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Definition: Wellington from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

District of North Island, New Zealand, bounded on the west and south by the Tasman Sea and Cook Strait; population (2006) 449,000. It is mountainous, with a fertile coastal strip, where sheep and dairy cattle are raised. Wellington city is its major port.


Summary Article: WELLINGTON from Capital Cities around the World: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture

Wellington is the capital and third-largest city in New Zealand. It is located near the geographical center of country on the southern tip of New Zealand's North Island and faces South Island across Cook Strait. The city is the southernmost capital city in the world (latitude 41°17′S), as well as the capital city that is located furthest from any other national capital. The city was named by English settlers after Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington in England. New Zealanders call it “Windy Wellington” because of strong winds that blow in from Cook Strait. The population is about 395,600 (2012). The urban area of Wellington comprises the city of Wellington plus the nearby communities of Porirua, Lower Hutt, and Upper Hutt. The city is known for its beautiful setting between mountains and coastline, and a high standard of life that consistently ranks among the best in the world.

Historical Overview

The original inhabitants of the Wellington area were the Maori people. The first English settlers arrived in 1839, with a second group arriving in January 1840. They called their first settlement Britannia. It was on wet terrain at the mouth of the Hutt River on Wellington Bay, so the community moved to the present site of Wellington soon thereafter. Wellington was made the capital of New Zealand in 1865, replacing Auckland which was thought to be too far from the country's center. Major earthquakes devastated the city in 1848 and 1855. The latter tremor, known as the Wairarapa Earthquake, was so strong that it permanently changed the configuration of Wellington's coast line. City status was conferred on Wellington in 1886.

Major Landmarks

One of the most distinctive buildings in Wellington is the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament Building constructed between 1969 and 1981. It has a distinctive circular-conical shape and is referred to as the “Beehive.” The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is the national museum and art gallery. The Maori words are translated as “the place of treasures of this land.” Other landmarks include the Museum of Wellington City & Sea, Old St. Paul's Church, the Wellington Citizens War Memorial, the Wellington Cable Car, and the Botanic Garden. Lambton Quay is the heart of downtown Wellington. The tallest buildings are the Majestic Centre and State Insurance Building (formerly named BNZ Centre), both on Willis Street in a part of the Central Business District known locally as the Golden Mile. Cuba Street, named after an early settler ship, is a popular pedestrian-oriented commercial street in the downtown. Mount Victoria (196 m) offers an excellent lookout. Zealandia is a protected wildlife sanctuary in suburban Wellington.

Culture and Society

Approximately three-quarters of the Wellington population is from European backgrounds, mostly British. Most of the rest of the residents are Maori (7.4% in the city and 12.3% in the metropolitan area as a whole, as Maori comprises a large fraction of the population of Porirua), Pacific islanders, and immigrants and their descendants from Asia, mostly ethnic Chinese and Indians. The city has an unusually large arts and culture scene for a city of its size, with many theaters, museums, music and arts festivals, and a thriving local film industry that is sometimes referred to as “Wellywood.” The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Ballet add to Wellington's cultural life. The population also enjoys a good selection of restaurants and cafés. Cuisines reflect the ethnic variety of Wellington's population. Much of Wellington's nightlife is concentrated along Courtenay Place, a road that runs from the city's Central Business District. Wellington is promoted to tourists as the “coolest little capital in the world” and via the slogan “Absolutely Positively Wellington.”

Further Reading
  • Brand, Diane.Surveys and Sketches: 19th Century Approaches to Colonial Urban Design,” Journal of Urban Design 9, no. 2 (2004): 153-75.
  • Pearce, Douglas G.Capital City Tourism: Perspectives from Wellington,” Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing 22, no. 3/4 (2007): 7-21.
  • Peirce, Sophie; Brent W. Ritchie.National Capital Branding: A Comparative Case Study of Canberra, Australia and Wellington, New Zealand,” Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing 22, no. 3/4(2007): 67-79.
  • Smith, Philippa Mein. A Consice History of New Zealand. Cambridge University Press Cambridge, 2012.
  • Copyright 2013 by Roman Adrian Cybriwsky

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