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It did not quite qualify to be a city by 1989 when the minimum population requirement for that status was lifted from 20,000 to 50,000. The Wairarapa Line railway, which opened to Masterton on 1 November 1880, allows many residents easy access to work in the cities of Wellington, Lower Hutt and Upper after pioneer Joseph Masters, it was first settled by Europeans on 21 May 1854. It gained borough status in 1877, and the Masterton District is now part of the Greater Wellington industries involve service industries for the surrounding farming community. The town is the headquarters of the annual Golden Shears sheep-shearing competition.
Hood Aerodrome is south of Masterton though as of 2015, there are no commercial flights from it. From early 2009 until late 2013 Air New Zealand provided flights to Auckland, operated by subsidiary Eagle Airways six days a week, mainly to serve business customers in the Wairarapa.  There have been a few other unsuccessful attempts at commercial air travel in Masterton, mostly failing due to its proximity to major airports in Wellington and Palmerston North . The most significant was by South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand (SPANZ), which operated daily flights using DC3s during the sixties to destinations nationwide until the airline's closure in 1966.