Wellington Town Belt Bill

  • enacted




“Tumutumu parea, rākau parea, whānui te ara ki a Tāne [Ward off post and weapon, so that the expansive path of mankind is opened up]”.

This was uttered by Te Wharepouri Te Kakapi-o-te-Rangi during the arrival of the colonial ships within the Wellington harbour, and upon the Petone foreshore, during the 1830s. Te Wharepouri saw the benefits of building positive relationships with the colonial settlers and working together towards common goals and initiatives. Hence, the focus of this proverb is about the journey of life, overcoming obstacles and issues, and focusing on the main tasks at hand:


The New Zealand Company was a private land settlement company, formed in London in May 1839, which planned to establish a settlement at Wellington harbour. The Company’s representatives arrived at Wellington harbour in September 1839:


At the time of the New Zealand Company’s arrival, the iwi groups with take raupatu over all of the lands within the Wellington harbour and its environs were Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Ruanui, Taranaki, Ngāti Tama (together, Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika) and Ngāti Toa Rangatira. These iwi each had their own ahi kā over particular areas, as follows:


Te Ātiawa at Te Whanganui ā Tara and parts of the southwest coast; and


Taranaki and Ngāti Ruanui at Te Aro; and


Ngāti Tama at Kaiwharawhara and environs, and parts of the southwest coast; and


Ngāti Toa Rangatira at parts of the southwest coast:


The New Zealand Company’s initial settlement plan provided for the original Town Belt, being public reserves of 1 562 acres (approximately 632 hectares) around the proposed town of Port Nicholson (now Wellington City), that would separate it from the Company’s rural district. These reserves included the land that is now the Wellington Botanic Garden. The instructions from the Company’s secretary, John Ward, to its surveyor, William Mein Smith, included that this land be “public property on condition that no buildings be ever erected upon it”:


On 16 October 1841, the Governor of New Zealand notified that the reserves provided for in the Company’s plans were “reserved by the Crown for public purposes”. This was done without consulting or, at that time, compensating the relevant iwi groups:


On 3 June 1861, the Crown conveyed some of the original Town Belt to the Superintendent of the Province of Wellington “in trust for the purposes of Public Utility to the Town of Wellington and its inhabitants”:


The Wellington City Reserves Act 1871 instructed the Superintendent to convey some of the original Town Belt to the “Mayor Councillors and Burgesses for the time being of the City of Wellington” upon trust for “purposes of public utility to the City of Wellington and its inhabitants”. The Superintendent carried out this instruction in 1873 by executing the Town Belt Deed, which conveyed 3 parcels of land on trust to the “Corporation”, described in the Town Belt Deed as the “Mayor, Councillors, and Citizens of the City of Wellington”. The 3 parcels were the land known as the “Town Belt”, “Canal Reserve”, and “Basin Reserve”:


The “Town Belt” parcel and the “Canal Reserve” parcel were conveyed to the Council’s predecessor upon trust “to be for ever hereafter used and appropriated as a public Recreation ground for the inhabitants of the City of Wellington”:


The “Basin Reserve” parcel was subsequently resettled on the Council’s predecessor by deed dated 17 October 1884 as a separate trust, and the Town Belt Deed has no further application to it:


The report of the Waitangi Tribunal Te Whanganui ā Tara me ōna Takiwā: Report on the Wellington District (Wai 145, 2003) concluded that breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi by the Crown had occurred, including in relation to the Crown’s acquisition of lands within the Wellington harbour and its environs. The historical claims of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika were settled on 19 August 2008 and the historical claims of Ngati Toa Rangatira were settled on 7 December 2012:


As well as the significance of some of the land to mana whenua, the concept of the original Town Belt and having open green space around the central city are important to the inhabitants of Wellington generally. Over time, many people and community groups have cared for the Wellington Town Belt and worked to recover parts of the original Town Belt not vested in the Council:


There is some uncertainty about the legal status of the Wellington Town Belt, the extent to which the Wellington Town Belt is protected for future generations, and the Council’s powers to protect, manage, and enhance the Wellington Town Belt. This Act will provide certainty by—


becoming the principal source of the Council’s powers for protecting, managing, and enhancing the Wellington Town Belt; and


providing a transparent statutory basis for the Council’s trusteeship and management of the Wellington Town Belt; and


providing a mechanism for land to become part of the Wellington Town Belt:


The objects of this Act cannot be attained otherwise than by legislation:

The Parliament of New Zealand therefore enacts as follows: