Arrowtown, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand
Beach, New Zealand
Fiordland, New Zealand
Lake Matheson, New Zealand
Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand
Rotorua, New Zealand

Wellington, New ZealandWellington History

Wellington | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History

Wellington's first known discoverer was a Polynesian explorer named Kupe in 950 AD. Wellington City later became the capital city of New Zealand as it remains today.

Wellington History Overview

Wellington has a long and colourful history. Maori legends date back as far as 950 AD when Kupe first discovered Wellington. In the 1840s european settlers began to arrive and colonise the region.

Later the seat of government of New Zealand would move from Auckland to Wellington, to become the capital city as it remains today.

Send a Wellington related E-Postcard to your friends.

Naming of Wellington

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Wellington Harbour, New Zealand
Wellington Harbour
Photographer: Ian Trafford
(www.iantraffordphotos.com)

The harbour that surrounds Wellington city, and the greater Wellington region, have been known by several names throughout history. Maori legends name the greater Wellington region as "Te Upoko o Te Ika a Maui" or "the Head of Maui's fish".

Kupe is believed to be the first Polynesian explorer to come to Wellington in 950 AD. He was followed by Tara, who named the area "Whanganui-a-Tara" or "the great harbour of Tara".

In 1773 Captain Cook first anchored in Wellington harbour. The harbour was later charted in 1826 by Captain Herd who named it Port Nicholson, in honour of John Nicholson, a harbour-master of Port Jackson, New South Wales.

In 1840 the directors of the New Zealand Company settled on the name Wellington. The name was chosen in order to express their gratitude to the Duke of Wellington, a supporter of the company in England.

Early History

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Wellington Harbour at Sunrise, New Zealand
Wellington Harbour at Sunrise
Photographer: Rob Brown
(robbrownnz@yahoo.com)

Colonisation of Wellington began by the Europeans in 1840, when settlers arrived in the ship 'Aurora'.

Colonel William Wakefield, a New Zealand Company representative, originally planned for the Wellington settlement to be where Petone is now situated. However when the Hutt River burst its banks and flooded the area, the site was shifted to its current location.

The seat of government in New Zealand was moved from Auckland to Wellington in 1865, largely on the basis of Wellington's central geographical position.

Wahine Disaster - 10th April 1968

The Wahine Disaster is the most well known of the shipping disasters in New Zealand, though there have been worse disasters with greater loss of life.

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Wellington Harbour, New Zealand
Wellington Harbour
Photographer: Kieran Scott
(www.kieranscott.co.nz)

The tragedy was caused by two huge storms that collided and exploded over Wellington.

The ferocity of the storm meant the capsize of the ship was inevitable, the order was therefore given to evacuate the ship. Of the 734 passengers and crew on board, 51 people lost their lives.

On shore, the storm caused even greater damage as flooding covered the shores.

The storm also marked the coming-of-age for television news broadcasting in New Zealand as camera crews rushed to report on events as they unfolded. The footage of the disaster was screened around the world turning the world's attention to Wellington.

The television coverage of the disaster later won an international World News film award.

Useful Wellington Links

To help plan your Wellington holiday choose from the main categories below

Send a Wellington related E-Postcard to your friends.

Wellington Region Information

Wellington Tourism Operators

Featured

 
Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

Mainstay NZ Hotels

Large collection of independent hotels.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

Holiday packages for any occasion.

Distinction Hotels

Distinction Hotels

Great hotels in great NZ wide locations.

Featured

 
Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

Mainstay NZ Hotels

Large collection of independent hotels.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

Holiday packages for any occasion.

Distinction Hotels

Distinction Hotels

Great hotels in great NZ wide locations.