Pahiatua is a rural service town in the south-eastern North Island of New Zealand with an urban and rural population of over 4,000.
It is between Masterton and Woodville on State Highway 2 and the Wairarapa Line railway, 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Masterton and 30 kilometres (19 mi) east of Palmerston North. It is usually regarded as being in the Northern Wairarapa, but for local government purposes it is in the Tararua District, which encompasses Eketahuna, Pahiatua, Woodville and Dannevirke.
Unusually for a town of its size Pahiatua has retained several amenities that were lost to similar towns around New Zealand in the 1980s and 1990s, in particular banking, postal services, and a cinema. The town is served by four banks, a post office, a supermarket, four schools (3 Primary, 1 Secondary), a volunteer fire brigade, and a public library.<br.
The economy is based on support for sheep and beef farming and the dairy industry with the Fonterra Dairy factory and Tui Brewery both located on the outskirts of the town.
consists of a single daily Masterton – Palmerston North and return bus service (with an extra service on Fridays) run by Tranzit Coachlines
The Wellington Land Board decided in December 1880 to offer land in the Pahiatua Block for settlement. This consisted of 12,000 acres (4,900 ha), of which 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) was offered on a deferred payment basis. Applications for the land closed in February the following year, but there seems to have been little interest at first. Sales of land from the original offer continued over the next few years.
The Pahiatua village was not a settlement initiated by the government, but rather one that had its origin in land speculation. Several subdivisions were established by private landholders including W. W. McCardle, H. Manns, A. W. and Henry Sedcole, and W. Wakeman. It is claimed that the first settlers were John Hall who arrived on 28 February 1881, followed by John Hughes the next day. These men, plus the brothers of Hughes and their families, comprised Pahiatua's population the first summer. Precisely when the town of Pahiatua came into being is not clear as it has not been established when McCardle's first land sale took place. However, by the summer of 1883 he was advertising grassed suburban sections, "improved" acres, and other unimproved lots. In November 1885 he sought to dispose of a large portion of one of his subdivisions at an auction in Napier.
Development of the land quickly produced results, and by August 1883 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) had been cleared, several hundred head of cattle were being grazed, and the population stood at 150. The efforts of the early settlers were sufficient to attract storekeepers and even a hotel.
The government belatedly decided to get involved and agreed to survey a township reserve in December 1882. They later changed their minds and postponed any decision, citing the need to wait for the final determination of the route of the railway.
The settlers, also desirous of being close to the railway to improve land values, made strenuous efforts to have the line run through the town, but like their southern counterparts in Greytown, were ultimately unsuccessful. The legacy of this plan can be seen today in the unusual width of Pahiatua's Main Street which was designed to accommodate the railway down the centre. The intended railway reserve became a grassed median after it was decided to build the railway line to the west of the town.