Wairarapa - pronounced "Wy-ra-ra-pa", (often known as "The Wairarapa") is a geographical region of New Zealand. It occupies the south-eastern corner of the North Island, east of metropolitan Wellington and south-west of the Hawke's Bay region. It is lightly populated, having several rural service towns, with Masterton being the largest. It is named for Lake Wairarapa.
The area south of Mt Bruce is in the Greater Wellington Region. It contains the Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa Districts. It is separated from Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt cities by the Rimutaka Ranges.
The district's northern borders are vague, and there is some overlap with southern Hawke's Bay. Part of the reason is that the area was settled from both the north and the west and has been the subject of several reorganisations of local government.
The area to the north of Mt Bruce, extending through Eketahuna, Pahiatua and Woodville to about Dannevirke, is part of the Tararua District and is in the Manawatu-Wanganui region, because it is in the catchment of the headwaters of the Manawatu River. The river runs westward between the two mountain ranges (Tararua Range to the south and Ruahine Range to the north) via the Manawatu Gorge, to pass through Palmerston North and reach the west coast of the North Island.
European settlement began in the early 1840s, initially on large grazing runs leased from M?ori , and with closer settlement from the 1850s.
William Adams on Dec 15th 1845 joined the 65th Regiment ( Private 2512), William served in various locations until he took his discharge by reduction in Wellington on Aug 31st,1850. He walked over the Rimituka and began work as a boundary shepherd at Tuhitarata station in Wairarapa Valley. William was the first white man to live on the site of Masterton, his residency stemming from his occupation as a shepherd for Richard Collins' Te Ore Ore Station.He then moved to his town acre and built a bark whare near the current Trustee St in Masterton township. As the first Pakeha he hosted several of the new settlers including Joseph Masters and the surveyor William Mein Smith, whilst negotiations were held with Retimana Te Korou to buy the land, and for them to build their houses. His bride, Emma, was the daughter of Michael Dixon, the pair being part of the first party of white settlers to arrive in Masterton, on 21 May 1854. They were clearly quickly attracted to each other as the Rev T.B. Hutton married them in a simple ceremony on 1st August 1854. The marriage was the first Pakeha wedding to be held in Masterton and was performed by the Rev T.B. Hutton of Lower Hutt. It took place at Richard Collins residence. William and Emma lived in the bark whare until their house was built on the 80 acres of land William had purchased, which stretched from the Opaki Rd, across the bed of the Waipoua River, and down to Wrigley's Bush. Although it would prove to be good agricultural and pastoral land later, when William made the purchase it was covered in flax and scrub. William first built a two roomed house up on the terrace above the town near where the original road left Masterton, approximately near the present site of Terrace End. The old whare in the town burnt down shortly afterwards. According to rumour this was the result of a revenge attack. It was believed that William had been the cause of the burning down of the Kaikokirikiri Pa, further along the terrace, on the current site of the Mahunga Golf Course. He was said to have been burning off old grasses to encourage new growth for the stock when the fire got away and in doing so completely destroyed the kainga of Retimana Te Korou and his family. Emma and William continued to live in their house overlooking the Waipoua River and the growing Masterton township. Joseph Masters was a frequent visitor and it was he who gave the Adams family home the name "Mt.Pleasant". Their family grew until they had a total of eight sons and eight daughters born. The house grew with the family eventually becoming a large homestead. The family lived at the homestead, until at 81 years of age, William's continuing poor health, forced him to sell the block. The developers who bought the block advertised it for sale as"Adamsville", the area now known as Oxford St. having long been known by this name. Unfortunately the name was not kept and now there is no trace of the names of the first pakeha inhabitants in Masterton, the Adams family. William, being of a retiring nature, took little part in the public affairs of the new community and as a result he rarely is mentioned in the official records of that period of Mastertons development.
Michael Dixon left Dartmouth, England on June 15th, 1841 at the age of 30 with his wife Sarah aged 33 and sons aged 13, 8 and 3 together with a daughter aged 7 and an infant daughter (Emma). They arrived at Port Nicholson aboard the vessel Arab on the 16th of October 1841. Michael had been apprenticed at an early age in the ribbon weaving trade in his birthplace, Coventry but his interests lay more in agriculture hence perhaps his selection for immigration to New Zealand. In Wellington he was employed as a warder at the Wellington gaol until going into business in Karoroi as a dairy farmer/milkman. His wife Sarah died in 1843. In 1851 bush fires in Karori destroyed Michael's house and contents and soon after he turned his attention to the Wairarapa Valley, then known as Waidrap. In 1854 Michael and his daughter Emma travelled over the Rimitukas with the first party of Small Farm Association of Wellington settlers. The journey of two weeks with a small mob of cattle was difficult and dangerous with nineteen river crossings having to be made before the party reached the present site of Masterton on May 21st 1854. Others in the party were a John Cole and David Dixon who was the son of the unrelated family of Charles and Mary Dixon. Michael built a Whare (bush hut) at Kuripuni and began a retail trade with the local Maoris. The trade goods were bought by packhorse from Wellington with Michael usually in control. If a swollen river had to be crossed, Michael would dismount and hold on to the horse's tail as it swam across. On Dec 13th, 1855 he married Christina Jones, a widow at St Peters Church, Wellington. As the Masterton district grew, Michael's circumstances improved and he bought land and built houses. His marriage to Christina was troubled culminating with her departure to Wellington on his only horse. Undaunted, Michael walked to Wellington found the horse outside the New Zealander hotel, mounted it and returned to Masterton. Michael lived a comfortable life in his house at Kuripuni until his old age with the sale of land, interest on loans and rents from houses creating a steady income. At the time of his death in 1883 he was worth about 2,000 Pounds which was a tidy sum in those times. He willed much of his estate to his brothers and sisters in England. At that time Charlotte Allen and Emma Adams were his only surviving children. Michael St in Masterton which was originally called Michael Dixon St was named after him.
The agricultural industries, including forestry, cropping, sheep, beef and dairy farming, are major land users. The area around Martinborough, in the south, is renowned for its vineyards and wine, as is the outskirts of Masterton and Carterton. Beer has been brewed at Mangatainoka, near Pahiatua, since 1889. Deer farming is growing in importance.
The region is well served by different transport modes. The State Highway 2, via Rimutaka Hill Road connects the region to Wellington in the south and the Manawatu in the north. The Wairarapa railway line connects the region via the Rimutaka Tunnel to Wellington, and connects with the Palmerston North - Gisborne Line at Woodville. A commuter rail passenger service, the Wairarapa Connection from Masterton to Wellington, is operated by Tranz Metro.
Famous people born in Wairarapa
- Bob Charles, golfer, at Carterton.
- Keith Holyoake, previous Prime Minister of New Zealand, at Pahiatua.
- Maurice Wilkins, scientist, whose work led to the discovery of DNA, at Pongaroa.
- Vincent Ward, Film director, at Greytown (What dreams may come, The Navigator, Vigil, River Queen)
- Murray Halberg, Middle distance runner and Olympic gold medalist, at Eketahuna
- Sir Brian Lochore, All Black, at Masterton
- Raybon Kan, Comedian, at Masterton
- Mike Fabulous, member of The Black Seeds and Fly my Pretties
- Christopher Grantham, Masterton General Manager of Rainforestation, Kuranda , Australia.
- Jemaine Clement, one half of the comedy band/tv series "Flight of the Conchords"
- List of regions in New Zealand
- Georgina Beyer, Ex MP for Wairarapa, ex Mayor of Carterton.
- Jermaine McArdell, Masterton, *actor*
- Grant Batty, Greytown, Ex *All Black*