What's in a name: Hutt Valley's origin

Hutt Valley is also known as Te Awa Kairangi which is also the oldest name for the Hutt River, attributed to first Polynesian explorer to come to this area, Kupe

belmont regional park view from park overlooking lower hutt
Hutt River Trail people cycling along river credit Jay French

Before colonial settlement after 1840, Te Awa Kairangi was full of many types of fish, was a major transport link with boats reaching Silverstream and was surrounded by vast dense bush. The river was renamed Heretaunga by visiting Māori tribes and then named again after William Hutt, chairman of the New Zealand Company which led much of the British settlement from 1839.

Our two cities' Māori names describe their location within the valley.

Lower Hutt is Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai (next to the sea)

Upper Hutt is Te Awa Kairangi ki Uta (inland)

Awa means river and kairangi translates to esteemed or precious. Local Māori refer to the it as "river full of good food" and "the source of life".

Read more on the history of Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River .

Taita Rock Hutt River
hutt river harcourt park
cannon point walkway lookout walker taking a selfie
Ngake and Whataitai by Cliff Whiting at The Dowse Art Museum

Legends tells us the harbour was once a lake

Local legend tells of when Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington Harbour) was a lake, and in that lake lived two taniwha, Ngake and Whātaitai. Cliff Whiting used the story of these two taniwha to create the piece Whanganui-a-Tara (Ngake and  Whātaitai) which is often brought out for displays.

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