Wellington Scoop

The wonderful interior of the Basin Reserve’s Museum Stand


by David Batchelor
Built in 1924, the Museum Stand is a staple of the Basin Reserve’s cricket heritage. However, the Wellington City Council’s plan to redevelop the Basin has the demolition ball looming over its future.

The New Zealand Heritage List Category 2 building was designed and built by the City Engineer’s Department of the City Council and remains in largely original condition. The stand is a part of the Basin Reserve Historic Area which includes the Groundsman’s Shed and the 1862 William Wakefield Memorial.


The interior consists of features rarely seen in modern sport facilities.


These features are neo-Classical style lime-washed pillars, archways, tiled floors, kauri panelled tea and cloakrooms, and a large central sweeping staircase in the foyer with wonderful peach and soft yellow detailing. In addition, the interior has ticket booths and worked metal hanging light fittings.


All features are in good condition. They provide an impressive entrance to the ground.

The exterior has unfortunately been undermaintained with the only major upkeep being when the building was re-roofed in the 1990s, and the only plan seeming to be demolition.

The proposed $21 million Basin Reserve redevelopment has indicated replacing the 1924 stand with a grass area where temporary seating could be installed for test matches. In 2012, the Museum Stand was ‘yellow-stickered’, meaning that was assessed to be earthquake prone and the owner has 15 years to strengthen or demolish the building. The Council estimated strengthening costs to be $5-8 million. Regarding the stand’s retention, Mayor Justin Lester stated in a Dominion Post article on April 19 that strengthening of the Museum Stand will be costly and “I’m not sure that can be achieved”. Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle was quoted, “In terms of its heritage status, the stand had not been identified as a ‘must-save’ for Wellingtonians”.

Currently, options for the Museum Stand’s future are being created to be put before the Mayor and Councillors in August. While the Basin’s Master Plan suggests full demolition, Historic Places Wellington would like to see all options, including partial retention and relocation, considered.

David Batchelor is a member of Historic Places Wellington, a community organisation who advocate for heritage in the wider Wellington region.


Fact Box
Opened: New Year’s Day 1925
Seating Capacity: approx. 1000 seats
Scheduled as a Historic Building in the District Plan
Listed as a Category 2 Historic Place with Heritage New Zealand


  1. CC, 23. May 2017, 23:39

    Something doesn’t sound right here. $21m for the upgrade of the Basin Reserve to include a grassed area and temporary seating? If it is possibly only an extra $5m to save the Category 2 listed grandstand which appears to have features worth preserving for future generations, along with a charm that is not replicated with the Vance Stand, it could be paid for by not compromising Frank Kitts Park with a flat play area and an inappropriately located garden. Given that the budget for the city’s recreational reserves is so miserly that much of the development and maintenance of facilities is done by volunteers, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to fund the retention of this special feature of the Basin that is internationally recognised. If the Council can’t afford it, one of its ‘seat polishers’ could be allocated a few minutes to create a ‘give a little’ page.

  2. Alana Bowman, 24. May 2017, 9:27

    The Museum Stand is a neglected gem, and the interior is a hidden treasure. The carelessness of those who had the responsibility to look after it is evident in the decayed outside walls. Who was responsible for the maintenance of this historic structure and allowed it to fall into this condition?

    My fear is that decisions will be made away from public scrutiny – as with the rebuild of the groundsman’s cottage – and just done.

    The Stand is the best place for viewing for general admission ticket holders – away from the winds you feel in the Vance Stand.

  3. Tim Jones, 24. May 2017, 10:03

    Very disappointing that the Mayor has called for the demolition of this stand without even considering options to retain it.

  4. Hel, 24. May 2017, 14:50

    CC, something I can finally agree with you on! To be fair the master plan sets out a Basin with the Museum Stand retained and one with it demolished. I unashamedly believe the stand should be retained and refurbished, provided it is done well. Alana, the Council and the glorified Trustees allowed the stand to get into the current state through pure neglect. Not sure what your issue with the groundsmen cottage rebuild is, I think they’ve done a fantastic job and good on them for retaining the character.

