Greytown is situated west of the Ruamahanga River on alluvial flats near the centre of the Wairarapa Valley. The town is on the main highway between Wellington and Masterton, the latter town being 15 miles north-east. Greytown is 7 miles north-east of Featherston and 5 miles south-west of Carterton.
The primary industries of the district are extensive sheep farming on the hilly country to the west, with fat-lamb production and dairying on the flats. On the outskirts of the borough and within its boundaries, market gardening and fruitgrowing are important. The town is chiefly a servicing centre for the rural community. Industrial activities include the manufacture of cheese, clothing, and softgoods, and the production of sawn and dressed timber.
Greytown was the first town site chosen by the Wellington Provincial Government under the Small Farms Association's settlement scheme. The first six settlers arrived at the town site on 27 March 1854. The camping place of this advance party is marked by a commemorative plaque and shelter in Main Street. The town was named Greytown after Governor Sir George Grey, who actively supported the association's scheme. The name later became Greytown North to distinguish it from Greytown in Otago. Later, Greytown South was renamed Allanton, and Greytown North again became Greytown. The cheese factory established at Greytown in 1883 by Coleman Phillips is believed to have been the first cooperative factory in the Southern Hemisphere. In July 1867 the Greytown Road Board was established to manage town affairs. This body was replaced by a town board on 7 April 1874, and on 21 November 1878 Greytown was constituted a borough.
POPULATION: 1951 census, 1,258; 1956 census, 1,429; 1961 census, 1,579.
by Brian Newton Davis, M.A., Vicar, St. Philips, Karori West, Wellington and Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.