First colonial settlement of Wellington by the NZ Company

Dominion Post Feature article, 18 January 2020

The arrival of the ship the Aurora in Port Nicholson on January 22, 1840, marked the beginning of New Zealand’s first systematically settled colony, one of many towns to be designed by Edward Gibbon Wakefield and the New Zealand Company in London.

Though we mark that date as the founding of Wellington, it wasn’t called Wellington then, and the first colonials were camping across the harbour at Pito-one. 

They called the new settlement “Britannia”, and the men who had arrived only a few weeks earlier on the survey ship the Cuba were busy trying to peg out a town for the settlers on the shifting gravel of the Heretaunga River. There were floods and fires and earthquakes. Within a few months they moved across the harbour to Te Aro, and the new town became Wellington  10 months later.

Wakefield came up with the concept of transplanting the best of a cross-section of English society to a new land while he was languishing in Newgate Prison, in London. He and his brother William were serving time for abducting an heiress – an early example of his get-rich-quick schemes – but that’s another story. 

Read more: Link to the full article