Palmerston North City & Manawatu

Key Industry Sectors

Palmerston North City and Manawatu has a wide range of employment sectors, and therefore offers various employment opportunities for you and your family. The Manawatu economic zone includes a population base of 170,000 residents, making it small enough to be connected and efficient, but of sufficient scale to be effective and meaningful.

The Palmerston North City Council Economics department produce and publish key sector profiles on a regular basis.

Ezibuy Distribrution CentreDistribution & Logistics

The logistics and distribution sector comprises wholesale trade, transport, postal, warehousing and non-store retailing activities. Our central location and strong roading, rail and air networks means this is one of our fastest growing sectors. With more than 8,000 people employed in the sector and an expected 700 positions needing to be filled in the short to medium term it is expected that distribution and logistics sector will soon overtake the education sector in terms of value earned.

Massey-University-foodScience & Research

Research and development is important for achieving improvements in our quality of life and future prosperity. The Region is home to many world class research organisations, and there is a particular focus on food innovation and agribusiness research.Food HQ

Palmerston North and Manawatu is home to New Zealand’s international centre for collaborative food and beverage research. FoodHQ provides food and beverage companies with one-door access to work with our partner organisations which have a proven record of undertaking remarkable research: science that is useful and innovative.

The collaborative partnership is between AgResearchMassey UniversityPlant & Food ResearchFonterra, the Riddet InstituteESRAsureQuality, Cawthron InstituteBCC (Building Clever Companies), Palmerston North City Council and the Manawatu District Council. FoodHQ researchers connect and collaborate. They have the resources and leadership to build and maintain international links, recruit and retain top talent and responsibly manage New Zealand’s resources for a sustainable future while serving the international food industry and growing our economy.


Manawatu has a great reputation for having high quality primary schools, secondary schools, tertiary providers and training organisations. As a centre of tertiary education, Manawatu also has a vibrant student culture that has spread a focus on learning and improvement across the whole region.

Major organisations in this sector include: Massey UniversityUCOLIPU, and Te Wananga o Aotearoa.


Ohakea-Open-Day2Government & Defence

The defence sector plays a major role in the local economy with two defence bases (Linton Military Camp and RNZAF Base Ohakea) located in Manawatu. The Linton Military Camp is now the largest in the country with both military and civilian personnel, and when combined with staff at the Ohakea base, the Defence Force accounts for approximately 5% of the total Manawatu workforce. Due to our central location, transport efficiencies and educated labour force Palmerston North City has also become home to a number of government department operations, covering a wide geographical area.


Palmerston North HospitalHealthcare & Social Assistance

The largest employer in Palmerston North is the healthcare and social assistance sector, employing approximately 15% of all employees in the City (and 11% of national employment in the sector). Many organisations in these areas provide services to New Zealand and the Manawatu Region that are crucial to the wellbeing and prosperity of its citizens. This sector has experienced significant growth in the last decade, being the largest generator of new jobs for the Region.

Major organisations in this sector include: MidCentral Health, Crest Hospital, and MASH Trust.



Manufacturing is a major industry in Manawatu and employs a significant percentage of the local workforce, particularly in food processing and metal fabrication for agriculture and transport sectors. In addition, local research and innovation offers opportunities within this sector for increasing productivity through improved equipment design.

Major organisations in this sector include: Steelfort, Profab, New Zealand PharmaceuticalsAEC, OBO.


The Plaza shopping centreRetail

Manawatu is a regional retail trading centre that attracts shoppers from all over the lower North Island. Confidence in the City has been reflected by the substantial recent investment by Kiwi Income Properties in the expansion of The Plaza inner-city shopping mall. The high proportion of students and professional residents, coupled with the many visitors, means that the City has a level of retail sales greater than its population alone would suggest. In turn Feilding is the regional rural service centre and offers a thriving rural town centre with an Edwardian theme, complete with a farmers market, agricultural supply stores and the Feilding Saleyards, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.


River_Valley_rafting_Fu_Fang_Falls_CREDIT_RIVERVALLEYRAFTINGVisitors & Tourism

The Manawatu Region acts as a key gateway to a number of tourist activities, while also being the heart of The Country Road experience, encouraging travellers to visit and interact with the local community. Major attractions include Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge, Te Manawa Museum, New Zealand Rugby Museum, Coach House Museum, and the Victoria Esplanade Gardens. Palmerston North City is also regularly home to many conventions, sporting tournaments, trade shows, meetings and exhibitions. This success is due in part to the education, research and science institutions based here, but also due to Palmerston North City’s excellent location, transport access and facilities.


The agricultural sector underpins the economy of the wider Manawatu Region, producing quality livestock and high yield crops, supplying the food processing industry and operating as an important part of the New Zealand dairy industry. A wide range of horticulture also flourishes here, due to our quality soils and benign climate.

The Feilding Saleyards are the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and have a huge impact on the district, while local farmers also work with research institutes with an aim of furthering farm system innovation.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector

Centred in the lower North Island, Manawatu is perfectly placed if you’re wanting an outstanding, cost efficient location for business process outsourcing. Our diverse talent pool and low operating costs coupled with an easy and inexpensive lifestyle are the perfect ingredients for set ups, whether it be in the private or public sector.

Click here to see the brochure Business Process Outsourcing brochure, which highlights the key benefits of locating your Contact Centre and Business Process Outsourcing to the central North Island of New Zealand.  This brochure was developed as a joint initiative between Grow Wellington, Hastings District Council and Spearhead Manawatu.