Wellington was named
in honour of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington
and victor of the Battle of Waterloo. The Duke's title
comes from the town of Wellington in the English county
Ma-ori, Wellington goes by three names. Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara
refers to Wellington Harbour and means "the great
harbour of Tara". Po-neke is a transliteration of
Port Nick, short for Port Nicholson (the city's central
marae, the community supporting it and its kapa haka have
the pseudo-tribal name of Nga-ti Po-neke). Te Upoko-o-te-Ika-a-Ma-ui,
meaning The Head of the Fish of Ma-ui (often shortened
to Te Upoko-o-te-Ika), a traditional name for the southernmost
part of the North Island, derives from the legend of the
fishing up of the island by the demigod Ma-ui.
is New Zealand's political centre, housing Parliament
and the head offices of all government ministries and
departments, plus the bulk of the foreign diplomatic missions
based in New Zealand.
compact city centre supports an arts scene, café
culture and nightlife much larger than most cities of
a similar size. It is a centre of New Zealand's film and
theatre industry. Te Papa Tongarewa (the Museum of New
Zealand), the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal
New Zealand Ballet and the biennial New Zealand International
Arts Festival are all sited there.Wellington
has the 12th best quality of living in the world, according
to a 2007 study by consulting company Mercer. Of cities
with English as the primary language, Wellington ranked
fourth. Only Auckland of New Zealand cities rated higher.
recounts that Kupe discovered and explored the district
in about the tenth century. European settlement began
with the arrival of an advance party of the New Zealand
Company on the ship Tory, on 20 September 1839, followed
by 150 settlers on the Aurora on 22 January 1840. The
settlers constructed their first homes at Petone (which
they called Britannia for a time) on the flat area at
the mouth of the Hutt River. When that proved swampy and
flood-prone they transplanted the plans without regard
for a more hilly terrain.
Wellington stands at the south-western tip of the North
Island on Cook Strait, the passage that separates the
North and South Islands. On a clear day the snowcapped
Kaikoura Ranges are visible to the south across the strait.
To the north stretch the golden beaches of the Kapiti
Coast. On the east the Rimutaka Range divides Wellington
from the broad plains of the Wairarapa, a wine region
of national acclaim.
is the southernmost national capital city in the world,
with a latitude of about 41°S. It is also the most
remote capital in the World (i.e. the furthest from any
other capital). It is more densely populated than most
other settlements in New Zealand, due to the small amount
of building space available between the harbour and the
surrounding hills. Wellington has very few suitable areas
in which to expand and this has resulted in the development
of the surrounding cities in the greater urban area. Because
of its location in the roaring forties latitudes and its
exposure to omnipresent winds coming through Cook Strait,
the city is known to Kiwis as "Windy Wellington".
than most cities, life in Wellington is dominated by its
central business district (CBD). Approximately 62,000
people work in the CBD, only 4,000 fewer than work in
Auckland's CBD, despite that city having three times Wellington's
population. Wellington's cultural and nightlife venues
concentrate in Courtenay Place and surroundings located
in the southern part of the CBD, making the inner city
suburb of Te Aro the largest entertainment destination
in New Zealand.
has a median income well above the average in New Zealand
and a much higher proportion of people with tertiary qualifications
than the national average.
has a reputation for its picturesque natural harbour and
green hillsides adorned with tiered suburbs of colonial
villas. The CBD is sited close to Lambton Harbour, an
arm of Wellington Harbour. Wellington Harbour lies along
an active geological fault, which is clearly evident on
its straight western coast. The land to the west of this
rises abruptly, meaning that many of Wellington's suburbs
sit high above the centre of the city. There
is a network of bush walks and reserves maintained by
the Wellington City Council and local volunteers. The
Wellington region has 500 square kilometres (190 sq mi)
of regional parks and forests.
the east is the Miramar Peninsula, connected to the rest
of the city by a low-lying isthmus at Rongotai, the site
of Wellington International Airport. The narrow entrance
to Wellington is directly to the east of the Miramar Peninsula,
and contains the dangerous shallows of Barrett Reef, where
many ships have been wrecked (most famously the inter-island
ferry Wahine in 1968).
the hill west of the city centre are Victoria University
and Wellington Botanic Garden. Both can be reached by
a funicular railway, the Wellington Cable Car.
