Wellington CityPopulation forecast
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Wellington City

Drivers of population change

Wellington City is the capital of New Zealand. Wellington City is located at the south-western tip of New Zealand's North Island. Wellington City is bounded by Porirua City in the north, Lower Hutt City in the north-east, Wellington Harbour in the south-east, Cook Strait in the south, and the Tasman Sea in the west. Wellington City features both urban and rural areas. The urban areas include residential, commercial and industrial land use. Rural land is used largely for farming, particularly sheep and cattle grazing. Wellington City encompasses a total land area of about 290 square kilometres, including substantial areas of coastline, parkland and bushland.

Development history

The original inhabitants of the Wellington area were the Taranaki Whanui and Ngati Toa Māori people. European settlement dates from 1840, when a township was established in the Lambton Harbour area. In 1855 an earthquake (The “1855 Wairarapa earthquake”) struck the area, raising the coastline and creating flat land for settlement in and around the harbour. Land was reclaimed to form what is now the central city. Rapid residential development took place from the 1880s into the 1920s, spurred by commercial and industrial growth and improved access. Growth slowed from the 1930s. Further expansion took place from the post-war years. Development spread to the northern areas from the 1970s. Gentrification and renovation of the inner city took place from the late 1970s, including transformation of the waterfront. The estimated resident population of the City increased from the mid 1990s, rising from 163,400 in 1996 to 187,700 in 2006 and 200,400 in 2013 though at time of writing (June 2014), the 2013 ERP used here is synthesised from the 2013 Census Usual Resident Population and will be updated with the official 2013 ERP, once this information is available. This notable growth is due largely to an increase in the number of dwellings, particularly medium density housing. The City contained 40% of the Wellington Region’s population at 2013. Population growth is expected to continue, particularly in the central and northern suburbs.

Migration patterns

As New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington has a vibrant and diverse economy as well as a significant population of students. The city is a desired destination of young adults and students from all over the Wellington Region and the rest of New Zealand attracted to the employment and educational opportunities on offer as well as entertainment and lifestyle qualities that Wellington City is known for.

Historical migration flows, Wellington City, 2008-2013
Historical migration flows, Wellington City, 2008-2013
'Overseas' refers to arrivals only.

Population and household forecasts, 2013 to 2043, prepared by .id the population experts, July 2016.

Note: The migration flows depicted above are historical and do not represent future or forecast migration flows or subsequent council boundary changes. The arrows represent migration flows to the area as a whole and do not indicate an origin or destination for any specific localities within the area. Overseas flow shows overseas arrivals only, based on answers to the census question “where did the person usually live 5-years ago.

Housing role and function

Demand is relatively strong for inner suburbs in the City. New greenfield development has been focussed in the northern suburbs, although long term opportunities for further growth in the area will be constrained by topography.

With the variety of residential locations, different areas within Wellington City have developed different roles within the housing market. Areas on the outskirts of Wellington City such as Churton Park and Woodridge are attractive to young families. In the future this housing market will also include Tawa - Grenada North - Takapu Valley. Inner suburbs such as Te Aro, Wellington Central, Mt Victoria, Newtown, Berhampore and Aro Valley attract large numbers of students and young adults who may be young professionals working in the City. These areas are in high demand due to their access to universities, employment and entertainment. Many suburban areas of the City such as Karori, Tawa, Ngaio and Seatoun lose young adults as they seek employment and educational opportunities in inner suburbs. The variety of function and role of the small areas in Wellington City means that population outcomes differ significantly across the area.

Housing supply

There are also significant differences in the supply of residential property within the City which will also have a major influence in structuring different population and household futures over the duration of the forecast period. New 'greenfield' opportunities have been identified in Churton Park, Tawa - Grenada North - Takapu Valley and Ngauranga which will add to the existing greenfield growth which has already commenced in areas such as Stebbings Valley in Churton Park-Glenside and Grenada Village - Paparangi - Woodridge - Horokiwi. Inner suburbs such as Te Aro, Wellington Central, Mt Cook and Newtown are also expected to have growth in dwellings, but based predominantly on more intense use of land and in the form of high density apartment and townhouse living. Other strategic suburbs will contribute to Wellington City’s housing demand with diverse/mixed development around activity centres or ‘areas of change’.

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