The first European immigrants settled at Pito-one, now known as Petone, in 1840. The settlement lay close to the pā of Te Puni, the paramount Te Āti Awa chief who sold a vast tract of land around the harbour to the New Zealand Company for settlement. Later, flooding led many settlers to leave Petone for a new site at Thorndon. Those who stayed had to cope with regular floods until 1900, when the completion of a series of stopbanks reduced flooding. Petone then flourished and soon became an important industrial centre. Until the 1980s, Petone and neighbouring Gracefield had woollen mills, the railway workshops, meat processors and car assembly plants. Many of these industries collapsed when protective tariffs were lifted after 1984.

Meaning of place name
A corruption fo Pito-one; pito: end; one: sandy beach.