Manawatu District

The Manawatu District is a local government district in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region in the North Island of New Zealand.

Manawatu District
Rongotea Community Centre and Library (Dec. 2011)
CountryNew Zealand
DistrictManawatu District Council
  MayorHelen Worboys
  Deputy MayorMichael Ford
  Total2,624.115 km2 (1,013.176 sq mi)
 (June 2018)[1]
  Density12/km2 (31/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+12 (NZST)
  Summer (DST)UTC+13 (NZDT)
WebsiteManawatu District Council

The district is based on the town of Feilding and includes most of the area between the Manawatu River in the south and the Rangitikei River in the north; stretching from slightly south of the settlement of Himatangi in the south, to just south of Mangaweka in the north; and from the Rangitikei River to the summits of the Ruahine Ranges in the east. The district does not include the area around Foxton, Foxton Beach or the mouth of the Manawatu River. It also excludes the area around the city of Palmerston North (including Ashhurst). The district has an area of 2,624 km².


Manawatu is said to have been named by Hau, a great Māori explorer. When searching for his wife who had left him for another lover, Hau is said to have pursued her along the south west coast of the North Island. As he travelled, he came across and named river mouths including Whanganui, Whangaehu and Rangitikei according to events that befell him at the time. He came across a large, wide river mouth. In awe of the sight and in fear he might not be able to cross it, he stated "Ka tū taku manawa" (My heart stands still).[2]

The term Manawatu (often the Manawatu) also refers to the whole geographical region centred on the floodplain of the Manawatu River, with Palmerston North as its principal city. Like several other geographical regions in New Zealand, such as Wairarapa and the King Country, the Manawatu in this sense never had precisely defined borders, its extents determined largely by custom and preference. Always included however are Palmerston North and all of today's Manawatu district and usually included is that part of Horowhenua district lying north of Levin. Parts of Rangitikei and/or Tararua districts might also be included.


The district has a population of 31,100 as of June 2018.[1] Feilding, the district seat, has a population of 16,850 and is the only town in the district with a population over 1,000. Other towns and settlements in the district include Halcombe, Himatangi Beach, Kimbolton, Pohangina, Rongotea, Sanson, and Tangimoana.

Local government

District Council

Manawatu District Council was formed by the amalgamation of the Feilding Borough, Kiwitea County, Manawatu District, Oroua County and Pohangina County Councils in the 1989 local government reforms.

For the purposes of representation, Manawatu District is divided into three wards:

Ward nameNumber of councillorsArea included
Feilding5Feilding (urban)
Kairanga3Rongotea, Sanson, Himatangi Beach, Ohakea, Bainesse, Kairanga (north of Kairanga Bunnythorpe Rd, Longburn (west of the NIMT), Karere, Tangimoana. (Rural south)
Kiwitea-Pohangina2Kimbolton, Halcombe, Cheltenham, Waituna West, Rangiwahia, Apiti. (rural north)

The council is responsible for day-to-day administration and services:

  • Animal control
  • Bylaws
  • Cemeteries
  • Community grants and funding
  • Infrastructure such as roads, drains, rubbish collection.
  • Library services
  • Liquor licensing
  • Property profiling.


Ian McKelvie was first elected mayor in a by-election in November 2002. After being elected to Parliament in the 2011 election, he resigned from the mayoralty on 15 December 2011.[3][4] Deputy Mayor Matt Bell was then acting mayor until a by-election held on 7 March 2012.[4] The by-election was narrowly won by Margaret Kouvelis from Feilding, who beat councillor Steven Gibson by just 14 votes (3293 votes to 3279).[5] Helen Worboys won the mayoralty from the incumbent Margaret Kouvelis in the 2016 Local Government elections.

Horizons Regional Council

Manawatu District is in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region, which is governed by the Horizons Regional Council. For electoral and representation purposes, the district is divided into:

  • Horowhenua-Kairanga Ward: rural area south of Feilding, including the entire Horowhenua District.
  • Manawatu-Rangitikei Ward: Feilding and rural area to the north, and including the entire Rangitikei District.


The Manawatu district includes both plains and hills, and is visited by cyclists and others for the views of the Central North Island volcanoes on clear days. The western coast has swimming beaches and large sand dunes, while the Ruahine Ranges in the east has walking tracks and views over the district from the Wharite mountain or from the Saddle Road.

In the middle of the district is Feilding, with its saleyards, equestrian and motorsport venue (Manfeild), boutique shopping and historical landmarks and collections.

Manawatu is the location of the Royal New Zealand Air Force's main base, RNZAF Base Ohakea.



  • Feilding High School - Feilding
  • Hato Paora College - Cheltenham


  • Feilding Intermediate School - Feilding


  • Manchester Street School - Feilding
  • Mount Biggs School
  • Lytton Street School
  • North Street School
  • St Joseph's School
  • Colyton School
  • Taonui School
  • Kiwitea School
  • Apiti School
  • Utuwai School
  • Cheltenham School
  • Awahou School
  • Sanson School
  • Glen Oroua School
  • Taikorea School
  • Bainesse School
  • Rongotea School
  • Te Kura-Ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kauwhata


  1. "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2018 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018. For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates (UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-18 (2017 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 November 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "National Selects Ian Mckelvie As Rangitikei Candidate" (Press release). 30 May 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  4. "Mayor's busy final week" (Press release). Manawatu District Council. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  5. Crosbie, Sandra (15 March 2012). "Mayor Kouvelis takes the reins". Manawatu Standard. Retrieved 21 February 2013.

Further reading

  • Davies, D. A. & Clevely, R. E. (1981) Pioneering to prosperity 1874–1974: a centennial history of the Manchester Block. Feilding: Fisher Printing.
  • Holcroft, M. H. (1977) The line of the road: a history of Manawatu County, 1876–1976. Palmerston North: Manawatu County Council.
  • Knight, Catherine (2014) Ravaged Beauty: An Environmental History of the Manawatu. Auckland: Dunmore Press. ISBN 978-1-927212-13-4

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