Miramar/Seatoun Local History
Ever looked around at the features or streets of the suburb you live in, and wondered who came before? Find some brief snippets of history below, with links to mana whenua voices and sources, books from our collection, Wellington Recollect, and more.
Te Motu Kairangi
We recognise that the history of Te Motu Kairangi did not begin in 1840. For more information about earlier years read more below:
- Ngā ingoa peka Māori, or Māori branch names (Miramar = Motu-kairangi)
- A good section on the naming of "Motu-kairangi". In George Leslie Adkin's The Great Harbour of Tara: traditional Maori place names and sites of Wellington Harbour and environs - a revision, on page 43
- Best, Elsdon. (1919) The Land of Tara and they who settled it:
- Nga Waahi Taonga o Te Whanganui a Tara: Māori Sites Inventory on Recollect (scanned from the original) — both the book (further below on the linked collection page) and maps. See also our older, website version of Nga Waahi Taonga, which might be an easier overview. Especially see:
- Ngā Taonga Tumu Whakarae Honiana Love (Te Ātiawa, Taranaki, Ngā Ruahinerangi) gave this extremely popular oral history of place names used by mana whenua for the Wellington region
- A Manatū Taonga, the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage, talk with Wellington Tenths Trust Chairman and manawhenua, Morrie Love (Te Atiawa, Taranaki, Ngāti Ruanui and Ngāti Tama iwi of Taranaki) on the genesis of some of the original names around the Wellington region:
Colonial naming - "Miramar" and "Seatoun"
Miramar means "Behold the sea" or "Wonderful Sea" and was named by the first settler on Watt's peninsula area, resident James Coutts Crawford, who arrived in Wellington in 1840. In 1872 he changed the name of Watt's Pennisula to Miramar. Miramar was the name of a house built for him by his brother-in-law, Major McBarnett. On 18 November 1904, the Miramar Borough was formed.
Seatoun was developed by James Coutts Crawford in 1879, and the name originates from a place in Forfarshire (UK) which was owned by the Crawford family.
Landmarks and features
Rangitatau Historic Reserve and Maori Historic sites
Rangitatau Pa is Wellington's only remaining untouched pa site. (Follow the link for detailed information.)
Ataturk Memorial Historic Reserve (1990) Tarakena Bay.
A memorial commemorating modern Turkey's first president, Mustafa Kemel Ataturk (1881 - 1938). Ataturk led Turkey's defence against the allies in the battle of Gallipoli in World War I. Beneath the memorial is a container of soil from Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.
Beacon Hill Signal Station (1864)
Wellington Harbour Radio (Beacon Hill) is the Port's permanently manned signal station and will receive all communications from vessels on a 24 hour basis.
This opening between Rongatoi and Miramar was constructed in 1910, at the same time as work on Burnham wharf was undertaken. A steam driven mechanical shovel was used in its construction.
Fort Ballance (1885-1886), Point Gordon
Located by Mount Crawford, Karaka Bays, Wellington's primary military fort until 1911 when Fort Dorset opened, Fort Ballance was closed in 1945 but remnants still remain.
Massey Memorial (1927), Point Halswell
The entrance is off Massey Road. This is a white marble memorial to William F Massey (former premier of NZ) who died in office in 1925 (read Death of William Massey, from NZ History.net. The Massey Memorial was designed by Gummer and Ford.
Mount Crawford Prison, Point Halswell (1915)
In 1919 it was to become a female only prison. In 1924 it became a reformatory with a prison wing , offering work experience and skills. It is no longer a female only prison.
Scorching Bay Domain
Bathing sheds were first erected in 1931 on this popular swimming beach.
The Eastern Walkway
The Eastern Walkway runs from the Pass of Branda to Tarakena Bay. The walkway was opened in 1982; it was re-routed in the 1990s to its present state. The track is 2.5km long and takes about 1.15 hrs to walk. With superb views to the South Island from high coastal cliffs, this is one of Wellington superior walks.
Wahine Memorial Park
This park has the Wahine's anchor and replicas of its ventilators. She hit Barrett Reef on 10 April 1968 and sunk off Steeple Rock.
Weta Studios — set of Lord of the Rings, Miramar. Peter Jackson's special effect studios are in this suburb.
Centennial Park (north end of Miramar North road)
Used as a sports ground, but formerly a motor camp during the Centennial Exhibition. It was also used as temporary accommodation for New Zealand immigrants landing in Wellington.
Seatoun Tunnel (1906-07)
Provided a land link to Seatoun, which was formerly reached by boat only.
- Scots College (1919)
Entrance off Monorgan Road, Strathmore. It was first established at Queen Margaret' college site in 1916.
- Seatoun School
Opened 12 September 1916 as a side school of Worser Bay school.
- Kahurangi School
This is the youngest school on the peninsula. It opened in 2013 following the merger of Miramar South School and Strathmore Community School.
- Worser Bay School (12 July 1897)
his was the first school on the Miramar peninsula.
- Other schools on the peninsula include Miramar North, Miramar Central and Miramar South.
Notable People who have lived in the suburb
James Coutts Crawford
James Coutts Crawford was a former Royal Naval Officer who arrived in Wellington in 1839. He settled on Watts peninsular to set up a large dairy and butchery business, and gave Miramar and Seatoun their colonial names (see above).
Jonah Lomu (1975-2015)
Jonah Lomu (NZ History.net article) was the first rugby superstar in professional rugby. He exploded on the world rugby stage at the 1995 Hong Kong sevens. One of the youngest and biggest wingers ever and made his All black debut when only 19 years 45 days old.
Sir Peter Jackson (Film Director and Producer) (1961-)
Sir Peter Jackson's first film was the home made horror movie "Bad taste" filmed in 1987, but he is probably best known for The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Church of the Holy Cross, Miramar (1960)
Located on the corner of Hobart St and Miramar Ave. This is an impressive building with buttresses supporting a cantilevered overhang of the curved roof, (a first for a church in New Zealand). The bell was shipped from Limerick in Ireland for the church by the church curate.
Fort Dorset (1911)
A battery of 12 pounder guns was set up here during WWII. This land was formerly the site of Oruaiti Pa, an old Rangitane stockaded village near where Kupe landed.
229 Marine Parade, Worser Bay. The first occupant was Captain J A Scott.
St George's Anglican Church (1896), Seatoun
Current church building opened in 1957. There is a carving of St George and the Dragon on the glass window at the west end.
Whetu Kairangi Pa
Whetu Kairangi Pa was built by the maori chief Tara when he bought his people here to settle. The name refers to stars in the heavens. The place was so named because villagers could see no other villages at night, or, from the beach, the cooking fires looked like stars.
- Early days on the Miramar Peninsula / by J.M. & B.M. Kenneally. 1981.
- Miramar Peninsula: a historical and social study / by John Struthers. 1975.
- Miramar Peninsula: a snapshot of the people and the Peninsula. Wellington City Council. 
- The Streets of my City: Wellington, New Zealand. Irvine-Smith, F.L.; 1948.
- Waka, ferry, tram: Seatoun and the bays before 1958 / by Bob O'Brien.
This page is maintained by our Local History Librarian, Gabor Toth. Our aim is to collect in one place useful sites and library resources for discovering historical content about Miramar and Seatoun. We'd be pleased to hear from you about this page - you can email us with any feedback.