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 is currently closed for renovations and seismic strengthening work until May 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


News and Events

The latest edition (Nov-Dec 2019) of Heritage Today is available from Wellington Region Heritage Promotion Council’s online library.


10 December, 6pm: Civic Trust Awards Ceremony

The Wellington Civic Trust Awards were established in 2002 by the Trustees to recognize projects which enhance the city and contribute to making Wellington the best city in which to work and live.  The Awards are held every second year.

There are three categories for projects that enhance Wellington:

  1. Projects that enhance or protect the essential character of Wellington – Excellence Award
  2. Projects that preserve character buildings – the Grant Tilly Memorial Award
  3. The People’s Choice – for art and sculpture installations in public spaces.

The winners in each category will be announced by the Mayor of Wellington at an Awards ceremony on the 10th December. Invitations to the ceremony may be obtained on the Trust’s website or by visiting Wellington Civic Trust Awards Ceremony tickets.

You can vote for Category 3 until 8 December by visiting Vote for the Peoples’ Choice Award or the Trust’s website and casting a vote for one of the nominations, with one vote per person.


Wednesday 11 December, 5:30pm at Antrim House, Boulcott Street: ‘Recording Heritage Buildings: Insights from the UK’ – Presenter: Eva Forster-Garbutt

A synopsis of the lessons learnt from Eva’s trip to England in May 2019 as part of a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship visiting academics, archaeologists and heritage professionals involved in the recording of heritage buildings. Drinks and nibbles from 5.30, speaker at 6.15. Please RSVP to Mary at mary@heritagesolutions.net.nz

About the presenter: Prior to working at Wellington City Council as a senior heritage advisor, Eva worked as an archaeologist for a consultancy in Dunedin involved in the recording of pre-1900 buildings and structures under the archaeological authority process. It was there that she gained experience in the investigation and recording of buildings (also known as ‘buildings archaeology’) through ‘learning by doing’. She applied to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to travel to England to learn first-hand how the recording of buildings has been undertaken there and what methods and approaches are currently employed. The aim of the fellowship is to share the knowledge and lessons learnt to further develop the practice of recording heritage buildings in New Zealand.


Lunchtime concerts are regularly held in heritage-listed building St Andrew’s on the Terrace on Wednesdays at 12:15. Last one for 2019 is on 18 December.


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.


Saturday 14 March 2020: Baring Head Open Day. Greater Wellington Regional Council will “be putting on a bus to take you along the road to Baring Head which is home to a beautiful lighthouse and lighthouse keeper cottages.

We want to celebrate the amazing people who volunteer in this space so come along to hear Friends of Baring Head share all the stories behind this amazing landscape and the hard work they’ve put into it!

We’ll provide you with a map and then you can explore to your hearts content. We will also have 4WD shuttles for the steeper bits of the journey, meaning anyone can get involved!”. Starting at 10am from East Harbour Regional Park, Burden’s Gate entrance. Free. There appears to be no registration required. See GW website.

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


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.


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.


On 15 July 2019 at the 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 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.


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.


The September 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. The June issue of Oculus [June 2019]  is available by clicking the link.


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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