  5. Fiona McKay, 24. May 2017, 15:36

    Don’t demolish this beautiful building.
    Respect the work and craft that went into it.
    Surely we must be able to make it a grand place to entertain in and watch the games.

    Come on council – there is Heritage here that you could capitalise on.

  6. Fiona, 24. May 2017, 15:38

    Or is this just an excuse to demolish to make way for the motorway.

  7. TrevorH, 25. May 2017, 9:38

    Why should ratepayers fork out for this? Isn’t it time NZ Cricket stumped up?

  8. Elaine Hampton, 25. May 2017, 19:20

    Cricket NZ and the Council need to get their heads around the retention of the Basin Reserve. This means as an Iconic city site, bring cricket back from the stadium, (John Morrison deal there). The Basin needs a face lift, the Vance Stand desperately needs updating and the Museum Stand is a hidden Gem.
    Demolish the Museum Stand? Refurbish it I say, and bring back the Bandstand and children’s playground, all disappeared over the years as the people with responsibility for the Basin allowed the idea of its disappearance to take precedence, shame on them. At least paint the picket fence.

  9. Pauline, 25. May 2017, 19:32

    Well said Elaine Hampton, this stand is another part of Wellington’s heritage and a reminder of my college days at Wellington Technical College when there were school sports, marching girls, band competitions and the stands were well used, not to mention the old playground.. Like the Town Hall this should be top priority.

  10. Simon, 25. May 2017, 21:02

    It would be terrific if we could afford to strengthen every historic building in Wellington. But we can’t. The council has decided to spend $178m on the Town Hall; those funds could be used to strengthen many historic buildings, but that choice has been made.

  11. Michael, 26. May 2017, 10:31

    Before ratepayers start in on strengthening anything else we need to get our old and leaking infrastructure fixed !

  12. Elaine Hampton, 26. May 2017, 13:51

    I think attention needs to be paid to the ‘Code’. New buildings, one advertised as 140% of Code, are now being demolished. Before we condemn or demolish these buildings which have minimal damage from the last 2 quakes, and certainly before we spend $millions, we need to sort out the Code. Don’t let civil servants masquerading as our masters take preemptive action. Sort the Code first.

  13. Nolan, 28. May 2017, 12:36

    Simon, by all reports the Town Hall is $90 million, not $178 million as you suggest.

    Either way, the Museum Stand has its faults due to poor maintenance but that does not mean that its merits should be overlooked. It is very unlikely that any redevelopment of the Basin will have the charm and flair of the interior so it is best we keep that part at least. Also, the Stand provides a noise and visual buffer to the ground, if destroyed the pitch will have a direct view of four lanes of traffic with any ‘village green’ element being ruined by the traffic noise and view.

  14. Fiona McKay, 1. June 2017, 14:06

    The Council could be supporting upgrading historic area/places just as much as spending on new buildings. (or maybe footpaths).
    They spend a lot of money (with ratepayers’ support/not) on the Waterfront. The Basin Reserve area could be turned into an exceptional community/sport focus area with walking access to Te Papa. It does get a lot of support for cricket – on an international level. Just clean it up and move on.

  15. Casey, 2. June 2017, 15:13

    Nolan. $90 million is for town hall earthquake strengthening only, another $89 is for the refit/reconfiguration. Both are estimates at this stage.

  16. John, 4. June 2017, 20:39

    The old stand is so much more The Basin than the Vance Block. I’d rather see the Vance bowled and the old stand brushed up properly.
    Let’s get this right.

  17. Alana, 7. June 2017, 22:29

    I agree, John. The Vance stand is just not comfortable, while the view and comfort from the Museum Stand was ideal.

    But where is the public consultation about the options? Why not public meetings to talk about that $21m given to the Basin Reserve Trust and how the rest of us would like to see that spent?

    I’m a wild crazy cricket fan and I want to see the Basin used by more than cricket fans. It is a community asset, and a unique oasis in the CBD.