🇳🇿 Whanganui, previously spelled Wanganui, is a city in the Manawatū-Whanganui region of New Zealand. The city is located on the west coast of the North Island at the mouth of the Whanganui River, New Zealand's longest navigable waterway. Whanganui is the 19th most-populous urban area in New Zealand and the second-most-populous in Manawatū-Whanganui.
Whanganui is the ancestral home of Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi and other Whanganui Māori tribes. The New Zealand Company began to settle the area in 1840, establishing its second settlement after Wellington. In the early years most European settlers came via Wellington. Whanganui greatly expanded in the 1870s, and freezing works, woollen mills, phosphate works and wool stores were established in the town. Today, much of Whanganui's economy relates directly to the fertile and prosperous farming hinterland.
Like several New Zealand urban areas, it was officially designated a city until an administrative reorganisation in 1989, and is now run by a District Council. Although the city was called Wanganui from 1854, in February 2009, the New Zealand Geographic Board recommended the spelling be changed to "Whanganui". In December 2009, the government decided that, while either spelling was acceptable, Crown agencies would use the Whanganui spelling.
Economy In 2016 Whanganui was included in the world's Smart21 Intelligent Communities by the Intelligent Community Forum. Whanganui has a strong industry base, with a history of niche manufacturing. Current businesses include Q-West Boat Builders, based at the Port who have built boats for customers from around New Zealand and the world and were awarded a contract in 2015 to build two 34-meter passenger ferries for Auckland ferry company Fullers. Pacific Helmets is another example of award-winning niche manufacturing in the district, winning a Silver Pin at the Best Design Awards in October 2015. Heads Road is Whanganui's main industrial area and is home to a number of manufacturing and engineering operations. The Wanganui Port, once the centre of industrial transport, still has some traffic but is more noted for the Q-West boat building operation there. F. Whitlock & Sons Ltd was a notable company first established in 1902.
Much of Whanganui's economy relates directly to the fertile and prosperous farming hinterland near the town. Whanganui is well known for embracing the production of several new pear varieties, including the Crimson Gem. In May 2016 it was reported that the majority of the Whanganui pear crop had been wiped out before the upcoming pear season.
Whanganui has a population of over 42,300 people. Whanganui also forms one of the centres of the wider Manawatū-Whanganui region which has a population of over 256,500 people.