Upper HuttPopulation forecast
Skip to content

Upper Hutt City

Drivers of population change

Development history

Upper Hutt City is located near the southern end of New Zealand’s North Island, approximately 30 kilometers northeast of Wellington City, within the northern basin of the Hutt Valley. The main urban areas in the City lie along the Hutt River valley with the Akatarawa Valley and Akatarawa Ranges in the northeast, the Rimutaka Ranges in the east and the Blue Mountains and Wainuiomata Stream in the south. It is one of the four cities that make up the Wellington metropolitan area. Originally, Upper Hutt was an area known as Orongomai and the river was Heretaunga, which is today a suburb in Upper Hutt City. The Māori residents who first occupied the area were of the Ngai Tara iwi but various iwi controlled the area in the years before colonial settlement. In 1839, European exploration began in Hutt Valley’s south with settlement of the area not occurring until the 1860s. The challenging terrain, forests which required clearing and the necessity for river navigation and construction of bridges made initial colonial settlement in Upper Hutt very difficult.

Upper Hutt was originally part of the Hutt County, constituted in 1877. Upper Hutt continued to grow in population and on 28 May 1966 it was proclaimed a city. The northern areas of Rimutaka Riding of Hutt County were brought into the city on 1 April 1973 to give Upper Hutt the second largest land area of any New Zealand city. It grew in size again on 1 November 1988 when the former Heretaunga-Pinehaven Riding was incorporated upon the abolition of the Hutt County Council. In July 1955, the electrification of the railway line from Wellington to Upper Hutt was completed, allowing fast electric multiple unit trains to replace steam- and diesel-electric-hauled carriage trains. Residential subdivision in areas such as Clouston Park, Maoribank, Totara Park and Kingsley Heights continued into the 1980s. The establishment of a two-laned high-speed bypass along the banks of the Hutt River from the Taita Gorge in the south to Māoribank in the north. River Road, as the road became to be known, opened in 1987.

Migration patterns

The first European settlers to the area came to Trentham. Land was subdivided and settlers set about clearing the land of its indigenous forest to turn it into farmland. Sawmillers milled larger trees, such as Totara, for building materials and burned off the remaining scrub and underbrush. The railway line from Wellington reached Upper Hutt in 1876. It continued over the Rimutaka Ranges to Featherston in the Wairarapa as a Fell railway, opening in 1878. By March 1914, the area of Upper Hutt controlled by the Upper Hutt Town Board had its own water supply. The supply capacity was increased when the Birchville Dam was built in 1930. Upper Hutt remained a farming community until after the Second World War when extensive housing spread over arable land, from Pinehaven and Silverstream in the south-east to Totara Park and Te Marua in the north-west.

Upper Hutt remained a farming community until after the Second World War when extensive housing spread over arable land, from Pinehaven and Silverstream in the south-east to Totara Park and Te Marua in the north-west. For many years Upper Hutt was a rural service town supporting the surrounding rural farming and forestry community. Serious urbanisation of the upper Hutt Valley only started around the 1920s but from the late 1940s onwards Upper Hutt's population exploded as people moved from the crowded hustle and bustle of inner city Wellington into a more secluded yet sprawling Hutt Valley. In recent years, the population of Upper Hutt City has remained steady between 1996 and 2001 at 37,700 before increasing to 39,700 in 2006 and 41,300 in the latest Census, in 2013.

In terms of migration moves – Upper Hutt City has both gained residents from a variety of places and lost residents to many different places. The highest net migration gains in the 2008-2013 period were people moving here from Hutt City (a gain of 828 residents over five years). This represents many people who are moving here predominantly for housing opportunities where more affordable housing can be purchased than in Hutt City. There were also 340 arrivals from overseas in the same 2008-2013 period. 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 Upper Hutt City. They may have moved elsewhere first and then within that fice year period migrated to Upper Hutt City, again for rental/housing affordability and proximity to employment in the Wellington metropolitan area. Wellington City also contributed 240 residents to Upper Hutt City over the 2008-2013 period. Interestingly, the net gain figure of residents from Auckland City is just +39, however when arrivals and departures are assessed, it can be seen that there is a large migration volume between Upper Hutt City and Auckland City. 507 people moved from Auckland City to Upper Hutt City, but 468 left Upper Hutt City for Auckland City in the 2008-2013 period, hence the overall low net gain but strong migration flows. Upper Hutt City lost most of its residents to the Kapiti Coast District (a loss of 141 residents over five years), Carterton District (loss of 111 residents) and South Wairarapa (loss of 99 residents). There are low net losses to Palmerston North and Christchurch (around 50 residents over five years) but the overall flows of migration to and from those places are around 200 residents for the 2008-2013 period.

