News, Events and Culture


Palmerston becomes Palmerston North; beginnings of industry; a school and a library; a Borough is incorporated and our first Mayor.


30 December
  • George Matthew Snelson takes up residence at Papaioea (Palmerston)


  • Population 25
  • Sawmilling industry established in Palmerston North
  • First cabinetmaker, wheelwright, shoemaker, tailor & blacksmith
  • George Matthew Snelson becomes the first storekeeper in Palmerston North
  • The Post Office adds the word North to Palmerston to avoid confusion with a town of the same name in the South Island, debate on the naming of Palmerston continued through the 1870s
4 February
  • Walter Woods Johnston elected MP for Manawatū
  • Scandinavian settlements established at Awapuni and Whakarongo
26 December
  • First recorded horse racing meeting held on an improvised course along Rangitīkei Line near The Square, organised by James Linton


  • Road through Manawatū Gorge opened
  • First Policeman - Constable W C Wilson
  • Petition from residents to change the name of Palmerston is accepted, residents are asked to come up with a new name


  • Wooden Tramway opens between Palmerston North and Foxton
  • Public meeting held to debate a new name for Palmerston North, no clear decision made
  • First Public School - the first school is established (later Campbell Street School)


  • Population 193 (excludes Māori)


  • The Manawatū Times is the first newspaper published in the town
  • Anglican Church, construction begins
  • Telegraph communications established between Palmerston North and Foxton
  • Railway Line and Station laid through The Square
  • Foresters' Lodge & public hall built, later the 'Theatre Royal'


  • Town Board formed - Palmerston North becomes a Local Board District within the Wellington Provincial Council
  • Railway opened between Palmerston North and Foxton
  • Robért Embroideries established by William Charles Robért, the business is still in operation in 2008 on Main Street
  • The area now known as Victoria Esplanade is designated a reserve
  • Subscription reading room established by local residents, service does not last the year


  • Population 800
  • The first Fitzherbert Bridge over the Manawatū river is completed
  • Volunteer Fire Brigade formed - it has 5 members
  • Primary School opens in Longburn
12 July
  • Borough of Palmerston North is officially incorporated
9 August
  • George Matthew Snelson elected first Mayor of Palmerston North (unopposed)
  • The first Council is composed of nine members
  • Value of assessable property in the Borough is £6,452 with a rates revenue of £381
  • First Presbyterian Church


  • Population 880 (excludes Māori)
  • A gathering of principal Māori chiefs from the Manawatū bestowed the name 'Te Marae-o-Hine' or 'The Courtyard of the Daughter of Peace' on The Square in the centre of the new township of Palmerston . The name was suggested by Matene Te Whiwhi of Ngati Raukawa
  • The Council raises a £10,000 loan to create proper roads, out of 28 miles of street in the town only six miles are formed and metalled
  • Council purchases the Public Hall
  • Manawatu Flour Mills officially opens on the corner of Albert Street and Broadway Avenue
  • Primary School opens in Ashhurst
  • Branch Post Office opens in Terrace End in Mr E Marsh's Store
  20 May
  • Railway line officially opens between Palmerston North and Wanganui


  • The Square is fenced with a post and chain fence
  • James Linton is elected Mayor
  • Council calls for tender for night soil collection, the first sewerage system, Mr Moffatt is the successful tenderer
  • Robert Keeling, a part time clerk since 1877, becomes the first full-time office employee of the Council
  31 May
  • Public library established under the Borough Council, members must pay a yearly subscription, it is the first 'service' to be financed by the Council with the first special rate of 1/- in the £

Most dates are taken from tertiary sources and accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Researchers are strongly advised to check specific dates in other sources to confirm accuracy to their own satisfaction. All corrections or additional information and dates gratefully considered - please contact the Ian Matheson City Archives.