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Aerial view of Petone and Seaview
Aerial view of Petone and Seaview
CountryNew Zealand
CityHutt City
Electoral wardHarbour
 • Land390 ha (960 acres)
 (June 2020)[1]
 • Total7,860
Train station(s)Petone Railway Station
Ava Railway Station
Korokoro Maungaraki Alicetown
Wellington Harbour Seaview
Petone Wharf on a stormy day

Petone (Māori: Pito-one), a large suburb of Lower Hutt in the Wellington Region of New Zealand's North Island, stands at the southern end of the Hutt Valley, on the northern shore of Wellington Harbour. The Māori name Pito-one means "end of the sand beach".[2]

Europeans first settled in Petone in 1840, making it one of the oldest European settlements in the Wellington Region. It became a borough in 1888, and merged with Lower Hutt (branded as "Hutt City") in 1989.


A substantial Maori (fortified settlement) was already established at Pito-one close to the beach when the first European settlers arrived in the region. The first European settlers in large numbers arrived on 22 January 1840, on the ship Aurora[3] carrying 25 married couples, 36 single persons and 40 children.

The locality was described as, "sandy beach, which is about two miles long ... bounded on either side by wooded hills from 300 to 400 feet in height. It was covered in high forest to within a mile and a half of the beach, when swamps full of flax (New Zealand flax) and a belt of sand hummocks intervened." The Maori from the nearby pa came to meet them, one passenger's diary recording, "the venerable old chief Te Puni ... together with sons and endless relatives and a pa full of natives who were delighted to greet us with 'Kapai-te-Pakeha' and other expressions of greeting".

A beach settlement of small wooden houses and tents was established, which was initially called Britannia. The earliest European settlers found life hard. Nevertheless, the settlement grew: the population of "Pito-one and Hutt" in 1845 was given as 649, compared to, "Town of Wellington" of 2,667. In 1850 the Maori pa at Pito-one was described as, "the largest and best fortified within the District of Wellington ... their cultivations of kumara and maize look well and the residents, in point of comfort and wealth, are better off than any of the Port Nicholson natives ... total population 136." There was horse racing at Pito-one Beach on 20 October 1842, attracting a crowd of five or six hundred people from Wellington.[4]

Petone was the first European settlement in the Wellington region and retains many historical buildings and landmarks. After repeated flooding, settlers moved south to Thorndon.[5] Thorndon is at the shore of what is now the city of Wellington, New Zealand's capital.

Typical wooden house in Petone

For much of the 20th century, Petone was a thriving, largely working-class town and the location of several large industrial sites, including two car assembly plants, a meat processing plant, a wool processing plant, a tobacco processing plant,[6] a soap factory and a toothpaste factory.[7] One remnant of this industrial history is the Petone Wharf. The wharf was originally built to allow the Gear Meat Works to export its products.[8] The majority of these closed in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly after the . resulting in gradual economic decline.

Petone gained borough status in 1888. Petone Borough[9] amalgamated with Lower Hutt as a result of the local government reform in 1989.

The suburb has since enjoyed renewed economic growth, using its early European heritage as a draw for tourists and gaining many cafes and shops.

It is home of the Petone Rugby Club which has been one of the world's leading clubs since 1885.

State housing[edit]

Some of New Zealand's first State housing was constructed in Petone in 1906, with some of the original houses remaining in good condition. The local tourist office provides a guide showing where these houses are located.


Petone is relatively flat lies at the river mouth of the Hutt River. It nestled between the river to the north, hills on the west and east and Wellington Harbour to the south.

As a low-lying suburb, it is vulnerable to tsunami[10] and the threat of flooding.

Notable features[edit]

Petone, 1911
  • The Te Puna Wai Ora (Spring of Life) in Buick Street provides pure untreated artesian (underground pressured) water from taps. The water originates from the Hutt River at the Taita Gorge and is safe to drink in its natural form as it has been naturally filtered through the alluvial gravels and sands of the Hutt Valley over several years. It is free, highly valued and consumers travel long distances to collect the water for drinking purposes.[11]
  • Petone Community Library (Te Kete Wananga) access via Britannia Street or through the Doreen Doolan Mall on Jackson Street.
  • Jackson Street: Petone's main street with over 220 businesses (most are small businesses), is the Wellington region's only historic shopping precinct, and has free parking. For a list of businesses:
  • Petone Settlers Museum, housed in the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial Building on the Petone foreshore.
  • Honiana Te Puni-kokopu New Zealand Wars memorial in the Te Puni Street urūpa (burial ground).[12]

Petone Rotary Fair[edit]

Scenes from the Petone Rotary Fair

The Petone Rotary Fair is a notable local event, held annually since 1992, that draws people from all over the greater Wellington region to Jackson Street, Petone's main thoroughfare, which is closed off to traffic.

