Industrial Importance of Region
The bulk of the region's working population finds its employment in Wellington City or in the industries of Lower Hutt and Petone, so that each morning of the week a large number of people arrive to work in Wellington (one recent estimate gives the figure of 19,500), whilst a lesser number (approximately 4,000) leave Wellington to work at Petone or Lower Hutt. This movement is facilitated by the electrified railway lines which link Wellington with Johnsonville, Upper Hutt, and Paekakariki, and also by the motorway between Johnsonville and Porirua.
The Wellington region is, after Auckland, the largest centre for employment in New Zealand and, after Auckland and Christchurch, the third most important centre for manufacturing. In the period 1953–61 the total labour force grew by 18·7 per cent, equal to the national rate of growth, but within the region and emphasising the geographical contrasts some important divergences appeared between the Lower Hutt and Wellington Employment Districts. Thus the labour force in manufacturing in the Lower Hutt Employment District grew by 39·62 per cent (1953–61) whereas in the Wellington Employment District it registered a decline of –2·9 per cent. Obviously the advantages of flat land possessed by the Hutt were a factor, which is also at work in the Tawa-Porirua area where industrial development has recently accelerated. Furthermore, total employment grew at a faster rate in the Hutt district than in the Wellington district. Nevertheless, in absolute terms, Wellington, with a working population of 89,700 (Lower Hutt 28,900) and a labour force of 31,500 (Lower Hutt 14,800) engaged in manufacturing, remains the principal centre of the region for employment.
In 1926 the population of Wellington City numbered 98,893 compared with Lower Hutt's total of 9,209. By 1945 Lower Hutt's population had reached a figure of 31,254, and between 1951 and 1961 it increased from 44,474 to 53,044, a growth of 19·19 per cent, compared with Wellington City's growth of only 3·22 per cent. Wellington's growth is to be regarded as the effect of an extension of the city boundary rather than a real increase in numbers. During the past decade the growth of population has been greatest in the peripheral areas of the region. In Petone, which represents one of the longest settled parts of the region, there has been a slight decline of population (–8·87 per cent) during the last decade, whereas the population of Upper Hutt borough has increased from 5,499 in 1945 to 16,894 in 1961. Tawa's growth has been even more spectacular; with a population of 598 in 1945, it now has a population of 7,204. Tawa apart, the most rapid rates of growth have been sustained in the townships of Hutt county where the population has grown by 68 per cent and in the townships of Makara county where population has grown by 193 per cent during the period 1951–61. Most of the growth in Makara county has been concentrated in the Titahi Bay – Porirua district where a new urban and community centre has emerged as a city. Furthermore, the old beach settlements of Plimmerton, Paremata, and Pukerua Bay are now predominantly dormitory suburbs of Wellington, and it is at Raumati and Paraparaumu that the large expansion of weekend baches has occurred.