Nelson is a city on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay, and is the economic and cultural centre of the Nelson Region. Nelson is the oldest city in the South Island and the second-oldest settled city in New Zealand, Nelson city is bordered to the west and south-west by the Tasman District Council and the north-east, east and south-east by the Marlborough District Council. The city does not include Richmond, the areas second-largest settlement, Nelson City has a population of around 50,000, making it New Zealands 12th most populous city and the geographical centre of New Zealand. When combined with the town of Richmond which has close to 14,000 residents, Nelson is well known for its thriving local arts and crafts scene, Each year, the city hosts events popular with locals and tourists alike, such as the Nelson Arts Festival. The annual Wearable Art Awards began near Nelson and a local museum, Nelson was named in honour of the Admiral Horatio Nelson who defeated both the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Many roads and public areas around the city are named after people and ships associated with that battle, inhabitants of Nelson are referred to as Nelsonians. Nelsons Māori name, Whakatū, means build, raise, or establish, in an article to The Colonist newspaper on 16 July 1867, Francis Stevens described Nelson as The Naples of the Southern Hemisphere. Today, Nelson has the nicknames of Sunny Nelson due to its high sunshine hours per year or the Top of the South because of its geographic location, settlement of Nelson began about 700 years ago by Māori. There is evidence the earliest settlements in New Zealand are around the Nelson-Marlborough regions, the earliest recorded iwi in the Nelson district are the Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Tumatakokiri, Ngāti Apa and Rangitane tribes. Raids from northern tribes in the 1820s, led by Te Rauparaha and his Ngāti Toa, soon decimated the local population, the New Zealand Company in London planned the settlement of Nelson. They intended to buy cheaply from the Māori some 200,000 acres which they planned to divide into one thousand lots, the Company earmarked future profits to finance the free passage of artisans and labourers and their families, and for the construction of public works. However, by September 1841 only about one third of the lots had sold, despite this the Colony pushed ahead, and land was surveyed by Frederick Tuckett. Three ships sailed from London under the command of Captain Arthur Wakefield, however, after some delay, Hobson allowed the Company to investigate the Tasman Bay area at the north end of the South Island. The Company selected the now occupied by Nelson City because it had the best harbour in the area. The Company secured a vague and undetermined area from the Māori for £800 that included Nelson, Waimea and this allowed the settlement to begin, but the lack of definition would prove the source of much future conflict. The three colony ships sailed into Nelson Haven during the first week of November 1841, within 18 months the Company had sent out 18 ships with 1052 men,872 women and 1384 children. However, fewer than ninety of the settlers had the capital to start as landowners, the early settlement of Nelson province included a proportion of German immigrants, who arrived on the ship Sankt Pauli and formed the nucleus of the villages of Sarau and Neudorf. These were mostly Lutheran Protestants with a number of Bavarian Catholics
November 2006 view of Nelson from the "Centre of New Zealand"
Southern suburbs of Nelson (right) and the nearby town of Richmond (left) seen from the air