WCC Shock Move to Deschedule Heritage Buildings

Date: 15.03.24   Categories: Uncategorized   Posted By: JMG

DOCOMOMO New Zealand is shocked by the Wellington City Council’s vote on 14 March 2024 to remove multiple heritage buildings from its district plan schedule. The buildings proposed for descheduling are mostly modern. This shows that New Zealand politicians remain ignorant of the heritage values of the modern, even though the broader issue of modern heritage has been internationally recognised since the 1980s.

The modern buildings proposed for descheduling are:

-        Ministry of Works, Gordon Wilson Flats, The Terrace (1954-59). The scheduling of the Gordon Wilson Flats was heard and confirmed in the Environment Court in 2017, and the building was listed as a Category 1 historic place by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga in 2021. It is owned by Victoria University of Wellington, which has been wanting to demolish it for years now.

-        Ernst Plischke, Kahn House, Ngaio (1941-42). This house was included on the original DOCOMOMO New Zealand Top 20 in 2000 and was listed Category 1 by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga in 2005.

-        Edmund Anscombe, Olympus Apartments, 280 Oriental Parade (1934-39). Anscombe was responsible for the best of Wellington’s Streamlined Moderne apartment buildings.

-        Structon Group Architects, Wharenui Apartments, 274 Oriental Parade (1957-60). A high-rise apartment building from the 1950s, and by all accounts a great place to live.

-        Francis H. Swan and William Gray Young, Robert Stout Building, Victoria University of Wellington, 21 Kelburn Parade (1937-38). It’s tucked in behind the Hunter Building, and named for the one time Premier and Chief Justice of New Zealand, who is also identified as the founder of Victoria University.

Perhaps most surprising among the current buildings proposed for descheduling is Frederick de Jersey Clere’s Star of the Sea Chapel, Stella Maris Retreat Centre, Seatoun, Wellington (1923-25). This is not a modern building but a Gothic Revival chapel – the kind of heritage that members of the public find much easier to appreciate. It was bought by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh in 2007 and subsequently strengthened and refurbished. It is an important part of the Star of the Sea Historic Area, Heritage New Zealand’s first listed historic area.

For the full list of buildings proposed for descheduling, see: https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/14-03-2024/live-updates-wellington-city-council-votes-on-the-district-plan.

We understand that all it will take now for these proposals to be confirmed is ministerial approval. A sad day for New Zealand heritage.


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