Lower Hutt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Lower Hutt
Awakairangi (Māori)
Skyline of Lower Hutt
Coordinates: 41°13′S 174°55′E / 41.217°S 174.917°E / -41.217; 174.917
Country  New Zealand
Region Wellington
Territorial authority Hutt City
 • Mayor Ray Wallace
 • Territorial 377 km2 (146 sq mi)
 • Urban 135 km2 (52 sq mi)
Population (June 2013 estimate)[1]
 • Territorial 102,900
 • Density 270/km2 (710/sq mi)
 • Urban 102,300
 • Urban density 760/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
Area code(s) 04
Website www.huttcity.govt.nz
Lower Hutt from the air, looking eastwards.

Lower Hutt (Māori: Awakairangi) is a city in the Wellington Region of the North Island of New Zealand. It is administered by the Hutt City Council and is one of the four cities that constitute the Wellington metropolitan area.

It is New Zealand's seventh most populous city, with a population of 102,900.[1] The city covers an area of 377 km2 (146 sq mi) around the lower half of the Hutt Valley and the eastern shores of Wellington Harbour. It is separated from Wellington proper by the harbour, and from Upper Hutt by the Taitā Gorge.

Though it is administered by the Hutt City Council, neither the New Zealand Geographic Board nor the Local Government Act recognise the name Hutt City. This name has led to confusion, as Upper Hutt is administered by a separate city council, the Upper Hutt City Council, which objects to the name "Hutt City".


Prior to European settlement, thick forest covered most of the Hutt Valley, with areas of marshland close to the river's mouth. Māori inhabited the shoreline, with a pa at each end of Petone beach.

The local Māori welcomed the arrival of the New Zealand Company ship Tory in 1839, and William Wakefield (the company's agent) negotiated with local chiefs to allow settlement. The first immigrant ship, the Aurora, arrived on 22 January 1840, still celebrated every year on the Monday closest as Wellington's Anniversary Day. A settlement, Britannia, grew up close to the mouth of the Hutt River, and settlers set up the infant country's first newspaper and bank.

The city takes its name from the river, named after the founding member, director and chairman of the New Zealand Company, Sir William Hutt.

Christ Church, Taitā, built in 1853 is the oldest church in the Wellington region.

Within months of settlement the river flooded, and in March 1840 the majority of Britannia settlers decided to move to Thorndon, (as of 2013 in the heart of Wellington city), though some settlers remained at the north end of the harbour. In the 1840s an area on the west bank of the Hutt River formed the village then known as Aglionby.[2]

In 1846 conflict arose between settlers and Māori, which led to skirmishes.

In 1855 a major earthquake raised part of the lower valley, allowing the reclamation of land from swamp.

The railway line from central Wellington reached Lower Hutt station (now Western Hutt) in April 1874, with the line travelling north up the west side of the river to Silverstream opening two years later.

Before the Second World War, urban settlement in the lower Hutt Valley concentrated mainly on Petone, central Lower Hutt and Eastbourne, with a total population of 30,000. In 1927 the Public Works Department completed the construction of a branch railway line to Waterloo on the east side of the river; the route diverging from the main line between Lower Hutt and Petone. Two years later the railway workshops moved from Petone to a new larger site off the new branch at Woburn.

In the late 1940s new suburbs of state housing developed along the eastern side of the Hutt Valley, from Waiwhetu to Taita, to alleviate nationwide housing shortages and to cater for the booming population. Between 1946 and 1954, the railway line from Waterloo was extended through these new suburbs to Haywards, becoming the main line in 1954 when the existing main line was closed between Haywards and Melling. By the end of the 1950s, Lower Hutt had a population of 80,000.


The Hutt City Council is made up of a mayor and twelve councillors. Ray Wallace was elected Hutt City mayor in 2010, succeeding David Ogden. The city's six electoral wards (Northern, Western, Central, Eastern, Harbour and Wainuiomata) each elect two councillors.

