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); Golder Cottage, Upper Hutt; Paekakariki Station Museum, Paekakariki, Kapiti coast.

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

From 30 June 2017, the management of two important Wellington historic buildings will transfer from the Department of Conservation (Doc) to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. These are Turnbull House in Bowen Street and the Government Buildings on Lambton Quay. DoC has commissioned a new conservation plan for Turnbull House and further engineering advice from Dunning Thornton that will help identify the most appropriate options for seismic strengthening of the building. (Newly completed Government Building image (1876): Bragge, James, 1833-1908. Government Buildings, Wellington. Ref: PAColl-1574-14. Alexander Turnbull Library. /records/23241306 )


Upper Hutt Blockhouse

A display called ‘The Blockhouse: The battle that never was’ is featuring at Expressions Whirinaki Arts & Entertainment Centre in Upper Hutt (836 Fergusson Drive) until 25 June. The display, prepared by Expressions Whirinaki, features the history of this unusual Category 1 building that is cared for by Heritage New Zealand and was the first (known) legally protected historic building in New Zealand.  The exhibition covers the period from 1860, when the building was designed, through to its recent modern day use by the Round Table.


3 July, 6pm: Event at City Gallery relating to Aniwaniwa (the John Scott designed Urewera visitors centre building that was demolished last year). Click link for more information. Free, but bookings required.


Heritage New Zealand is seeking applications to the National Heritage Preservation Incentive Fund (NHPIF) for 2017. The closing date with Heritage New Zealand regional offices for grant applications is Friday 30 June. The Board meeting for consideration of this year’s grants is 10 August. The NHPIF operates to encourage the conservation of nationally significant heritage places (Category 1), registered wahi tupuna, wahi tapu, or wahi tapu areas, in private ownership.  It is directed to projects where funding can achieve positive heritage outcomes.

Assistance is in the form of a grant of up to 50 percent of the cost of conservation work in any particular case, up to a maximum of $100,000.  Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga regional staff are available to advise and assist applicants to prepare their detailed application. Application forms are available from the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga website.


Meeting on Heritage conservation in the Wairarapa, St Andrews Union Church, Main Street, Greytown, Wednesday 28 June at 7pm

A public meeting will be held for support for a heritage group to be formed to advocate and promote the conservation of heritage places, to assist education and appreciation of heritage in the Wairarapa and to act as a lobby to councils on good heritage conservation practice. For further information please contact David Kernohan or Frank Minehan 


The Wellington City Council last year appointed architects Tennent Brown “to lead a high quality team of designers, sporting experts and heritage advisors to help redevelop the iconic Basin Reserve”.

This is part of the Basin Reserve redevelopment proposals, which would see the Museum stand demolished (the cricket museum would be relocated). Built in 1924/5, the stand is on the Council’s heritage schedule and is also listed with Heritage New Zealand.   This article appeared in the Dominion Post on 20 April 2017, which notes the mayor and deputy mayor support demolition. We favour retention and strengthening of the stand. See our latest newsletter on the newsletters page for more information.


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 rezone the Gordon Wilson flats. The panel’s recommendation was considered by Council on 11 May 2016 and the council approved the plan change by a vote of 12-3. The Architectural Centre has appealed the decision. The appeal is largely focused on the process that VUW followed to delist a heritage building. See our latest newsletter on the newsletters page for more information.

The Architectural Centre website includes this article on why modernist architecture is important…. worth a look!  And this is a link to their website with more information about the Gordon Wilson flats.

gordon wilson flats

The Flats, which were built between 1957 and 1959, were on the City Council’s heritage list, but not on Heritage New Zealand’s Heritage List.  This is a heritage assessment prepared for Victoria University. (Image: Gordon Wilson Flats from this news article).



Maritime Archaeological Association of NZ: 2017 Speakers Programme

Remaining talks for the year:

19 July                 John Brown: “Life at sea with USSCo, Cook Strait ferries etc

16 August            Bridget Buxton: “Recent Mediterranean Underwater Discoveries”

20 September       Bob McDougall: “The Night Hitler’s Navy Came to Wellington”

18 October          John Ackrill, 75th Anniversary of the sinking of the Awatea

All talks held at 7-30pm, at Museum of Wellington.  Supper follows. Contact Mary at mary@heritagesolutions.net.nz


Former Karori Teachers College

The Architectural Centre is campaigning to retain and re-use the former Karori Teachers College, designed by Bill Toomath and built in the 1960s and 70s. “The Architectural Centre position is that the Karori Teachers’ College must be retained because:

(a) it is incredibly well-built (apparently it meets 100% seismic code) and it would be a shocking waste (in terms of sustainability and common sense) to demolish it.

(b) it is an important community facility (including: dance studio, lecture theatres, marae, playing fields).

(c) it could be adaptively re-used as housing (which we need).

(d) it is an important heritage site (and should be listed).

(e) a redevelopment could be mixed-use incorporating recreation and cultural programmes (like the Barbican in London).

(f) it could be NZ’s first “Barbican of the South” and an exemplar of a high density residential community with public cultural and recreational facilities for the wider community.

Consequently we are launching the “Barbican of the South” project which aims to create images of the complex as high density residences, and are asking members and others to:

(a) contribute to the “Barbican of the South” Project.  Write a poem, draw a drawing, confound Photoshop, do a concept plan for an apartment, or anything else you’d like to do. Details at the “Barbican of the South” Project. There are some drawings of the Stage I part of the complex linked to this page.  Email arch@architecture.org.nz
(b) write to the WCC (councillors@wcc.govt.nz) asking for them to enable the Karori Teachers’ College site to be adaptively re-used for housing.
(c) write to the WCC (councillors@wcc.govt.nz) asking for the Karori Teachers’ College to be heritage-listed.

We have put information regarding this on the website at:



http://architecture.org.nz/karori-teachers-college/ktc-heritage/ ”


Facades and parapets policy announcement

On 28 February 2017 the government introduced a new requirement for owners of certain unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings to secure street-facing parapets and facades, in response to the 2016 Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes. The focus will be on unreinforced masonry buildings in four areas with a heightened risk of earthquakes, on routes that have high pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

The areas mainly targetted are Wellington, Lower Hutt, Marlborough and Hurunui. The primary focus is public safety. On busy thoroughfares, street-facing unreinforced masonry parapets and facades present significant risks to life safety due to their vulnerability in an earthquake event.

The government and affected councils have established the Unreinforced Masonry Buildings Securing Fund (approximately $4.5 million) to support building owners in areas of increased risk of further earthquakes in the next 12 months to meet the requirements. “The public contribution will provide approximately half the cost of securing street facing unreinforced masonry features, up to a maximum of $15,000 for a facade and/or $10,000 for a parapet. When the securing work is done building owners can then apply to MBIE, which will administer the fund.”

The Wellington City Council has decided to redistribute a third of its heritage fund to helping to fund work on Unreinforced Masonry (URM) buildings, whether they are heritage or not. Read Elizabeth Cox’s blog post about this.

Read more about the policy here; with more technical detail and application forms here.


The Government’s new 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 for the first round closed on 10 February.

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 latest newsletter of our national body, Historic Places Aotearoa is available here (PDF): Oculus 2017-03 The Winter 2017 issue of Heritage New Zealand‘s newsletter is available from this link. The newsletters of the Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council are available from the WRHPC website library

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