"Power to the people?" : the Palmerston North Municipal Electricity Department, 1910-1996 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University
The impetus for this study came from my interest and contacts in the energy sector, allied to a desire to advance local history writing from a mere reporting of events. Therefore, this thesis attempts to place a local Manawatu organisation into a national context to analyse the significance of its activities. The Palmerston North MED was chosen for this study because the records were preserved in the Palmerston North City Council Archives and were thus available for use, and because of my contacts with the organisation. It was stimulating to study an enterprise up to the present day, although this has provided some difficulties with obtaining confidential material at a time when the Council was considering merging it with a power board. In the course of this thesis many people have provided a great deal of assistance. Firstly, I would like to thank my supervisors, Dr James Watson and Professor Kerry Howe, for their support, guidance and comments. The Massey University History Department provided financial assistance, as did the Massey University Graduate Research Fund and Federation of University Women (Manawatu Branch), without which completion of my work would have been difficult. I also appreciated the general support and interest of individual members of the History Department. Ian Matheson and Barbara Olsen of the Palmerston North City Council Archives provided access to material relating to the Palmerston North Municipal Electricity Department, assisted with locating pictures, and unfailingly answered my questions. I am grateful that the City has such a resource available for students and historians. The records staff of the Palmerston North City Council also provided access to current records, for which I am appreciative. I would also like to thank the staff of Electro Power for allowing me to base my researches in their office temporarily, for answering technical questions and explaining photographs, and for displaying interest in my findings. Many of the photographs used come from the Electro Power collection. Lastly, I could not have completed this thesis without the assistance of Sheryl Morgan, discussions with Jim Lundy, and the moral support of my fellow Masters students. My biggest debt, however, is to the support, technical assistance and enthusiasm of Terry Jones, and for this I thank him.