Porirua, a city in the Wellington Region of the North Island of New Zealand, is one of the four cities that constitute the Wellington metropolitan area. It almost completely surrounds Porirua Harbour at the southern end of the Kapiti Coast. As of June 2018 Porirua had a population of 56,700[1].

(June 2018)[1]
Urban area
Extent:N to Pukerua Bay;
W to Cook Strait, Titahi Bay; E to Pauatahanui;
SW to Kenepuru
Territorial Authority
Name:Porirua City
Mayor:Anita Baker
Extent:N to near Paekakariki;
NE to Transmission Gully; W to Tasman Sea, Titahi Bay; E to Judgeford; S to Belmont Regional Park;
SW to Kenepuru
Land Area:182.39 km² (70.42 sq mi)
See also:Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Wellington, Kapiti Coast
Regional Council
Name:Greater Wellington


The name "Porirua" has a Māori origin: it may represent a variant of pari-rua ("two tides"), a reference to the two arms of the Porirua Harbour. In the 19th century, the name designated a land-registration district that stretched from Kaiwharawhara (or Kaiwara) on the north-west shore of Wellington Harbour northwards to and around Porirua Harbour. The road climbing the hill from Kaiwharawhara towards Ngaio and Khandallah still bears the name "Old Porirua Road".

In the 19th century, a small European settlement grew up, partly because of the need for a ferry across the harbour. At the time a small Māori settlement already existed.

The 1880s and 1890s saw the establishment of the Porirua Lunatic Asylum on the hill south-west of Porirua village. Following the Mental Defectives Act of 1911, the Asylum became Porirua Mental Hospital.

In the late 1940s state planning envisaged Porirua becoming a satellite city of Wellington with state housing. This required improved rail and road links with Wellington and rail and road development has contributed much to the growth of the Porirua area by reducing travel times, making it possible to live in the Porirua area and work in Wellington, and by making day-trips from Wellington to the beaches at Paremata, and Plimmerton relatively easy.

Since the 1940s, Porirua has grown to a city population approaching 57,000, with state housing no longer in the majority. Major territorial additions to the city occurred in 1973 and 1988 as part of the reduction and eventual abolition of Hutt County.

Substantial industrial areas, generally west of the city centre, have evolved. During the 1960s Kodak,[2] UEB Industries and many small businesses opened at Elsdon. During the following decade, Ashley Wallpapers developed the former UEB property and after favourable negotiations with the government, Todd Motors (later Mitsubishi) moved from Petone to Porirua.[3]

On 7 June 1976, New Zealand's first McDonald's restaurant opened in Porirua, on the corner of Cobham Court and Hagley Street. The original restaurant closed on 24 April 2009, and the store relocated to Kenepuru Drive.[4][5]


The development of the rail through Porirua, part of the Kapiti Line, has contributed significantly to the development of Porirua as a satellite city of Wellington. The Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company opened a railway line through Johnsonville from Wellington to Porirua in 1885. The railway reached Longburn (south of Palmerston North) in 1886 to connect with the Government's lines to Taranaki and Napier. With the acquisition of the company by the government in 1908, the line to Porirua and northward to Longburn became part of the North Island Main Trunk railway. The railway provided regular passenger services between Wellington and Porirua and linked Porirua to other North Island centres. A shunting service from Wellington delivered goods wagons to sidings at Porirua, Paremata, Plimmerton, and Pukerua Bay and brought timber for the construction of houses in the area.

The Tawa Flat railway deviation providing double-track railway with double line automatic signalling as far as Tawa opened to passenger services on 19 June 1937, reducing travel time for passenger trains from Wellington to Porirua by 15 minutes, to 27 minutes rather than 43 to 48 minutes.[6][7]

During 1940, Centralised Train Control (CTC), which allowed direct control of signals and train movements by Train Control in Wellington, was progressively installed on the single line sections of track north of Tawa, replacing tablet working and allowing more efficient, flexible, and rapid control of train movements. CTC between Plimmerton and Paekakariki applied from 25 February 1940, Paremata to Plimmerton from 30 June, and Tawa to Porirua from 4 December 1940.[8]

