How Hutt City Got its Name
Britain was experiencing a depression in the 1830s and colonisation
was looked at as a possible solution to surplus population and
1829 Edward Gibbon Wakefield, foremost of a new school of social
writers and thinkers, published A Letter From Sydney. He expounded a
new, systematic and positive colonisation scheme emphasising care in
the selection of would-be immigrants across all sections of society
and a more enlightened attitude, for its time, to the indigenous
inhabitants of lands proposed for colonisation.
In 1837 the New Zealand Association was formed in London with Francis
Baring MP, Sir William Hutt MP, Sir William Molesworth MP and the Earl
of Durham among its members. The Association solicited support from
the Government which, in essence, would allow them the maximum power
with the minimum of responsibility
In a prophetic speech Mr Gladstone foresaw many difficulties connected
with the alienation of Maori land and warned the House that great
complexity of relations would ensue if the colonisers were given a
After this initial rejection by the Government Edward Gibbon Wakefield
organised his colleagues into a more powerful combination which
included Joseph Somes, the largest individual ship-owner in England.
to New Zealand
New Zealand Company was accordingly founded on 3 May 1839 with a
capital of 100,000 pounds. Three days later after a farewell speech by
William Hutt as chairman of the gathering, Edward Gibbon, Wakefield's
younger brother (36 year old Colonel William Wakefield) set sail for
New Zealand on the Tory as the Company's principle agent.
Wakefield had instructions to acquire from the Maori 110,000 acres of
flat and fertile land in easy reach of a safe harbour, prepare for the
early arrival of a body of settlers from England and then acquire as
much land as possible to 'keep off land-sharks and squatters'. (The
Tory left very hurriedly to beat the race against Sydney land
speculators and other colonisation schemes under way in England and
France, and in defiance of the Colonial Office and in contempt of the
House of Commons who were planning to stop them.)
Tory arrived in Wellington Harbour (Te Whanganui a Tara) on 20
September 1839 and the flat river valley of the Heretaunga (Hutt)
became the focus for the initial site of the town of Wellington. In
1839 the Heretaunga River was renamed Hutt by William Wakefield after
the founding member, director and chairman of the New Zealand Company,
Sir William Hutt.
the first settlement on the Petone foreshore and on the banks of the
Hutt River was called Britannia, those living further north were
distinguished by being referred to as living "up the Hutt".
Thus, when E J Wakefield visited settlers at Britannia on the banks of
the river during the winter of 1840 he referred to "visiting my
friends up the Hutt".
the number of settlers increased this general description of "the
Hutt" proved to be too vague. People began to refer to those
living on the Upper or Lower Hutt. Accordingly, S C Brees, describing
the little hamlet of Aglionby, stated in the mid-1840s that it was
sited "in the Lower Hutt". The names of the two hamlets,
Aglionby or Richmond, failed to take permanent root as the basis for
the city's present name. Instead variations on the name
"Hutt" proliferated. The present city district was
indiscriminately referred to by Brees as Lower Hutt, the Lower
District of the Hutt and the Hutt.
This confusion continued for decades. To some extent it still
continues today, the city being variously referred to as the Hutt,
Lower Hutt or Hutt City.
It was the Post Office which began to enforce a certain uniformity.
The postmark used in 1874 read The Hutt. In the mid-1880s this was
changed to Hutt. The name became Lower Hutt on 1 December 1910 and
finally, following local body amalgamation on 1 November 1989, became
Hutt City on 8 October 1991. This was designed to distinguish Lower
Hutt from Upper Hutt City. Thus the City was named after the river,
not after Sir William Hutt. Only the river can claim to have been
named after that British member of Parliament. Further to this, it is
interesting to note that Sir William Hutt never visited New Zealand.
The name of the area is still Lower Hutt according to the New Zealand
Geographic Board. It's the local body name, not the locality name,
that changed from Lower Hutt to Hutt City.
William Hutt was born in 1791 in Lambeth, Surrey, and educated
privately at Ryde, Isle of Wight, and Camberwell. Matriculating from
St Mary Hall, Oxford, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge where he
graduated BA (1827) and MA (1831). He married (1831) Mary, daughter of
J Milner and dowager countess of Strathmore.
Hutt was MP for Hull (1832-41) and for Gateshead
(1841-74). A free-trader and much interested in colonial affairs, he
was a member of the select committee on colonial lands (1836) He was a
commissioner for the foundation of South Australia, a member of the
New Zealand Association (1837) and of the select committee on New
Zealand (1840). After the New Zealand Bill was thrown out in 1838 Hutt
helped form the New Zealand Land Company, amalgamating the interests
of the New Zealand Company, the New Zealand Colonisation Society and
the old New Zealand Company in 1825. He was later a director and
chairman. In 1859 he was vice-president of the Board of Trade (KCB
1865). He died on 24 November 1882. His first wife (who died 1860)
left him mining properties worth 18,000 pounds a year. He married
again (1861) a daughter of the Hon Sir James Francis Stanhope.