The purpose of the fair is not only to raise the profile of Petone and provide an enjoyable day out, but to raise money for charity. The fair consists of various stalls selling everything from plants, artwork, jewellery, CDs & DVDs, cosmetics, food and drink, etc., as well as musicians, carnival rides, and displays from various organisations such as the New Zealand Fire Service.


Petone, comprising the statistical areas of Petone Central, Petone East and Petone Esplanade, covers 3.90 km2 (1.51 sq mi).[13] It had an estimated population of 7,860 as of June 2020, with a population density of 2,015 people per km2.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [14]

Petone had a population of 7,491 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 816 people (12.2%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 945 people (14.4%) since the 2006 census. There were 2,955 households. There were 3,753 males and 3,738 females, giving a sex ratio of 1.0 males per female, with 1,167 people (15.6%) aged under 15 years, 1,650 (22.0%) aged 15 to 29, 3,492 (46.6%) aged 30 to 64, and 1,188 (15.9%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 71.6% European/Pākehā, 15.5% Māori, 8.2% Pacific peoples, 16.1% Asian, and 2.4% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 28.0%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 48.4% had no religion, 35.0% were Christian, 4.9% were Hindu, 0.8% were Muslim, 0.9% were Buddhist and 4.5% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 2,046 (32.4%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 852 (13.5%) people had no formal qualifications. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 3,468 (54.8%) people were employed full-time, 795 (12.6%) were part-time, and 261 (4.1%) were unemployed.[14]

Individual statistical areas
Name Population Households Median age Median income
Petone Central 954 339 34.7 years $39,900[15]
Petone East 3,906 1,569 39.4 years $34,600[16]
Petone Esplanade 2,631 1,047 36.1 years $39,500[17]
New Zealand 37.4 years $31,800


Petone has three schools

  • Petone Central School is a state full primary (Year 1–8) school in central Petone, and has 80 students as of March 2021.[18]
  • Sacred Heart School is a state-integrated Catholic full primary (Year 1–8) school in central Petone, and has 153 students as of March 2021.[18]
  • Wilford School is a state full primary (Year 1–8) school in northeastern Petone, and has 259 students as of March 2021.[18]

Since Petone College closed in 1998, Hutt Valley High School in central Lower Hutt has been the nearest state secondary school to Petone.

The main campus of the Wellington Institute of Technology (Weltec) is located in Petone.


  1. ^ "Population estimate tables - NZ.Stat". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  2. ^ Te Ara: The encyclopaedia of New Zealand – Hutt Valley – south Retrieved: 13 January 2009 – "The first European immigrants settled at Pito-one (‘the end of the sand beach’), now known as Petone."
  3. ^ "First European settlers arrive in Wellington". 22 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Early Wellington" compiled by Louis E. Ward, Whitcomb and Tombs Ltd 1929.
  5. ^ "Petone". Retrieved 7 May 2020. ... flooding led many settlers to leave Petone for a new site at Thorndon.
  6. ^ "Imperial Tobacco plans to close Petone factory". Stuff. Retrieved 7 May 2020. A spokeswoman, Louise Evans McDonald, said Imperial had owned the factory since the late 1990s, but the site itself had been used for making tobacco products since 1919, initially under the name WD & HO Wills.
  7. ^ "Another blow to Hutt City's business sector". NZ Herald. 1 November 2006. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 7 May 2020. After more the 50 years of operating and despite turning a profit, the Colgate Palmolive factory in Petone is closing next year, bringing the loss of around 100 jobs.
  8. ^ "Petone Foreshore". Hutt City Council. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Petone Borough". NZGB Gazetteer. LINZ. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Petone Alicetown Tsunami Map" (PDF). Wellington Region Emergency Management Office. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  11. ^ Hutt City – Petone's Artesian Water Archived 13 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 5 April 2012
  12. ^ "Honiana Te Puni NZ Wars memorial". NZ History. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  13. ^ "ArcGIS Web Application". Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  14. ^ a b "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Petone Central (243700), Petone East (244700) and Petone Esplanade (245000).
  15. ^ 2018 Census place summary: Petone Central
  16. ^ 2018 Census place summary: Petone East
  17. ^ 2018 Census place summary: Petone Esplanade
  18. ^ a b c "New Zealand Schools Directory". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 27 April 2021.

Coordinates: 41°13′30.00″S 174°52′40.80″E / 41.2250000°S 174.8780000°E / -41.2250000; 174.8780000