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.

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 Sept/Oct 2018 issue of Heritage Today is in their Online Library . It contains interesting articles and upcoming events.


Lunchtime concerts are regularly held in heritage-listed building St Andrew’s on the Terrace on Wednesdays.


NZIA 2018 Festival of Architecture (14 – 23 September 2018).

Wednesday 19 September: The Embassy Theatre, 6:00pm. Allison Arieff, a prominent American writer on architecture and urban issues, will present this year’s Sir Ian Athfield Memorial Lecture during the Festival of Architecture in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown.

Friday 21 September, 12:30-1:30pm, City Gallery. Architectural and social historian Elizabeth Cox presents her lecture “Their Presence Could Work a Revolution”: Early Women Architects in New Zealand. She looks specifically at the period 1900-1940s, and at the call by a sector of the New Zealand community for women to become architects. This presentation explores why, and tells the stories of those who answered the call.  How did they contribute to the field and why have they mainly disappeared from our architectural history today?


Sept 22: Suffrage 125: Kate Sheppard Ride. Dress to impress and get your wheels spinning by joining us at 1.30pm on Saturday, 22 September 2018 (wet weather day will be the next day) at Old St Paul’s in Mulgrave Street.

The Suffrage 125 bicycle ride will take you through the streets of old Thorndon and Wellington’s CBD. The ride will take in significant historic and heritage places such as the Old St Paul’s, Wellington Museum, National Library, Thistle Inn, Premier House and a photo stop at Parliament’s grounds. The ride will conclude at Old Government Buildings with a celebratory ‘125 Cupcake’ from the Cake Society, refreshments from Six Barrel Soda and a prize for best dressed. Tickets will be limited to 145 participants. Further details on:  www.facebook.com/oldstpauls/   Book tickets here.


Beginning October 4: A course on Behind the Facades: Victorian Wellington with Joanna Newman. Four weeks, Thu 6pm – 8pm and one Sat 10am – 12pm. Further information here.


Nairn Street Preservation Society: DIY Sash Window Repair

Join Paul Cummack as he takes you through the steps of conserving a double hung sash window. He will explain how to carry out these simple DIY repairs and provide solutions on weather and draught proofing your windows.
A builder by trade, Paul is now a practising conservation architect with English Heritage Training. This workshop is sponsored by the Wellington City Council heritage team. heritage@wcc.govt.nz



2018 Wellington Heritage Week – Following the great success of the inaugural Wellington Heritage Week last October, the Wellington Heritage Week Trust are organising a second event for 22 – 28 October 2018. This year HPW is not a co-sponsor of the Week, but we encourage HPW members and anyone else interested to attend events. The programme of events is now available on the Trust’s website. Some require bookings.


Monday 23 October (Labour Day) from 1.30pm – Barbara Mulligan will take a tour of Karori Cemetery.


Sat 27 October and Sunday 28 October: Zealandia heritage walks and talks will run 12pm and 2pm. Bookings essential: more information here.


28 October, 10am-4pm Suffrage 125 art workshop and exhibition: Cabinet Room on the first floor, Room 140, Old Government Buildings, Lambton Quay from 10am-4pm on Sunday 28 October.

The suffrage 125 art workshop and exhibition is led by community artist Janet De Wagt, with support from the Te Roopu Raranga o Manaia weavers group. They will be working with members of the public to create part of a national banner inspired by the stories of women’s suffrage. The finished artwork will be displayed at the Old Government Buildings in April 2019.

Tours of the Old Govt Buildings will be held on the same day at 12pm and 2pm.

To find out more and register your interest, please contact Paulette Wallace (04) 494 8048 or email pwallace@heritage.org.nz .


28 October, 2.45-3.30pm – ‘Can Heritage Be Ugly?’ A talk by Ben Schrader: Ben specialises in urban and built environment history and wrote the award- winning ‘The Big Smoke: New Zealand Cities 1840-1920’ in 2016. This event is limited to 100 people. Futuna Chapel, 67 Futuna Close, off Friend Street Karori.


1918 Flu Epidemic commemoration at Karori Cemetery: There will be open days at Karori Cemetery on 18 and 25 November. The full programme can be found on this website.


Monday 19 November: Unveiling of a new Terrace School war memorial.


Clifton Terrace Model School, successor to the Terrace School, is erecting a new war memorial to replace the memorial which was lost in 1972. The new memorial will be unveiled by the Governor-General at a ceremony to be held on Monday 19 November 2018.

The names and service details of the old boys who died on active service can be viewed at the following web address: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/terrace-school-war-memorial 

Any descendants wishing to attend the unveiling ceremony can register their interest by contacting Claire Bruin, Office Manager, Clifton Terrace Model School, Ph 04 4727519 or Email staff@ctms.school.nz



Two Wellington buildings received funding in the recent round of Heritage Equip for seismic strengthening – The Manor, or the former Red Cross building on the corner of Willis and Ghuznee Streets, and 126 Cuba Street.

The Manor is a Category 1 historic place designed by William Turnbull and completed in 1908 as a residence and surgery for surgeon Sir Donald McGavin. “Home to the United Industries Club for women and girls before being used by the Red Cross, it receives $294,857 for a comprehensive seismic upgrade.” 126 Cuba Street receives $100,000 towards a significant seismic upgrade. Used as office, residential and retail space, it was designed by noted Christchurch architect Joseph Clarkson Maddison and with its imposing Edwardian façade contributes to the Cuba Street Historic Area listed with Heritage New Zealand. The next funding round closes on 19 November. (Heritage Monthly, August 2018).


