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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 / Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 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.  Our newsletters are under the Resources page, as are useful links and other heritage information. We are also on Facebook.

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News and Events

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Wednesday 29 June at 6.00 pm: free public lecture on the Foxton Moa Hunter site, to be given by Dr. Bruce McFadgen. 6.00 – 7.00 pm at Victoria University Lecture Theatre HU119 (Hunter Building), Kelburn Campus, Victoria University.

This evening’s talk will discuss an archaeological site in the southern Manawatu, which was badly affected by a significant earthquake several hundred years ago; the effects of the earthquake on the Southwest coast of the North Island, and implications for modern settlement. More information here.

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The historic St James Theatre will reopen this weekend after strengthening and refurbishment. There will be tours on Saturday 2 July. You can read the full list of events here: https://wellington.govt.nz/news-and-events/events-and-festivals/st-james-theatre-celebrations

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August 23, 2022, 5.30 p.m: Talk – Wellington’s roaring 1920s: Topical issues from a hundred years ago – Wellington’s Infrastructure Mayor, George Troup

Wellington Club, 88 The Terrace, 5.30 for 6 – 7 p.m. talk with bookings for dinner at 7 p.m. possible. There will be a charge of $20 for the talk, with refreshments available, and dinner bookings can be made separately. Please email richardnorman.nz@outlook.com if you would like to take part.

Wellington’s Infrastructure Mayor, George Troup.

After retiring as chief architect for the Railways Department, George Troup entered local politics and became Wellington’s mayor between 1927 and 1931. Using his building and project experience and knowledge of how to obtain central government funds he was a forceful (and controversial) contributor to the development of Rongotai airport, the National Art Gallery and Dominion Museum, Mt Victoria tunnel and many employment generating projects such as Alexandra Road and plantings on Mt Victoria.

The talk will be led by Richard Norman who presented on architecture legacies of the 1920s in October 2021. This session will review the achievements of George Troup (knighted in 1931) with help from: Wellington club member, George Troup, grandson of the Mayor and Redmer Yska, author of Wellington: biography of a city, a 2006 history of Wellington City Council and other histories of the city. With transport, planning and infrastructure major current issues and a local election coming up, the political and economic dramas of the 1920s and early 1930s are newly relevant.

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St Andrew’s on the Terrace, a Category 1 historic place, has Wednesday (and occasionally Thursday) lunchtime concerts. Check their website for further details.

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Old St Paul’s in Mulgrave Street (another Category 1 historic building) has lunchtime concerts on Thursdays at 12:30 to 1:15 from 12 May to the end of July. Check their Facebook page events for updates.

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Futuna Chapel will be open on the first Sunday of the month, from 11am to 3pm. A trustee will be present to answer your questions. Free entry: a koha is appreciated.

Located off Friend Street, Karori, Futuna Chapel was designed by John Scott and built in 1961 and is a Category 1 historic place.

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Engineering NZ recently held a series of online talks as part of their Engineering Heritage Week. You will find more information and links to the presentations by clicking the link.

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The March 2022 issue of Oculus, the newsletter of Historic Places Aotearoa is available here (PDF copy). Earlier issues of Oculus, are available on our useful links page (scroll down to HPA). Our latest newsletter is also available on our Newsletters page.

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Old or Green: Is the greenest building an old building? We hosted this talk by Brenda and Robert Vale during Heritage Week in October 2021. You can watch a 10 minute highlights version here.

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Our chairperson Felicity Wong gave a presentation (online via Zoom) to U3A Wellington city on 31 August 2021 on Challenges to Built Heritage: Neglect, Earthquakes and Urban Planning. You can read a copy on our advocacy page – or click this link here. (PDF copy)

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Historic Places Wellington’s Home Restorers Group supports the on-going maintenance, restoration and regeneration of 19th and 20th Century Wellington houses. The group will be of interest to home-owners, designers and craftspeople involved in caring for old wooden houses. Activities will include monthly seminars, workshops or site visits and will gather useful historical, technical and design resources. Click the link for more details, or follow us on Facebook to see when the next meeting will be.

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Aotearoa Unearthed is an eight-part New Zealand archaeology podcast series released recently. You can find the episodes by clicking the link (each is approximately 15-20 mins).

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Heritage at risk

Thorndon houses

In 2020 Wellington City Council issued a Draft Spatial Plan. “The Spatial Plan is essentially a ‘blueprint’ for our city that sets out a plan of action for where and how we should grow and develop.”  The draft plan reduced current inner city “character” areas (where pre-1930 houses generally need a resource consent before demolishing) by 71%. We opposed this drastic reduction. You can read our submission on our Advocacy page.

The Council received over 3000 submissions and voted on a revised plan (which ‘only’ reduced character areas by 50%). The council voted to go back to the c. 71% loss of the draft plan. You can read more and see how each councillor voted in this Scoop article. This will become part of the Draft District Plan.

Ben Schrader, urban historian and HPW committee member, wrote this opinion piece on 1 July 2021. The Draft District Plan had a first round of consultation in late 2021. Our submission is on our Advocacy page.

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Wellington is officially a UNESCO City of Film. Read more on the Nga Taonga (Film Archive) website. Or the Wellington City of Film website.

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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 more information on Blue Plaques on our resources page.

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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 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 was allowed and Gordon Wilson Flats should not be taken off the Council’s heritage list.

Gordon Wilson Flats
Gordon Wilson Flats, late 1950s. The Terrace.

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. And, also, on the DOCOMOMO NZ website.

July 2020: the university presented its plans for the site, which includes renovating the Maclean Flats but demolishing Gordon Wilson Flats. Here are a few articles about it. Stuff July 29 and Stuff 30 July; Scoop July 29.

Urban historian Ben Schrader gives a useful overview of the building’s history and significance on the Bay Heritage website here.

This photo shows the colour scheme in the 1970s (from NZ Architect, No. 5 1978):

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