Manawatū, a name that means “heart standing still’, is a place where fertile plains nourish, where our river carves its own path forward and our mountain ranges - Ruahine and Tararua - stand tall. First settled some 400 years ago by Māori, the region is home to three iwi: Rangitāne O Manawatū, Ngati Raukawa and Ngāti Kauwhata.
The Manawatū region takes its name from the mighty river than runs through it. The great Manawatū River was named by an explorer named Hau who had travelled down the coast from Taranaki, chasing after his runaway wife and her lover. Hau had already crossed other big rivers, naming them as he went. Whanganui (meaning expansive mouth), Whangaehu (crested foam), felling a tree to cross the Turakina (turaki - to throw down) river, he looked upon the Manawatū river with great apprehension. His heart stood still when he saw it because of its size and beauty and so it was named Manawatū River. Manawatū meaning ‘Heart Standing Still. Manawa meaning heart, and tu meaning standing still.