Marlborough History


The region currently known as Marlborough has enjoyed a long and varied history. The Wairau Bar holds remains of early moa hunter culture, and the region was well known to Maori, with a number of significant pa sites. The first Europeans to arrive were whalers from various nations who based themselves in Port Underwood intially. The well known chief Te Rauparaha  (author of the All Blacks' haka) spent time in the region, and ongoing disputes over land rights in the region led to a bloody confrontation between him and a party led by members of The New Zealand Company. While Te Rauparaha was exonerated of blame for the killings due to provocation, the incident was referred to by many Europeans as the 'Wairau Massacre'. 

Once European settlement did commence in earnest, ongoing disputes with Nelson led to the region seeking provincial independence which was achieved in 1859.

Local body restructuring in the 1980s saw an attempt at reintegrating Marlborough with Nelson, but Marlborough strongly rejected the proposed changes and as a result the Marlborough District Council was formed as one of a handful of unitary authorities in NZ. As a district, the boundaries were reduced from the old provincial boundaries which had stretched as far south as the Conway River, however the district still covers a large area for the size of the population.

Recent developments include the establishment of Marlborough as an internationally recognised wine region, with a corresponding decline in pastoral farming, also the growth of marine farming in the Marlborough Sounds.

2009 has involved a number of commemorations marking 150 years of provincial independence.


Brownlee's Milling


A sawmilling business of international status, that aggressively utilised technology to fell large tracts of Marlborough forests during the 19th and early 20th Centuries.



A veteran WW2 supply ship and the last remaining Port Blenheim ship.

Edwin Fox


The 9th oldest ship in the World and the only surviving wooden immigrant ship to New Zealand.

Flax Milling (Linen)


An industry that came into existance for the sole purpose of supporting the allied war effort during the Second World War.

Historical Timeline of Marlborough


A Chronological timeline of Marlborough, from prehistory until the present.

Port Blenheim


Port Blenheim was a port operated on the Opawa River up until 1968, providing a shipping connection with Wellington

Rore Pukekohatu's Account of the Wairau Incident


The Wairau Incident as described by an eye witness

Samuel Ironside Diaries- Mission in the South Island


Samuel Ironside established the first Wesleyan mission in Marlborough. His diaries provide an insight on life at the time.

Samuel Ironside Diaries- The Wairau Incident


Ironside's commentary on the events surrounding the Wairau Incident where a number of Europeans were killed after provoking local Maori.

St. Lukes Anglican Church, Spring Creek


St. Lukes Church serves the Spring Creek Anglican Parish, and is one of the oldest churches in Marlborough still in weekly use.

T.Eckford & Co Ltd.


T.Eckford & Co Ltd. was Port Blenheim's longest serving shipping company providing service between Blenheim and Wellington from the 1880s to 1960s

T.S.S. Waverley


T.S.S. Waverley was a steam ship that serviced Wellington, Nelson, the West Coast in the late 19th and early 20th Century, until the hulk was stranded in the Wairau Lagoons in 1928

The Mangatapu Mountain Murders


Marlborough has had its share of criminals, and in the 'good old days' some were as bad if not worse than those of today.

The South Island's Pacific Coastal Rail Link


The coastal rail link between Marlborough and Canterbury was the largest railway construction project in New Zealand's history.

The Wairau Incident


In 1843 a notorious and tragic incident occurred at Tuamarina between Maori and European settlers, as a result of tension over land.