The Pork Chop Hill tee shirt label has been developed by three friends inspired by a local landmark on the cliffs above the Manawatu river.
The area was once the site of a Rangitane pa called Te Motu o Poutoa. The site is elevated and has a great view over the city of Palmerston North, across the Manawatu flat lands and up to the Central Plateau. On a clear day, it's possible to see Mount Taranaki and Mount Ruapehu on the horizon.
According to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, most of the pa was destroyed when in 1962- 63 the Palmerston North City Council leveled the top of the hill to create a scenic look-out point which they named Anzac Park. The park was dedicated as a memorial to fallen soldiers from the local region. Anzac Park is the name seen on all the current signage.
However, many locals have only ever referred to the area by its colloquial name, Pork Chop Hill.
Former Palmerston North City Archivist, Ian Matheson, believed that the original Pork Chop Hill (look-out point) used to be closer to Massey University. The parking bay on Monro Hill, near the entrance to the present Maori Studies block, used to be known as Pork Chop and the name became transferred in the early 1960s when the car-park was developed at Anzac Park. Matheson remarked that “the site became a popular place for young people to get up to various social activities in their motor cars.”
Although the location is still popular with the younger generation in their cars, vans and utes, there are plenty of others who visit just to contemplate the view, exercise, picnic, take ‘time-out’ or even reminisce about days gone by and times when this was the place to be when they were young.
At the highest point of the hill, hidden from view by a stand of native bush, is a building that looks like a fortified bunker. This is the Manawatu Observatory, home to the Palmerston North Astronomical Society. They have the street address of 98 Cliff Road, Anzac Park.
Pork Chop Hill is a great source of inspiration. It is a landmark with a strong cultural history. It has been vandalised, burned, tagged and dumped on by people taking advantage of its stand-alone location… but the place has a powerful presence and the experience of being here at twilight, watching the light play in the sky, is encouragement enough to take a deep breath and not waste another day.