As was common across New Zealand, many small towns had their own town boards or councils in the early decades after European settlement. As the introduction of motorised vehicles reduced the travel time between areas and a desire to see communities work together evolved, it became more practical and less expensive to amalgamate towns in close proximity. Hastings followed that pattern.
The Council we know today dates from 1989, at the time of the amalgamation of Hastings City Council, Havelock North Borough Council and the Hawke’s Bay County Council.
Hastings District Council is made up of one mayor and 14 councillors, the latter elected from across five wards. Council also has a Rural Community Board, made up of four members elected from four rural community areas.
Hastings is made up of three main urban areas, Havelock North, Hastings and Flaxmere, with a number of smaller rural and beachside urban areas including Clive, Te Awanga, Haumoana and Waimarama.
The Hastings District Council’s administrative area (5229 kilometres2) is bounded to the north by Wairoa, to the east by Napier, to the south by Central Hawke’s Bay, and to the west by Rangitikei.
Prior to 1989, Hastings and Havelock North were autonomous areas within the Hawke’s Bay Province, each with their own mayors and councillors. The region also had the Hawke’s Bay County Council, which looked after rural roads, bridges, water supply, refuse and environmental issues, outside of the denser urban areas.
Of the two main urban areas, Havelock North was settled first, surveyed in 1860. It was not, however the first area within today’s Hastings area to be urbanised. European settlers had intended that that Clive (laid out as a model village in 1857) would be the main port. However flooding issues and development in Napier overtook that plan.
The management of Havelock North initially lay with a seven-member Roads Board, first elected in 1871. Its focus was on roads, rating, water supply, flooding and sanitation. That board was disbanded on the election of the first town board in 1912. That town board became the Havelock North Borough Council in 1952, overseen by its first mayor J. J. Nimon.
The settlement of Hastings came after Clive and Havelock North, with a plan for a subdivision showing sections to be sold by auction published in 1873.
It was declared a town district in 1884, and the first meeting of the new Hastings Borough Council was held in 1886, overseen by the first mayor: Robert Wellwood.
Hastings was declared a city in 1956, at which time the Council was renamed the Hastings City Council.
Flaxmere (Paharakeke) is the newest of the modern-day main urban areas, although a subdivision in that area was foreseen as far back as the 1950s. In the 1960s, Hastings City Council bought 421 acres for 1310 sections, the first of which went up for sale in 1966. Most of the development, including the building of Council facilities, occurred in the 1970s and 1980s.
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