The airfield at Ōhakea, established in 1939, has become one of the principal airfields for the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Laid out on flat land 30 km north-west of Palmerston North, on the left (south or east) bank of the Rangitīkei River, it is well sited for air exercises. In 1995, overspending on renovations to the base commander’s house caused a political storm. In 2015 more than 1.000 personnel worked at the base.
Ōhakea airfield has witnessed some historic moments. Lyndon B. Johnson arrived in October 1966 – the first visit by a US president to New Zealand. Australian Foreign Minister Bill Hayden landed for a meeting with Prime Minister David Lange at dawn on 1 May 1987, over fears of Libyan intervention in the South Pacific.
Township 24 km north-west of Palmerston North on the Manawatū plain, with a 2013 population of 534. Sanson is a long-established rural service centre, and thrives from its location at a junction of state highways 1 and 3. It dates from the Crown’s sale of the Sandon block in the late 1860s. The block was designated a township to put it out of reach of soldiers, who could exchange vouchers for rural but not urban land. The Sandon block was settled from the Hutt Valley, and given the slightly different name of Sanson (after Henry Sanson, the secretary of the Hutt Small Farm Association). This caused much confusion over the years.
The township of Sanson was the terminus of a tramway which ran from a junction with the railway line at Hīmatangi from 1883 until 1945. With several craft and antique shops, it is a popular stop for people travelling on the state highways.
135-m hill (also known as Whakaari) and trigonometrical station on State Highway 3, 19 km north-west of Palmerston North and 6 km south-east of Sanson. It was named after early surveyor John Tiffin Stewart, who chose the site for the station. A roadside memorial lookout was built in 1940 to commemorate the centenary of the British colonisation of New Zealand.
Township 19 km north-west of Palmerston North with a 2013 population of 594. Rongotea is a long-established service centre for surrounding farming districts. It dates from the Crown’s sale of the Carnarvon block in the late 1860s, with the Sandon block next to it. The name of Rongotea, at the centre of the Carnarvon block, was changed from Campbelltown (after one of its founders, Robert Campbell) in 1887. Rongotea was at the centre of an 1870s and 1880s religious revival led by converts of preacher Gordon Forlong. A large number of churches were subsequently built in the town.
District consisting of once-forested areas north and west of Palmerston North. Māori settlements lay near the Manawatū River and the first Europeans came to such places, notably Bishop Ditlev Monrad and his family near Kārere. The original Māori settlement of Kairanga was at present-day Linton military camp across the river. The Pākehā settlements of Kairanga, Kārere and Tiakitahuna (Jackeytown) started life as forest clearings but within a generation were farmland.
Locality just west of Palmerston North city limits, with a 2013 population of 648. The settlement was a forest clearing before farming began. A cooperative butter factory opened at Longburn in 1884 and a meat freezing works in 1890. In the 1980s the country’s meat and dairy industries were restructured, and the freezing works closed in 1987. Most residents now work in Palmerston North.