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
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, chairperson of the New Zealand Company which led much of the British settlement from 1839.
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".
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)
Read more on the history of Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River .
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.