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Exploring Wellington’s History: An Old Map of Wellington by the New Zealand Company in 1840

Explore the fascinating history of Wellington, New Zealand with this old map from the New Zealand Company in 1840. Learn about the colonization of New Zealand and the founding of the city of Wellington. Discover the story behind this remarkable map!
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How cool is this old map of Wellington? It’s a plan of Wellington by the New Zealand Company in 1840. For those of you not from New Zealand or not familiar with its history, it’s quite fascinating. The New Zealand Company began in London as an organization dedicated to the colonization of New Zealand. This was largely advocated for by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who was looking to create a modern English society in Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand Company plan of the Town of Wellington, Port Nicholson, 1840


Source: Archives New Zealand

Below is the extended caption.

On 22 January 1840, the first of the New Zealand Company’s fleet of six immigrant ships, the Aurora, arrived in Pito-one (Petone), marking the founding of the settlement that would become known as Wellington. They had bet William Hobson to Aotearoa New Zealand by seven days; their efforts of self-government would become the cause of some concern to Hobson as he gathered signatures for te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The new town, named in honour of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, was established to promote a British colony in New Zealand. William Wakefield, the Company’s New Zealand agent, left instructions for the settlement to be laid out around Lambton Harbour. However, the Company’s chief surveyor, William Mein Smith, placed the town near the mouth of the Hutt River. Unfortunately, early European inhabitants of the region did not realise that the Hutt River was prone to flooding. On his return from England a few months later, Wakefield moved the town to less flood-prone Lambton Harbour. The land had not been sold by its Māori occupants, but this did not stop the company subdividing it into town acres. One tenth of these were kept for Māori use. A green reserve running around the edge of the settlement was also set aside. This became known as the Town Belt.

This is a copy of the New Zealand Company plan of Wellington, Port Nicholson. The original map was dated 14 August 1840, and shows the planned town sections. The land reserved for Māori is coloured in green.

Archives Reference: AATE W4920 Box 79



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