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Featherston, New Zealand facts for kids

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Paetūmōkai (Māori)
Fitzherbert Street in Featherston
Fitzherbert Street in Featherston
Country  New Zealand
Region Wellington
Territorial authority South Wairarapa District
Ward Featherston
Community Board Featherston Community Board
Founded 1856
Named for Isaac Featherston
Electorates Wairarapa (general)
Ikaroa-Rāwhiti (Māori)
 • Total 3.18 km2 (1.23 sq mi)
 (June 2023)
 • Total 2,780
 • Density 874.2/km2 (2,264/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+13 (NZDT)
Area code(s) 06

Featherston (Māori: Paetūmōkai) is a town in the South Wairarapa District, in the Wellington Region of New Zealand's North Island. It is at the eastern foothills of Remutaka Range close to the northern shore of Lake Wairarapa, 63 km (39 mi) north-east of central Wellington and 37 km (23 mi) south-west of Masterton.

The town has a population of 2,780 (June 2023). Featherston has increasingly become a satellite town of Wellington since the Remutaka rail tunnel opened in 1955; at the 2006 census, 36% of employed Featherston residents worked in the Wellington metro area. This proximity to the capital, coupled with low house prices, made Featherston popular with writers, artists and those with young families, in turn leading to a recent upsurge in business investment and creative activity. From 2014 to 2019, housing prices in Featherston increased by 108% while rental prices went from an average of $140 to $400 in the same time period.


Featherston was originally called Burlings, after the first settler to the area, Henry Burling.

The Featherston Military Training Camp was a major training camp in World War I. In World War II it became the Featherston prisoner of war camp. The town gained notoriety in 1943 when 122 Japanese Prisoners of War in the camp were shot (48 dead, 74 wounded), after guards believed they were about to be attacked by the prisoners.

Recreation, culture and sport

The Anzac Hall was built in 1916 to give ‘A place of resort, recreation and amusement for all those who are now or have been or may be during the term of the war employed in the military or naval service of the Crown’. A large beautiful wooden hall with two smaller rooms, it was restored for its centennial and is a Category 1 historic place. It now serves as a town hall and community hub, used for concerts, events and meetings.

Royal Hotel, Featherston - Nouvelle- Zélande. (41301109414) (cropped)
Royal Hotel, Featherston

Lake Wairarapa Domain is a popular recreation area for walks, cycling and motorcycling, plus fishing, birdwatching and exploring the wetlands.

In 2015, Featherston joined the Booktown movement, and hosts an annual literary festival and other bookish events through the year. Other annual events include winter's Time Traveller's Ball, a summer series of Featherston First Friday community arts nights, and the Cross Creek Rail Society's Mini Train Carnival. The Royal Hotel re-opened in December 2017 after extensive renovations, with a steampunk theme allowing them pay homage to the town's literary and historical threads.

Featherston has various sporting clubs including one of the oldest junior football clubs in the country, Featherston Junior FC can trace their club history back to 1856. Also, there's; a rugby union football club, a hockey club, athletics club, swimming club, football club and an indoor sports complex.

Sister cities

Featherston is twinned with the Belgian city of Mesen.


Featherston statistical area covers 3.18 km2 (1.23 sq mi). It had an estimated population of 2,780 as of June 2023, with a population density of 874 people per km2.

Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 2,343 —    
2013 2,250 −0.58%
2018 2,487 +2.02%

Featherston had a population of 2,487 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 237 people (10.5%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 144 people (6.1%) since the 2006 census. There were 1,035 households. There were 1,254 males and 1,233 females, giving a sex ratio of 1.02 males per female. The median age was 43.8 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 471 people (18.9%) aged under 15 years, 339 (13.6%) aged 15 to 29, 1,200 (48.3%) aged 30 to 64, and 480 (19.3%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 88.9% European/Pākehā, 19.7% Māori, 2.8% Pacific peoples, 3.0% Asian, and 2.2% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 16.2%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 56.9% had no religion, 29.1% were Christian, 0.5% were Hindu, 0.1% were Muslim, 0.2% were Buddhist and 3.7% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 384 (19.0%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 483 (24.0%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $25,600, compared with $31,800 nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 924 (45.8%) people were employed full-time, 267 (13.2%) were part-time, and 108 (5.4%) were unemployed.


Featherston School is a co-educational state primary school for Year 1 to 8 students, with a roll of 136 as of April 2023.

South Featherston School is a co-educational state primary school for Year 1 to 8 students, with a roll of 55.

St Teresa's School is a co-educational state-integrated Catholic school for Year 1 to 8 students, with a roll of 86.

Featherston once had a secondary school, Featherston District High School. It closed in the mid 1960s.


Featherston is at the junction of State Highway 2 and State Highway 53. SH 2 connects Featherston south to Wellington via the Remutaka Pass and the Hutt Valley, and north to Masterton via Greytown and Carterton and onwards to Woodville. SH 53 connects SH 2 and Featherston with Martinborough.

Featherston is served by Featherston railway station on the Wairarapa Line railway. The Wairarapa Connection train serves Featherston on its route between Masterton and Wellington, operating five times daily each way on weekdays and twice daily each way on weekends and public holidays. The journey time to Wellington station is just over 60 minutes.

Notable people

  • Robert Algie, a wrestler from Featherston. He won a silver medal in the heavy-weight division at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in 1986, and gold medals at the Oceania Champs in Brisbane in 1981, and Auckland in 1986. Algie placed 12th at the World Championships in France in 1987.
  • Henry Bunny (1822–1891), MP representing the Wairarapa electorate 1865–1881.
  • Raised in Featherston Professor Max Abbott, recipient of the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Auckland University of Technology, former Chairman of Auckland's Waitamata DHB, and president of the World Federation for Mental Health.

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