Just under 46% of all Upper Hutt City residents did not move between 2008 and 2013, i.e. remained at the same address (18,414 residents). Of all the residents who moved during this time, 19% (7,665) remained in the City, 5.5% moved to Upper Hutt from other parts of New Zealand (2,214) and 4.2% moved to Upper Hutt City from another country (1,698 residents).The abovementioned migration trends relate to long term/permanent moves. However, on a daily time scale, i.e. journey to work, it is visible that Upper Hutt City is very connected with its neighbours – Hutt City, Porirua City and Wellington City. 29% of people who are employed in Upper Hutt City travel from outside the City to work here. Most of them come from Hutt City (1,584) with around a third of that figure (567) travelling from Wellington City and 321 from Porirua City. Of the total number of employed Upper Hutt City residents, 38% work within the City and 52% work outside the City (9.5% work location unknown). Just under 4,970 people commute to Wellington City for work (25% of the City’s employed residents) and another 4,460 commute to Hutt City (23% of employed residents) and 440 to Porirua City.

Historical migration flows, Upper Hutt City, 2006-2011
Historical migration flows, Upper Hutt City, 2006-2011
'Overseas' refers to arrivals only.

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

Different parts of Hutt City have diverse housing roles and functions which have developed over the years. As a whole, the City contains the following housing markets/age specific net migration estabished (and establishing) within it:

In recent years and during the forecast period, Upper Hutt City as a whole will continue to exhibit a net migration of young and established families aged 25-44 years with children aged 0-9 years. These net gains represent those residents looking for more affordable housing opportunities for their families in Upper Hutt City. Many of them will retain employment in Wellington City and commute for work. There is a net loss of young adults in their late teens and early twenties aged-24, who leave the City in search of education and employment opportunities elsewhere in the region (such as Wellington City) or other centres around New Zealand, and even overseas. There is also a notable net loss of adults in their fifties and sixties, representing empty nesters and early retirees who, once the children leave home, would move out of Upper Hutt City to downsize housing by selling property here in Upper Hutt City and moving to areas where their money goes further in terms of housing purchase possibilities. Older age groups remain relatively stable in terms of net migration with some gains of those residents aged 80+ years relating to a net gain of those residents looking to move closer to aged care facilities or health care providers, doctors and hospitals in the Hutt Valley as they reach this stage of their lives.

Within the City, there are some variations in terms of housing roles and functions. Emerald Hill-Birchville, for example, have a gain of young families aged 25-34 years with children aged 0-4 years. There is a loss of established families aged 40-49 years with children aged 5-14 years who may be leaving the area in search of a second family home elsewhere. Riverstone Terraces is a unique area in the City which is reaching capacity in terms of residential development growth. As this happens in the first five years of the forecast, the gain of young and established families to the relatively new suburb decreases and the suburb will begin to age in place where there is very limited capacity for new residential development, for the time being, and an ageing population which as time passes will turn to a mature family and then empty nester suburb before suburban regeneration occurs. An area like Trentham has several housing markets. There is the young and established family segment which will be driven by the greenfield development in the area and also an increase in older residents who will occupy the retirement village units in Trentham. Some areas such as Wallaceville will have several housing markets in the future and coupled with limited residential development opportunities will see ageing in place occur too.

Housing supply

Upper Hutt City developed first in the valley areas which were more accessible, easier to clear and develop. Development further out in the hilly areas occurred thereafter. Because Upper Hutt is located near a flood plain and as was prone to flooding, in the 1970s and 1980s, a stop bank was built alongside the eastern side of the river from northern Upper Hutt to the mouth of the Hutt River in Hutt City to prevent further flooding. This made living in some of those areas such as Elderslea, Totara Park, Maoribank and Birchville more attractive and safe. In recent years, from 2001, most of Upper Hutt’s residential development was occuring in the new hill suburb of Riverstone Terraces, with 219 dwellings built in the five years from 2001 to 2006 and another from 2007 to 2013. Trentham also contributed a large share of local residential development in the early 2000s before slowing down slightly in the last Census period. However, with the known strategic sites in the area, Trentham will increase its share of growth in the City in the post 2016 period with large sites such as the AgResearch site coming. Maoribank experienced a lot of residential development in the last Census period with over 180 new dwellings built there. In the next few years of the forecast, the development in Maoribank will focus around Sunstone Crescent and Diamond Grove as well as Mount Marua Drive before the rates of development slow down.

During this forecast period, 2013-2043, Upper Hutt City will develop several scales of residential development: infill housing within existing suburbs, small development estates building within existing small areas or on the fringes of existing areas, some slight intensification development around central areas which could accommodate some medium density housing and finally – major development sites which will provide housing capacity for Upper Hutt City and the region. Some of these large development sites occuring right now include the “Somerset at the Course” retirement village, Mount Marua Drive development and the completion of development around Riverstone Drive, to name a few. Significant upcoming developments include the two staged AgResearch site development at Trentham which will add 700 dwellings to Upper Hutt City in the next 15 years. Other major developments include the Southern Growth Area (spread over two small areas: Silverstream-Heretaunga and Pinehaven-Blue Mountains) and the Maymorn greenfield development in Te Marua and Akatarawa-Rimutaka-Kaitoke-Mangaroa-Moonshine Valley.

Other resources