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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 latest newsletter (March/April) of the Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council is available from the WRHPC website library

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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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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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Sundays at 2pm, until 12 May (except Easter Sunday, 21 April): Colours of Futuna concert series – $10 per person – at Futuna Chapel, Karori.

colours of futuna 2019

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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2019 New Zealand Archaeology Week has been set for 27 April to 5 May. The event is organised by the New Zealand Archaeological Association (NZAA) with the objective of increasing public awareness of archaeology in New Zealand. Further information to come.

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Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga will be managing a key programme event for New Zealand Archaeology Week, on Sunday 28 April, from 2-3 pm at Premier House in Thorndon, Wellington.

Wellington archaeology consultant Mary O’Keeffe will be giving a talk on archaeology in the capital, from grand residences to more humble dwellings, and all the fascinating stories these properties are able to tell.

Seating is limited to a maximum of 100 people at Premier House for Mary O’Keeffe’s presentation.  Please contact David Watt, Outreach Advisor, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (04 494 8322, mobile 027 2466 339 and email dwatt@heritage.org.nz) to book a seat as soon as possible.

All attendances will be checked off at the main gate to Premier House on arrival.  Those attending must produce a photo ID.  No vehicles will be allowed to be parked in the grounds.  A full list of attendees is required to be provided in advance for security vetting purposes.  No drink or foodstuffs will be allowed in Premier House.

Following Mary’s talk there will be an opportunity to look around the gardens before Mary takes a short walk to other places of interest in the immediate Thorndon area following her presentation.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 12:15 PM – 1:15 pm: In Conversation: The Shipwreck Under the City. Mary O’Keeffe at Wellington Museum

Once the largest wooden vessel built in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the Inconstant spent three years upon the waters before foundering in Wellington’s harbour and becoming a central part of early Wellington’s history. Archaeologist Mary O’Keeffe of Heritage Solutions discusses the archaeological investigation and recovery of the shipwreck that the “Father of Wellington” John Plimmer re-purposed into Plimmer’s Ark–a Lambton Quay warehouse used as an auction house, customs office and lighthouse before being buried beneath the first Bank of New Zealand building for over 100 years. Mary was one of the archaeologists involved in excavating Plimmer’s Ark in the 1990’s.

After the talk participants will take a short walk down to the Old Bank Arcade and check out the Ark itself.

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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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Futuna 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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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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