Historic Pemberton Corner
The location of the original settlement of the Rangiwahia district.
'Put the small man on the land' was the political slogan of the 1880s. From it came the 1885 Land Act that created the Special Settlement Scheme to develop 'Waste Lands' in New Zealand.
In May 1885, the Pemberton Small Farms Association took up the Pemberton Block of 10,000 acres (4,047 ha) in this valley. Charles L Pemberton had played a leading role in its formation and in selecting the block. In September 1886, six Pemberton brothers were in the first party of settlers who set up camp here. They faced isolation and a primeval forest of giant matai, maire, rimu, totara and kahikatea trees. Their first task was to clear the bush.
In addition to developing this 100 acre (40ha) farm, Charles also established the first accommodation house and later he was the first Postmaster in Pemberton. He left the area in 1903 and died in 1919.
By December 1888, there were 21 whare, four sawn-timber houses and an accommodation house. In 1889, the first Post Office opened and did not close until 1924. In 1891, the first school opened but closed in 1896 when the new Rangiwahia School opened. In 1892, the first General Store in the district opened, near the butcher and the blacksmith and a cricket club was formed. In 1893, the hotel opened.
In seven years Pemberton grew from a campsite to be the first district centre.
However, by 1895, the temporary village had served its purpose. Later settlers had developed the nearby surveyed town of Rangiwahia and it was now the centre of the community. Like so many other transitory settlements that flourished in those early days of New Zealand's development, Pemberton village eventually became yet another 'ghost town'.