The history of Porirua covers about ten centuries of human occupation following many millions of years of tectonic development and the arrival of plants and animals.


The name "Porirua" is of relatively recent Maori origin, probably under 200 years. It is possibly a variant of "Pari-rua" ("two tides"), a reference to the two arms of the Porirua Harbour.

It was the name given in the 19th century to a land registration district that stretched from Kaiwharawhara (or "Kaiwarra") (on the north-west shore of Wellington Harbour) northwards to and around Porirua Harbour. A road climbing the hill from Kaiwharawhara towards Ngaio is still called "Old Porirua Road".

19th centuryEdit

Villages and farmsEdit

In the 19th century a small Maori settlement existed, and a small European village grew up, partly because of the need for a ferry across the harbour. A few pastoral farms were created, mostly owned and operated by Europeans.

Mental hospitalEdit

Late in the 19th century, the Porirua Mental Hospital was erected on the hill south-west of the village. It served the whole Wellington Region and beyond, for the next century. Regrettably, in the minds of many New Zealanders, the name "Porirua" came to be a place where there were people one did not generally care to think or talk about.

Private housingEdit

From the end of the 19th century, starting with the best seaside localities such as Plimmerton or transport junctions such as Pauatahanui, and gradually working inland, small towns or villages were developed by individual landowners.

State housingEdit

When Wellington's expansion had covered most of the easy former market-gardening land on the fertile Hutt River floodplains, in the late 1940s, Porirua was planned to be the next centre of State housing growth for the region, as a satellite city to Wellington.

Development began in various localities, notably Titahi Bay, Elsdon, Porirua East, and at the north end of the "Tawa Flat" basin (later to be part of Tawa Borough then from 1989 Wellington City).

The largest concentration was eventually in the valley of the Kenepuru Stream, which drains much of the eastern area of the city: suburbs in order from the central area being: Porirua East, Cannons Creek, Waitangirua, and Ascot Park.

The last 40 yearsEdit

Porirua (formally created a city in 1965) has grown to a city population approaching 50,000. Major territorial additions to the city were made in 1973 (mostly Plimmerton, Paremata, and Pukerua Bay) and 1988 (the whole Horokiri area, including Pauatahanui and the bulk of Whitby) as part of the reduction and eventual abolition of the Hutt County.

Porirua (and Tawa and the Kapiti Coast) acquired a new Courthouse and general hospital.



  • 17 to Dec 3 - Porirua Little Theatre (Whitehouse Road) "On the Box" (tickets 237-6958)
  • 23 to Dec 2 - Mana Little Theatre (Sunset Parade) "Wyrd Sisters" (tickets 233-1842)
  • 27 - end of the "40 years on" exhibition at Pataka - celebrating 40 years of city status with 40 people's photos and memories
  • 27 - Pauatahanui Inlet Cleanup: starting 10:30 Brown's Bay


  • 3 - "Paora Rocks" at Mana College, 7:30 (40 visitors from up north present kapahaka)
  • 4 - jazz@thesandbar - The SANDBAR SESSIONS with the Kevin Clark Trio - on the first and third Sundays of the month (The Sandbar is at the north end of Mana Esplanade, just south of the Shell service station); Guest Artist Nils Olsen (Clarinet, tenor sax and baritone sax)
  • 10 - Christmas At The Park (Te Rauparaha Park)
  • 15 - Christmas Carnival Under the Canopies



peter poutu arrived


  • 6 - Festival of the Elements



  • 8 - Waka Ama National Secondary School Championships in Rotorua: Team Manatahi (six boys from Mana College) takes Division One title. Porirua City News April 19, p 12


  • 13 - End of Pataka's free Contemporary NZ Photographers exhibition.
  • 20 - Free surfing contest at Titahi Bay south end carpark, 8 am - contact Kristin 236 8140.
  • 21 - End of Pataka's free Hei Tiki exhibition.
  • 27 - Pauatahanui Work Party (Forest and Bird) - contact Ron Freeston 589 9232
  • 28 - End of Pataka's free "The Terrible Boredom of Paradise" exhibition by photographer Derek Henderson.
  • 28 - Concert by GATESEVEN Chamber Ensemble, 7pm at Pataka. Contact Alexandra Hay 027 326 3027.
  • 31 - End of Pataka's free Ko Tawa exhibition of taonga gifted to Gilbert Mair in the 19th century. Te Kooti's cloak and maybe Tutanekai's flute.



  • 9 - End of Pataka's Facing an Era exhibition of postcards from a century ago.



  • 2 - Western Suburbs team defeats Auckland's Eastern Suburbs at North Harbour Stadium in a penalty shootout
  • 22 - Chatham Cup civic ceremony at noon in the CBD

See the most recent history at Porirua/Current events.

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