Wellington Scoop

Wellington city councillors unanimous: they all vote to strengthen the Town Hall

Wellington Town Hall strengthening project

News from WCC
Wellington City Councillors have today approved strengthening the city’s Town Hall and extending its life by 100 years. Councillors voted unanimously at a full council meeting today in favour of proceeding with the project.

“The city wants to keep its landmark Town Hall, and by base-isolating the building we will increase its life and seismic resilience by 100 years,” says Mayor Justin Lester. “We want to do the job once and do it right. If the city had used base isolation when it was strengthened in 1992, we wouldn’t be here today.”

The Mayor said he had spoken to former mayors, the arts community and many Wellingtonians, who all said the strengthening was a worthwhile investment and the only rational and logical decision. Demolition and mothballing were not options.

“We have inherited this building from those who came before us. It’s a civic and cultural asset and it’s incumbent on us to gift it to future generations.”

Councillor Nicola Young, who holds the associate Arts Portfolio, says she had connections with the Town Hall going back to when she was at primary school and hearing Dame Kiri Te Kanawa for the first time.

“The Town Hall is probably Wellington’s most significant heritage building. Our forebears built it with our future in mind, and they made brave decisions. We have had to make a brave decision too.”

Under earthquake legislation, the Town Hall has to be either demolished or in the process of being strengthened by the end of 2019. Demolishing the Town Hall was not considered an option because of its category 1 listed heritage status.

A leasing agreement has been signed. It will become a world-class musical venue with rehearsal, recording and performance space.

It will be a base for civic and community events and will be part of a centre of musical excellence for New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Victoria University of Wellington’s New Zealand School of Music Te Kōkī.

Construction work is expected to start in late March or early April and is estimated to take four years.

It’s the council’s fourth unanimous vote to save the Town Hall:
June 2017
May 2015
June 2013


  1. Old Wellington, 27. February 2019, 11:45

    We constantly moan about NZ’s inability to take the long term view and ‘do things right’ on big capita projects. The Town Hall upgrade is expensive, but that’s because it’s not the half-arsed job some suggested WCC should do. The Town Hall is acoustically superb, a cultural gem, and is likely to outlast the hideous Michael Fowler Centre. [via twitter]

  2. Talk Wellington, 27. February 2019, 12:33

    Its superlative acoustics alone make it worth restoring. Acoustic brilliance is too much up to luck to throw away a great performer when you have one. [via twitter]

  3. Ian Apperley, 27. February 2019, 12:52

    Brilliant. “The council’s fourth unanimous vote to save the Town Hall.” That made my day.

  4. Andrew, 27. February 2019, 15:53

    I really do hope the WCC and contractor can shed the current stasis and hit the start date running.

  5. Manny, 1. March 2019, 9:14

    There is no need to spend so much money on this as no building is, or will be, safe in an earthquake.