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“Absolutely worth it …” Thousands attend Wellington City Heritage Week


Visitors at St Gerard’s. Photo: Lisa B. Doyle.

by David Batchelor
Over four thousand people attended events of all sizes and topics for the inaugural Wellington City Heritage Week.

Tours of the Wrights Hill Fortress and open day at St Gerard’s Monastery attracted over 1000 people each.


A room in Katherine Mansfield House. Photo: Iain McFarland


Visitors are told about Katherine Mansfield House. Photo: Iain McFarland

Smaller intimate events such as Katherine Mansfield House and Garden’s Katherine’s Kitchen and Jane Tolerton’s Wellington Women of World War One reached capacity.


Scott Flutey points out burn marks from a 1940 fire in Antrim House. Photo: Seth Samuel.

Visits to Antrim House started the week, with Victoria University of Wellington Museum and Heritage Studies students conducting tours in the afternoon.


Student Phillis Chen guides visitors to Antrim House. Photo: Seth Samuel

Over 600 people experienced 20minute tours of the 1904 constructed former home of Robert Hannah, the founder of Hannah’s Shoes. While lines were long due to the high demand, the students ensured that the day ran safely and smoothly with attendees saying the wait was “absolutely worth it”.


Panel Event and Public Discussion. Photo: Ralph Titmuss

On Tuesday, the Panel Event and Public Discussion at the Adam Auditorium saw representatives from the Wellington City Council, Heritage New Zealand, the New Zealand Planning Institute, and the New Zealand Institute of Architects discuss pressing heritage issues of modernism, earthquake-prone buildings, non-tangible heritage, and advocacy, chaired by Lindsay Shelton of Wellington.Scoop.

The biggest audience reaction came when panel member David Kernohan said that “we should stop using the term ‘earthquake-prone building’ as there is no such thing … New Zealand is earthquake-prone, not its buildings”.

Karori Cemetery Tours guided 101 people throughout the week. Tour operator Barbara Mulligan provided a fantastic service and the weather was splendid. Nga Taonga Sound & Vision provided great film showcases from Thursday through to Saturday. Heritage New Zealand’s General Manager Claire Craig gave a special introduction on Thursday screening of the film Hometown Boomtown.


Hidden treasures at the Cricket Museum. Photo: Matthew Cleland.


The view of the Basin. Photo: Matthew Cleland

Other events such as Mary O’Keeffe’s Archaeological Walking Tour, Government House Guided Tours, and the New Zealand Cricket Museum and Basin Reserve Tours booked out well in advance.


Learning the history of St Gerard’s. Photo: Lisa B Doyle.

Hosts reported that attendees travelled from Christchurch, Wairarapa, Hawkes Bay, and Auckland to attend Wellington City Heritage Week. The attendees were impressed with the high quality events and said they are looking forward to next year’s week.

Wellington City Heritage Week was organised by Historic Places Wellington with support from Heritage New Zealand, the Wellington City Council, and Museums Wellington. Historic Places Wellington will start organising Wellington City Heritage Week 2018 in the New Year.

David Batchelor was the organiser of Wellington City Heritage Week.

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