Palmerston North

Palmerston North

Manawatu’s largest city, Palmerston North lies next to the Manawatu River and close to the Ruahine and Tararua mountain ranges.

It is a garden city, with many trees, gardens and ponds within. Full of people with a ‘can do’ attitude,

Palmerston North has long been a representation of the ‘real New Zealand’.

With many cafes, theatres, sports facilities and lively people from many cultures, Palmerston North is a modern and sophisticated city.


Papaioea, translating from Maori as “Here are beauties indeed”, was an 800 acre bush clearing centred round what is now Palmerston North’s Square. When shown to John Tiffin Stewart, a New Zealand Government surveyor, by the Rangitane chief Te Hirawanu in 1859 Stewart immediately wrote in his field notebook “a good site for a township”.

Palmerston North

Seven years later Stewart and his team pitched their tents in the clearing and began surveying the “township of Palmerston”. The name chosen for the first town to be established in inland Manawatu honoured Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston, Prime Minister of Britain 1855-58 and 1859-65, who had then recently died.

The first European settlers a group of Scandinavians arrived on the site of Palmerston North early in 1871. Confusion soon began over mail destined for another town named Palmerston in the province of Otago in the South Island, and from 1871 the Manawatu town was called Palmerston North.

Palmerston North

Palmerston North grew quickly and was soon boasting that it was “the biggest inland town in New Zealand”. Its central position made it an important road and railway link, and by the mid 20th century it was also playing a pivotal role in the establishment of a commercial air travel service.

Regular Community Events

SUMMER GET-A-BOUT, December - February every year

Summer Get-A-Bout is an exciting series of annual events providing recreational and leisure activities for Palmerston North Residents. The Palmerston North City Council provides the Summer Fun Guide, a series of free summer concerts known as Summer in the Parks, Toys Day Out, Rangitāne Waitangi Day, Esplanade Open Day and Festival of Cultures and other Council supported events.

Summer Fun Guide, December - February every year

We know it’s Summer in Palmerston North when the Palmerston North City Council Summer Fun Guide produced by Destination Manawatu appears in our letterboxes. Once again, we have an amazing programme bursting with fun and events for all ages.

The Palmerston North City Council provides a Summer events calendar in conjunction with Destination Manawatu each summer and covers events from 1 December 2003 till 29 February 2004. The Summer Fun Guide provides community groups with the opportunity to promote their Summer events in Manawatu Region alongside Palmerston North City Council Summer Holiday fun activities free of charge.

Summer in the Parks Series, January and February every year
Live entertainment while picnicking in the park on a summers afternoon/evening.

Relaxing on a blanket with a picnic basket ‒ that’s what the Palmerston North City Council has planned for residents this summer. And to help you do this, Summer in the Parks 2004 kicks off with a series of free Summer concerts in and around the Victoria Esplanade.

Toys Day Out, January every year

We have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, International Children’s Day, so why not Toys’ Day? Out?

On behalf of the Palmerston North City Council, YMCA Palmerston North runs this special day at the Victoria Esplanade. It’s a day devoted to play, with lots of organised activities to keep children amused and busy. Children are asked to bring toys of special significance.

Rangitaane Waitangi Day Festival, February 6 every year

A blanket, a picnic basket, cool sounds, lots of activity, plenty of kai ‒ that’s what Palmerston North City Council, Mana Whenua and Sponsors has planned for residents this summer. The highly successful Waitangi Day Festival 2003 provided a warm relaxed atmosphere where a wide range of interactive cultural activities were organised for residents, community and visitors to participate in.

A planned civic ceremony, followed by an open air concert featuring local and national reggae bands, rock and roll, soul bands, Solo artist and many more. There will be special guest appearance of the winning Kapahaka Roopu that will represent this region at the Aotearoa Traditional National Performing Arts Competition, to be held in Palmerston North 2005. Lots for the kids to do, plenty of stalls for mum, and a lazy day lying in the sun for dad. What do you reckon! Cool bananas eh! Naumai Haeremai ki tenei rā.

Esplanade Open Day, February each year

Esplanade Open Day is a family focused Sunday fun day. In 2003 the event attracted over 20,000 participants. Marketed largely for Palmerston North residents, the festival is increasingly attracting a range of visitors from other parts of the country.

Esplanade Open Day is a huge annual community event, free to the public of Palmerston North to enjoy a fun “FUN FIESTA” family day filled with a myriad of entertainment in the Esplanade incorporating kids and families having fun, fun and laughter, music and dance etc.. The Victoria Esplanade will be filled with sound, fun and families. Don’t leave without having a ride on Jackson’s Little Trucks! This is a spectacular event providing entertainment for all ages.

Festival of Cultures, March every year

This icon event celebrates the dynamic diversity of cultures living in our local community. There will be plenty of opportunities to experience the wonderful aromas and delicious tastes of different cultural cuisine from the many food stalls, or to enjoy the variety of sounds and sights of top quality live entertainment from representatives of every continent.

The Festival focuses on recognising the talents and contributions from the diverse cultural groups in our community. Guests, including Ambassadors and other dignitaries, will also participate in the celebrations. Saturday's daytime programme concludes with a colourful Grand Parade around the Square before the evening's outdoor concert commences featuring international entertainers.

The Festival of Cultures is a free community event. However, there may be a small charge for some of the related events and activities that are running alongside the Festival. For updates on the full Festival of Cultures programme, the variety of entertainment and other related activities go to or

Winter Arts Festival, winter every year

The Winter Arts Festival is the best way to lift spirits and beat off the mid-Winter blues, by indulging in the wide range of artistic experiences this Festival offers.

Organised for the City by the Palmerston North Community Arts Council, this Festival explicitly aims to celebrate the diversity of emergent art and artists in the City, where the emphasis is on access and participation for all.

Art is spread throughout the City, on the streets, in empty shops, in the Plaza, and in cafes and theatres in the City. This Festival is often the first time that new artists have performed or exhibited, so go out and support them, and celebrate in the wealth of talent and creativity that thrives in Palmerston North!

Christmas in the City, November - December every year

All the City’s Christmas activities and festivities brought together in a wonderful festive programme with something for every member of the family. The programme includes Christmas Lights and decorations, the Parade, fantastic late night shopping, theatre, music, racing, street performances, hand crafts, decorated Christmas trees and a host of terrific fun filled activities finishing with the New Year’s Eve Party in The Square.

New Years Eve Party, December - January every year

Join the crowds in The Square to welcome the new year in style. Free entertainment for the whole family, rides for children and adults from midday and a range of food stalls for all ages. Great stage performers will provide excellent entertainment with songs by popular tribute bands evoking Elton John, Shania Twain and other artists. See the Magnificent fireworks display at midnight and get your New Year off to a fantastic start. See you there and Happy New Year!!

Key Community Contacts

There are many community groups in Palmerston North. The Citizens Advice Bureau is able to advise on which community group will be able to help you:

Community Committee Meeting Dates

A full set of Council and Committee meetings dates is listed at

Governing Body and contact details

City Council Contact phone: 06 356 8199 (all hours)
City Council Email:
City Council Website: