Marton, New Zealand is situated in the southern part of North Island in an area known as Rangitikei, about 2½ hours by road from the capital, Wellington and about half way between the much larger towns of Palmerston North and Wanganui. It was founded in 1866 and originally known as Tutaenui. In 1869 local citizens changed the name to Marton to honour the home village of Captain James Cook in Yorkshire, marking his landing in New Zealand exactly 100 years earlier. Not, as we had hoped, named after our own Marton here in Warwickshire. However, 41 Marton residents did emigrate to New Zealand but did not arrive until 1875, after the central NZ government started to sponsor immigrants. These emigrants sailed on the Lady Jocelyn for Christchurch so there is every likelihood that they settled in South Island.
From the start Marton was an ideal supply centre for district farmers, who first began arriving in the early 1850s. When the town itself was established in 1866 it included general stores, two hotels and several blacksmiths. In the following years Marton became an important base for the various industries required to service local agriculture. The opening of the railway line joining Wanganui to Palmerston North in 1878 turned Marton Railway Station into a thriving junction, and it held that position for the next 100 years. By the late 1950s the town was home to a large and varied array of industries.
Marton today is a small but lively town with a population of about 4500 (including outlying farms), still serving as a hub for the local agricultural industries. A stroll around town reveals a number of fine Victorian era buildings, many of which have changed their usage over the years. A few Art-Deco buildings can also be seen. The railway line still passes through the town but the station was closed in 2012. Residents of our own Marton will recognise a few similarities between ourselves and our NZ cousins, as illustrated in the photos and video. Note in particular the threatened loss of the Post Office, the home brew competition and the loss of the railway (they also have a scarecrow event). Marton NZ is of course a much larger town than our own village and has several cafes, a supermarket and many other services including primary and secondary schools. Marton is very proud of its community spirit (another similarity) and works hard to keep it alive.
If you’re interested in knowing more you can look at their own website http://rangitikei.com/marton . Wikipedia also has an informative page about the town’s history.