While Palmerston North city has about 80,000 people, the Palmerston North electorate is smaller, with just 66,000.

The electorate is entirely urban and in the previous General Election, the number of votes cast by its citizens was above the national average at more than 80 per cent. In other words, it's a pretty engaged electorate.

The boundary is almost exactly the city boundary, except for the university, Linton and anywhere south of the river, so it sits, like an island, in the vast Rangitīkei electorate.

The original name Papaioea translates as "what a beautiful place" but more recently the city has become known as the opposite and has got a bad rap. But that's totally unwarranted, as anyone who actually lives in the city can attest.


Graduate and employee of Massey University, Callum Goacher moved to New Zealand aged 6. His parents chose Palmerston North over the harsh landscape of Manchester, UK.

"One of the first things my parents noticed when we moved to Palmy is there are parks everywhere for kids to go and places like the Esplanade," Goacher said.

"That blew my parents' minds compared to what's on offer in the UK so I think that's probably a thing people who have lived in Palmy their whole lives don't realise how cool it is to have."

The city is well known for Massey University and is home to more than 70 major educational and research institutions. Education is one of the largest employers besides healthcare and the sector is especially strong in bio-industry, defence, smart business and distribution.

Traditionally a nationally strategic freight distribution centre, the sector is poised for dramatic expansion with investment from the Provincial Growth Fund of $40 million towards a freight hub, a project billed by KiwiRail as a major step forward in New Zealand's approach to freight logistics.

While industry is strong in Palmerston North, housing is increasingly an issue as house prices have skyrocketed in the past few years.

"I think for a lot of people, young people, or people in a low socio-economic group, owning a house just doesn't seem attainable, and Palmerston North is supposed to be one of the more affordable places for housing in the country," Goacher said.

"Rent is still going up and there is a shortage of good warm flats around."


Palmerston North is a hub for creative and community lead projects, including the only provincial professional theatre left in the country, long-running Centrepoint Theatre.

"There's a real range of small tight-knit communities going on in Palmy and I think Palmy is a great place for people to find - not necessarily a booming scene, but a scene that is very welcoming."

The city has been a Labour seat since 1978. Incumbent Ian Lees-Galloway has been the MP since 2008 when Steve Mahary stood down to become the Vice-Chancellor at Massey University.

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