Harbour has three islands: Matiu/Somes Island, Makaro/Ward
Island and Mokopuna Island. Only Matiu/Somes Island is
large enough for settlement. It has been used as a quarantine
station for people and animals and as an internment camp
during the First and Second World Wars. It is now a conservation
island, providing refuge for endangered species, much
like Kapiti Island further up the coast. There is access
during daylight hours by the Dominion Post Ferry.
contains a variety of architectural styles dating back
from the past 150 years; from nineteenth century wooden
cottages, such as the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace in
Thorndon, some streamlined Art Deco structures such as
the old Wellington Free Ambulance headquarters and the
City Gallery, and the curves and vibrant colours of post-modern
architecture in the CBD.
oldest building in Wellington is the Colonial Cottage
in Mount Cook . The tallest building in the city is the
Majestic Centre on Willis Street at 116 meters high, the
second tallest being the structural expressionist BNZ
Tower at 103 meters. Futuna Chapel is located in Karori,
was the first bicultural building in New Zealand, and
is thus considered one of the most significant New Zealand
buildings of the twentieth century.
Saint Paul's is an example of 19th-century Gothic Revival
architecture adapted to colonial conditions and materials,
as is St Mary of the Angels. The Museum of Wellington
City & Sea building, the Bond Store is in the Second
French Empire style, and the Wellington Harbour Board
Wharf Office Building is in a late English Classical style.
There are several restored theatre buildings, the St.
James Theatre, the Opera House and the Embassy Theatre.
the capital, there are many memorable government buildings
in Wellington. Both the National Library of New Zealand,
located on Molesworth Street, and the Te Puni Ko-kiri
building on Lambton Quay are aesthetically unique . The
circular-conical Executive Wing of New Zealand Parliament
Buildings, located on the corner of Lambton Quay and Molesworth
Street, was constructed in the mid-60s and is commonly
referred to as the Beehive. Across the road from the Beehive
is the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere,
part of the old Government Buildings which now houses
part of Victoria University of Wellington's Law Faculty.
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is located
on the waterfront. As tastes and trends in architecture
have come into and fallen out of fashion, many memorable
buildings have been lost.
1865, Wellington became the capital of New Zealand, replacing
Auckland, where William Hobson had established his capital
in 1841. Parliament first sat in Wellington on 7 July
1862, but the city did not become the official capital
for some time. In November 1863 the Premier Alfred Domett
moved a resolution before Parliament (in Auckland) that
"... it has become necessary that the seat of government
... should be transferred to some suitable locality in
Cook Strait." Apparently there was concern that the
southern regions, where the gold fields were located,
would form a separate colony. Commissioners from Australia
(chosen for their neutral status) pronounced the opinion
that Wellington was suitable because of its harbour and
central location. Parliament officially sat in Wellington
for the first time on 26 July 1865. The population of
Wellington was then 4,900.
is the seat of New Zealand's highest court, the Supreme
Court of New Zealand. The historic former High Court building
is to be enlarged and restored for the court's use. Government
House, the official residence of the Governor-General,
is in Newtown, opposite the Basin Reserve.
suffered serious damage in a series of earthquakes in
1848 and from another earthquake in 1855. The 1855 Wairarapa
earthquake occurred on a fault line to the north and east
of Wellington. It ranks as probably the most powerful
earthquake in recorded New Zealand history, with an estimated
magnitude of at least 8.2 on the Richter scale. It caused
vertical movements of two to three metres over a large
area, including raising an area of land out of the harbour
and turning it into a tidal swamp. Much of this land was
subsequently reclaimed and is now part of Wellington's
central business district. For this reason the street
named Lambton Quay now runs 100 to 200 metres (325 to
650 ft) from the harbour. Plaques set into the footpath
along Lambton Quay mark the shoreline in 1840 and thus
indicate the extent of the uplift and of subsequent reclamation.
area has high seismic activity even by New Zealand standards,
with a major fault line running through the centre of
the city, and several others nearby. Several hundred more
minor fault lines have been identified within the urban
area. The inhabitants, particularly those in high-rise
buildings, typically notice several earthquakes every
year. For many years after the 1855 earthquake, the majority
of buildings constructed in Wellington were made entirely
from wood. The 1996-restored Government Buildings,
near Parliament is the largest wooden office building
in the Southern Hemisphere. While masonry and structural
steel have subsequently been used in building construction,
especially for office buildings, timber framing remains
the primary structural component of almost all residential
construction. Residents also place their hopes of survival
in good building regulations, which gradually became more
stringent in the course of the twentieth century.