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Commuting patterns in Wellington

Highlights

  • In 2006, 1 of 10 employed people in New Zealand worked in one of the four cities of the Wellington region (Porirua, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, and Wellington), a ratio largely unchanged since 1996.
  • Wellington city dominates employment within the region.
  • One-third of the more than 5,000 employed population of Kapiti Coast district said they worked in one of the four cities of the Wellington region.
  • The highest proportion of workers who lived outside of the four cities of the Wellington region but gave a workplace address there, were engaged in the property and business services (19 percent), and government administration and defence (14 percent) industries.

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Introduction

Together, the four cities of the Wellington region (Porirua, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, and Wellington) make up the second largest urban conglomeration in New Zealand, with a combined population of just over 364,000 people in 2006. In the 2006 Census, a total of 171,600 people (or 10 percent of the national employed population) gave a workplace address in one of these four cities. Wellington’s four cities, like the Auckland metropolis, dominated employment within the surrounding region (85 percent of employed people within the Wellington region had a workplace address in one of its four cities). In comparison, 81 percent of the usually resident population in the region lived in one of its four cities. The four cities of the Wellington region are similar to those of the Auckland metropolis as they are geographically close and have enmeshed labour markets.

Figure 1

Graph, Usually Resident and Workforce Population of Wellington's Four Cities.

Wellington city dominates employment within the region and is similar to Auckland city in this regard. There is a high proportion of commuting between cities, although Wellington city itself has the greatest labour market pull on the surrounding cities, and relatively few people in Wellington city commute to other cities within the region. As a result, it has the highest proportion of workers to usual residents. There were approximately two usual residents for each person that gave an employment address in Wellington city, compared with a ratio of 1 in 4 in Porirua city.

Table 1
Population with a Workplace Address in the Wellington Region

Usually resident in Wellington region, by commuting destination
2006 Census

Table, Population with a Workplace Address in the Wellington Region.

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Labour market areas and employment density

As figure 2 shows, the commuting zone centred on Lambton Quay extends well beyond the boundaries of Wellington’s four cities and takes in the Kapiti Coast district. In Wellington city, employment was concentrated in the central business district with Lambton Quay as the major employment hub.

Figure 2
Local Commuting Areas in the Wellington Region

2006 Census

Graph, Local Commuting Areas in the Wellington Region.

Note: Zones were derived using primary linkage analysis to summarise area unit travel-to-work data. The main focus part of each zone is represented as a red dot with its size proportional to the total commuter inflow to the zone. Zone names are derived from the area unit that forms the focus point.
The colours demarcate the boundaries of the commuting zones.

Lambton Quay had the highest employed population of any area unit in New Zealand, with over 38,000 people specifying a workplace address there in 2006. Willis Street–Cambridge Terrace and Thorndorn–Tinakori roads also attracted large numbers of workers.

Figure 3
Employment Density in Wellington City

Graph, Employment Density in Wellington City.

Graph, Employment Density Key.

In contrast, employment densities were lower in the cities of Porirua, Lower Hutt, and Upper Hutt. Hutt Central was the largest employment hub among these areas.

Figure 4
Employment Density in Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt Cities

2006 Census

Graph, Employment Density in Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt Cities. Graph, Employment Density in Upper Hutt City.

Graph, Employment Density Key.

Figure 5
Employment Density in Porirua City

2006 Census

Graph, Employment Density in Porirua City.

Graph, Employment Density Key.

Figure 6
Commuters to the Wellington Metropolis

2006 Census day

Graph, Commuters to the Wellington Metropolis.

Graph, Number of Commuters Key.

Source: Commuterview New Zealand, 2006 Census of Population and Dwellings

Data from the 2006 Census showed that of those who specified their workplace address, over 100 people from 12 territorial authorities outside Wellington region stated they worked at either Porirua, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, or Wellington city. Most of these territorial authorities were geographically close to the Wellington region, with the exception of the Auckland metropolis (800 people from the 12 territorial authorities outside Wellington stated they worked in the Auckland metropolis), and Christchurch and Dunedin (260 and 120 people, respectively). This number increased slightly since 1996.

Kapiti Coast district was the major source of the commuter population to Wellington, with over 5,000 people. Most of this growth occurred between 1996 and 2001, with a much smaller increase (numbers coming from Masterton have declined) between 2001 and 2006.

Figure 7

Graph, Change in Employed Population with a Workplace Address in Wellington's Four Cities.

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Commuting from surrounding urban and rural areas

Wellington exerts considerable influence on surrounding urban communities, with over one-third of the employed population in Featherston and Kapiti working in Wellington‘s four cities. Majority of these commuters stated a workplace address in Wellington city. Just under 3,000 people from rural areas listed a workplace address in one of the four cities of Wellington.

Table 2
Employed Population That Gave a Workplace Address in the Wellington Metropolis

Usually resident in other urban centres
2006 Census

Table, Employed Population That Gave a Workplace Address in the Wellington Metropolis.

Source: Census of Population and Dwellings, 2006.

Wellington’s four cities (particularly Wellington city) employed a substantial number of people from surrounding local authorities. There is also the presence of a small labour market that operates between Auckland, Christchurch, and Dunedin. These workers were largely engaged in the government administration and defence, and property and business services industries.

Figure 8

Graph, Employed Population by Selected Industries and Workplace Address.

Wellington is also notable because of the location of government in Wellington city.

In 2006, 1 in 10 employed people in New Zealand gave a workplace address in one of the four cities of the Wellington region. Wellington city was the dominant employment destination, with a strong concentration in the central city, particularly within the area unit of Lambton Quay.

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