Heritage, Culture & Arts

Marlborough’s rich history runs wide and deep, from the earliest Polynesian settlers of the Wairau Bar to the first European pioneers who built our towns and planted our first grapevines.

These people, the way they lived their lives and how they dealt with history’s major events has shaped Marlborough into what it is today. Those stories are all here, waiting to be discovered all over again.

Marlborough has a wealth of arts and culture, from art galleries to museums through to concerts and theatre productions.

Follow the Marlborough Arts and Crafts Trail, enjoy a glass of wine while listening to live music at a vineyard or on stage at Marlborough's new ASB Theatre.

Havelock Heritage

Before Havelock was settled as a gold rush town, it was a Māori pa named Motuweka.

The settlement was at the junction of two Māori trails from Waitohi (Picton) and the Wairau.

Initially, a New Zealand Company party exploring the head of Pelorus Sound in 1838 dismissed Havelock as having little promise of a seaport.

But in 1854 another Company surveyor saw potential and asked the Kurahaupo chief, Hura Kopapa from Kaituna, to sell the land. The chief was reluctant but eventually relinquished.

In 1863 prospectors struck gold at Wakamarina, and Havelock quickly became an extensive service centre for thousands of miners.

The gold rush ended a year later, and settlers found work at sawmills locally and in the Marlborough Sounds.

In the 1930s a mailboat service began operating out of Havelock, providing a vital link to isolated Marlborough Sounds farms. The Pelorus Mailboat continues that tradition today.

Havelock was home to two of the world’s greatest scientific minds – Ernest Rutherford and Sir William Pickering both grew up in the town.

Havelock is now a thriving township on the main road between Blenheim and Nelson and offers visitors a variety of eateries and accommodation, along with a busy marina.

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