The June 2018 edition of Oculus is available by clicking the link (PDF copy) – this is the newsletter of Historic Places Aotearoa: Oculus June 2018.

The Jul/Aug 2018 issue of Heritage Today is in WRHPC’s Online Library – click this link:   http://www.wrhpc.org.nz/library/index.htm


A Wellington Goldfields Heritage Society has been formed – as outlined in this article excerpt from Heritage New Zealand’s Winter Heritage Quarterly (click the link to download a copy of the newsletter).


Erskine Tragedy



In a decision released on 25 January the Environment Court has approved the demolition of the Erskine College Main Building. The Wellington Company (the site’s owner) had appealed a Save Erskine College Trust (SECT) heritage order over the Category 1 heritage building – for more on the history of the preservation battle see our Erskine College page. Heritage New Zealand (HNZ) was a party to the case and argued for the building’s retention.

The Court conceded that the “Erskine site is of outstanding heritage significance” and the demolition of the Main Building on its “heritage values … will be significant and irreversible.” However, it accepted The Wellington Company’s argument that it could not afford to adaptively re-use the Main Building as well as restore the chapel. An alternative to let both buildings remain as they were until someone else found a use for the buildings was rejected by the Court on (seismic-related) health and safety grounds. It therefore found “that the better outcome for heritage is to agree to a partial nullification of the heritage order and allow demolition of the main building in order, upon appropriate conditions, to secure the long term retention of the chapel.” The Court ordered that The Wellington Company has to strengthen the chapel before other works are carried out on the site. It is presently in talks with SECT and HNZ to develop the conditions for the chapel’s strengthening.

HPW is pleased the Erskine Chapel will be saved and reused, but we don’t see the decision as a great win for heritage. Robbing Peter to pay Paul – demolishing the Main Building to save the Chapel – is not the way to advance good heritage outcomes. The whole Erskine site is a Category 1 listed place and the demolition of an essential component of it is a terrible loss. This classification ought to mean that owners and territorial authorities are obliged to maintain the historical integrity of such places. In supporting the owner’s request to make the site a Special Housing Area, the Wellington City Council contributed to undermining Erskine’s heritage values.

The whole saga shows up the ineffectiveness of New Zealand’s heritage legislation – again. We think what is needed is a new statutory framework that provides stronger protection for built heritage. Until that happens, we’re likely to see other Erskine-like tragedies.

Here are a few photos of the interior of the main block.




Wellington motorcycles

The owners of the former Wellington motorcycles “earthquake prone” building in Kent Terrace have applied to demolish it. Although it isn’t heritage listed, it does form a nice streetscape with the heritage-listed Embassy Theatre next door. Read the news item here.
Surely at least retaining the facade could be an option? As the owners do not intend to “immediately redevelop the area” there will be an empty space (or carpark) here for … how long? “An exact timeframe is not presently known”.


DSC02738Victoria University of Wellington has sold the Karori Campus (formerly Wellington Teachers’ College) to Ryman Healthcare. The modernist campus was designed by architects Toomath and Wilson in the 1960s.

We were very disappointed to hear of Ryman Healthcare’s plans to demolish some of the buildings at the former Karori Campus.  Ben Schrader, historian and HPW committee member, published this opinion piece on Scoop about it. This is while Heritage New Zealand are still considering it as a Category 1 heritage place and Ryman had asked for an extension to the submission time. You can also read more in our newsletter of May 2018.

You can read more about it in an article written by Rebecca Ford (Museum and Heritage Studies, 2016) and, also, on the Architecture Centre website.

Click here for a copy of updates from the Save the Karori Campus group (pdf): Collation of Updates 1 though 13 from the Save the Karori Campus Group and the latest updates: (pdf)  Update 14  and Update 15. Here is a media statement from Ryman Healthcare: Media Statement from Ryman on Karori campus.

A number of people were invited to have a guided tour through some of the buildings in November 2017. These are some of the photos.




Victoria University of Wellington, which also 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 is allowed and Gordon Wilson Flats should not be taken off the Council’s heritage list.

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.

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.

Historic Places Wellington financially supported the Architectural Centre’s appeal. The Committee held mixed views as to the architectural merit of the building – a reflection of wider community views – but all agreed that the delisting of a heritage building could set a dangerous precedent. It was on this basis that HPW gave its support. The Court’s rejection of the delisting will hopefully discourage other heritage building owners from taking this route. Nevertheless, the Wellington City Council is going to vote on changing the zoning status of the Gordon Wilson Flats from residential to institutional precinct. This could open the way for demolition.


Turnbull House

Geotechnical testing took place at Turnbull House earlier this year as Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga looks into strengthening options for the historic central Wellington property.

The Category 1 listed Turnbull House is now managed by Heritage New Zealand following a property portfolio realignment announced in June last year with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Department of Conservation. It has been closed since 2012 after being deemed earthquake prone by the Wellington City Council.

Manager Heritage Assets Central, Paulette Wallace, says the geotechnical testing was an important first step in assessing the physical condition of the property and surrounds.

The site work comes two months before the centenary of Alexander Turnbull’s death on 28 June 1918. His collection was bequeathed to the government and his three-storey brick house, purchased by the government, was opened to the public as the Alexander Turnbull Library on the second anniversary of his death in 1920. (Information from Heritage NZ’s monthly email newsletter, 1 May 2018.)


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, 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. The closing date for applications to the $500,000 contestable fund is 16 July.

More information available on the website: http://www.heritage.org.nz/protecting-heritage/national-heritage-preservation-incentive-fund (Information from Heritage NZ’s monthly email newsletter, 1 May 2018.)


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


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.


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

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