Late afternoon view; Hongoeka Bay and Titahi Bay near top left; Ranui Heights and Kenepuru mid-to-bottom right
Porirua is a city in the Wellington Region of New Zealand, immediately north of the city of Wellington, with their central business districts 20 km apart. A large proportion of the population commutes to Wellington, so it may be considered a satellite city. It almost completely surrounds Porirua Harbour at the southern end of the Kapiti Coast. The eastern (Pauatahanui) inlet of the harbour is notable for its world-class estuarine values. The population at the was .
The name "Porirua" is of M ori origin. It is possibly a variant of "Pari-rua" ("two tides"), a reference to the two arms of the Porirua Harbour. The name was given in the 19th century to a land registration district that stretched from Kaiwharawhara (or Kaiwarra) on the north-west shore of Wellington Harbour northwards to and around Porirua Harbour. The road climbing the hill from Kaiwharawhara towards Ngaio and Khandallah is still called Old Porirua Road.
In the 19th century a small European settlement grew up, partly because of the need for a ferry across the harbour. At the time a small M ori settlement already existed.
The Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company opened the railway line to Porirua in 1885, linking the city with Wellington. The railway reached Longburn, south of Palmerston North, in 1886, to connect with the Government's lines to Taranaki and Napier. With the acquisition of the company by the government in 1908, the line to Porirua formed part of the North Island Main Trunk railway. The railway contributed much to the growth of Plimmerton and Paremata by making day-trips to the beaches from Wellington's northern suburbs relatively easy. The line through to Porirua was electrified in 1940 following the construction of the Tawa Flat deviation.
In the 1880s and 1890s the Porirua Lunatic Asylum was established on the hill south-west of the village. Following the Mental Defectives Act of 1911, the Asylum became Porirua Mental Hospital.
Originally planned in the late 1940s to become a satellite city of Wellington with state housing, Porirua has grown to a city population approaching 51,000, with state housing no longer in the majority. Major territorial additions to the city were made in 1973 and 1988 as part of the reduction and eventual abolition of Hutt County.
Substantial industrial areas generally west of the city centre were established in the 1960s and 1970s, dominated by the Todd Motors building (later Mitsubishi), prominent in the panorama below.
On 7 June 1976, New Zealand's first McDonald's restaurant opened in Porirua, on the corner of Cobham Court and Hagley Street. The original restaurant closed on 24 April 2009, and the store relocated to Kenepuru Drive.
Notable councillors of Porirua have included Whitford Brown (first Mayor); Ken Douglas (trade unionist); Ken Gray (former All Black); Gary McCormick (media personality); Helen Smith (the first member of the Values Party to be elected to local government); and Tutu Wineera (a kaumatua of the Ng ti Toa iwi).
Other prominent residents have included:-
The area is administered by Porirua City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.
The name Porirua was first applied to a council in 1961 when Makara County, to the west of Wellington, was abolished, the mostly rural western part becoming the Makara Ward of Hutt County and the rapidly growing eastern urban portion (including Titahi Bay) becoming the Borough of Porirua. Four years later the population was officially estimated at over the 20,000 threshold then necessary for Porirua to be declared a city.
On 1 April 1973 large areas to the north-east (and a few elsewhere) were transferred to the city from Hutt County by popular vote. Mana Island was added to the city at the same time. In 1988 a further addition was the Horokiri riding of the about-to-be-abolished county, containing most of the new Whitby suburb and substantial rural areas.
The city and its council have remained (with changes of personnel and ward boundaries) into the 21st century despite proposals to change the name to "Mana" and several small movements for amalgamation with Wellington.
Porirua is largely formed around the arms of the Porirua Harbour and the coastline facing out to Cook Strait and the north-eastern parts of the South Island. Most of the populated areas of Porirua are coastal: Camborne, Karehana Bay, Mana, Onepoto, Papakowhai, Paremata, Pauatahanui, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay, Takapuwahia, Titahi Bay and Whitby all have direct access to coastal parks and recreation reserves. Several suburbs without direct coastal access, including Aotea, Ascot Park, Elsdon and Ranui Heights, have substantial portions with good views over the harbour.
Rural localities include Judgeford and Horokiri.
Porirua is the home of the Royal New Zealand Police College, where all police recruits receive some 19 weeks' training.
Police College chalets above the Aotea Lagoon, with Colonial Knob on the skyline above the city centre (obscured) and Elsdon and Takapuwahia
Just up the road from Aotea Lagoon is Aotea College, the secondary school closest to the northern suburbs. Other colleges include Mana College and Bishop Viard College near the city centre and to the East, Porirua College. Tertiary education is provided by Whitireia Polytechnic, which has its main campus north of the city centre.
Sport and recreation
Porirua is home to the powerful Northern United RFC the current Wellington regional champions, and the smaller Paremata-Plimmerton RFC, both clubs play in the Wellington Rugby Football Union club rugby competition.
Watersports, fishing and other boating activities are popular in the area, well served by a large marina in Mana and Sea Scouts, yachting, power-boating, rowing, and water-skiing clubs. The harbour entrance from Plimmerton or Mana is popular with experienced windsurfers and kitesurfers while beginners find the shallow enclosed waters of the Pauatahanui arm of the harbour a forgiving environment in which to develop their skills. Aotea Lagoon is a popular recreational area on the south-eastern shore of the Porirua Inlet.
State Highway 1 passes north-south through the middle of the city, linking Porirua southwards to Wellington and northwards to the Kapiti Coast and the bulk of the North Island. Porirua is the northern terminus of the Johnsonville-Porirua motorway (opened progressively from 1950), which forms part of State Highway 1. State Highway 58 links Paremata via Whitby and Pauatahanui with Haywards in the Hutt Valley to the east.
The Ara Harakeke is a pathway that runs alongside SH1 and the Taupo Swamp, north of Plimmerton. The first section was opened in 2002. Porirua City Council won a Cycle Friendly Award for this project from the Cycling Advocates' Network in 2003.
The North Island Main Trunk railway line passes through Porirua, mostly close to State Highway 1, with six stations including the main Porirua Railway Station inside the city and one on the Wellington City border. Kapiti Line suburban passenger trains run between Wellington and Waikanae (generally half-hourly except at peak periods), and the Overlander long-distance train between Auckland and Wellington calls southbound but not northbound.
The nearest airports are Wellington Airport to the south (the closest), and Paraparaumu Airport to the north.
Ferry services ran between Paremata and Picton for short periods but appeared unable to compete with Wellington-based services despite the shorter distance.
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