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Porirua CityPopulation forecast

Porirua City

Drivers of population change

Development history

Porirua is a city in the Wellington Region of the North Island of New Zealand, and one of the four cities that constitute the Wellington metropolitan area. Porirua’s name is likely derived from ’Pari-rua’, meaning ’the flowing of the two tides’, referring to the two tidal estuary arms of Porirua Harbour (Onepoto Arm and Pāuatahanui Inlet). In Maori tradition the Porirua harbour is home to the taniwha, Te Awarua o Porirua. 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 and Ranui Heights, have substantial portions with good views over the harbour. Elsdon, formerly known as Prosser Block, lost access to the harbour as a result of reclamation work, especially during the 1960s. Much of the existing city centre, north of Parumoana Street and east of Titahi Bay Road, was built upon this landfill.

The earliest known inhabitants of Porirua were Maori who made their camps in virtually untouched forests. By studying remnants of their camps, archaeologists believe these early inhabitants were living in Porirua at least as far back as 1450AD. From the forest they hunted birds, including moa, and gathered timber for shelter, tools and firewood. From the surrounding harbours and estuaries, they caught fish, eels and sting rays and gathered cockles and pipi. Captain Cook visited the Porirua harbour when he was mapping New Zealand’s coastline in 1769, but it was not until the late 1820s that Europeans began to settle in Porirua. In 1832 a trading station was established on Mana Island to offer goods to whalers passing through the Cook Strait. In 1835 a whaling station was established at Paremata by Joseph Thoms (known as Geordie Bolts). Alongside Thoms’ whaling station was the first ferry crossing at Porirua. The Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company opened a 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 relatively easy. The line through to Porirua was electrified in 1940 following the construction of the Tawa Flat deviation. In the late 1940s state planning envisaged Porirua becoming a satellite city of Wellington with state housing. Since then Porirua has grown to a reasonable size city (2013 Census population of 53,700), with state housing no longer in the majority. Major territorial additions to the city occurred in 1973 and 1988 as part of the reduction and eventual abolition of Hutt County. Substantial industrial areas, generally west of the city centre, have evolved. During the 1960s Kodak, UEB Industries and many small businesses opened at Elsdon. During the following decade, Ashley Wallpapers developed the former UEB property and after favourable negotiations with the government, Todd Motors (later Mitsubishi) moved from Petone to Porirua.

Migration patterns

In the post war era, a shortage of housing in Wellington led to a need for increased housing development. The satellite community of Porirua, 20 km from New Zealand’s capital, Wellington was a collection of planned suburban development to meet this demand. Between the 1940s and 1970s it was planned and developed for 70,000 people. In the late 1950s and 1960s it would transform from a village to city. By 1977, 78% of Porirua was State housing and it was the country’s largest single concentration of public dwellings, (this dwindled to 41% in 2012). The population has increased from 5,000 people in 1950 to 21,000 in 1966 and 53,700 as at the last Census in 2013. In the last few decades, Porirua City has gained new residents from many different places in the region and further away in New Zealand and overseas. Porirua City also lost residents to different places in the country. Usually, internal migration (within a TA, region or country) is strongly influenced by age – that is – people moving to and from different places based on their life stage.

In the 2008-2013 period, Porirua City gained 1,100 residents from Wellington City, many of them moving to Porirua City for new housing opportunities in Paremata-Papakowhai. This net gain of 1,100 is made up of 3,297 arrivals from Wellington City and 2,199 residents departing Porirua City for Wellington City. The number of overseas arrivals during the same period was 595. Note that because this information is based on the Census question "Where did you live five years ago?" it does not necessarily mean that overseas arrivals moved directly to Porirua City. They may have moved elsewhere first and then within those five years migrated to Porirua City, again for proximity to employment or rental/housing affordability reasons. There is a net gain of residents from Hutt City (+129) during the 2008-2013 period too with some smaller net gains from other TAs such as Christchurch City, Whangarei District, Ashburton District and South Waikato District, to name a few. Porirua City lost residents during the 2008-2013 period to the Kapiti Coast District (-513 residents), Auckland City (-243 residents) and Tauranga District (-75 residents). Some smaller net losses include Upper Hutt City, Hastings District and Dunedin City. These net gains and net losses usually have a dominant age profile where younger people in their late teens and early twenties tend to leave the City for bigger city locations elsewhere whereas families, both young and established, look to move to the City in search of affordable housing opportunities from nearby places where these opportunities are not as plentiful.

Almost 45% of all Porirua City residents did not move between 2008 and 2013 (stayed at the same address). Of the residents who did move between 2008 and 2013 (19,320 people), 18% have moved within Porirua City, 4.3% have moved to Porirua City from other parts of New Zealand and 5.2% have moved to Porirua City from another country. For more information on migration moves to and from the city, the "Migration by Location" page provides useful information and data (

The abovementioned migration information relates to long term/permanent migration moves. However, on a daily scale, i.e. journey to work, it is visible that Porirua City is very connected with its neighbours – Wellington City and Hutt City. Of the total number of people who work in Porirua City, 62% are also residents here whereas 38% live outside of the city and commute to Porirua City for work (1,158 from the Kapiti Coast District, 2,784 from Wellington City, 440 from Hutt City and 700 from Upper Hutt City). Of the total number of employed Porirua City residents – 37% work within Porirua City and do not leave the TA for work but 52% work outside the city (9,612 travel to Wellington City for work, 1,600 to Hutt City and around 600 Porirua residents travel to the Kapiti Coast District and Upper Hutt City for work.

Historical migration flows, Porirua City, 2008-2013

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 based on answers to the census question "where did the person usually live 5-years ago" and .id estimates of international out-migration.

