From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aerial view of Petone and Seaview
Aerial view of Petone and Seaview
CountryNew Zealand
CityLower Hutt
Local authorityHutt City Council
Electoral wardHarbour
Community boardPetone Community Board[1]
 • Land390 ha (960 acres)
 (June 2022)[2]
 • Total8,200
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, Wellington, 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".[3]

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


Petone is flat. It is nestled between the Hutt River to the north and east, hills on the west and Wellington Harbour to the south. The land along the Petone foreshore was uplifted by a metre or more after the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake. This improved drainage around the mouth of the Hutt River.[4][5] The foreshore at Petone has a shallow sandy beach, formed by sediment from the Hutt River,[6] which is a popular family swimming spot. The Korokoro Stream comes down off the hills at the western side of Petone.

As a low-lying suburb, Petone is vulnerable to tsunami[7] and the threat of flooding. During a severe storm on 20 December 1976, the Korokoro Stream caused flooding almost a metre deep in the industrial area of Petone around Cornish Street, and more than 40 people had to be rescued from factory roofs.[8][9]


Two Maori (fortified settlement) were already established at Pito-one near the beach when the first European settlers arrived in the region. At the western end of the beach was the Pito-one pā, and at the other end near the mouth of the Hutt River stood Ngati Awa's Hikoikoi pā.[10][11] In 1850 the pā 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".[12]

Edward Jerningham Wakefield described the locality as a "sandy beach, which is about two miles long. The main river falls into the sea at the eastern end ... and is called the Heretaunga [Hutt River]. A merry brawling stream, called the Korokoro, or "throat", flows between [Pito-one pa] and the western hills. The valley ... [is] bounded on either side by wooded hills from 300 to 400 feet in height. It was covered with high forest to within a mile and a half of the beach, when swamps full of flax and a belt of sand hummocks intervened."[13]

Petone was the first European settlement in the Wellington region and retains many historical buildings and landmarks. The first European settlers in large numbers arrived on 22 January 1840 on the ship Aurora[14] which brought 25 married couples, 36 single persons and 40 children. The Aurora is commemorated in the Petone Settlers Museum, which has a sculpture shaped like the bow of the ship protruding from the front of the building. Maori from the nearby Pito-one pā came to meet the new arrivals, with one passenger recording in his diary: "The first great object of attraction was the venerable old chief Te Puni, his interesting and beautiful wife ‘Victoria,’ and his handsome daughter Aena, the princess, together with sons and endless relatives and a pa full of natives who were delighted to greet us with ‘Kapai te Pakeha,’ Tena-koe, and other expressions of greeting.”[15] : 25 

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. There was horse racing at Pito-one Beach on 20 October 1842, attracting a crowd of five or six hundred people from Wellington.[15]

After repeated flooding, most settlers moved south around the harbour to Thorndon.[16] Thorndon is at the shore of what is now the city of Wellington, New Zealand's capital.

From the late 19th century and for much of the 20th century, Petone was a thriving, largely working-class town. It was the location of several large industrial sites, including car assembly plants, a meat processing plant, a wool processing plant, a tobacco processing plant,[17] a soap factory and a toothpaste factory.[18] The majority of these closed in the 1970s and 1980s, resulting in gradual economic decline in the area.

Defunct Petone industries

  • Petone Railway Workshops 1876 – 1929
  • Gear Meat Company 1882 – 1981
  • Wellington Woollen Manufacturing Company 1883 – 1968 (company founded 1883, manufacture began at Petone in 1886)[5]
  • Lever Brothers soap factory (later became Unilever) 1919 – 2015[19][20]
  • W.D. & H.O. Wills tobacco factory 1919 – 2020[21]
  • New Zealand Motor Bodies vehicle assembly plant 1926 – 1978[22][23]
  • General Motors vehicle assembly plant 1926 – 1984[5]
  • Todd Motors vehicle assembly plant 1935 – 1974.[5] The company closed the Petone factory after building a new plant at Porirua in the early 1970s.
  • Colgate-Palmolive toothpaste and toiletries factory 1939 – 2007[24]
  • Austin Motor Industries vehicle assembly plant (later New Zealand Motor Corporation, then Emco Group) 1946 – 1983[5][25]

Petone gained borough status in 1888. The borough's first coat of arms had images representing the Gear Meat Company, the woollen mills and the railway workshops, showing how important these businesses were to the local economy.[26] Petone Borough[27] 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.

Petone is home to the Petone Rugby Club founded in 1885.

State housing[edit]

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. Star Flats (state housing apartment blocks built in the 1960s) are located in Jackson Street and East Street.


Petone, comprising the statistical areas of Petone Central, Petone East and Petone Esplanade, covers 3.90 km2 (1.51 sq mi).[28] It had an estimated population of 8,200 as of June 2022, with a population density of 2,103 people per km2.

Typical wooden house in Petone
Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [29]

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.[29]

Individual statistical areas
Name Population Households Median age Median income
Petone Central 954 339 34.7 years $39,900[30]
Petone East 3,906 1,569 39.4 years $34,600[31]
Petone Esplanade 2,631 1,047 36.1 years $39,500[32]
New Zealand 37.4 years $31,800
Te Puna Wai Ora fountain at Buick Street.

