The Lost Creek

Haewai / Houghton Valley has a small catchment area with a high percentage of bush reserves, flat fields for recreation, and of course the beach at Houghton Bay, from which the official name of the suburb comes. The natural setting gives the area a country or holiday feel, despite being very close to the centre of Wellington.

However, the large amount of greenery masks a less environmentally sensitive history: as in other suburbs around Wellington, the place is a valley without a stream at the bottom of it, a natural anomaly. The bottom section of the formerly steep valley has been filled with landfill. The small creek running through it has been piped and covered over, and some of the springs that fed it have been buried.

Two decades of landfill

Planning for the landfill started in 1944 when the whole valley was mapped and the landfill designed. Detailed plans such as the one below show the original contours and the dump faces superimposed on top.

The landfill began in 1949, starting just below Hungerford Rd. The land was bare as it had been farmed for quite some time, so it didn’t take much to get started.

Landfill begins in the bottom of Houghton Valley

In the early 1950s the landfill continued up the valley to the school, where it was morphed into an earlier fill zone below the school that had been created for playing fields.

The first stage of landfill in Houghton Valley

Then through the latter part of the 1950s and the 1960s until 1971 the landfill above the school was completed.

The upper landfill area (now Sinclair Park) in progress in 1960