Plan of Wellington, New Zealand, 1840

This map of the city of Wellington appears to show an orderly city, neatly planned out along a tidy grid. In fact, things were not that simple.

The map was produced by the New Zealand Company in 1840. The Company had been set up a year earlier to promote the colonisation of New Zealand, by encouraging British citizens to settle there. In the year this map was made, a treaty was signed that gave British immigrants legal citizenship.

Cities in Victorian Britain were overcrowded and rife with poverty. Many people were leaving Britain for the New World, in search of a better life. The New Zealand Company tried to attract both wealthy investors and labourers.

The map is, in fact, deceptive. Its even street grid paid little attention to Wellington's hills, mountains and complicated coast line. However, the rational structure of the square grid gave the appearance of organisation and order, two qualities believed to be very important to potential settlers.

Taken from: Plan of the town of Wellington
Author / Creator: New Zealand Company
Date: 1840
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: Maps 92540. (7)