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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.

Please note that Old St Paul’s and Katherine Mansfield Birthplace are both currently closed for renovations. Katherine Mansfield house at 25 Tinakori Road will be reopening around October. Their temporary office is two doors down at the Wellington Bridge Club on Tinakori Road. Old St Paul’s is closed to the public for seismic strengthening work until 2020.  You can read more about the project and how you can help with their fundraising appeal here.

St John’s Church in Willis St (another Category 1 building) is also fund raising for earthquake strengthening work. Click the link for more information.

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 latest issue of Oculus is available. This is the newsletter of our national body, Historic Places Aotearoa. It includes a long article about seismic strengthening and potential funding sources. Click here (PDF): Oculus September 2019

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Events as part of Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council’s Heritage Month can be viewed here. Includes Heritage gardens talks & walks at Halfway House in Glenside; exhibition on Upper Hutt hotels at Golder Cottage; Pencarrow Lighthouse visit (see below) and open day at Trentham Blockhouse, Labour Day Monday between 11am and 2pm.

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28 October: Truby King Park,  Melrose, free tours every 20 minutes between 10am and 12, and 1pm and 4pm. Book here, registrations open from 21 September.

Visit the former home of Sir Truby King and Lady Isabella King, the founders of the Plunket Society.

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Wellington Heritage Week is on from 28 October to 3 November. The programme is available on their website – some events need booking. We are co-sponsoring an event with Futuna Trust on 3 November – see our upcoming events page for  more details.

Another event on during Heritage Week is an exhibition at Wellington Museum, 10am – 5pm. While not mentioning the Gordon Wilson Flats by name, that is the building explored in this exhibition (see below for more information about GW Flats).

“Immersive Legacies: 320 The Terrace” is an interactive exhibition that explores how New Zealand’s heritage can be captured digitally and disseminated through various evolving digital technologies such as Virtual Reality, 180° spherical projections, and 360° videos. Accompanying this intriguing experience, are banners of historic and technical information, 3D printed and laser-cut building models to give an overview of what Digital Heritage can offer. Visitors can explore the high-rise modernist building on 320 The Terrance and discover its story as a 1950s vision of social housing to a controversial icon of our city’s past.

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Heritage New Zealand’s online archaeological report library launched: The digital library contains over 7500 reports dating from the 1950s until today, with more reports being added all the time. This is one of the most important sources of archaeological information about places in the country, and a huge repository of information that will be of interest to many people. Explore the online Archaeological Reports Digital Library for yourself – just follow the link.

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The June issue of Oculus [June 2019] (the newsletter of Historic Places Aotearoa) is available by clicking the link. The latest newsletter of the Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council is available from the WRHPC website library.

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On 15 July at National Library a series of talks on how to save Wellington Central Library was held to a capacity audience of 175 and 100 outside in overflow viewing. Talks by Gordon Moller (history of civic square and development) Ken Davis (working on the project 1989-91), Adam Thornton (a fantastic lesson in seismic design and possible costs) and Councilor Iona Pannet (Council process and perspective). MC Judi Keith-Brown NZIA president elect. This event was recorded and is available to view here. You can read more in our latest (August 2019) newsletter.

Here is an article from last year by former councillor Helene Ritchie who chaired the committee overseeing redevelopment of Civic Square in the late 1980s.

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Karori. 1961 designed by John ScottFutuna chapel (a Category 1 historic building) 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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Lunchtime concerts are regularly held in heritage-listed building St Andrew’s on the Terrace on Wednesdays at 12:15

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See Friends of Baring Head Lighthouse for information about their restoration project.

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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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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.

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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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