Welcome to the website of Historic Places Wellington Incorporated (HPW). We are a membership not-for-profit organisation based in Wellington, New Zealand. We advocate for heritage in the wider Wellington region, and offer events such as talks, walks and visits to historic places and buildings.  For more information, see our About Us page.  We are also on Facebook: facebook.com/historicplaceswellington

Wellington historic buildings to visit

Some of Wellington’s historic buildings can be regularly visited (although some require a guided tour). Click the links for more information:

Old St Paul’s Church; Parliament Buildings; Old Government Buildings; Supreme Court; Katherine Mansfield Birthplace; Government House; St Gerard’s Monastery; St Peter’s Church; Wellington Museum (including Nairn Street Cottage); Futuna Chapel, KaroriGolder Cottage, Upper Hutt; Paekakariki Station Museum, Paekakariki, Kapiti coast, Silver Stream heritage railway, Upper Hutt.

Please note that Old St Paul’s and Katherine Mansfield Birthplace are both currently closed for renovations. Katherine Mansfield house at 25 Tinakori Road will be reopening upon completion of the works around October. Their temporary office is two doors down at the Wellington Bridge Club on Tinakori Road.

Old St Paul’s is closed to the public for seismic strengthening work from Saturday 4 May until late 2019.  You can read more about the project and how you can help with their fundraising appeal here. Please contact them to discuss venue hire for important occasions for January 2020 onwards.

St John’s Church in Willis St (another Category 1 building) is also fund raising for earthquake strengthening work. Click the link for more information.

Wellington’s historic listed buildings

To see if a building is listed as historic by Heritage New Zealand (formerly NZ Historic Places Trust) click the link to search. Local councils also maintain a heritage list as part of their District Plans – see our useful links page. You can search the buildings on the Wellington City Council’s list here: www.wellingtoncityheritage.org.nz


News and Events

Architect Gordon Wilson, opened May 1959
Naenae Post Office

20 and 27 September: “Naenae Residents’ Association is organising a series of public talks for Lower Hutt Heritage Month so local residents can find out more about the rich history of our suburb and city, and learn how we can celebrate and protect our heritage.” (Clicking the link above will take you to their Facebook events page).

Talks will be every Friday in September from 6:00 – 7:30pm in the Naenae Library. Only two talks left.

20 Sept: Kura Moeahu – Kei Raro i te Motu Whāriki Ngā Kōrero e Oreore Tonu Ana (Underneath the Earthen Counterpane Still Lurks the Stories of the Indigenous Nations): Kura Moeahu (Te Atiawa) chairman of Waiwhetū Marae, discusses how indigenous stories are embedded in the landmarks and placenames around us, with examples from Naenae and Te Awakairangi/Lower Hutt.

27 Sept: Kristine Saunders – Naenae Libraries: Past, Present and Future: Naenae librarian Kristine Saunders discusses the history of libraries in Naenae, development of the current Kitty Mildenhall Library and the status of community libraries now and into the future


Hutt Heritage Month: 8 – 30 September – There are a lot of talks, walks, exhibitions, etc, on in Hutt City – check out their website for details:


20 September, 6 pm – 9 pm: “Every Building on Cuba Street” at The Wall Gallery, 26 Egmont Street. (Exhibition runs from 21 to 27 Sept, open 10am – 3pm). 

“Launching Photographer Andy Spain’s latest work ‘Every Building on Cuba Street’, we invite you to join us for a drink and to see the first continuous panoramic (that we know of) of Cuba Street. Transforming 900 metres of buildings into 7.5 metres.

As part of the launch there will be two short presentations from Andy and Wellington Historian Ben Schrader about the inspiration for this work and some of the intriguing history hidden in Wellington’s most vibrant street.”


22 September, 2pm & 27 Sept, 5pm: “Tiptoe through the tombstones” – Friends of Bolton Street cemetery will give a one-hour tour through the historic cemetery. Cost $5. Meet at Seddon Memorial. Book here.


23 September, 6pm, City Gallery Wellington. NZIA Gold Medal Lecture Series – Heritage Architect Jeremy Salmond will talk on “What’s next: The Archaeology of the Future”. Free but you must register. You will find details here.

