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, Karori; 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
We were very disappointed to hear of Ryman Healthcare’s plans to demolish about half the buildings at the former Karori Campus (see below for more information and photos of the 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.
(Image from Dominion Post, 11 April 2018. Buildings in orange are the ones they want to demolish).
Field of Remembrance (white crosses) on Salamanca Lawn in the Botanic Garden until 6 May. 5,267 white crosses represent all the servicemen from the Wellington regiment who died between 1914 and 1921.
The installation is open to all, and this year Wellington City Council would also like to encourage the public to come and collect the crosses of their friends or relatives on Sunday 6 May between 10am – 4pm– when staff will be on hand to help find them. Alternatively get in touch with our Contact Centre by email or phone 04 499 4444 with details of the relative/friend before Sunday 6 May so the team can put it aside for collection
Upcoming events at Futuna Chapel (a Category 1 historic place at 67 Futuna Close (off Friend Street) in Karori, Wellington): Regular open days on the first Sunday of each month from 11am to 3pm. The Futuna concert series starts on Sunday 11 March and goes through (each Sunday) to 6 May. For more information about these events please see the Futuna Chapel Trust website.
The Old St Paul’s Art Exhibition will run from 13 to 26 April. Artworks from Sir Michael Fowler, Alfred Memelink, Marcus Ebbett, Bruce Haniel, Shirley Sutton, Brendan Grant, Nestor Opetaia, Peter Arnold, Peter Leitch, R Cowan, F J Niblock, Neil Harrap, Ethel Grady, Charlotte Youmans, Eleanor File and Cranleigh Harper Barton will feature. Old St Paul’s is a Category 1 historic building, built in 1866.
Anzac Day services. 25 April.
Dawn service (6am) Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.
Wellington citizens wreath laying at Cenotaph. 9am.
National commemoration service at Pukeahu Park. 11am.
Ataturk Memorial Service. 2.30pm.
Free organ recital, 4pm at St Mary of the Angels, Boulcott St.
From 21 to 29 April the Friends of Bolton Street Cemetery, with the assistance of the Wellington Botanic Gardens staff, are offering a self-guided tour of World War I Memorials at this historic burial ground. Trail leaflets will be at all entrances to the cemetery and it is hoped many people will consider doing it on Anzac Day, 25 April. It takes about one hour and suitable footwear is recommended.
Image: BNZ volunteer cleaning the gravestone of James Jamieson, Wellington Mounted Rifles, who was killed in action in the Canal Zone in August 1916 (photo by Kate Fortune).
There are memorials to 16 servicemen, 14 of whom died while serving overseas in the war. One is an official war grave but the others are of a more personal nature, being on family graves. Also included is one British serviceman who was the first airman and first person of Maori descent to receive the Victoria Cross and whose grandfather is buried in the cemetery.
New Zealand Archaeology Week from 28 April to 6 May will showcase and celebrate the work of archaeologists in New Zealand and the importance of understanding and protecting our archaeological heritage.
Kathryn Hurren, Archaeologist for Heritage New Zealand, has brought together a panel of seven presenters to give Quick-Fire slide presentations on archaeology at Old St Paul’s, Wellington, from 7pm to 9pm on Monday 30 April.
At Antrim House, Wellington, at 7pm on Thursday 3 May Matt Ryan, Adjunct Researcher, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at Victoria University, will be speaking on unearthing the secrets of Maori Gardens, and Bruce McFadgen, Surveyor and Archaeologist, now at the School of Maori Studies, Victoria University, will be talking about earthquakes and tsunamis on the south west coast of the North Island and their effect on early Maori and present day coastal communities.
Memorial Day ceremony at the US Marines Memorial, Queen Elizabeth Park on Monday 28 May at 10 am.
The Resene Architecture and Design Film Festival is in Wellington from May 24 to June 10 at the Embassy Theatre. The film ‘A test of faith’ is about the challenges, innovation and commitment required for the seismic strengthening of St Mary of the Angel’s church in Wellington.
City Stories: Wellington’s Architectural Heritage – a four week evening class starts on 5 June at Wellington High School, Tuesdays at 5:30pm.
This well-illustrated course will give an outline of Wellington’s history since 1840 and in particular will look at some of the important buildings that illustrate different periods of its development. Followed by an optional walk around the CBD to look at some of the buildings discussed. For more information click the link.
The latest (March/April) edition of Heritage Today, issued by the Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council Inc, is available from their online library. Contains some interesting reading – about many regional things and upcoming events; including a recently launched guide from the Wellington City Council on heritage shop fronts (copy here PDF: heritage-shop-fronts)
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.
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”.
Victoria 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 had a letter to the editor published in the Dominion Post on 15 December 2017:
Following the sale of the former Karori Teachers’ College by Victoria University to Ryman Healthcare, Historic Places Wellington urges that as much of the existing fabric of the Modernist campus be retained as possible. The complex was designed by the celebrated Wellington architect, William Toomath, between 1963 and 1977 and it is the best ensemble of Brutalist architecture in New Zealand. Its wholesale demolition would be a huge cultural loss for this city and the country.
Modernist architecture is presently not a universally loved style. This mindset will almost inevitably shift as it has for earlier architectural styles. We are sure that future generations will value Modernist buildings both for their architecture and for what they reveal about twentieth century New Zealand life.
We therefore exhort the new owners to seek the adaptive re-use of the exisiting buildings on the site. We’re sure that conservation and other architects could come up with new plans that could imaginatively meld the old and the new. This could be a huge win both for Rymans and the residents who will make the place their home.
Ben Schrader for Historic Places Wellington.”
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 ). For more information about the Gordon Wilson Flats as architectural heritage, see the website of the Architectural Centre.
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
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 newsletters of the Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council are available from the WRHPC website library.
* * *