Neighbouring councils are Wellington City Council (adjoining to the north-west), Porirua City Council to the north, Upper Hutt City Council to the north-east and South Wairarapa District Council to the east. The boundaries of the Hutt City local body have evolved from a series of amalgamations and boundary changes over the years.

The Hutt County Council was established in 1877 and covered the region from Wellington's south coast up to Waikanae, excluding the Wellington City Council area. As the region grew, urban parts of the Hutt county became autonomous boroughs: Petone in 1888, Lower Hutt in 1891, Eastbourne in 1906, Johnsonville in 1908, Upper Hutt in 1908, Porirua in 1962 and Kapiti in 1974.

In 1941 Lower Hutt became a city. It incorporated Normandale in 1957.

In 1987/1989 the New Zealand Government forced local authorities to consolidate, which led to Lower Hutt amalgamating with the adjacent Boroughs of Petone and Eastbourne and with the Wainuiomata District (which had its independence for barely a year), and to the abolition of the Hutt County Council.


The city centres on the lower (southern) valley of the Hutt River, to the northeast of Wellington. The valley widens as the river nears its mouth, so the central urban area of the city forms a triangle with its longest side along the shoreline. In the upper reaches of the city the Western and Eastern Hutt Hills become closer, culminating in the Taitā Gorge at the northern end of Lower Hutt, separating the city from neighbouring Upper Hutt.

Lower Hutt includes the cluster of small settlements that extend down the eastern coast of Wellington Harbour. These include the two large townships of Wainuiomata (inland) and Eastbourne (on the coast). The city also includes a large area of sparsely-populated land to the east of the harbour, extending to Pencarrow Head and into the Rimutaka Ranges.

Lower Hutt includes the islands in Wellington Harbour, the largest of which, Matiu/Somes Island, is commonly referred to by its former name of Somes Island.


Climate data for Lower Hutt
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 28.8
Average high °C (°F) 22.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.2
Average low °C (°F) 14.0
Record low °C (°F) 5.2
Precipitation mm (inches) 84
Mean monthly sunshine hours 235 199 198 159 135 105 124 146 156 176 192 204 2,029
Source: Paradise.net[3]

Hutt River[edit]

Lower Hutt occupies the lower regions of the flood plain of the Hutt River, and the river is one of the most significant features of the city. In the 20th century stopbanks were built to contain the river, but the threat of flooding from heavy rainfall persists. In 1985 the river bursts its banks, and since then floods have been on a smaller scale. Smaller streams and storm-water drains have also caused occasional problems when rainfall persistently exceeds average levels.

Much of the land adjacent to the river is protected as reserve and provides a much-appreciated recreational feature, with walking tracks and grassed areas over approximately 12 km of river bank.

Pollution levels in the river have been consistently high since urbanisation of the Hutt Valley. Frequent algal blooms have contributed to making slow flowing areas anoxic and have caused localised 'dead zones'. The algal blooms have been attributed as the cause of death of many dogs swimming in the river as well as severe skin reactions in the case of swimmers.

The river is crossed by seven bridges within the city, heading downstream:

  • Silverstream Rail Bridge, a double-track rail bridge that was opened in 1954 to replace a single-track rail bridge around 700 metres further downstream. Part of the bridge lies in Upper Hutt.
  • Pomare Rail Bridge, a double-track rail bridge that was opened in 1954 as part of the Hutt Valley railway deviation.
  • Kennedy-Good Bridge, a two-lane road bridge that was opened in 1979 and was the first bridge at this site. The bridge is named after the Mayor of Lower Hutt at that time.
  • Melling Bridge, a three-lane bridge (one eastbound, two westbound) that was opened 1957. This is the second bridge at this site, the first being a one-lane suspension bridge opened in 1909, approximately 200 metres upstream.
  • Ewen Bridge, a four-lane road bridge which is the seventh bridge at this site and was opened in 1996. The preceding bridges were opened in 1844, 1847, 1856, 1872, 1904 and 1929.
  • The 'Rail Bridge', a two-track rail bridge with pedestrian walkway. Opened 1927.
  • Estuary or Pipe Bridge, a two-lane road bridge that also carries a pipe for the supply of water to Wellington.