Housing role and function

Over time, different parts of Porirua City have established different housing roles and functions. As a whole, Porirua City contains the following housing markets, roles and functions within it:

There has been and will continue to be a gain of young couples aged 25-29 years and young families with children aged 30-39 years (with children aged 0-14 years) who are moving to parts of Porirua City with active growth areas (such as Aotea Block and later on, the Northern Growth Area) where there is housing opportunity for families and relatively young home owners. The City has a loss of young adults aged 15-24 year olds (more specifically 18-24 year olds within these five-year groups) and this relates to younger people leaving the City in search of education and employment opportunities elsewhere (in Wellington City, Auckland City, Dunedin City and regionally for employment opportunities). There is a slight gain of older adults aged 40-44 years and later in the forecast period, a gain of 45-54 year olds too who move to the area due to a diverse range of new housing opportunities in the City. Porirua City also has slight losses of empty nesters and early retirees aged 55-64 years who may sell property here and move to other areas for lifestyle housing opportunities and also where their money from housing sales in Porirua City will have more purchasing power. There are slight gains of the elderly moving to the City as they migrate closer to aged care, retirement living and healthcare facilities.

Within the city, there are some variations in terms of housing roles and functions. Areas such as Paekakariki Hill-Pauatahanui will experience a large gain of young families with children aged 30-39 years (with children aged 0-9 years). There will also be a gain of established families aged 40-49 years with older children aged 10-14 years who are attracted to the area for the new housing opportunities (in the future – Northern Growth Area developing here). The area will experience a loss of young adults aged 18-24 years leaving the area for education and employment opportunities elsewhere. There will also be a gain of mature adults and empty nesters aged 45-54 who migrate to the area for the housing opportunities. Historically, Paremata-Papakowhai experienced this kind of migration profile and definition of housing role and function as the Aotea Block greenfield development along with some smaller others developed in this area. In the future, Paremata-Camborne-Mana Inlet and Waitangarua will experience similar housing role and function characteristics.

On the other hand, areas such as Upper Cannons Creek, Lower Cannons Creek and Ascot Park will have a slight gain of young and established families with children aged 30-39 years with children aged 0-14 years. There will be a loss of young adults aged 18-24 years as tends to be the case in many other small areas in the City. Another example of an area with different housing roles and functions is Pukeroa Bay-Plimmerton. The area’s level of growth, due to major development occurring there in the post 2020s period, will amplify an already formed housing market with more emphasis on family additions. During the forecast period, Pukeroa Bay-Plimmerton is expected to have large gains of young and established families aged 25-44 years with children aged 0-14 years. There will be a slight loss of young adults and a gain of mature adults, empty nesters and early retirees aged 45-69 years with little change expected in older age groups throughout the forecast period. Areas such as Titahi Bay and Titahi Bay South-Mana Island will gain young adults aged 30-39 years old as couples without children mainly with a slight loss of mature families aged 40-49 years with children aged 5-14 years also becoming evident. Some areas with little expected residential development in the forecast period can anticipate suburban regeneration and ageing in place to occur. This is where the base population of the small area moves through age cohorts as time passes and the household lifecycle affects how people live so some older people can be expected to move out of the area and move to smaller housing or aged care facilities while making available housing stock accessible to younger couples without children and families who would be taking up that kind of housing stock.

Housing supply

Following the State Housing development in Porirua City in the 1950s and 1960s, the development in the area diversified as new suburbs were established. Areas such as Whitby have continually been developing since the 1960s with current landscaping and expansion in the hills behind the eastern part of Whitby facilitating the future growth of the suburb. New suburbs such as Aotea developed in recent years and continue to grow into the future. In recent years, Porirua City has experienced a boom in terms of housing supply growth. In the period between 2001 and 2006, there were 666 new dwellings in the City, on average around 133 new dwellings per year with the majority of development occurring in Whitby East (192 dwellings, 28.8% of total dwelling additions). In the most recent Census period 2006-2013, the City has seen 1,578 dwelling additions with Paremata-Papakowhai carrying the largest share of this development (834 dwellings developed here in the 2006-2013 period, 119 dwellings per annum on average and 53% of the total Porirua City development in this seven year period). Whitby East still experienced notable levels of residential development with 240 new dwellings added to the small area.

At the start of the forecast period, rates of development remain similar with several stages of the Aotea Block development beginning to reach exhaustion/completion. During this time, Whitby East also has several greenfield development sites such as the Silverwood Residential Estate, The Banks development and the Bluejacket Lane/Spyglass Land development adding to dwelling stock. From 2017-2018, Navigation Heights and Duck Creek North residential development estates, also in Whitby East will kick off and develop over 6-8 years. From around 2016-2018, the future stages of Aotea Block commence and peak around 2020 prior to being completed in the mid-term of the forecast. Larger developments such as Kenepuru Hospital Land redevelopment commences in 2019 and develops over the next few years. As the southern supply of greenfield slows down and reaches capacity, the Camborne North Residential Area commences as well as the Pukeroa Bay West section of the Northern Growth Area, a stage 1 development according to the deveopment structure plan. The development of the Transmission Gully Motorway, scheduled for completion in 2020 will increase some accessibility of the new growth areas to the north. Soon after that, some of the development of Pauatahanui-Judgeford begins. This group of development sites will have different densities and minimum lot allowances based on different degrees of difficulty in the preliminary works required to allow for residential development. Later in the forecast period Camborne North also reaches capacity, sections of the Northern Growth Area will pick up rates of development and be the primary growth front for Porirua City. Another element of residential supply will play a part in Porirua City-s forecasts - the provision of public housing in Eastern suburbs of the City.

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