History of Whitby

"History is the action and reaction of these two, nature and thought - two boys pushing each other on the curbstone of the pavement."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Fate

Aerial view of Whitby.
Aerial photo of Whitby looking south

The bold vision that created Whitby changed the make-up of Porirua City forever. Development of the suburb began in 1971. Since then it has been the fastest growing community in Wellington with one of the highest disposable income levels in the country. It is now home to over 15,000 people and around 4000 homes, and continues to grow with development planned for at least another 10 years.

David Bradford owns and manages Whitby Coastal Estates and explains its development has had a significant impact on Porirua City:

"If you look at the socio economic profile of Porirua City as the fourth highest in the country it’s because of the north western suburbs, of which Whitby is the predominant one. It has lifted the standard of living in the city quite significantly."

According to Neil Penman’s book on Mitsubishi Motors, the original plan was for Whitby to be a much bigger self contained village consisting of a 405-hectare industrial area and a central business district, surrounded by six village centres, supporting a population of 100,000. However it was not to be, in later years economic circumstances in New Zealand did not favour such grandiose schemes and only the Whitby village was completed.

So far just less than 600 hectares has been developed to form Whitby. One hundred hectares remains to be built on with room for around 750 homes.

The dream of Whitby

The dream of Whitby began in 1967 when John Todd, from the family behind Mitsubishi Motors, and Fletcher Development’s Wellington manager Tony Kostanich personally explored the hills on the southern shores of Pauatahanui Harbour. The same year a consortium of Fletcher Development, Jubilee Investments (Todd family) and the National Mutual Life Association of Australasia purchased 1286 hectares.

John Todd explains their vision. "Right from the outset our concept was that we should develop something of a very high class – not necessarily in terms of cost, but in the quality of the whole environment, it was a unique opportunity to plan a total environment."

Whitby named after English seaport

They decided to name the area Whitby after the Yorkshire seaport in England. Soon the Whitby Consortium had planning consultants, landscape architects, surveyors and engineers involved in the development. A plant nursery for trees and shrubs was established. A swimming pool, schools and artificial lakes were created and a shopping centre constructed.

A unique system of under road tunnels was developed to allow pedestrians to walk about the suburb. Rex Green was appointed CEO of the Whitby Consortium in 1971 and stayed until his retirement in 1986. He says the appeal is the clever design of the village, which has left about 22 percent of land in open spaces.

"Quality of family life is very strong here. It’s got a strong sense of community."

Links to more information

Porirua City Council links:

Continue to Sites of historical interest in Pauatahanui and Judgeford or return to Pauatahanui, Judgeford and Whitby.