Suburbs of Lower Hutt listed approximately north to south. Those in italics are unofficial suburbs.[4]

West of the Hutt River
Haywards; Manor Park; Kelson; Belmont; Tirohanga; Harbour View; Melling; Normandale; Maungaraki; Alicetown; Ava; Korokoro; Petone
East of the Hutt River
Stokes Valley; Pomare; Taitā; Avalon; Wingate; Naenae; Boulcott; Epuni; Fairfield; Lower Hutt Central; Waterloo; Woburn; Waiwhetū; Moera; Gracefield; Seaview
Wainuiomata Valley
Eastern harbour
Point Howard; Sorrento Bay; Lowry Bay; York Bay; Mahina Bay; Sunshine Bay; Days Bay; Eastbourne


Historically, Petone and nearby parts of Lower Hutt acted as the principal area for light industry in this region, with industries including meat processing and freezing, motor vehicle assembly, and timber processing. This activity has been significantly diminished or discontinued in recent decades with either the transfer of industrial activity to the more heavily populated area of Auckland or cessation at a national level. Such movement has often resulted from competitive pressures on commercial organisations for increased efficiency, as a result of opening up the New Zealand economy to international competition since the mid-1980s.

The suburb of Avalon was home to New Zealand's television industry from 1975 until the late 1980s. The Avalon Television Studios were New Zealand's first purpose-built television studios, and remains the largest television studio complex in New Zealand and probably Australasia. The studios were home to Television One from 1975 to 1980, when it merged with South Pacific Television to form Television New Zealand (TVNZ). Between 1980 and 1989, most of TVNZ's operations moved to Auckland, and the studios were eventually sold off in 2012 to a consortium of Wellington investors.[5] Avalon continues to operate independently with seven film and television studios, as well as originating two television channels on behalf of the New Zealand Racing Board.

Trends over the past 25 years have seen service, distribution, and consumer-oriented activity replace the industrial activity previously a feature of the Petone area. Lower Hutt is the main location for light industrial activity in the Wellington Region, but it largely lacks heavy industry.

A significant proportion of Lower Hutt's population commutes to the commercial and Government offices in Wellington 12 km to the south-west.

Today Lower Hutt is home to leading Crown Research Institutes such as GNS Science and Industrial Research Ltd (IRL) along with many other cutting-edge research organisations in high-end manufacturing, research and technology.[6]

The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA) has its headquarters in Aviation House in Petone, Lower Hutt.[7]

Culture and leisure[edit]

Several education and research facilities of national significance are in the southern half of the city. Cultural facilities include the Dowse Art Museum and the Avalon film and television studios

The city possesses civic administration buildings constructed in the 1950s that are regarded as representative architecture of the era. A building of national significance is Vogel House, a two-storey wooden residence that was the official residence of the Prime Minister of New Zealand for much of the 20th century. It is a prime example of early colonial architecture in New Zealand and operates today as a tourist attraction.

The city is popular for outdoor sports, especially mountain biking, hiking, recreational walking and fishing. The central city is home to Westfield Queensgate, a large shopping centre. The Riverbank car park adjacent to the central city is home to a Saturday market from 8am to 2pm. This market is a one stop shopping experience for fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and breads. There are also arts and crafts stalls and a broad range of food vendors for a tasty lunch.

Lower Hutt is to host the 2012 Australasian Police and Emergency Services Games, a weeklong event of 40 sports, since Christchurch could not host in the wake of the 2011 earthquake.

Among the filming locations for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, Dry Creek quarry, which dominates the hills above the suburb of Taitā, became the site for a huge medieval castle built for scenes of Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith.


