Wellington, city in central New Zealand, capital of the country, in the extreme southern part of North Island, at Port Nicholson bay (an arm of Cook Strait). Situated in an agricultural region, it is a major seaport, a rail center, and a commercial and manufacturing hub. Principal products of the area, which includes the industrial city of Lower Hutt, are transportation equipment, processed food, textiles, clothing, machinery, and printed materials.
Government operations and tourism also are of prime importance to Wellington’s economic base. The city contains a number of New Zealand’s finest cultural and educational facilities. Among these are the National Archives; the National Library of New Zealand; the Royal Society of New Zealand (1867); the National Art Gallery, with exhibits of New Zealand, European, and Australian painting and sculpture; the National Museum, featuring ethnographic and natural history displays; Victoria University of Wellington (1899); and Massey University at Wellington (1999). A symphony orchestra and ballet and opera companies are also based here. Other points of interest include the Parliament buildings, the town hall, and an Anglican cathedral.
The site of Wellington was settled in 1840 by emigrants from Britain brought there by the New Zealand Company. In 1865, Wellington became the capital of New Zealand, superseding Auckland. The city is named for Arthur Wellesley, 1st duke of Wellington, the British soldier and statesman.