In between Palmerston North and Sanson is Awahuri, a very small junction settlement marked by the very visible, red Awahuri Tavern.
Ngati Kauwhata Maori had a large settlement at Awahuri when the first Europeans began visiting Manawatu. These people did not want to sell their land and its ownership was the subject of dispute with the New Zealand Government for many years during and after the official sale of the Rangitikei-Manawatu Block.
Awahuri was also attractive to Europeans because near here the land was not covered with bush. Some of the earliest sheep runs in Manawatu were established round this area for this reason.
The Mail Must Not Go Through — a dramatic story of early Awahuri
Alexander Macdonald came to Manawatu to manage a sheep run. He became a staunch supporter of Ngati Kauwhata, as they struggled to retain their land. Together Macdonald and his Maori neighbours again and again ripped out survey pegs put in to marking the official boundaries of the disputed land. Macdonald helped his friends at court hearings on the matter. Finally, the fiery Scot lost his temper. On April 30, 1874, the first mail coach was making its way from Palmerston North along the new metal road which had been laid over the disputed land at Awahuri. Macdonald stopped the coach by shooting the leading horse. It was a serious offence and he served a prison sentence. But some good came of it ‒ it was not long afterwards that the Ngati Kauwhata land dispute was settled to their satisfaction.