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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); 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

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News and Events

The government announced further assistance with earthquake strengthening – you can read the press release here. This is part of the Heritage Equip policy & applications for Heritage EQUIP funding are received three times per year, with upcoming rounds closing on 22 March and 29 July 2019.

Detailed information about the new incentives, along with advice for building owners planning seismic strengthening projects, is available at www.heritageequip.govt.nz

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The January/February edition of Heritage Today is online. Two of HPW’s committee members are mentioned for their architecture (Deborah Cranko) and historic and advocacy work (Ben Schrader).

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Exhibition at Home of Compassion, Rhine St, Island Bay on the sisters role in the 1918 flu epidemic – on until 31 March 2019.

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Lunchtime concerts are regularly held in heritage-listed building St Andrew’s on the Terrace on Wednesdays at 12:15. They start again on 13 February 2019.

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Wed–Sun, 13–24 Feb – Join Captain Cook for waterfront walking tour  | WELLINGTON WATERFRONT

Reflect on the effect of colonisation and its legacy in a fun and accessible walking tour created by Barbarian Productions. Captain Cook Thinks Again marks the 250th anniversary of Cook’s first landing in 1769. Visit Barbarian’s website to find out more. Charges apply.

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Weds 20 February, 7:30pm, at Wellington Museum, first floor: Archaeologist Mary O’Keeffe will talk about three of her recent projects – two in the Wellington region and one in Victoria, Australia. The Wellington ones are: archaeological monitoring of the Transmission Gully project, including the discovery of a cannonball, and archaeological monitoring of landscaping on the Wellington waterfront, including revealing the Customhouse  foundations, a subsequent “brick conundrum”, and underground tunnel.

Public welcome, gold coin donation for supper appreciated.

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Futuna chapel is open to visitors on the first Sunday of the month from 11am till 3pm. A trustee will be present to answer your questions.  Entry by koha.

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This cast iron lighthouse was the first permanent lighthouse to be built in New Zealand, it first shone on 1 Jan 1859.
Pencarrow Lighthouse

16 March: Pencarrow Lighthouse visit rescheduled. Heritage New Zealand had to postpone its public event at the Pencarrow Lighthouse on Saturday 19 January to celebrate 160 years of the first lighting of the lamp at Pencarrow on New Year’s Day 1859, due to gale force winds through Cook Strait.

This trip is now planned for Saturday 16 March.  Meantime, Heritage New Zealand hopes everyone booked for January will stay on the journey and will join them in March and they encourage others to join in and hopefully have a great day at Pencarrow and learn about its history. If you are interested please contact David Watt at Heritage New Zealand. ( DWatt@heritage.org.nz )

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Karori. 1961 designed by John Scott
Futuna Chapel

31 March, 6pm: The 9th Futuna Lecture Series will take place in Wellington on 31 March, at the Futuna Chapel in Karori.

Ingerid Helsing Almass from Norway will present the lecture. She is a Norwegian architect, critic and writer.  Tickets are available online at Dashtickets. There will be 15 CPD points available for New Zealand registered architects. The Futuna Lecture Series is the largest annual fundraising event for the Friends of Futuna Charitable Trust.

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Tues 4 June (four weeks on Tuesdays, 5:30 to 7:30pm): An evening class is offered on Wellington’s Architectural Heritage at Wellington High School Community Education. Click the link for more information.

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Old St Paul’s fundraising: Fundraising for a multi-million-dollar project to strengthen historic Old St Paul’s in central Wellington is underway ahead of its temporary closure next year to allow work to be carried out.

Old St Paul’s is a national treasure cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, with support from the Friends of Old St Paul’s, on behalf of the country.  Completed in 1866, the building will be closed from May to October 2019 to undertake necessary works. “This unique, timber, Gothic revival building has stood steadfast for 152 years while those around it have come and gone,” says Manager Heritage Assets Central, Paulette Wallace. “Sadly, it didn’t completely escape the impact of the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016 and, while safe for the public to still visit today, it requires strengthening work.

“Under the tagline #ForeverOSP we are forging ahead with the project to strengthen and future-proof Old St Paul’s so people of all ages, persuasions and occasions can enjoy.”

The project will involve internal structural strengthening, external work to repair cracking and painting, and fire and electrical upgrades.  When complete it will bring the building’s current seismic rating of above 34 percent to 90-100 percent.

A ‘donation station’ has been installed at Old St Paul’s for visitors to help contribute to the #ForeverOSP project, with tap-and-go options of $5, $15 and $25 suggested for donations – but of course, any cash or card donation is appreciated.  Project costs will be covered by Heritage New Zealand, with a significant financial contribution made by the Friends of Old St Paul’s and the remainder coming from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, on site donations and other key donors.

You can also donate online to the #ForeverOSP campaign, by clicking here.

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Blue Plaques. This is an initiative of our national body, Historic Places Aotearoa to identify and promote our built heritage. The large cast aluminium plaques are designed to be placed prominently on the facades of important heritage buildings. We have some interest from heritage building owners in Wellington.

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gordon wilson flatsVictoria 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 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.

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.

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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 2018, 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.

More information is available on this website

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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.”

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.

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

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

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