NZIA Architecture Week – a competition and exhibition on the future of Wellington Central Library: Opening Night: Tuesday 24 September from 5:30pm

This evening opens the Wellington Central Library Competition Exhibition and celebrates the future of the what could be the Wellington Central Library. We present the competition awards and showcase shortlisted competition entries. This exhibition displays entries that have created a compelling narrative for the library of the future and is open for the duration of the Festival week in Wellington. The exhibition will run from Tuesday 24 September through Monday 30 September.

Opening times: Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 6:00pm.
Saturday – Sunday: 10:00am – 3:00pm

Location: Te Auaha Gallery, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington.


Sunday 29 September, 3pm: At Futuna Chapel, Tim Ross on “Why Modernism matters“.
“Australian comedian, television presenter, writer and self proclaimed “design nerd” rolls around in his passion for Modernist architecture as he states his broad ranging and often hilarious case for the protection of our architecture of the mid 20th Century.

This is a free event and all are welcome, registrations required as seating is limited (click the link above to go to the Facebook event page).

Proudly brought to you by the Riegers Printing, Futuna Trust & NZIA Wellington Branch.”


From 20th September all events as part of Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council’s Heritage Month can be viewed here.


28 October: Truby King Park,  Melrose, free tours every 20 minutes between 10am and 12, and 1pm and 4pm. Book here, registrations open from 21 September.

Visit the former home of Sir Truby King and Lady Isabella King, the founders of the Plunket Society.


Wellington Heritage Week is on from 28 October to 3 November. The programme is available on their website – some events need booking. We are co-sponsoring an event with Futuna Trust on 3 November – see our upcoming events page for  more details.

Another event on during Heritage Week is an exhibition at Wellington Museum, 10am – 5pm. While not mentioning the Gordon Wilson Flats by name, that is the building explored in this exhibition (see below for more information about GW Flats).

“Immersive Legacies: 320 The Terrace” is an interactive exhibition that explores how New Zealand’s heritage can be captured digitally and disseminated through various evolving digital technologies such as Virtual Reality, 180° spherical projections, and 360° videos. Accompanying this intriguing experience, are banners of historic and technical information, 3D printed and laser-cut building models to give an overview of what Digital Heritage can offer.

Visitors can explore the high-rise modernist building on 320 The Terrance and discover its story as a 1950s vision of social housing to a controversial icon of our city’s past.”


This cast iron lighthouse was the first permanent lighthouse to be built in New Zealand, it first shone on 1 Jan 1859.
Pencarrow Lighthouse

Following earlier plans for a visit to the Pencarrow Lighthouse this year, postponed due to bad weather, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga is offering this trip to members and friends on Saturday 26 October, Labour Weekend, to learn about the history of the lighthouse and enjoy the magnificent scenery across Wellington Harbour and Cook Strait.

The lamp at Pencarrow was lit for the first time on New Year’s Day 1859, making it the first permanent lighthouse to be built in New Zealand.  Mary Jane Bennett was the first keeper of the Pencarrow Lighthouse and to this day New Zealand’s only woman lighthouse keeper.

Coaches will leave Wellington Railway Station at 11am on Saturday 26 October, adjacent to Platform 9, and from the carpark at the Petone Settlers Museum on The Esplanade, Petone, at 11.30am and returning to Wellington by 4pm.

The cost for the coach tour is adults $25, HNZPT members $20, children 15 years and under $15. Bring a packed lunch, drink, jacket, hat, sunscreen and good walking shoes.  A good level of fitness is required as there is a 15 minute walk up a grass track and pathway to the lighthouse from the drop off point for coaches.

RSVP registrations to Heritage New Zealand by 7 October.  Payment is to be made on line to Heritage New Zealand at 03-0502-0939456-00. Mark payment Pencarrow tour and your name as a reference. For more information contact David Watt, Central Region Outreach Advisor, Heritage New Zealand, on 04 494 8322, or mob 027 2466 339 – email dwatt@heritage.org.nz


Heritage New Zealand’s online archaeological report library launched: The digital library contains over 7500 reports dating from the 1950s until today, with more reports being added all the time. This is one of the most important sources of archaeological information about places in the country, and a huge repository of information that will be of interest to many people. Explore the online Archaeological Reports Digital Library for yourself – just follow the link.


The latest issue of Oculus [June 2019] (the newsletter of Historic Places Aotearoa) is available by clicking the link. The latest newsletter of the Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council is available from the WRHPC website library.



