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Palmerston North History, New Zealand

The local Māori iwi that were living in the area of Te Ahu-a-Turanga were the Ngāti Rangitāne.  Then Jack Duff, a trader, became the first European known to explore this area during 1830.  He arrived on a whaling ship, exploring the land as far inland as Woodville stands now.  Later, he reported what he discovered when he arrived back home.  Colonel Wakefield caught wind of the development potential that Manawatu had and visited the area in 1840.  It wasn't until later, in 1846, that another trader by the name of Charles Hartley heard from the local Māori iwi about a forest clearing.  He then proceeded into the forest to discover it.

A survey of the area was done from 1866 to 1867 by the government.  The Palmerston North original subdivision was created in 1866  J.T. Stewart, a Wellington Provincial Government employee, planned this township.  His plan contained a series of straight and wide streets that were laid out in a pattern of rectangles.There are landmarks around the area in Mr. Stewart's memory, like the Stewart Crescent and Mt. Stewart.

There are four original streets in Palmerston North, which all arrive to The Square, coming from different directions, including Fitzherbert Avenue from the south, Main Street West, Rangitikei Street, and Main Street East.  As the settlement got bigger, the forest disappeared in order to clear land for farms, and there is virtually no remnant of the forest left today.

When the Borough Council was brought into existence by 1877, Palmerston North was isolated as a village, sitting in a native forest that covered the inland area of Manawatu.  The town had a population of about 800 people, and the main industry was saw-milling throughout the district.  In 1886, a railway arrived, bringing with it an increase in the growth rate of the town, and the population increased to 6,000 by 1900.  Palmerston North was in the middle of a profitable agricultural district by this time.

After only 30 more years, in 1930, the population of Palmerston North reached 20,000, and the town was then proclaimed to be an official city.  The development of history was slow during this period.  However, this was because of the Great Depression and the Second World War. At Milson during 1936, an airport was founded, which is now the Palmerston North International Airport.  The city's growth was fast after the war was over, and the population increased to more than 50,000 by the middle of the 1970s.

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