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New Zealand's indigenous people, the Maori, settled in what is now Porirua City in three main movements.

The first was several centuries ago, when tribes from northern areas became the first human inhabitants.

The second was in the 1820s, when another tribe from the north (around Kawhia), the Ngati Toa, migrated under chief Te Rauparaha and eased their way into settlements, primarily at Takapuwahia west of the harbour and Hongoeka Bay on the north shore at the mouth.

The third was the State housing boom starting in the 1950s, when large areas were developed (with the aid of newly-invented earthmoving machinery) for housing people (mostly middle-to-low-income people) who were unable to afford private housing. A large proportion of them were Maori, from all around the country. Eventually some of them formed their own maraes (community centres), including one for all tribes and races, Maraeroa Marae at Waitangirua.

A Porirua resident was one of the first major contributors to a Maori-language encyclopaedia.