On 24 July 1940, the line through Porirua, from Wellington to Paekakariki, was electrified and double track completed from Plimmerton to South Junction, just north of Muri railway station. Electrification allowed the introduction of electric ED class locomotives, first introduced in 1938 for use on this line, to haul passenger and goods trains. Electric locomotives eliminated the smoke nuisance in the tunnels on the line and allowed longer trains to run. DM/D electric multiple units first ran to Porirua on 5 September 1949 and replaced the majority of locomotive-hauled passenger trains and allowed a more frequent and faster train service.[7] The duplication of the line from Plimmerton to South Junction allowed a more frequent train service between Porirua and Paekakariki

Duplication of the track from Tawa to Porirua station opened on 15 December 1957. This completed double line automatic signalling from Wellington distant junction, just south of Kaiwharawhara, to Porirua, and eliminated CTC between Tawa and Porirua. This work, and the provision of additional signals between Kaiwharawhara and Tawa allowed close following of trains and more frequent and faster train services between Wellington and Porirua. During peak periods many multiple unit trains were now terminated at Porirua and returned to Wellington to provide a more frequent service between Wellington and Porirua than was provided for stations north of Porirua.

Extension of the double track and automatic signalling continued with the Porirua to Mana section opened on 7 November 1960. The work involved harbour reclamation to construct straight tack from Porirua to Papakowhai, just south of Paremata, eliminating the tight curves as the former railway followed the coastline, and creating three lagoons on the eastern side of the harbour. The central lagoon, now known as Aotea Lagoon, remains but is reduced in size. From Paremata to Mana the track was realigned to the West of the original track and a new double-track bridge was built across the entrance to the Pauatahanui Inlet. The original single-track railway bridge, built in 1885, was removed allowing room for the construction of a second road bridge in 2004.[9] The railway stations at Porirua, Paremata, and Dolly Varden were replaced with new stations with Dolly Varden station renamed Mana.

Mana to Plimmerton double track and automatic signalling were completed on 16 October 1961, completing the double track and automatic signalling from Wellington to South Junction, and allowing more frequent train services north of Porirua station. Crossovers at Plimmerton allowed some trains to terminate at Plimmerton and return to Wellington during peak periods.

By 2016, the introduction of electric multiple units with more rapid acceleration, EM/ET class from 1982 and Matangi FP class from 2010, had reduced rail travel time for stopping trains between Wellington and Porirua by another 6 minutes to 21 minutes, despite extra stops at Redwood, Linden, and Kenepuru which each add 48 seconds to the travel time. For non-stopping trains, the time had reduced to 17 minutes. Off-peak passenger services between Wellington and Porirua stations ran every thirty minutes with more frequent services during peak periods and a less frequent during the night.[10] From the 15 July 2018, off-peak day services were increased to one every twenty minutes.[11]


Wellington and Porirua are linked by State Highway 1 (SH1). Road improvements have progressively reduced travel times between Wellington and Porirua and increased the demand for housing development in Porirua. In 1940, the Centennial Highway developments saw the opening of a four-lane high-speed highway in Ngauranga Gorge bypassing the slower routes through Ngaio and Khandallah. During the 1950s, the high-speed Johnsonville–Porirua Motorway was built through Tawa on the eastern side of the valley. The first section from Johnsonville to the Tawa turnoff at Takapu Road at the southern entrance to Tawa opened on 15 December 1951, broadly following the line of the old North Island Main Trunk railway.[12] It reduced road travel times and considerably improved access between Wellington and Porirua by eliminating the need to use the narrow winding road through the bottom of the Tawa valley in the Glenside area. The second section, from Takapu Road to Porirua, opened about 1956 and allowed through traffic to bypass the lower speed road through Tawa. The Johnsonville bypass connecting the south end of the motorway to the top of Ngauranga Gorge opened about 1958 completing the four-lane road link between Wellington and Porirua.

On 3rd October 1936, a road bridge was opened across the entrance to the Pauatahanui Inlet connecting Paremata to Dolly Varden, known as Mana from 1960, eliminating a 22-kilometre journey around Pauatahanui Inlet to Plimmerton. The bridge became part of SH1 when centennial highway developments saw the completion of a highway from Pukerua Bay to Paekakariki. A second bridge was built in 2004 allowing two lanes of traffic in each direction.[9]

In the late 1960s, reclamation work began to the east of the 1960 rail reclamation from Porirua to Paremata allowing the construction of a four-lane expressway alongside the railway. The expressway opened in the early 1970s with room allowed for a future interchange at Whitford Brown Avenue. The reclamation work largely eliminated the north and south lagoons created by the rail reclamation on the east side of the harbour and reduced the size of the central lagoon, known as Aotea Lagoon. An intersection between SH1 and Mungavin Avenue remained at Porirua until 1989 when the intersection was replaced with a grade-separated roundabout interchange with State Highway 1 passing under the interchange.

