These maps show the rapid growth of country towns in the lower North Island from the 1870s until the First World War. In 1874, apart from Wellington, there were only two places with more than 1,000 inhabitants and none with populations of 500 to 1,000. Seventeen years later, in 1891, Whanganui had reached 5,000 and there were eight other places with more than 1,000 people. By 1911 that number had increased to 16 and there were three other towns with over 5,000 residents.
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Source: New Zealand census, 1874, 1891, 1911