Starting in 1852 as a sawmilling town, Rangiora became the administrative and commercial centre for a large area of farms and orchards. It attracted residents commuting to Christchurch for work, with the population more than doubling from 1971 to 2006. Although the town suffered some damage in both the Darfield 2010 and Christchurch 2011 earthquakes (the major department store Farmers was lost), there was less damage than further south, which encouraged new residents. The 2013 population of 13,332 was a 12% increase on 2006.Rangiora has some historic buildings, including the Anglican Church of St John the Baptist – one of Canterbury’s largest and most beautiful wooden churches, designed by Benjamin Mountfort. Heritage buildings demolished after the earthquakes included the 1882 Masonic Lodge.
Rangi: sky or day; ora: health. There are various interpretations of the meaning of this name. As a South Island name the meaning may be either Good weather after a bad spell, or Invalid recovering from sickness, or Day of peace or health. A prominent Maori chieftain, the late J.C. Tikao of Rapaki, said he thought it meant “good weather after a bad spell.”