Local government

The city is administered by Porirua City Council. The wider Wellington Region is administered by the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

When New Zealand became a separate Colony from New South Wales in 1841, the Royal Charter established three provinces. The Porirua area became part of New Munster which included that part of the North Island south of the Patea River and the whole of the South Island. The British Parliament passed the first New Zealand Constitution Act in 1846 which reformed the provinces and the Porirua area became part of New Ulster which now included all of the North Island. The provinces were reformed again when the New Zealand Constitution Act of 1852 established six provinces with Porirua included in the Wellington Province. In 1876, Provincial Government was abolished and replaced with 36 borough councils and 63 county councils and the Porirua area became the Porirua Riding of the Hutt County, formed in 1877. The Hutt County covered all the area south of the Waikanae River and West of the Remutaka Ranges that lay outside of Wellington City. As the population of local areas grew, a number of local boroughs were split off from the Hutt County. In 1908, a smaller Makara County with offices in Porirua was formed from the Makara and Porirua Ridings or the south-western part of the Hutt County. The new Makara County included Porirua, Titahi Bay, Tawa Flat, and all of the area to the south lying to the west of Wellington City and outside the areas covered by Wellington City and the new and independent boroughs of Miramar, Karori, Onslow, and Johnsonville.[13]

In 1939, northern Tawa valley residents seeking a separate name for the northern part of the Tawa district met and chose "Linden", from "Linden Vale", the name of the home of Mr Stuart Duncan and the name "Linden" was adopted in 1940. In 1948, the Tawa Flat and Linden Progressive Associations and Porirua interests, led by Arthur Carman and Percy Clark, made a representation to the Local Government Commission asking for a single borough covering the whole of the Porirua Basin.[14][12] The Commission did not accept this proposal but responded by giving the Tawa Flat-Linden area the status of a Town District with the first Tawa Flat Town Board elected on the 16 May 1951. With continued urbanisation and population growth in the Tawa valley, the population reached 3,900 in 1953 and the upgrade of the Town District to a borough was approved in October 1953.[12]

Rapid urbanisation and population growth was now occurring in the Porirua Basin with the development of state housing in Titahi Bay, Elsdon, and to the East of State Highway 1, and in 1961 the first municipality to have "Porirua" in its name, the Borough of Porirua, was formed when Makara County was abolished, with the mostly rural western part becoming the Makara Ward of Hutt County and the rapidly growing eastern urban portion (including Titahi Bay) becoming the Borough of Porirua. Four years later the population was officially estimated at over the 20,000 threshold then necessary for Porirua to be declared a city.

On 1 April 1973 large areas to the north-east (and a few elsewhere) were transferred to the city from Hutt County by popular vote. Mana Island was added to the city at the same time. In 1988 a further addition was the Horokiri riding of the about-to-be-abolished county, containing most of the new Whitby suburb and substantial rural areas.

The city and its council have remained (with changes of personnel and ward boundaries) into the 21st century despite proposals to change the name to "Mana" and several small movements for amalgamation with Wellington.

The 2019-2022 composition of the Porirua City Council is as follows:

Mayor Anita Baker At-large Independent
Councillor Izzy Ford Eastern Independent
Councillor Kylie Wihapi Eastern Independent
Councillor Faafoi Seiuli Eastern Independent
Councillor Moze Galo Eastern Independent
Councillor Josh Trlin Northern Labour
Councillor Ross Leggett Northern Independent
Councillor Nathan Waddle Northern Independent
Councillor Euon Murrell Northern Independent
Councillor Geoff Hayward Western Labour
Councillor Mike Duncan Western Independent

Coat of arms

The City has a Coat of Arms and the Blazon is: Vert two Piles Barry wavy of ten Argent and Azure and for the Crest on a Wreath of the Colours in front of a Lymphad proper Sail set Pennon flying Gules Flags flying Azure a Whale proper. Supporters: on the dexter side a Private Soldier of the 58th Regiment of Foot in the uniform of the early Nineteenth Century and on the sinister side a Maori Warrior both proper.

