An hour north of Wellington, New Zealand, on the other side of the Rimutaka Range, is the Wairarapa plain and small town of Greytown – New Zealand’s first planned inland town. Many towns developed haphazardly, their existence and growth determined by the needs of settlers in the area and economic conditions at the time, but not so Greytown.
Greytown, along with Masterton, was the dream of a group of early Wellington and Hutt Valley settlers that working class families should be able to purchase their own land. In the late 1840s, Dr Isaac Featherston in his Wellington Independent newspaper called for the establishment of small farms, where the newly constructed bridle track across the Rimutakas entered the Wairarapa plains.
This led to the Small Farms Association with Joseph Masters (after whom Masterton is named) on the committee. He envisioned a Wairarapa where the fertile flat lands would be set aside to allow small farms to be established. He thought this scheme would allow villages to flourish, and the occupiers of the small farms would be able to enjoy schools and the ‘blessings of civilized society’. His message found support among the working class Wellington settlers.
By mid-1853 land had been purchased from local Maori and the Small Farms Associations rules were settled. There were to be townships, each with 100 one-acre blocks, with 100 40-acre farms surrounding the towns. The townships were to be bought from the Government and surveyed by the Association, who would, in turn, sell land to the members.
On or about September 1853 Donald McLean, the Chief Land Purchase Commissioner, bought 40,000 acres from Manihera te Rangitakaiwaho and Ngatuere Tawhirimatea of Waiohine, identified as Tauherenikau No. 4. The township of Greytown was surveyed and purchased by the Small Farms Association from the Government in the 1853-54 period. The location is in the Kuratawhiti Block which is part of the larger Tauherenikau Block. By early 1854 settlers were preparing to take the journey across the Rimutakas to their future holdings. On Thursday 23 March 1854 Thomas Kempton and his party of five arrived to take up land in Greytown, named after Governor Grey. The original town layout and road alignment largely remains today.
MORE GREYTOWN HISTORY
This is a self-guided walking route of around 40 properties that can be done in Greytown using the brochure at right. Greytown's Heritage Walk is reproduced in full below. Use the buttons to skip to the three areas of Greytown.
Do you have history about your historic Greytown property? If so, we'd love to hear from you. Please submit your history via the form at right.
HERITAGE WALK BROCHURE
GALLAGHER HOUSE, 56 MAIN ST
MEMORIAL PARK, KURATAWHITI ST
SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHURCH, MAIN ST
FIRST POLICE STATION
ST ANDREW'S CHURCH, 63 MAIN ST
FORMER POST OFFICE, CNR MAIN ST & KURATAWHITI ST
THE BUTCHER'S SHOP, 67 MAIN ST
FORMER WAIRARAPA STANDARD OFFICE, 65 MAIN ST
FORMER BANK OF NZ, 75 MAIN ST
FORMER FORESTER'S HALL, 79 MAIN ST
FORMER ST ANDREW'S CHURCH FORDELL
P.I.L.A. BUILDING, 80 MAIN ST
BAILLIE HOUSE, 101 MAIN ST
FORMER ROGERS & HALL MOTORCYCLE DEALERSHIP, 105 MAIN ST
F.H. WOOD AUCTION ROOMS, CNR. MAIN ST & HASTWELL ST
107 MAIN ST
FORMER BOROUGH COUNCIL CHAMBERS, 110 MAIN ST
KOUKA COTTAGE, 113 MAIN ST
FORMER MASONIC LODGE, 115-117 MAIN ST
130 MAIN ST
WYETT HOUSE, 12 MAIN ST
THE GREYTOWN HOTEL, 33 MAIN ST
39 MAIN ST
TURKEY RED HOTEL, FORMER BRITISH VOLUNTEER HOTEL, 53 MAIN ST
GREYTOWN'S FIRST SCHOOL HOUSE, 59 MAIN ST
BEY HOUSE (LUNGA), 119 MAIN ST
SOUTH WAIRARAPA WORKINGMEN'S CLUB, 120 MAIN ST
THE GREY FOX, 125 MAIN ST
WAKELIN HOUSE, 123 MAIN ST
BEARD BUILDING, 126 MAIN ST
SAMUEL OATES GUM TREE, MAIN ST
CLUB HOTEL, 138 MAIN ST
143 MAIN ST
163 MAIN ST
COBBLESTONES MUSEUM, 169 MAIN ST
ARMSTRONG'S SADDLERY, 174 MAIN ST
DRUMMOND OFFICE, 246 MAIN ST
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