Population Expansion of the Hutt Valley
The original colonists first settled at Petone (Britannia) near the mouth of the Hutt River in 1840 but, owing to floods, soon moved to the more protected site of Lambton Harbour. Consequently Wellington became the principal city of the region and eventually, in 1865, the capital of the colony. Its political importance and favoured anchorage ensured the growth of the city and attracted industry and commercial and financial establishments, whereas settlement in the Tawa-Porirua area and in the Hutt Valley remained on a small scale and was largely agricultural in character.
In more recent decades, in a period when the population of the Dominion has shown a marked tendency to urbanise and the industrial sector of the economy has increased in importance, the shortage of flat land in Wellington for residential and industrial purposes has led to a rapid expansion of settlement in the Hutt Valley, and in the 1950s in the Tawa-Porirua region. One result of this has been the creation of a multitude of local governing bodies whose varied names and statuses are liable to obscure the fact that the settlements constitute one socio-economic whole. Thus, in 1961, the 260,313 inhabitants of the region were divided amongst eight separate local bodies, the most important being Wellington City (123,969), Lower Hutt City (53,044), and the boroughs of Petone (9,888), Upper Hutt (16,861), Tawa (7,204), and Eastbourne (2,654). Within the boundaries of Hutt and Makara county there are in addition 10 townships with populations ranging between 1,000 and 9,000 persons. These townships are spread over a considerable area, the road distance between Wellington and Pukerua Bay being 22 miles, Wellington and Wainuiomata 16 miles, and Wellington and Upper Hutt 20 miles.