Our Wellington

News | 15 December 2020

Cool heritage objects you may not have noticed...

Here in Wellington, our heritage is all around us – if you know where to look. And while some of our old buildings may have obvious heritage value or status, some of our smaller objects may not.

So we thought we’d pick out some interesting objects classified as having heritage status by our team of experts. 

You may find the objects familiar, or you might walk or cycle past them every day without noticing them. 

If you don’t recognise them, why not go and check them out. 

"Even the most ordinary and mundane objects, such as an old telephone box or tram shelter, are fundamental for understanding our history and reflecting on our collective experiences as a society,” says Eva Forster-Garbutt, Senior Heritage Advisor. 

“These objects provide a tangible and intangible link to the everyday lives of Wellingtonians in the past and contributes to a sense of place and continuity into the future. Our heritage is unique and irreplaceable." 

There are plenty more objects to discover at wellingtoncityheritage.org.nz

Telephone box

The telephone box in Post Office Square.

Where: Post Office Square 

When: Constructed c.1926 

We’ve all walked past it, but have you ever stopped for a closer look? 

The Post Office Square telephone box was originally installed on Karori Road, and relocated to its present location in 1991. Dating from a time when private ownership of telephones was not high, this box is a rare surviving example of the public telephone that was once a widespread and well-used amenity. 

Along with its historic and cultural value, it has a high nostalgia value too. Many Wellingtonians will remember using one of these before most of them made way for their modern, glass-sided counterparts.  

Here’s the full listing.

Horse trough

The horse trough on the side of Khandallah Road.

Where: Khandallah Road, Ngaio 

When: There is little known about the history of the Khandallah Road Horse Trough, but it seems likely that it was constructed during the time in which the Old Porirua Road was in use. 

It’s a trough on the side of the road for horses to drink from – what more could you want? Although perhaps not the fanciest object around, it certainly would have done its job back in the day. As the heritage entry reads, the trough “is a simple and utilitarian structure that was designed to fulfil a specific purpose. It is in no way elaborately designed, but does possess a simple elegance”. Too right. 

“If it is associated with the Old Porirua Road, the stockades, and the development of links between Wellington and smaller centres, it is of local importance.” 

Check out the full entry here.

Post box

The mail box in Post Office Square.

Where: Post Office Square, Customhouse Quay 

When: Constructed c.1879 - c.1910 

Along with the telephone box, this post box is another example of the way we used to have to do things before smart phones.  

The Post Office Square Postal Box is a rare surviving example of a New Zealand manufactured cast iron pillar box that used the popular design of British architect John Wornham Penfold. The Post Office Square Postal Box is hexagonal in shape, and the roof is adorned with acanthus leaves while the cap is decorated with small spheres. 

As the listing states, the box is “an attractive piece of street furniture that contributes significant character to Post Office Square”. 

There’s also another one in Manners Mall. 

Read all about it here.