Points of interest[edit]

Jackson Street[edit]

Petone's main street has over 220 businesses (most are small unique businesses), has free parking, is a hub for hospitality, and is listed by Heritage New Zealand as a historic area.[33] Petone's former police station and jail, built in 1908, were moved to a site on Jackson Street in 1994 from Elizabeth Street, and is home to the Jackson Street Programme Inc. (JSP) which was established in 1992. The Historic Police Station is the JSP's office, and has information on Jackson Street and Petone for visitors and tourists. The Old Jail became a museum with exhibits about policing in Petone and the history of Jackson Street.[34] Jackson Street also features a 'Walk of Champions': over 140 bronze plaques have been laid on the footpath celebrating 200 local sportspeople who have represented New Zealand or become national champions in their sport.[35]

St David's Church[edit]

St David's is a Presbyterian church at 4 Britannia Street with a Heritage New Zealand Category 2 listing. It was built in 1889 in a simple Colonial Gothic style designed by Christian Toxward. Originally it had a large steeple but this was later removed after being damaged by weather and rot. In 1993 the steeple was restored and a porte cochere was added. The church has a decorated pipe organ and there is a large stained glass memorial window. The church is now used for services by the Samoan community.[36]

St Augustine's Church[edit]

St Augustine's is an Anglican church at 12 Britannia Street which has a Heritage New Zealand Category 2 listing. The church is built of wood, and was designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere in a gothic style.[37] When it was built in 1902-1903 it had the tallest spire in New Zealand, but the spire was removed in 1954 after being damaged in a storm.[38]

Te Puna Wai Ora[edit]

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, and consumers travel long distances to collect the water for drinking purposes.[39]

Petone Settlers Museum[edit]

The museum is housed in the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial Building on the Petone foreshore, opposite Buick Street. The building was opened on Wellington Anniversary Day 1940 to commemorate the arrival of the ship Aurora - arrival of first European Settlement. It is a building of national significance.

Iona Cross[edit]

In February 1940 a stone cross was erected on the Petone foreshore near the Settlers Museum, to commemorate 100 years since the first Presbyterian church service in New Zealand was held on board the settler ship Bengal Merchant at Petone on 23 February 1840.[40] The cross is 2.7 m (15ft) high and carved on one side. The cross was supposed to have been a replica of the MacLean Cross at Iona in Scotland donated by the Church of Scotland, but due to the outbreak of World War 2 this was not possible.[41][42] Instead, the cross was carved in Auckland or Coromandel, and is made of Coromandel Tonalite, a type of rock formerly quarried on the Coromandel Peninsula.[42] The cross has a 'Historic Place Category 2' listing from Heritage New Zealand.[42]

Hōniana Te Puni-kōkopu memorial[edit]

This memorial can be found in the Te Puni Street urūpa (burial ground).[43]

Hikoikoi Reserve[edit]

The reserve is a park and walkway at the mouth of the Hutt River. It features a disc-golf course.[44] The reserve was the site of Ngati Awa's Hikoikoi Pa.[45]

Petone Wharf[edit]

One remnant of Petone's industrial history is the Petone Wharf. The original wharf was built to allow the Gear Meat Works to move its products quickly to Wellington for export.[46] That wharf was demolished and the current wharf built slightly further north along the shore in 1907. The wharf was popular with walkers and people fishing, but was closed to the public in January 2021 after suffering earthquake damage in the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake and two smaller subsequent earthquakes.[47][48] In May 2021 Hutt City Council voted to repair the wharf[49] but as of May 2022 was still considering the best course of action.[50]

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 for the event.

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 products such as plants, artwork, jewellery, CDs & DVDs, cosmetics, food and drink, etc., and there are musicians, carnival rides, and displays from various organisations such as the New Zealand Fire Service.


Petone has three schools:

  • Petone Central School is a state full primary (Year 1–8) school in central Petone, with 98 students as of November 2022.[51]
  • Sacred Heart School is a state-integrated Catholic full primary (Year 1–8) school in central Petone, and has 162 students as of November 2022.[51]
  • Wilford School is a state full primary (Year 1–8) school in north-eastern Petone, and has 253 students as of November 2022.[51]

