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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

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News and Events

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First Encounter 375 commemoration: Golden Bay/Mohua 16 to 19 December

First Encounter 375 marks the 1642 encounter between whanau, hapu and iwi and Abel Tasman, representing the Dutch.  The commemoration also marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Abel Tasman National Park in 1942.  Further details are available on www.abeltasman.org.nz and Facebook at FirstEncounter375.

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The latest (Nov/Dec) issue of Heritage Today is available from the Wellington Regional Heritage Promotion Council Online Library.  (takes you to the index where you can download a PDF copy).

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Karori teachers collegeVictoria 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. 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.

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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

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History and heritage in children’s book

Well-known New Zealand photographer and publisher, Grant Sheehan, who has had a lifelong interest in lighthouses and their keepers, has produced a lovely children’s book titled Lucy Goes To The Lighthouse.  It is a historical narrative of the life of Pencarrow’s first keeper, Mary Jane Bennett and her family, to this day New Zealand’s only woman lighthouse keeper.  A widow, whose husband had drowned in the surf below, Mary Jane Bennett and her children lived on the wild and isolated cliff top at the entrance to Wellington harbour, tending the light until 1865.  The lamp at Pencarrow Lighthouse (Category 1 listed) was lit for the first time on New Year’s Day in 1859, making the record books as the first permanent lighthouse to be built in New Zealand. Lucy Goes To The Lighthouse has been beautifully illustrated by Rosalind Clark.  It is available now in leading bookshops for $25.

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Drain from early Wellington discovered (information from Heritage New Zealand’s monthly newsletter: Heritage This Month, 1 Dec 2017):

Wellington City Council contractors recently discovered some of the earliest settler infrastructure recorded in the capital when they found a drain predating 1850 while working under Lombard Street in the centre of the city.  Contractors were digging a trench below the street to install new services.

Heritage New Zealand and the Wellington City Council acknowledge that the discovery of the drain will help archaeologists learn more about early settlement.  Before land reclamation, that area was Wellington’s foreshore and an early centre of commerce in the city.  The area contained a customs house, an exchange house, private wharves and accounting firms. Vanessa Tanner, Wellington City Council Senior Heritage Advisor, says the whole area is interesting historically and archaeologically. “The contractor crew could not establish how long the drain was but will carry out research to find that out.  It will be a process of linking the dots and using this discovery to help expand knowledge of the early city.” The team took samples from the site and will study the bricks to find out where they came from.  This discovery will also enable an understanding of the layout of early buildings in central Wellington.

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The July-Aug 2017 issue of Heritage Today is available from the Wellington Regional Heritage Promotion Council Online Library. The July issue of Oculus from Historic Places Aotearoa is also available here (PDF): Oculus 2017-07

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Special war-ending commemoration planned at St Peter’s Church, Willis Street

A memorial at the front of the nave in the Category 1 listed church on Willis Street has 24 names from the parish who died in World War One.  The bellringers of St Peter’s Church in Wellington want to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I – 11 November 1918 – in a very special way next year. The bellringers would like to invite the relatives and descendants of those named to a special ‘peace ring’ at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month.

“If you know any of these former members of the parish or their relatives, or even have contact details, we would love to hear from you,” says Bells Master, Br Graham-Michoel Wills (brgeem@gmail.com).

St Peter’s Church has the oldest bells in Wellington, preceded by just a few months by the Category 1 listed St Matthew’s in Auckland which has the oldest peal of bells in the country.

The roll of honour list from St Peter’s is: Private Frederick A Allen, Private Frank A Barton, Private Henry S Bernard, Rifleman George P Crawford, 2nd Lieutenant John S Dagg, Lieutenant John C Dudley, QMS Joseph G Faulkner, Lieutenant Oscar Freyberg, Rifleman Paul M Freyberg, Captain Leslie V Hulbert, 2nd Lieutenant James G Kinvig, Gunner Mark A Lavin, Private Leon G Lawrence, Corporal Eric Lyon, Sergeant William B Millington, Private Sydney H Parsons, 2nd Lieutenant Nathaniel A Pearce, Private Alfred G Petch, Sergeant Ernest N Player, Trooper Wilmot F Powell, 2nd Lieutenant Sydney O Smith, Captain John L Turner MC, Sergeant Frank V Tyerman and Sergeant Thomas C Webb.

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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.”

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The March 2017 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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