Wainuiomata occupies a basin at the headwaters of the Wainuiomata River, between the eastern Hutt hills and the Orongorongos. There is little evidence of Māori occupation of the area before 1840, probably because it was covered in dense forest and large swamps.
The 1855 earthquake raised these swamps and encouraged European settlement. Wainuiomata remained a small sawmilling and farming community until after the Second World War, when new housing soon transformed it into a working-class suburb of Lower Hutt. During the 1950s many young families lived there, earning it the nickname ‘Nappy Valley’