Lower Hutt has four state secondary schools: Taita College, Naenae College, Hutt Valley High School (the largest) and Wainuiomata High School. Other secondary schools include Chilton Saint James School, a private girls school; Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School, a state integrated Waldorf education school; Sacred Heart College, a state integrated Catholic girls school; Saint Bernard's College, a state integrated Catholic boys school; and Saint Oran's College, a state integrated Presbyterian girls school.

The city is home to two tertiary institutes: the Wellington Institute of Technology in Petone, and The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand in Waterloo.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Hills to about 350 m (1000 ft) line both sides of the valley within the city limits. The western hills have been populated as residential areas, but the eastern side is protected and clad in native bush and scrub, and the ubiquitous gorse in areas that have been cleared as a result of scrub fires or earlier human activity.

Native birds are common, including the New Zealand Pigeon, Tui, Grey Fantail, Silvereye, Shining Cuckoo (in season), Grey Warbler and Morepork. Introduced species include the Common Blackbird, Song Thrush, House Sparrow, European Goldfinch, Common Chaffinch, Common Starling, and Australian Magpie.

Sister-city relationships[edit]

Lower Hutt has five sister cities:[8]

Tempe was the first Sister City, in 1981; Laredo the most recent, in 2011.

Image gallery[edit]

Lower Hutt from Normandale, in the western hills. On the right is the entrance to Wellington Harbour, with Matiu/Somes Island beneath. The Hutt River snakes from the right background to the left mid-ground, entering the harbour between the suburbs of Seaview and Petone. The Wainuiomata Hill Road climbs the hills in the centre background (the track in the middle of the left half of the background is a firebreak, not a road). At the foot of the Wainuiomata Hill Road is the Gracefield industrial area.
Wider view of the Lower Hutt valley. This view shows Wellington in the distance on the extreme right hand side. Past the Lower Hutt CBD in the centre of the photo, and onto Avalon and Taitā on the left-hand side.
Lower Hutt from the top of the Wainuiomata hills. This viewpoint can be seen in the top panorama by following the ridgeline left from the top of the Wainuiomata Hill Road to the first major firebreak
Wellington Harbour and southern Lower Hutt from the top of the Wainuiomata Hill Road (south of the above photo), looking west. Matiu/Somes Island is in the harbour on the left (South), and beyond that the row of lights along State Highway 2, marking the line of the geologic fault, both of which continue up the far side of the valley to the right. The industrial area in the central foreground is Gracefield. In the distance, behind Matiu/Somes Island, are Wellington port and CBD.


  1. ^ a b "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2013 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.  Also "Infoshare; Group: Population Estimates - DPE; Table: Estimated Resident Population for Urban Areas, at 30 June (1996+) (Annual-Jun)". Statistics New Zealand. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Wakefield, Edward Jerningham (1848). The Hand-book for New Zealand: Consisting of the Most Recent Information. John W. Parker. p. 103. Retrieved 2013-06-05. "The main road [...] reaches the west bank of the Hutt at the spot whence [...] the river bends gradually towards the eastern side of the valley. [...] On the same bank of the river, about half a mile lower down, is the village of Aglionby, which contains an excellent Tavern, with good stabling and other accommodation; a small building used as a Church and a school, a blacksmith's forge, and several shops, one or two good farm-houses, and numerous labourers' cottages." 
  3. ^ "Climate Statistics for Lower Hutt, NZ (1985–2010)". Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "Hutt City Wards and Suburbs". Hutt City Council. Retrieved 25 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Tom Hunt and Paul Easton (11 April 2011). "The rise and fall of Avalon". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  6. ^ http://huttcity.govt.nz/en/Our-City/Business-in-the-Hutt/
  7. ^ "Contacting the CAA." Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand. Retrieved on 28 September 2010.
  8. ^ Lower Hutt Sister Cities Website

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°13′S 174°55′E / 41.217°S 174.917°E / -41.217; 174.917