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 August/September. 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

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.


Saturday 27th July 2019 at 2pm: Tour of Clareville Cemetery, Carterton. Adele Pentony-Graham, the Clareville Taphophile, is conducting a cemetery tour to mark the date 26th July 1859 for the naming of Carterton. Some of the  Names on the Petition  for the naming of Carterton will be visited, one in particular, Charles Rooking Carter (died 22nd July 1896). Carterton was previously named Three Mile Bush.

Clareville Cemetery is up Chester Road, Clareville, Carteron. Meet at the first gate. No charge. Contact:  Adele Pentony-Graham     PentonyGraham@xtra.co.nz


On Monday 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 will eventually be available to view. 

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).


23 September, 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.


Karori. 1961 designed by John Scott
Futuna Chapel

Futuna 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.


Priority Routes: Last year Wellington City Council proposed High Traffic Routes and Emergency Traffic Routes across the city. These routes will be used when determining whether an earthquake-prone building is a priority building that needs to be fixed within a 7.5 year timeframe.  So, owners of earthquake-prone buildings on these routes will have a reduced timeframe to “fix” (i.e. strengthen or demolish) their buildings – we are concerned that this will put more pressure on owners to demolish and we made a submission in November 2018 (see our advocacy page).

The City Strategy Committee considered the submissions in April 2019 and a decision confirming the High Traffic and Emergency Routes was made. The confirmed routes can be found on their website at wellington.govt.nz/priority-buildings.

Now that this decision has been confirmed, the priority buildings can be identified and new notices issued. All priority building notices will be issued between June to December 2019. For more information about this, or other resources related to earthquake-prone buildings, visit their website at wcc.govt.nz/earthquake-prone-buildings.

If you have any questions, email them at BuildingResilience@wcc.govt.nz


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.

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