV transmission in 2013 the TTV directors reluctantly closed the Tararua Television station because of financial constraints.
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. 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.
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- Pahiatua Railway Station
- Wairarapa (New Zealand electorate)
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