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.


News and Events:

The Historic Places Aotearoa (HPA) AGM (and various events) is being hosted by Historic Places Hawke’s Bay in Napier on 28 and 29 October. For the programme of events – and other information – see the latest HPA newsletter – click the link: october-oculus-2016-newsletter (pdf).


Friday 2nd December 2016: all the appearances of being innovative”: New Zealand architecture in the 1970s: a one day symposium held under the auspices of the Centre for Building Performance Research, Victoria University, Wellington. This annual symposium will be held at Victoria University – for abstracts, the programme, and to register, click the above link. A few papers have a Wellington focus.


Just published: The Big Smoke: New Zealand Cities 1840-1920, Ben Schrader.

The pursuit of city life is one of the most important untold stories of New Zealand. The Big Smoke is the first comprehensive history to tell this story, presenting a dynamic and highly illustrated account of city life from 1840 to 1920.

It explores such questions as: what did cities look like and how did they change; why were women especially drawn to live in cities; in what ways did Māori experience and shape cities; how far was the street a living room and stage for city life; and why did New Zealand so quickly become a nation of townspeople?  Click here for an interview with Ben on Kim Hill’s Saturday Morning radio programme.


The Government has announced a new fund called Heritage EQUIP for strengthening some privately owned historic places. You can read more in these documents: Heritage EQUIP Ministers announcement;  Heritage EQUIP outline;  Heritage EQUIP Q and A;  Heritage EQUIP Heritage NZ media release.


The Wellington Sculpture Trust have asked nine artists to submit a proposal for the design of a new sculpture to be located on the Wellington Waterfront. This sculpture project involves using the recently acquired ship timbers and artefacts from the remains of ‘The Inconstant’ that was shipwrecked in Wellington Harbour in 1849 and was then used by John Plimmer as a store – becoming known as Plimmer’s – or Noah’s – Ark…. read more here.Much effort and money was spent trying to conserve the timbers, with the aim of displaying them somewhere on the waterfront, in an indoor location. We are concerned to know how the timbers would fare in the open and whether anyone with appropriate knowledge has appraised their condition. Images below from Turnbull Library – map, 1863, showing location of “Plimmer’s Ark” and John Plimmer (with Fritz his dog) standing on the remains c.1890 (Ref: PAColl-3398).


Free (donations welcome) lunchtime concerts at the listed historic building, St Andrew’s on the Terrace,  usually held every Wednesday at 12:15. Click the link for more information.


Victoria University of Wellington, which owns the Gordon Wilson Flats at 320 The Terrace, wishes to demolish the building. It is an earthquake prone building, among other reasons for wishing to demolish it, and is not currently habitable. A city council panel recently approved the proposal to rezone the Gordon Wilson flats. The panel’s recommendation was considered by Council on 11 May and the council approved the plan change by a vote of 12-3. The Architectural Centre has appealed the decision.

The Architectural Centre is currently hosting on its website a series on ‘My favorite modernist building‘ – which also 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

This link contains an extract from the Council agenda:  COUNCIL 11 MAY 2016 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).


Futuna Chapel

Futuna Chapel is a category 1 listed heritage building. Victoria University Press has just published a new book about it, called Futuna: Life of a building, by Gregory O’Brien and Nick Bevin. Click the link for more information. There are open days at the chapel on the first Sunday of each month from 11am to 3pm.


The Victoria University School of Architecture  has again joined forces with Heritage New Zealand and the Wellington City Council on a study of urban redevelopment  in the city, following on from previous partnerships that looked at buildings in Cuba Street, Newtown and Courtenay Place precincts.

Fourteen Master of Architecture students started in mid-July exploring the possibilities for heritage re-development and residential intensification in the Te Aro area.  Each student has a cluster of sites, which include heritage listed buildings, in the blocks bordered by Ghuznee Street, Victoria Street, Wakefield and Taranaki Streets.

Lower Cuba Street

“The Cuba/Dixon project presents students with an opportunity to engage with a real architectural issue in a real urban context,” says Marc Aurel Schnabel,  the course coordinator. “In the Cuba/Dixon area students will test and explore the issues of architectural heritage and urban densification through a project, with a focus on blocks between Ghuznee Street, Victoria Street, Wakefield St and Taranaki Street. The city is dynamic, and continuously changing, gradually regenerating over time. The challenge is how to negotiate between preservation and development arriving at exciting architecture.”

It is intended that a public exhibition of the work will again follow the final presentation of the student projects around October and November this year. (From Heritage New Zealand’s August email newsletter).


The Wellington City Council recently 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. You can read more about the proposals here (pdf).  Or here.


 Old St Paul's was built in 1866, architect: Frederick Thatcher.

 Old St Paul’s Church (Category 1 listed) in Mulgrave Street celebrates its 150th anniversary this year – it was built in 1866.

Meanwhile, St Peter’s Church (Category 1 listed) in Willis St, Wellington, is approaching 140 years old and the church has launched a restoration project to bring the building back to its former glory before this milestone is reached in December 2019. DSC05759

Designed by Thomas Turnbull and consecrated for worship on 21 December 1879, St Peter’s is a large wooden church of Gothic style. Located on the corner of Ghuznee and Willis Streets it has a strong streetscape presence.


The Spring 2016 issue of Heritage New Zealand’s newsletter is available by clicking the link (PDF): Heritage Quarterly Spring 2016. There is an article about earthquake strengthening The Friends (Quakers) house in Mt Victoria Wellington.

The Winter 2016 issue of Heritage New Zealand’s newsletter is available by clicking this link (PDF): Heritage Quarterly Winter 2016. There are articles about Old St Paul’s and Mount Street Cemetery. The Autumn 2016 issue is available by clicking the link here: Heritage Quarterly Autumn 2016. (PDF). There are articles about St Mary’s of the Angels, Boulcott Street; the former Lower Hutt Fire Station, and the ‘Hikitia’ floating crane in Wellington harbour.

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

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