Translation of the Blazon. The shield is the most important part and is first described. “Vert” means green so that is the base colour of the shield. Then the objects on the shield are described. A “Pile” is a V-shaped object and there are two of them. “Barry” means the piles are divided into an even number of lines in this case ten. The lines are “wavy” like the sea and are alternatively coloured silver (“Argent”) and blue (“Azure”.) Silver is usually depicted as white.

The crest is the part above the shield, excluding the helmet. The wreath is a twist of cloth and the colours are those already mentioned vis white and green. A “Lymphad” is a sailing ship and “proper” means it is shown in its natural colours. The sail is set for sailing and a “Pennon” is the long flag flying from the mast and being “gules” it is red. The smaller flags are blue (“azure”) and are also flying. In front of the ship is a whale and again “proper” means it is shown in its natural colours.

The Supporters are the men on either side of the shield. The dexter side is the right from the shield carrier's point of view but to the left for an observer. They are as described in the blazon and are too are depicted in their natural colours.

Neither the mantelling nor the motto are normally part of the blazon. However, the motto of "Mo Te Katoa Nga mahi" may be translated as "All That is Done is For the Benefit of All".


Porirua is largely formed around the arms of the Porirua Harbour, and the coastline facing out to Cook Strait and the north-eastern parts of the South Island. Most of the populated areas of Porirua are coastal: Camborne, Karehana Bay, Mana, Onepoto, Papakowhai, Paremata, Pauatahanui, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay, Takapuwahia, Titahi Bay and Whitby all have direct access to coastal parks and recreation reserves. Several suburbs without direct coastal access, including Aotea, Ascot Park and Ranui Heights, have substantial portions with good views over the harbour. Elsdon, formerly known as Prosser Block,[15] lost access to the harbour as a result of reclamation work, especially during the 1960s. Much of the existing city centre, north of Parumoana Street and east of Titahi Bay Road, was built upon this landfill.[16]

The suburbs include the following, grouped by council ward.

Eastern Ward
Northern Ward
Western Ward

Shopping and retail

North City Shopping Centre is Porirua's largest indoor shopping complex. The two-level mall first opened in 1990 and was refurbished in 2004. With over 90 stores, the centre includes Wellington's first Kmart Department store which opened in 1992. The second was later built in neighbouring city Lower Hutt, specifically, Petone, Lower Hutt. This store opened much later in 2017.


State Highway 1 passes north-south through the middle of the city, linking Porirua southwards to Wellington and northwards to the Kapiti Coast and the bulk of the North Island. Porirua is the northern terminus of the Johnsonville-Porirua motorway (opened progressively from 1950), which forms part of State Highway 1. State Highway 58 links Paremata via Whitby and Pauatahanui with Haywards in the Hutt Valley to the east.

The Ara Harakeke is a pathway that runs alongside SH1 and the Taupo Swamp, north of Plimmerton. The first section was opened in 2002.[18] Porirua City Council won a Cycle Friendly Award for this project from the Cycling Advocates' Network in 2003.

The North Island Main Trunk railway line passes through Porirua, mostly close to State Highway 1, with six stations including the main Porirua Railway Station inside the city and one on the Wellington City border. The railway stations from south to north are Kenepuru, Porirua, Paremata, Mana (known as Dolly Varden before 1960), Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay, and Muri (closed 30 April 2011). Kapiti Line suburban passenger trains run between Wellington and Waikanae (generally half-hourly during the day before 15 July 2018 and every twenty minutes during the day after that date, more frequently during peak periods, and less frequently at night). The Northern Explorer long-distance passenger train between Auckland and Wellington passes through Porirua. This train was known as the Overlander before 25 June 2012 which stopped southbound but not northbound.

The nearest airports are Wellington Airport to the south (the closest), and Paraparaumu Airport to the north.

Ferry services ran between Paremata and Picton for short periods but appeared unable to compete with Wellington-based services despite the shorter distance.


The Royal New Zealand Police College, where all the country's police recruits receive some 19 weeks' training, is at Papakowhai.

Just up the road from Aotea Lagoon is Aotea College, the secondary school closest to the northern suburbs. Other colleges include Mana College and Bishop Viard College near the city centre and to the east, Porirua College. Tertiary education is provided by Whitireia Polytechnic, which has its main campus north of the city centre.

Arts and culture

The local culture, history and artists are represented at the Pataka Museum of Arts & Cultures located conveniently next to the public library.[19]

The indie rock radio station andHow.FM broadcasts locally at 107.5 FM from the suburb of Papakowhai.

