The progressing township
by Ann van Engelen
Rolleston township was established in 1866 and named after the last superintendent of Canterbury, William Rolleston who was born in Yorkshire in 1831. He also served as a Member of Parliament, holding various cabinet portfolios.
The town served as a major railway junction point from the 1880s until the late 1980s when the New Zealand government deregulated the railways. Rolleston then became a stop only for the tourist-oriented TranzAlpine rail service.
Radiata pine plantations were once a significant feature of the area but have been replaced by more water-intensive grazing land for the dairy industry.
In the 70s it was labelled ‘the town of the future’, and up until 1990, the town had a few sealed streets and a population of just under 1,000. With a population of approximately 16,250 in the June 2018 census, and as the largest town in the Selwyn District Rolleston is considered a satellite town of Christchurch City, making it New Zealand’s 27th largest urban area.
Today Rolleston is becoming a thriving community with new developments happening and many residents relocating to the area to escape the main city after the earthquakes. With the country’s youngest mayor at the helm, Sam Broughton has no doubt seen many changes taking place as the small town grows in popularity.
There are medical and daycare centres, cafes, shops and schools to support Rolleston’s population.
The town has become many people’s choice of residence with employment and business opportunities including the business and industrial park, the Westland Milk processing plant, a dry port, warehousing and housing developments and sporting clubs now in the area, Rolleston is progressing in a positive way.