wellington city

Events In History


Te Āti Awa leader Wiremu Tako Ngātata was one of the first Māori members of the Legislative Council. He opposed legislation threatening Māori possession of land.

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Dr Frederick Knox was the librarian of New Zealand's first public library.

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A stalwart of Wellington political life, Featherston served as provincial Superintendent and later served as a member of the House of Representatives, colonial secretary and minister without portfolio.

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Colonel William Wakefield was one of the earliest European settlers at Port Nicholson (Wellington), where he served as the New Zealand Company’s Principal Agent between 1840 and 1848.

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Wellington cafe culture

  • Wellington cafe culture

    Café culture has become integral to Wellington's identity. This culture began in the 1930s with the emergence of the milk bar, followed by coffee houses in the 1950s. After a period of decline in the 1960s and 70s, the city's café scene has grown in spectacular fashion over the last 20 years.

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  • Page 2 – Overview

    Wellington city centre is renowned for its flourishing café scene and the culture it inhabits. But it was nearly 1950 before there was much sign of the sparkling capital

  • Page 4 – Immigration and Society

    The rise of coffee houses in the 1940s, 50s and 60s was not a phenomenon confined to Wellington, or indeed to New Zealand. The connection between the history of cafe

  • Page 3 – Design and technology

    New construction materials and equipment fashioned the cafe culture rising in the 1950s. Wellingtonians were introduced to the espresso machines as European styled cafes

  • Page 5 – Music and cafe culture

    Entertainment generally and music in particular have always been a part of the Wellington cafe scene.

  • Page 6 – Personalities

    New Zealand in the 1940s and 1950s has been described as a drab and uniform place. From the late 1950s, however, a café culture was established throughout the country

  • Page 7 – Further information

    Sources on Wellington cafe culture.

Parliament Buildings

  • Parliament Buildings

    Parliament buildings have been modified, destroyed by fire, half-built and restored; the parliamentary places and spaces have formed an important part of New Zealand's history.

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  • Page 2 – First Parliament buildings

    Auckland was a bustling place in 1854 when Parliament met there for the first time. The buildings were located in paddocks on what was then the edge of town, Constitution Hill

The Beatles in New Zealand

  • The Beatles in New Zealand

    When four young Liverpool musicians landed in Wellington on a lazy Sunday afternoon in June 1964, seven days of pandemonium erupted. Young New Zealanders flocked in their thousands to hear or just catch a glimpse of the famous 'Fab Four'.

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  • Page 3 – Wellington

    Seven thousand screaming fans waited as The Beatles touched down at Wellington airport on 21 June 1964. As the band stepped off the plane, the fans' shrieks drowned out the

Wahine disaster

  • Wahine disaster

    This April marks the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the ferry Wahine. With more than 50 lives lost, this was New Zealand's worst modern maritime disaster. The Wahine’s demise on 10 April 1968 also heralded a new era in local TV news as pictures of the disaster were beamed into Kiwi living rooms.

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  • Page 2 – Timeline to tragedy

    The events that led to the drowning of 51 people in the Wahine disaster of 10 April 1968

  • Page 3 – Co-ordinating the rescue

    The police, emergency services and civilians rescued passengers and crew from the inter-island ferry Wahine in Wellington Harbour in April 1968.

War in Wellington

  • War in Wellington

    In 1846 fighting broke out in the Wellington region when Ngāti Toa chief Te Rangihaeata backed local Maori opposed to European settlement in Hutt Valley. The campaign claimed few lives but effectively ended Ngāti Toa resistance in the region.

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  • Page 2 – The Port Nicholson purchase

    In September 1839 William Wakefield, the principal agent for the New Zealand Company, met Te Ātiawa chiefs Te Puni and Te Wharepōuri at Pito-one (Petone), on the northern shore

  • Page 3 – Return to Hutt Valley

    It was soon apparent that Wellington did not have enough flat fertile land. Attention turned back to the lower Hutt Valley as the best location for an agricultural settlement

  • Page 7 – Political prisoners

    Te Rauparaha became one of New Zealand’s first political detainees when he was seized during the fighting in Hutt Valley in 1846.

Capital 150

  • Capital 150

    Ever since 1865, Wellington’s identity has been inextricably linked to its role as the seat of central government.

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  • Page 1 - Capital 150Ever since 1865, Wellington’s identity has been inextricably linked to its role as the seat of central

A sense of place

US Forces in New Zealand

  • US Forces in New Zealand

    The first American soldiers landed on New Zealand soil in June 1942, beginning an 'invasion' which would have a profound impact on both visitors and hosts over the next 18 months.

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  • Page 3 - Arrival The invasion began in Auckland on 12 June 1942 when five transport ships carrying soldiers of the US Army sailed into the harbour. Two days later Marines landed in

Housing the Prime Minister

  • Housing the Prime Minister

    Almost 150 years after the government purchased the first official premier's residence on Tinakori Road, Wellington, the address of Premier House remains the same. But in the intervening years the building has been extended, renamed, abandoned and refurbished.

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  • Page 2 - The first premier houseOur first premiers had to find their own digs. That changed in 1865, when the government bought the premier a simple 22-year-old wooden cottage in Thorndon’s Tinakori

The House of Representatives

  • The House of Representatives

    New Zealand's Parliament dates back to 1854, just 14 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the beginning of the European settlement of the country. For most of its history as a nation state, New Zealand has had some form of elected government.

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  • Page 6 - First sitting, 1854It started with a bang – 21 in fact, fired from the guns at Auckland's Fort Britomart. As soon as the smoke had cleared, New Zealand's first Parliament was under

The 1913 Great Strike

  • The 1913 Great Strike

    The Great Strike of 1913 was in fact a series of strikes between mid-October 1913 and mid-January 1914. It was one of New Zealand’s most violent and disruptive industrial confrontations.

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  • Page 4 – The 1913 strike in Wellington

    Because the strike threatened their livelihoods, rural men were keen to volunteer as special constables.

Regional rugby

  • Regional rugby

    The passion and parochialism of provincial rugby has helped give the game a special place in New Zealand’s social and sporting history. Read brief histories, highlights and quirky facts about each of New Zealand's 26 regional rugby teams.

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  • Page 20 - Wellington rugbyHistory and highlights of rugby in the Wellington

Related keywords

The New Zealand Company chose Wellington as its first organised settlement in 1839. Its future was uncertain until 1865 when it was chosen as the colony’s new capital. Alongside the shift in the seat of government was the centralisation of businesses – many major firms set up their head offices in Wellington. From the 1990s Wellington has rebranded itself as the country’s creative capital.

Meaning of place name
In November 1840 a communication was received from the directors of the New Zealand Company saying it was their desire that their chief settlement at Port Nicholson be named in honour of the Duke of Wellington.

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