Our history and heritage


Upper Hutt derives its name from an English Member of Parliament, Sir William Hutt, who was a director of the New Zealand Company (formed in the late 1830s) that organised the settlement of the Wellington and Hutt Valley areas beginning with the arrival of the first immigrant ships from 1840. Early Maori names for the river were Te-Awa-Kairangi and Heretaunga.

Upper Hutt was settled right at the beginning of the European colonisation of Wellington. Richard Barton, its first resident, arrived in 1840 on the “Oriental”, the second of what is known as the first four ships. He made his home at Trentham in 1841 in the area now known as Bartons Bush. The first town settler was James Brown in 1848.

Upper Hutt was originally part of the Hutt County, constituted in 1877. On 24 April 1908, it was proclaimed a Town Board and the first seven Commissioners were farmer GI Benge (first chairman), milkman RH Williams, farmers A Martin and JT Craig, butcher WR Keys, builder J Harrison and painter FH Wilkie. The first secretary was AJ McCurdy, an outstanding character in this areas local politics. He became first Mayor when Upper Hutt became a Borough on 26 February 1926.

On 28 May 1966 it was proclaimed a city. The northern areas of Remutaka 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. Exactly a year later the City of Upper Hutt as it is today was constituted with the abolition of the Heretaunga/Pinehaven District Community Council.

Our Coat of Arms

The Coat of Arms for the City was granted by the Royal College of Arms (London) in 1978 by Letters Patent. This means that the coat of arms is protected and cannot be used without Council’s authority which must be in terms of the laws of arms.

The arms are made up of a shield, a crest, supporters, and a motte scroll. In front of the rock in the Crest, a New Zealand Falcon is portrayed. The New Zealand Falcon (Bush Hawk – Karearea) was very prevalent in the Upper Hutt Valley in earlier times and some still survive in the area. It preys on the forest birds including the pigeon depicted in the Arms and is described as probably the most fearless of all this country’s native birds.

The two birds in the Shield are Pigeons (Hemiphaga Novaeseelandiae) also representing the early bird life in the Valley’s bush, also in existence. The wavy band is a representation of the Hutt River and indicates its importance in the City of Upper Hutt.

The bottom portion shows a Totara tree (Podocarpus Totara) which symbolises the original vegetation that abounded on the Valley floor. Some are still preserved in Trentham Memorial Park and in early days many of these trees in the valley measured in metres across the butt and were a hundred feet in height before a branch appeared from the trunk.

Finally, the Motto translated into English means “Nothing higher nor more beautiful”. This was chosen to record that the City has special physical features and a lovely setting.

The mountainous nature of some of the terrain (the City boundaries extend to the top of the Rimutakas and Akatarawas), the presence of the hills and trees that form so many of the views, the close affinity of the City and farm, and the varied beauty of the river valleys, form a combination within the City boundaries which is most unusual and could well be unique in the context of world Cities.

The Council’s advisors on the question of the adoption of the Motto felt that it was not appropriate to indulge in superlatives, and what has emerged is not an extravagant claim but a simple justified statement.



The Royal College of Arms also granted a City badge. The badge is placed on property of the Council and used for less formal situations. It consists of a New Zealand Pied Fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa) tail erect and expanded and perched on a twig within a circlet of gold chain.

City Badge


The City in 1982 produced, with the consent of the New Zealand Herald, a flag to be flown on appropriate occasions. One is on permanent display in Council Chambers and another is flown outside the Civic Administration Building during office hours. It consists of the City colours (gold across maroon quarters) with the shield in the middle.


Our brand-identity 

In conjunction with a new website in June 2019, we also introduced new logos for Upper Hutt, Council, our libraries, and H2O Xtream. The new logos were designed to be more accessible than the former ‘postage stamp’ logo and to better reflect the balance of community and lifestyle as a connected city. Upper Hutt is a city that has the benefits of a close knit suburban community and open spaces, nature and parks (lifestyle). A ‘U device’ was developed as part of this identity to celebrate the connectedness and balance of our community and lifestyle.



U device concept



The logo family, with bespoke variations of the U device for Upper Hutt Libraries and H2O Xtream, was rolled out on the new websites and some other digital-only applications.

As we were considering our next steps this year we felt that it was a perfect opportunity to incorporate a bilingual approach as part of our response to the Treaty of Waitangi, to embrace our heritage, and increase our promotion for the use of Te Reo in the community. 

The process of determining the names and applying these to the logos has included consultation and advice from our iwi partners and/or Kaitakawaenga Kaupapa Māori (Māori Liaison). Based on these discussions, we have resolved the translations for our business centres as Te Kaunihera o Te Awa Kairangi ki Uta for Council, and Ngā Puna Mātauranga o Te Awa Kairangi ki Uta for Upper Hutt Libraries. Because H2O Xtream is a brand name in and of itself, there is no specific translation, so we’ve resolved it as H2O Xtream ki Te Awa Kairangi ki Uta.

The Māori translation of Upper Hutt takes its inspiration from Te Awa Kairangi, the oldest name for the Hutt River, attributed to Kupe, the first Polynesian explorer to come to this area.  

Te Awa Kairangi fits our city’s narrative the best, as one that is teeming with life and possibility, as well as acknowledging our surroundings and the beautiful vista upon which this city is set. The river unites us.

Just as Upper Hutt is linked with Hutt City, it is practical for our Māori names to align to each other as well. To do this, we have added the location word ‘Uta’, preceded by the particle ‘ki’. ‘Uta’, by definition, locates anything that is inland, from a coastal perspective, or at the interior of a country or island. 

We’ve considered how we can make things as simple as possible, and avoid repetition where we can. We have resolved this bilingual partnership in the logos below. These new logos will start to appear in our communications and marketing as well as city and Council assets such as signs and vehicles as they come up for replacement. 

2020 UHCC logos



Heritage collections

UPPER HUTT RECOLLECT is the free interactive database for the Upper Hutt City Library Heritage Collections. It provides easy online access to a rich store of heritage material relating to Upper Hutt City, its people, and events.

Browse more than 26,000 documents, photos, and publications that document the history of our city.