Woodville is situated on the northern bank of the Mangaatua Stream near its junction with the Manawatu River and about 3 miles from the eastern portal of the Manawatu Gorge. The surrounding land, comprising the central part of the eastern catchment basin of the Manawatu River, is flat to undulating. On the west are the Tararua and Ruahine Ranges, and to the east the Puketoi and Waewaepa Ranges. Woodville is a junction for railways and highways from Napier, Palmerston North, and the Wairarapa Valley. Palmerston North is 17 miles west by road, Pahiatua 10 miles south, and Dannevirke 17 miles north.
The main rural activities are dairying, sheep raising and fat-lamb production. Woodville is a servicing and shopping centre for the district, and its industries include the manufacture of butter, clothing, carpet underfelt, and concrete products. It is a market town for livestock and has large saleyards.
The first settlers in the district arrived from southern Hawke's Bay in 1862. By 1870 a township had emerged on an old route between the Manawatu and Hawke's Bay districts. When the Manawatu Gorge road was constructed in 1874, Woodville became an important road junction and a staging place for coach services. It was then known as “The Junction”. The influx of road workers and, in the early 1880s, the arrival of the railway and railway workers, stimulated the growth of the town. The name Woodville probably refers to its location within the Seventy Mile Bush. A town board was established on 24 December 1884, and on June 1887 Woodville was constituted a borough.
POPULATION: 1951 census, 1,279; 1956 census, 1,439; 1961 census, 1,529.
by Brian Newton Davis, M.A., Vicar, St. Philips, Karori West, Wellington and Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.