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


News and Events:

The latest newsletter from Historic Places Aotearoa, Oculus, is available here (PDF): Oculus 2017-03


New Zealand Archaeology week 1 – 7 April: Wellington eventsNZ Archaeology Week Flyer Wellington


Wednesday 5 April, 12.15pm – 1.00pm – A talk by Ben Schrader: Reflections on the Big Smoke

big-smoke-book-coverTe Ahumairangi ground floor of the National Library, corner of Molesworth and Aitken Streets, Thorndon.

This is the first free public history talk for this year, presented by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the National Library. The monthly talks are run at lunchtime 12.15pm – 1.00pm on the first Wednesday of each month until November. They are held at the National Library.

This is a free public event but please RSVP to events.natlib@dia.govt.nz with Big Smoke in the subject line.

HPW committee member, Ben Schrader’s book TheBig Smoke: New Zealand Cities 1840 – 1920 is a finalist in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards general non-fiction category. The winners of the various categories are announced during the Auckland Writer’s Festival in May.


Saturday 8 April 6:30pm: The Futuna Trust is delighted to announce that the Guest Lecturer for the Futuna Lecture Series in 2017 is Professor Sarah Kenderdine from the University of NSW. Her lecture is entitled “Architectures for the Senses: Cultural Heritage in the Age of Experience”.  This is a ticketed event, please see Futuna Lecture Series website for more information. This event has now sold out. Professor Kenderdine is also talking at Te Papa on 10 April click for more information and bookings.


Sunday 9 April, 3-4pm: A talk by conservation architect and Futuna Trust Patron Chris Cochran and architect Pip Cheshire will present conservation work they have been undertaking in the Ross Sea area of the Antarctic for the last twenty years. Presented as part of the Futuna Annual Open Day. Entry by koha. Venue: Futuna Chapel, Friend St, Karori.


Monday 10 April, 6pm, at City Gallery: City Talks – Maurice Clark – Preserving Wellington’s Heritage Buildings.

Maurice Clark is recognised for his significant commitment and contribution to the architectural landscape of Wellington through his restoration projects of some of Wellington’s most notable heritage buildings.

With a history in construction and engineering and a skill in recognising smart and cost effective ways of strengthening an existing built structure, Maurice has enabled a large number of Wellington’s structurally vulnerable buildings to be restored and repurposed. His talk will give an insight into the engineering strategies he employs to restore the structural integrity and inhabitability of a building; illustrated by projects such as Victoria University of Wellington’s Hunter Building (1904), Old Government Buildings (1876), Museum of Wellington City and Sea (1892), and most recently and notably the Old Public Trust Building (1908) — a building that others saw as beyond saving after the 2013 earthquake.

Maurice describes his work as the necessity to envision what the new life and use for a building will be. He is committed to seeing that our heritage buildings are not just strengthened and left, nor seen as objects to pull down, as we continue to ask what significant values heritage buildings offer to our city.


18 April is World Heritage Day.  This year the theme is Cultural Heritage & Sustainable Tourism.  This theme is very pertinent to New Zealand and the goal of seeing New Zealand’s heritage valued and protected.  Making heritage economically valuable to a community and the country will mean that people are more likely to preserve it for future generations.


Exhibition now showing: The band rotunda in New Zealand. Runs from 13 March – 2 June 2017 | 10am-5pm, Monday to Saturday | National Library Level one – Turnbull Gallery

Band rotundas are a ubiquitous part of New Zealand’s historical and cultural heritage, from the deep south to far north. A total of 24 band rotundas are currently recognised for their heritage significance through entry on Heritage New Zealand’s New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero (‘the List’), and several more have been proposed for listing.

For more information and a list of public events see: https://natlib.govt.nz/visiting/wellington/the-turnbull-gallery


An evening class on Wellington’s architectural heritage is offered in June at Wellington High School. 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. Click the link for more information or to enrol.


The latest issue of the Wellington Regional Heritage Promotion Council’s newsletter is available by clicking the link here (PDF).


