Named after British General Sir Henry Havelock, the town of Havelock North was founded in 1860 to provide land for small farmers and working-class settlers.
This followed the purchase of land in 1858 from Maori owners, of land previously known as ‘Karanema’s Reserve’. However, most sections ended up in the hands of speculators and wealthy pastoralists.
Like other towns in the region, its growth was restricted by large pastoral stations on its fringes. The founding of Hastings in 1873, and the routing of the regional railway line through Hastings the following year, limited the growth of Havelock North for the next few decades.
The first orchards appeared in the 1870s, but they were not common until the early 20th century. Bernard Chambers established the first vineyard in 1892. Subdivision of pastoral land from 1898 enabled the town to expand, and it became popular with retired people and, later, businesspeople who worked in Napier or Hastings.
In 1989, as part of New Zealand’s wide-ranging local government reforms, the borough of Havelock North was merged into the new Hastings District and administered by the Hastings District Council.