Story: City history and people

Early Wellington

Towns were an essential part of European colonising schemes, becoming the commercial, administrative and cultural hub of each venture. This is a view of the fledgling town of Wellington in 1842. Houses hug the beach (now Lambton Quay), which sweeps around Kumutoto Point (Woodward St) towards Thorndon Flat. William Mein Smith, the New Zealand Company surveyor, painted the image with a view to attracting further settlers. Key buildings and facilities are identified to show the town’s progress, including William Wakefield’s house, Barrett’s Hotel, the medical hall, emigration barracks and wharf. Smith also highlights Kumutoto , perhaps to emphasise how Māori lived among the Europeans.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PUBL-0011-16-1
Hand-coloured lithograph after a drawing by William Mein Smith

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

David Thorns and Ben Schrader, 'City history and people - The first towns', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 2 June 2023)

Story by David Thorns and Ben Schrader, published 11 Mar 2010