Events of Wellington

Lots of things have happened that have had an impact on Wellington. The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

1981 black and white photo of Springbok Tour protestors on Hill Street, Wellington. Police are alongside.

Image: Protesters on Hill Street, Wellington, marching during a demonstration against the 1981 Springbok tour by [unknown]. Collection Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: EP/1981/2884/11a-F.

Which events can I learn about?

Here are some events related to Wellington you could find out about:

Approx. 17th Century

Approx. 17th Century
Ngāi Tara live around Wellington Harbour and the Kāpiti Coast, sharing the land with other iwi including Rangitāne and Ngāti Mamoe.

Find out about pre-European Māori

The New Zealand Company buys land from two rangatira. Te Rauparaha (Ngāti Toa) says that the land was not theirs to sell.

Find out about land purchases

Waterfront Dispute.

Find out about the Waterfront Dispute
13 October 1975

13 October 1975
The Māori land march arrives at Parliament.

Find out about the Māori land march

The first Newtown Lesbian and Gay Fair takes place, this evolved into the annual Wellington Pride Festival.

Find out about the Newtown Lesbian and Gay Fair
April 1999

April 1999
Pest-exclusion fence around Zealandia is built.

Find out about conservation

Tips: These are just some examples of events you could research. You may have something different you're interested in finding out about. Just use words related to the event as your search terms in the resources below.

Wellington resources

Here are some websites and collections to find out about events that have had an impact on Wellington.

Wellington City Libraries Heritage

The Wellington City Libraries Heritage section has a number of local stories and oral histories. Learn more about local history, from major events to quirky stories.

  • Look for a topic to find out about eg the 1981 Springbok Tour.

  • There will be an overview of the topic and then collections of resources you could use to find out more.

Wellington City Recollect

The photographs, digitised books, and documents on Recollect cover a wide range of political, social, religious, economic, and environmental topics.

Tips: Historical sources like books can be useful for finding different perspectives on a topic. Keep in mind that they may not fairly show a wide range of views or experiences.

Archives Online

Wellington City Council’s records include all sorts of information about people, places and events dating back to 1840.

  • Enter keywords related to your topic in the search box.

  • Or you can look down the homepage for Featured Content for topic ideas.

General New Zealand resources

Here are some websites that have information about Aotearoa New Zealand history and local history.

Waitangi Tribunal

The Waitangi Tribunal works to resolve treaty claims dealing with colonial injustices. Researching these claims has led to some reparations and created reports which cover the history of Māori lands and resources.

  • Under Related Links choose Search Waitangi Tribunal reports.

  • From the drop down menu for Area choose Wellington and then Search.

  • Look at the report titles to find one to read eg

    Wai No. 145: Te Whanganui a Tara me ona Takiwa: Report on the Wellington District

  • You can read a summary online or download a PDF of the full report.

Te Arawhiti | The Office for Māori Crown Relations

This government website has information about Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

  • Select Te Kāhui Whakatau (Treaty Settlements).

  • Then choose Find a Treaty settlement.

  • Look down the page to find the Deeds of Settlement for the iwi you're looking for eg Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika, Ngāti Toa Rangātira, and Ngāti Tama (Wellington).

  • The summary documents are good to start with and have an overview and historical background.

Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is always a good place to start. Te Ara has a range of articles on lots of topics. Te Ara also includes the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, containing the life stories of over 3,000 people.

  • Enter 'Wellington history' as a keyword in the search bar to bring up articles on the topic.

  • The Wellington Region story includes a summary of the early Māori history of Te Whanganui-a-Tara, introducing rangatira and the migrations of iwi which took place during the 1820s.

  • Or you could search for other words related to an event.

Tips: If you look at the URL you will be able to see that it says .govt which means it is a reliable source from a Government department.


This is another really good website to look for information on history in New Zealand.

  • Browse through the Events menu by date.

  • Or search using keywords related to something that happened to find articles.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually, it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

He Tohu Exhibition

A great place to visit is the He Tohu exhibit at National Library, which holds copies of the 1835 He Whakaputanga Declaration of Independence, the 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition.

  • Visit 70 Molesworth Street in Wellington.

  • Or look down the page for online resources like videos.

National Library | Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa

Our National Library holds a huge number of digital and physical resources.

  • Start with a keyword search.

  • Filter the search by format type eg images, newspapers, audio.

National Library also holds some great online collections of resources. To find individual collections:


DigitalNZ searches across different websites, such as National Library and Papers Past, to collect digital resources including photographs, interviews and videos from around the country.

  • Enter a keyword into the search bar.

  • You can make a profile and save pictures you like.

Tips: You might not always find the person or group you are looking for, but it is a great tool to try and is especially useful for finding photographs and primary sources.

Te Papa

Not only is Te Papa a great museum that you can visit, they also have items in storage that you can find out about online. Te Papa publishes some in-depth blogs on historical topics.

  • To find information about physical items online, select Discover the collections in the top navigation bar, and then go to Collections online.

  • You can find the blogs by selecting Discover the collections in the top navigation bar, and then choosing Blog: Rangitaki.

NZ On Screen | Iwi Whitiāhua

NZ On Screen has great clips about international events, war, the Māori battalion and local history.

  • Try a search for 'Wellington' to find the Wellington Collection put together by the NZ On Screen team.

  • Another collection worth checking out is The Rainbow Collection about Aotearoa Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender screen production.

EPIC Databases

EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

Bridget Williams Books (BWB) gives access to many collections of Aoteaora New Zealand books.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

NZETC (New Zealand Electronic Text Collection)

Older students can find some great historical texts here.

Tips: Some of these texts were written a long time ago by Pākehā researchers. They might miss context, information or not quite be right. Use these sources alongside information created by Mana Whenua, the indigenous people (Māori) who have historic and territorial rights over the land.


Here are a few books about Wellington history for you to look for at your school or local library. Your local librarian is a great person to ask for the best books about your local area.

More about Wellington

People of Wellington

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about individual people or groups of people from Wellington.

Learn about people of Wellington

Places of Wellington

There are many places that are significant to Wellington. Use the resources in this section to find out about their histories.

Learn about places of Wellington