ABOUT

Master-where?

Masterton is far enough away to be peaceful, yet close enough for convenience. 

We’re 90 minutes north of downtown Wellington in the centre of the Wairarapa Valley.

To our west we’re flanked by the majestic Tararua Ranges while an hour’s drive east is Castlepoint, voted one of New Zealand’s top ten beaches.

Our name

Masterton is named after Joseph Masters, the originator of the Small Farms Association that led to the settlement of Masterton in 1854.

In Maori, Masterton is known as Whakaoriori – loosely translated to mean ‘to chant’.

Kerehi M, Pipiwharauroa Wairarapa Times Age 1991:

“In the old days, when the township of Masterton was being built, the old people had their whare (houses) lined up along the edge of the bush which ran along Dixon Street and Chapel Street. In the evenings the old people would sit outside their whare with their young ones, either in their laps or wrapped up in a blanket and tied to their backs, and they would sit and listen to the many birds – the Tui, Kokako, Kaka, Pipi-Wharauroa and many other native birds singing their many songs.

The old people would then chant along with the music of the birds, making up words as they went along. In many cases, words of the chant would be about lost ones of the tribes they come from or the battles between tribes, and whakapapa (history), at the same time rocking their young ones to sleep while chanting their songs with the birds of the surrounding bush. Hence the name Whakaoriori (to chant). ”

Our history

Masterton’s agricultural roots played a significant role in early growth with the town set up as a service base for the rural sector.

It overtook Greytown as the Wairarapa’s largest town in the 1870s and in 1880 the Wellington railway line extended into Masterton. For a time the railway became the main line from Wellington to the north of New Zealand and its arrival cemented the town’s position as the Wairarapa region’s main market and distribution centre.

Our rural history plays a key role in everyday life in Masterton. As an example, one of the biggest events bringing people to town is the annual Golden Shears competition. Now the world’s premier shearing event, it all started in 1958 when a group of enthusiasts from the Young Farmers’ Club wanted a local shearing competition.