Wellington's colours are derived from the Wellington Football Club, the first rugby club in Wellington, and the second oldest in New Zealand.
The Nelson Club had been formed a few months previously, but went into recession several times --World Wars etc- whilst the Wellington club has fielded a team every winter Saturday since its formation in 1870. Rugby was played for some years before the formation of the club under the direction of Captain J C R Isherwood, a Crimean war veteran and the adjutant of the 69 Foot Regiment who had been fighting in the Native Land Wars.
Games were held with the 45th Irish Regiment - the only other rugby team. The blue collar Irish relished the chance of muddy, bloody, battles with the British team, predominantly officers. Their field, at the Basin Reserve after it was drained following the 2m uplift which occurred during the 1855 earthquake, remained a quagmire for years. Captain Isherwood bestowed on the Wellington Football Club the colours of his regiment, black and gold. Those were possibly also the colours of his old school back in Britain. The regiment's motif, a rampant chained lion and an axe, was on the left breast of a yellow and black hooped jersey, the attire till this day.
The original colours and emblem were later "laid up" in the Dominion Museum. They were offered back to the club for display but were later lost before the Club received them. Many of the city's founders and notable citizens played for the club, and the city and the club histories ran closely in parallel. When the Municipality of Wellington was eventually formed the city fathers approved the club's colours as those of the city (later of the Province) and the Wellington City Coat of Arms still includes the chained lion and axe. As an aside, Captain lsherwood, in 1878, rather disloyally formed the Athletic Football Club; this club, the city's second, has since gone into recess.