By the 1870s it was clear that Wellington’s future as a trading centre rested on farming. A government-sponsored railway line to Wairarapa was completed in 1878, but a government scheme to build a railway to Manawatū stalled due to rising costs. Several Wellington businessmen took over the project, which was completed in 1886. This 1885 plan, drawn by the railway’s promoters, shows the route. The line’s completion enabled Wellington to channel farm produce through its port and dominate lower North Island trade.
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