Martinborough is situated on flat, open land south of the junction of the Huangarua and Ruamahanga Rivers in the southern Wairarapa Valley. The town is 11 miles by road south-east of Featherston, the nearest railhead, and the same distance south by road from Greytown. The nearest large centre is Masterton, 26 miles north by road.
Martinborough is essentially a servicing centre for a district engaged in intensive sheep raising with some dairy farming. About 9 miles southwest, at a place locally called “Pakohe”, there are limeworks. Industrial activities in the town include cheese making, light engineering, and saw-milling.
The town site once formed part of the estate of Sir John Martin. The earliest village was called Te Waihenga. In 1879, after his return from a world tour, Sir John Martin laid out a town to be called Martinborough. He dedicated the square, and named various streets after cities he had visited during his tour. The centre of the town was planned to represent the Union Jack. Martinborough became a town district in 1906 and was constituted a borough in 1928.
POPULATION: 1951 census, 970; 1956 census, 1,192; 1961 census, 1,422.
by Brian Newton Davis, M.A., Vicar, St. Philips, Karori West, Wellington and Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.