Former Karori Teachers College

The Architectural Centre is campaigning to retain and re-use the former Karori Teachers College, designed by Bill Toomath and built in the 1960s and 70s. “The Architectural Centre position is that the Karori Teachers’ College must be retained because:

(a) it is incredibly well-built (apparently it meets 100% seismic code) and it would be a shocking waste (in terms of sustainability and common sense) to demolish it.

(b) it is an important community facility (including: dance studio, lecture theatres, marae, playing fields).

(c) it could be adaptively re-used as housing (which we need).

(d) it is an important heritage site (and should be listed).

(e) a redevelopment could be mixed-use incorporating recreation and cultural programmes (like the Barbican in London).

(f) it could be NZ’s first “Barbican of the South” and an exemplar of a high density residential community with public cultural and recreational facilities for the wider community.

Consequently we are launching the “Barbican of the South” project which aims to create images of the complex as high density residences, and are asking members and others to:

(a) contribute to the “Barbican of the South” Project.  Write a poem, draw a drawing, confound Photoshop, do a concept plan for an apartment, or anything else you’d like to do. Details at the “Barbican of the South” Project. There are some drawings of the Stage I part of the complex linked to this page.  Email arch@architecture.org.nz
(b) write to the WCC (councillors@wcc.govt.nz) asking for them to enable the Karori Teachers’ College site to be adaptively re-used for housing.
(c) write to the WCC (councillors@wcc.govt.nz) asking for the Karori Teachers’ College to be heritage-listed.

We have put information regarding this on the website at:



http://architecture.org.nz/karori-teachers-college/ktc-heritage/ ”


Facades and parapets policy announcement

The government has proposed that owners of certain unreinforced masonry buildings be required to secure street-facing parapets and facades, in response to the 2016 Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes. The focus will be on unreinforced masonry buildings in four areas with a heightened risk of earthquakes, on routes that have high pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

The areas mainly targetted are Wellington, Lower Hutt, Marlborough and Hurunui. The primary focus is public safety. On busy thoroughfares, street-facing unreinforced masonry parapets and facades present significant risks to life safety due to their vulnerability in an earthquake event.

“In recognition of the public and private benefits from securing unreinforced masonry facades and parapets, the government will establish a $3 million fund to support building owners in areas of heightened seismic risk to meet the requirements. The public contribution will provide approximately half the cost of securing street facing unreinforced masonry features, up to a maximum of $15,000 for a facade and/or $10,000 for a parapet. When the securing work is done building owners can then apply to MBIE, which will administer the fund.”

The special law will exempt the required work from requirements to gain resource and building consents, provided the work was overseen by a qualified engineer.

After the Order in Council takes effect (likely to come into force in mid to late February 2017), councils will issue notices to certain building owners who will then have 12 months to complete the work.

Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment guidance on securing facades and parapets will be available from late February 2017. More information will be added to their website and www.building.govt.nz over the next few weeks, as the requirements and securing funding are finalised.


The Government’s new 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 for the first round closed on 10 February.

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. Unlisted buildings with heritage values may be eligible for funding at the discretion of the expert panel which will assess the applications.

“Grants are available for minor works under the Retrofit component of the fund, as well as for larger projects.”


The Architecture Centre made a submission on the government’s proposed regulations under the Earthquake-Prone Buildings Act. In it they comment on heritage buildings (pages 5-6) and the impact of a building’s age (page 4).  They also made a submission in support of Inland Revenue’s proposal to make seismic assessment’s of buildings tax deductible. Click the links for PDF copies of the submissions.


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 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 appeal is largely focused on the process that VUW followed to delist a heritage building. All the documents from the original hearing are at: http://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/plans-policies-and-bylaws/district-plan/plan-changes-and-variations/active/change-81-rezoning-of-320-the-terrace

The Architectural Centre website 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

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).


The Wellington City Council last year 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.


The Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council’s Jan-Feb 2017 issue of Heritage Today is in their Online Library – click this link to read:   http://www.wrhpc.org.nz/library/index.htm.  The latest newsletter of our national body, Historic Places Aotearoa is available here (PDF): oculus-2016-12-newsletter .The Summer 2016 issue of Heritage New Zealand’s newsletter is available by clicking the link (PDF): Heritage Quarterly Summer 2016. The newsletters of the Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council are available from the WRHPC website library

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