Historic houses in Thorndon
What is historic heritage?
The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) defines historic heritage as natural or physical resources that help us to understand or appreciate New Zealand's history and cultures. Heritage sites may have archaeological, architectural, cultural, historic, scientific or technological qualities.
Historic heritage includes:
- historic sites, areas and structures, including trees
- archaeological sites
- places of significance to tangata whenua and Māori, including wāhi tapu
- surroundings associated with the natural and physical resources, eg land around a heritage building.
An archaeological site is defined by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 as a place associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand. Any site that meets this definition is afforded automatic statutory protection under the Act.
Archaeological sites are not listed in the Wellington City District Plan. However, some heritage places in the District Plan that are important to tangata whenua are also included in the New Zealand Heritage List / Rārangi Kōrero.
For information on archaeological sites in Wellington, visit: New Zealand Archaeological Association
For more information and to find out if you need permission before carrying out work on an archaeological site, see Advice and guidance.
Find out if an item is a heritage site
Heritage List: Schedule of Heritage Areas, Buildings, Objects, Trees and Māori Sites
Wellington City Heritage List
See this list of heritage items protected under the Wellington City District Plan.
The Wellington City Heritage List is the Council's primary means of identifying and protecting the city's heritage.
Updates to the Wellington City Heritage List
Changes to the Wellington City Heritage List can occur through a public (Council) plan change or when a private individual or organisation requests a change. A full review of all buildings, items and areas on the heritage list must occur when a full review of the District Plan takes place – which is approximately every 10-15 years.
Wellington City heritage inventory
The heritage inventory is an online tool you can use to search for detailed information on heritage buildings and objects that appear in the Wellington City Heritage List.
It provides a full range of information, including:
- address and map location
- construction date, general history and subsequent consents / modification
- architects and builders (including over 150 biographies)
- occupation and uses
- contemporary and historic photographs
- original drawings sourced from Wellington City Archives
- heritage listing information and statement of cultural value
Access the heritage inventory
New Zealand Heritage List / Rārangi Kōrero
The New Zealand Heritage List / Rārangi Kōrero is a heritage information tool maintained by Heritage New Zealand. It identifies and provides information on significant heritage places throughout New Zealand.
Search the list - Rārangi Kōrero - Heritage NZ
Because the New Zealand Heritage List / Rārangi Kōrero and the Wellington City Heritage List operate under different legislation, you may find some historic heritage items listed here that are not on the Wellington City Heritage List, and vice versa.
Heritage studies and reports
Mount Victoria Heritage Study
In 2016 and 2017, the Council undertook a study of Mount Victoria heritage buildings to get an understanding of what typifies the historic character of the suburb and how, for example, the buildings in Mount Victoria differ from houses in other parts of the city.
See the results in the Mount Victoria Heritage Study report.
Historic themes report
Historic themes are aspects in the history of a place that have shaped it physically, culturally, socially and politically.
Wellington's 2013 historic theme framework
Wellington's 2013 historic theme framework can be used as a tool to help us identify new heritage sites, see where there are gaps in knowledge, and where further research, documentation or management may be needed.
Thematic Heritage Study of Wellington - January 2013
See this study of the four historic themes that have shaped Wellington city.
How to get a heritage item protected
Nominate a heritage item to protect it
If you would like to nominate a heritage item for protection, email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the following details:
- name and address of place
- historical information
- why the place is significant and should be protected
This information will be considered when the District Plan Heritage List is reviewed.
Heritage orders can protect places of special value or significance. They can only be done through heritage protection authorities. For more information, see Heritage orders in district plans - Ministry for the Environment.
To view the list of buildings in Wellington that are protected by Heritage Orders, see Volume 1, Chapter 20 of the District Plan
What to do if you want to make changes to a listed heritage item
To demolish, modify or build on a District Plan listed heritage item, you may need a resource consent under the Resource Management Act 1991 or an Archaeological Authority before work is carried out. For more information, see Advice and Guidance.
Why we protect historic heritage sites
Under the RMA, the Wellington City Council is required to recognise and protect the heritage value of sites, buildings, places or areas. The Council therefore maintains a list of heritage areas, buildings, objects and trees.
According to the RMA, the protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision, use and development is a matter of national importance.