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Coordinates: 40°05′35″S 175°46′55″E / -40.093, 175.782

Manawatū District
—  Territorial authority  —
Rongotea Community Centre and Library (Dec. 2011)
Country New Zealand
Region Manawatū-Whanganui
District Manawatū District Council
Wards Feilding
Seat Feilding
 • Mayor
 • Total 2,624.115 km2 (1,013.176 sq mi)
Population (June 2020)[1]
 • Total 32,100
 • Density 12/km2 (32/sq mi)
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
Postcode(s) Map of postcodes
Website Manawatū District Council

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

The district is based on the town of Feilding and includes most of the area between the Manawatū River in the south and the Rangitīkei 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 Rangitīkei 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 Manawatū River. It also excludes some rural area around the city of Palmerston North (including Ashhurst and Bunnythorpe). The district has an area of 2,624 km².


Manawatū 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 Rangitīkei 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 Manawatū (often the Manawatu) also refers to the whole geographical region centred on the floodplain of the Manawatū River, with Palmerston North as its principal city. Like several other geographical regions in New Zealand, such as Wairarapa and the King Country, the Manawatū 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 Manawatū 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 had a population of 32,100 as of June 2020.[1] Feilding, the district seat, had a population of 17,050 and is the only town in the district with a population over 1,000. Other towns and settlements in the district include Cheltenham, Colyton, Halcombe, Himatangi Beach, Kimbolton, Pohangina, Rongotea, Sanson, and Tangimoana. There are numerous smaller settlements, such as Taonui, just across the Oroua River from Feilding.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 26,070
2013 27,459 0.74%
2018 30,165 1.88%
Source: [3]

Manawatū District had a population of 30,165 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 2,706 people (9.9%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 4,095 people (15.7%) since the 2006 census. There were 11,193 households. There were 14,943 males and 15,222 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.98 males per female. The median age was 41.3 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 6,282 people (20.8%) aged under 15 years, 5,004 (16.6%) aged 15 to 29, 13,473 (44.7%) aged 30 to 64, and 5,406 (17.9%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 89.2% European/Pākehā, 16.5% Māori, 2.0% Pacific peoples, 2.6% Asian, and 2.0% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 10.6%, which contrasts with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 52.4% had no religion, 35.4% were Christian, 0.4% were Hindu, 0.2% were Muslim, 0.3% were Buddhist and 2.7% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 3,657 (15.3%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 5,595 (23.4%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $32,400, just above the national $31,800. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 12,321 (51.6%) people were employed full-time, 3,498 (14.6%) were part-time, and 726 (3.0%) were unemployed.[3]

Individual statistical areas
Name Population Households Median age Median income
Northern Manawatū Rural Ward 6,588 2,337 42.7 years $36,900
Southern Manawatū Rural Ward 7,779 2,871 41.1 years $36,500
Feilding Ward 15,798 5,985 40.8 years $28,900
New Zealand 37.4 years $31,800

Local government[]

St. Andrews Combined Church and hall, Bainesse, Manawatū

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Rongotea (built c. 1895)

District Council[]

Manawatū District Council was formed by the amalgamation of the councils of the Feilding Borough, Kiwitea County, Manawatū District (itself created only the previous year from a merger of Manawatu and Kairanga counties), Oroua County and Pohangina County in the 1989 local government reforms.

For the purposes of representation, Manawatū District was divided into three wards:

Ward name Number of councillors Area included
Feilding 5 Feilding (urban)
Kairanga 3 Rongotea, Sanson, Himatangi Beach, Ohakea, Bainesse, Kairanga (north of Kairanga Bunnythorpe Rd), Longburn (west of the NIMT), Karere, Tangimoana. (Rural south)
Kiwitea-Pohangina 2 Kimbolton, Halcombe, Cheltenham, Waituna West, Rangiwahia, Apiti. (rural north)

A representation review was begun in 2021, expected to create one Maori ward and adjust the others.

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.


Mayor of Manawatū Margaret Kouvelis in 2015

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.[4][5] Deputy Mayor Matt Bell was then acting mayor until a by-election held on 7 March 2012.[5] The by-election was narrowly won by Margaret Kouvelis from Feilding, who beat councillor Steven Gibson by just 14 votes (3293 votes to 3279).[6] Helen Worboys won the mayoralty from the incumbent Margaret Kouvelis in the 2016 Local Government elections and was reelected in 2019.

Horizons Regional Council[]

Manawatū District is in the Manawatū-Whanganui 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.
  • Manawatū-Rangitikei Ward: Feilding and rural area to the north, and including the entire Rangitikei District.

A representation review was begun in 2021, expected to create two Maori wards in the region and adjust the others.


The Manawatū 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 have walking tracks and views over the district and Palmerston North from the Wharite mountain or from the Saddle Road.

In the middle of the district is Feilding, with New Zealand's largest saleyards and an equestrian and motorsport venue (Manfeild), boutique shopping and historical landmarks and collections.

Manawatū 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 - the oldest public primary school in Feilding
  • Mount Biggs School
  • Lytton Street School - Feilding
  • North Street School - Feilding
  • St Joseph's School - Feilding
  • 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


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

External links[]

Template:Manawatu District Template:Cities and districts of New Zealand

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Manawatū District. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.