Wellington's historic heritage sites

Find out what defines a heritage site, what items in Wellington are listed as heritage sites, and how we protect these.

Clyde Quay boat sheds at Oriental Bay.
Clyde Quay boat sheds

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.

Archaeological sites

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

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 every 10 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.

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 district.plan@wcc.govt.nz and include the following details:

  • name and address of place
  • historical information
  • why the place is significant and should be protected
  • photographs

This information will be considered when the District Plan Heritage List is reviewed.

Heritage orders

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.

Removing heritage items from the list

Heritage items can only be removed from the list through a change to the District Plan. Items are typically only removed when an item no longer meets the criteria for listing, and detailed information is required explaining why this is the case.

Contact us

Heritage team

Phone: 04 499 4444

Email: heritage@wcc.govt.nz