On 15 July at National Library a series of talks on how to save Wellington Central Library was held to a capacity audience of 175 and 100 outside in overflow viewing. Talks by Gordon Moller (history of civic square and development) Ken Davis (working on the project 1989-91), Adam Thornton (a fantastic lesson in seismic design and possible costs) and Councilor Iona Pannet (Council process and perspective). MC Judi Keith-Brown NZIA president elect. This event was recorded and is available to view here. You can read more in our latest (August 2019) newsletter.

Here is an article from last year by former councillor Helene Ritchie who chaired the committee overseeing redevelopment of Civic Square in the late 1980s.


New appointments: Marian Hobbs of Dunedin has been appointed as Chair of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Board, for a term commencing on 1 July 2019 and expiring on 30 June 2022. And Patrick McGarvey, of Whakatane has been appointed as a member of the Māori Heritage Council, for a term commencing on 1 June 2019 and expiring on 31 May 2022.

HPW welcomes the appointment of Hon Marian Hobbs as the new Heritage New Zealand Board chairperson. There are big challenges for securing built heritage in New Zealand right now. Among them are ensuring the legislative and policy environment is supportive of heritage preservation and protection, and that property owners have practical options for earthquake strengthening their heritage buildings. There is also the pressure to demolish older character buildings in our urban areas, which are under development pressure for residential population intensification. Historic Places Wellington looks forward to further collaboration with Heritage New Zealand and to supporting its new chairperson (Felicity Wong, Chairperson, HPW).



We were disheartened that a solution couldn’t be found to save the two 1912 houses in Rugby Street (on the Basin Reserve), owned by the Chinese Embassy. They have been demolished.  You can read more about them in our November 2018 newsletter (no. 26).  You can also see a photo of them from 1977 here on Wellington City Library’s recollect website.


We are, however, pleased to see that work has begun on strengthening and restoring the Basin Reserve Museum Stand (coincidentally close to the former Rugby Street houses).



Karori. 1961 designed by John ScottFutuna chapel (a Category 1 historic building) is open to visitors on the first Sunday of the month from 11am till 3pm. A trustee will be present to answer your questions.  Entry by koha.


Lunchtime concerts are regularly held in heritage-listed building St Andrew’s on the Terrace on Wednesdays at 12:15


See Friends of Baring Head Lighthouse for information about their restoration project.


Blue Plaques. This is an initiative of our national body, Historic Places Aotearoa to identify and promote our built heritage. The large cast aluminium plaques are designed to be placed prominently on the facades of important heritage buildings. We have some interest from heritage building owners in Wellington.


Victoria University of Wellington, which owns the Gordon Wilson Flats at 320 The Terrace, wishes to demolish the building. It is not currently habitable. A city council panel approved the proposal to take the Gordon Wilson flats off the council’s heritage list. The Architectural Centre appealed the decision. The decision from the Environment Court on Gordon Wilson Flats came out on 9 August 2017. The appeal by the Architectural Centre was allowed and Gordon Wilson Flats should not be taken off the Council’s heritage list.

Gordon Wilson Flats
Gordon Wilson Flats, late 1950s. The Terrace.

The decision noted that the appeal process had: “provided information that raises the heritage significance architecturally, socially and technically … of the GWF. Rather than diminishing the building’s heritage value … it has in fact strengthened the reasons for it to be listed” (at [51]). For more information about the Gordon Wilson Flats as architectural heritage, see the website of the Architectural Centre. And, also, on the DOCOMOMO NZ website.


To further promote the ongoing protection and future of significant historic and heritage sites, the Government has broadened the eligibility criteria of the National Heritage Preservation Incentive Fund (NHPIF) that Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga administers on its behalf.

From 1 May 2018, applications are open to all private property owners of places listed on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero, with the exception of historic areas. This includes Category 1 and Category 2 properties, as well as sites of significance to Māori. More information is available on this website


The Government’s fund called Heritage EQUIP opened for applications on 15 December 2016.  You can find more at this link: www.mch.govt.nz/heritageequip. This is separate from the facades and parapets policy. 

Applications are welcome from owners of all privately-owned Category 1 Heritage New Zealand listed buildings across the country and for Category 2 listed heritage buildings in areas of high to medium seismic risk. “Grants are available for minor works under the Retrofit component of the fund, as well as for larger projects.”

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment also has material about earthquake strengthening on its website. Including information about the unreinforced masonry buildings securing fund.


You can read some of the history of the Basin Reserve here (part 1) and here (part 2).


The newsletters of the Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council are available from the WRHPC website library.

  *            *            *