Situated 12 km north west of Feilding and 4 km from the Rangitikei River, Halcombe was once the man railway junction in the central north island. An active riverbed on the Rangitikei River stopped further development and hence Palmerston North was developed into the main centre.
Halcombe was named after Arthur William Follett Halcombe, Residents Agent to the Colonist and Emigrants Aid Corporation. In 1863 he married Edith Stanway Swainson a woman who took pioneer life in her stride becoming an established artist, farmer, nurse, mother and community leader.
In 1871 the Corporation bought from the Provincial Council 100,000 acres between Te Reu Reu Reserve and the Ruahine Ranges. This 100,000 acres plus 6,000 acres for roading and railways was to be known as the Manchester Block and was part of the Rangitikei - Manawatu Block purchased from Maori tribes in 1866.
Four sub tribes had been living on Te Reu Reu Reserve, land on
the south bank of the Rangitikei River between the Rangataua and Waitapu streams, since approximately the 1850’s.
In 1876 the town of Halcombe was established, along with Stanway (named after Edith). A number of German families arrived followed by a number of Danish settlers. The first immigrants were provided with a free passage to New Zealand and an acre of land with a shack on it.
Work offered by the Corporation was mainly bush felling and road construction. To provide more work, in 1878 the Corporation made larger
blocks of land available.
The railway arrived in Halcombe in 1877 and in 1878 the line to Wanganui
was completed, which gave Halcombe options for transportation to and from the district. Halcombe’s Railway Station became an important place as it was the only refreshment rooms between Foxton (via Palmerston North) and Wanganui. At one point 35 trains passed though Halcombe each day. The focal point of the village became the Railway Station, which also included a post office and bar. It sadly burnt down in 1962.
The first church was erected in 1876 by the Methodists, with Lutherans to
follow in 1878.
Halcombe quickly become a thriving town, particularly with the advent of the Main Trunk Railway through the township. It reached its peak population during the late 1880’s of approx. 2,500 and there were four schools in the area - Halcombe, Stanway, Tokorangi and Kakariki.
Into the new century, as nearby towns of Feilding and Marton grew and land-clearance and timber-milling gave way to farming, the population of the local area dwindled. Stanway, Tokorangi and Kakariki School's closed over time with all students then coming to Halcombe School. Halcombe School moved to its current site on Monteith Street in 1941.
Today, the Halcombe community is still strong, with a thriving school, busy tavern, rugby and sports club, volunteer Fire Brigade, active marae at Taumata o te Ra, Te Hiiri, Tokorangi and Poupatate and plenty of families who love living here. Residents are drawn to the rural lifestyle and "village atmosphere" of Halcombe and enjoy living in this vibrant, caring community.