Since Petone College (formerly called Hutt Valley Memorial Technical 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hutt City Wards and Suburbs" (PDF). Hutt City Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  2. ^ "Population estimate tables - NZ.Stat". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  3. ^ 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."
  4. ^ Grapes, Rodney; Downes, Gaye (December 1997). "The 1855 Wairarapa, New Zealand Earthquake - Analysis of Historical Data" (PDF). Bulletin of the New Zealand National Society for Earthquake Engineering. 30, no. 4: 309.
  5. ^ a b c d e Butterworth, Susan (1988). Petone: A History. Petone, New Zealand: Petone Borough Council. ISBN 0908596308.
  6. ^ Boffa Miskell (April 2012). Hutt Landscape Study 2012 (PDF). Wellington, New Zealand: Greater Wellington Regional Council.
  7. ^ "Petone Alicetown Tsunami Map" (PDF). Wellington Region Emergency Management Office. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  8. ^ "December 1976 Wellington Flooding ( 1976-12-20 )". NIWA. 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  9. ^ O'Neil, Andrea (13 May 2015). "150 years of news - Wellington's history flooded with devastation". Stuff. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  10. ^ Johnson, E. Maidment E. Maidment T. Riddler A. Coles W. D. and H. O. Wills Sellars Tom Riddler G. London Arthur Percy Martha Englert Jack Cotton London Ray Johnson Dave Wilkie H. Kirk R. Johnson S. R. Johnson H. Truman Edmund Battersby S. R. "Petone Pen Pictures: 1840–1881 - Petone's First 100 Years (1940)". Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  11. ^ "Leg 4 – Seaview to Petone | Great Harbour Way/Te Aranui o Pōneke". Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  12. ^ "11th settlement: "Pitone"". Wellington Independent. 31 August 1850. Retrieved 19 December 2022 – via Paperspast.
  13. ^ Easther, John (1991). "Chapter 2: Settlement, stagnation and growth 1840 - 1899". The Hutt River: A modern history 1840 - 1990 (PDF). Wellington, New Zealand: Wellington Regional Council. p. 24. ISBN 0909016097.
  14. ^ "First European settlers arrive in Wellington". 22 October 2013.
  15. ^ a b Ward, Louis (1928). Early Wellington. Auckland, New Zealand: Whitcombe and Tombs.
  16. ^ "Petone". Retrieved 7 May 2020. ... flooding led many settlers to leave Petone for a new site at Thorndon.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ Chipp, Jim (14 January 2014). "A look back at Unilever Petone". Stuff. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  20. ^ "Developer snaps up Unilever site". Stuff. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  21. ^ Tso, Matthew (11 June 2021). "Demolition begins on Petone's century-old tobacco factory to make way for houses, business park". Stuff. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  22. ^ "New Zealand Motor Bodies plant, Keith Street". Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  23. ^ "New Zealand Motor Bodies Limited. - Petone's First 100 Years (1940)". Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  24. ^ "Another blow to Hutt City's business sector". NZ Herald. 2 November 2006. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  25. ^ "New assembly plant: 5000 vehicles a year". Gisborne Herald. 5 June 1946. Retrieved 30 April 2022 – via Paperspast.
  26. ^ Johnston, Warwick (2012). The Gear: A history of the Gear Meat Preserving and Freezing Company. Petone Historical Society. ISBN 978-1-877572-51-7.
  27. ^ "Petone Borough". NZGB Gazetteer. LINZ. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  28. ^ "ArcGIS Web Application". Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  29. ^ a b "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Petone Central (243700), Petone East (244700) and Petone Esplanade (245000).
  30. ^ 2018 Census place summary: Petone Central
  31. ^ 2018 Census place summary: Petone East
  32. ^ 2018 Census place summary: Petone Esplanade
  33. ^ "Jackson Street Historic Area". Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  34. ^ "Old Jail Museum". Jackson Street Programme. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  35. ^ "Tour Petone". Jackson Street Programme. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  36. ^ McCracken, Helen; Mew, Geoff (11 December 2003). "St David's Church (Presbyterian)". Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  37. ^ "[untitled]". Evening Post. 6 August 1900. Retrieved 19 December 2022 – via Paperspast.
  38. ^ McCracken, Helen (4 February 2002). "St Augustine's Church (Anglican)". Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  39. ^ Hutt City – Petone's Artesian Water Archived 13 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 5 April 2012
  40. ^ Wilson, John (25 March 2015). "Monument to the first Presbyterian service, Petone". Te Ara. Retrieved 31 December 2022.
  41. ^ "Fund exceeds £220,000". Press. 21 November 1939. Retrieved 31 December 2022 – via Paperspast.
  42. ^ a b c "Iona Memorial Cross". Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 31 December 2022.
  43. ^ "Honiana Te Puni NZ Wars memorial". NZ History. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  44. ^ "Hikoikoi Reserve Disc Golf Course". Disc Golf New Zealand. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  45. ^ "Leg 4 – Seaview to Petone | Great Harbour Way/Te Aranui o Pōneke". Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  46. ^ "Petone Foreshore". Hutt City Council. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  47. ^ Council, Hutt City (1 July 2022). "Petone Wharf Rebuild". Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  48. ^ Tso, Matthew (18 January 2021). "Petone's 393m wharf closed after more earthquake damage found". Stuff. Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  49. ^ Keogh, Brittany (24 May 2021). "Hutt City Council moves ahead on $21m Petone Wharf repair, despite budget blow out worries". Stuff. Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  50. ^ Calibre Consulting Ltd (19 May 2022). Petone Wharf future options [Report]. Wellington, New Zealand: Hutt City Council.
  51. ^ a b c "New Zealand Schools Directory". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 December 2022.

External links[edit]

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