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


News and Events

St Andrews Terrace
St Andrew’s on the Terrace

Lunchtime concerts are regularly held in heritage-listed building St Andrew’s on the Terrace on Wednesdays at 12:15.


There is currently a photographic exhibition on the refurbishment of the carillon at the Hall of Memories, Pukeahu Park.



Saturday 19 January 2019: Open day at Pencarrow lighthouse:

On 1 January 1859 the Pencarrow Lighthouse on Wellington’s south coast was lit for the first time. In charge of running the lighthouse was Mary Jane Bennett, the first and only woman to hold this post in New Zealand.

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

On Saturday 19 January 2019, over Wellington anniversary weekend, Heritage New Zealand will celebrate this 160th anniversary event with a public open day, with tour coaches to the lighthouse from Wellington City, also stopping in Petone to pick up passengers.  Other members of the public are welcome to join staff from Heritage New Zealand at the lighthouse to enjoy a picnic lunch and the magnificent views across the harbour and Cook Strait.

Mary Jane Bennett took over the lighthouse duties following her husband George’s death by drowning.   She ran the lighthouse on this isolated clifftop until 1865 when she decided to return with her family to England.  The lighthouse remained operational until 1935 when it was replaced by an automated light erected at Baring Head, to the east of Pencarrow.  The lighthouse was offered to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, now Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, in 1966, and it has been cared for since.

On 19 January two coaches, a 51 seater and 48 seater, will leave Wellington Railway Station, Platform 9, at 11am and travel via Petone picking up Hutt Valley passengers at the Petone Settlers Museum carpark on the way to the Pencarrow Lighthouse. Please be at the coach points at least 15 minutes before the coaches leave their pick up points.  We will have two special guests speaking at the lighthouse, author Helen Beaglehole, writer of Lighting the Coast, a History of New Zealand’s Lighthouse Coastal System and Paul Cummack, Conservation Architect, with Athfield Architects.

The cost for coach travel is: adults $25, HNZPT members $20, children 15 years and under $15.  Please bring your lunch, a jacket, hat, sunscreen and good walking shoes. A good level of fitness is required as there is a 15 minute walk up the grass track and pathway to the lighthouse. The coaches will arrive at the track up to the lighthouse at the end of the road from Eastbourne around midday and depart back to Petone and Wellington city around 2.30pm.

For more information, and to book, please click here or contact David Watt, Central Region Outreach Advisor, Heritage New Zealand 04 494 8322, or 027 2466 339, email dwatt@heritage.org.nz

Bookings are essential. Bookings to be made by 19 January at the latest. Payments can be made on line direct to Heritage New Zealand at 03-0502-0939456-00. Mark payment Pencarrow Open Day and your name as a reference.  You can also buy tickets online from Eventfinda (additional fees may apply).


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


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.


St James Theatre receives additional funding for upgrade work (Nov 2018).


The Nov/Dec 2018 issue of Heritage Today is in the Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council’s Online Library . It contains interesting articles and upcoming events.


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.



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.


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


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.


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


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

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