Sport and recreation

As early as 1883, Porirua began to hold regular horse racing events on the harbour's Southern beach. Towards the end of a meeting, competing riders would also have to combat the incoming tide. The Porirua Jockey Club was quickly established with Mr W. Jillett the first secretary and local butcher, John Rod, the treasurer. Joshua Prosser built stables on his nearby property 'Prosser Block' (now Elsdon) and became a notable trainer of Dominion race-horses.[20] The beach now lies beneath Porirua city centre.

Porirua is home to the powerful Northern United RFC, the current Wellington regional champions, and the smaller Paremata-Plimmerton RFC. Both clubs play in the Wellington Rugby Football Union club rugby competition.

Porirua is also home to the three-time Chatham Cup winning Capital Football team Western Suburbs FC. Well known as a dominant force in New Zealand club football, and for producing many former and current All Whites, they were officially recognised as Porirua City's 2006 Team of the Year for their Chatham Cup Grand Final triumph over Auckland's Eastern Suburbs.

Watersports, fishing and other boating activities are popular in the area, well served by a large marina in Mana and Sea Scouts, yachting, power-boating, rowing, and water-skiing clubs. The harbour entrance from Plimmerton or Mana is popular with experienced windsurfers and kitesurfers[21] while beginners find the shallow enclosed waters of the Pauatahanui arm of the harbour a forgiving environment in which to develop their skills.[22] Aotea Lagoon is a popular recreational area on the south-eastern shore of the Porirua Inlet.

Porirua was the host of the 2010 Oceania Handball Championship. Australia won the tournament from hosts New Zealand. The Cook Islands finished third.

Notable people

Notable councillors of Porirua have included:

Other prominent residents have included:

Sister-city relationships

Sister City

Friendly City

Twin City

See also


  1. "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2018 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018. For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates (UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-18 (2017 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  2. http://cyleow.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/kodak-moment-at-porirua.html
  3. http://www.pcc.govt.nz/About-Porirua/Porirua-s-heritage/Porirua-s-suburbs/Porirua-City-Centre--Elsdon-and-Takapuwahia/Historic-site--Todd-Park
  4. "Case Study – McDonalds". Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  5. Simon Lord. "McDonald's – The Myth & The Magic". Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  6. Murray, Bruce (2014). A History of Tawa. Wellington: Tawa Historical Society. ISBN 978-0-473-25848-1.
  7. Murray, Bruce; Parsons, David (2008). Rails through the Valley: The story of the construction and use of the railway lines through Tawa. Wellington: Tawa Historical Society. ISBN 978-0-473-14410-4.
  8. Heine, Richard W. (2000). Semaphore to CTC: Signalling and train working in New Zealand, 1863-1993. Wellington: New Zealand Railway & Locomotive Society. ISBN 0-908573-76-6.
  9. O'Neil, Andrea (11 August 2015). "Paremata Bridge opens the Porirua coast to beach lovers - 150 years of news". Stuff. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  10. metlink Kapity Train Line timetable effective from 20 January 2016
  11. metlink Kapity Train Line timetable effective from 15 July 2018
  12. Cassells, K. R. (1988). Tawa - Enterprise and Endeavour. Tawa Borough Council. p. 65.
  13. The break-up of Hutt County Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 August 2016
  14. Carman, A. H. (1956). Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road. Wright and Carman. p. 235.
  15. Upper Hutt Leader, Volume XII, Number 43, 10 November 1955
  16. http://www.pcc.govt.nz/About-Porirua/Porirua-s-heritage/Porirua-s-suburbs/Porirua-City-Centre--Elsdon-and-Takapuwahia/Historic-Photos-of-Porirua-City-Centre
  17. http://www.pcc.govt.nz/Community/Community-Projects/Village-Planning-Programme/Ranui#suburb
  18. http://www.mountainbike.co.nz/politics/caw/ww_0502.html Cycle Aware Wellington newsletter; accessed 2 January 2010
  19. "Pataka Museum of Art and Cultures". NZ museums. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  20. Evening Post, 1918, http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&cl=search&d=EP19180810.2.103
  21. "Plimmerton, at Wellington Windsurfing Association". Archived from the original on 22 February 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2008.
  22. "Porirua Harbour at Greater Wellington Regional Council website". Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2008.
  23. "International partnerships and sister cities". poriruacity.govt.nz. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  24. "Wellington Region Sister Cities". Archived from the original on 23 August 2007. Retrieved 5 November 2007.

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