Richmond is situated near the eastern fringe of the Waimea Plain about 1 ½ miles south of the head of Tasman Bay. Within 2 miles south of Richmond the plain is broken by the foothills of the Gordon, Richmond, and Bryant Ranges. To the west the land rises more gradually to the gentle outer slopes of the Moutere Hills. Nelson is 8 miles north-east and is linked to Richmond by main highway.
The rural activities of the district are mixed farming and cash cropping, sheep farming, fruit-growing, market gardening, tobacco and hop growing. In addition to providing market and trade services, Richmond has several industries. These include freezing works, processing vegetables, knitwear mills, and a concrete-pipe works. Sawmilling, timber dressing, and the manufacture of joinery and furniture are also carried on. In recent years Richmond has become a dormitory town for Nelson, and the city's outlying suburbs extend close to the borough boundary.
Richmond dates from June 1842 when T. J. Thompson and J. W. Barnicoat secured a contract from the New Zealand Company to survey and subdivide for settlement an area of 20,000 acres in Waimea East district. Their survey camp, on the rise now occupied by the Anglican Church, formed the nucleus of a settlement, which was a rising village by 1845. The village was named Richmond in 1846, on the suggestion of George Snow, an early resident who came from Richmond-on-Thames, Surrey. “The Star and Garter” was licensed in 1846 and is possibly the oldest-established hotel in New Zealand still in business on the original site and under the original name. On 13 February 1886 Richmond was proclaimed a town district, and in 1891 it was constituted a borough.
POPULATION: 1951 census, 1,973; 1956 census, 2,515; 1961 census, 3,472.
by Brian Newton Davis, M.A., Vicar, St. Philips, Karori West, Wellington and Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.