39 Pipitea Street, Thorndon, Wellington

  • House, 39 Pipitea St, Wellington. CC Licence 4.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Michal Klajban - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Michal Klajban. Date: 1/01/2015.
  • House, 39 Pipitea St, Wellington. Interior staircase.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Vivienne Morrell. Date: 19/09/2012.
  • House, 39 Pipitea St, Wellington. Ceiling detail front room ground floor.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Vivienne Morrell. Date: 19/09/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1372 Date Entered 25th November 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Sec 10 SO Plan 36509 (CT WN39D/615), Wellington Land District and the building known as House thereon.

City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Sec 10 SO Plan 36509 (CT WN39D/615), Wellington Land District


The house at 39 Pipitea Street, Thorndon, Wellington is part of a small cluster of houses remaining in an area now largely occupied by office buildings and apartments. It is located on former Town Acre 539, which was granted to the Trustees of the Wellington Hospital Board in 1845. Town Acre 539 is marked ‘native reserve’ on the 1840 William Mein-Smith survey plan of Wellington. Houses are listed along Pipitea Street from at least 1863, but 39 Pipitea Street does not appear to have been built on until c.1866.

The Lot was sold by the Hospital Board in 1876. Frank Waldegrave purchased it in 1881 and in 1888-9 he made rear extensions to the house and, subsequently, major changes in 1895. The main changes at that time appear to be the removal of the rear extension and the addition of the second storey. Waldegrave was Under-Secretary of Justice and Commissioner of Police when he retired in 1912. Waldegrave owned it until his death in 1924; the next owner was Charles Bidwill, a Wairarapa sheep farmer In the 1960s it was owned by British Petroleum (BP). Prior to the current owners, it was occupied by the Commissioner for Children. . More recently work was undertaken on the back of the house (c. 2001), which the NZHPT supported. It is currently (2012) used as offices for Huia Publishers.

The appearance of the house from 1895 onwards is that of an Italianate villa, with two carefully detailed two-storey bay windows on the front façade with brackets, string courses, and cornices that follow the profile of the bays. The house is clad in rusticated weatherboards. . The interior has been converted to use as offices – some original features remain in the hall and front rooms, for example, plaster scotias and ceiling rose on the ground floor, and arches behind the bay windows in the second-storey front rooms.

Although 1890s villas are not rare in Wellington, they are increasingly rare in this particular part of Wellington. Together with the other heritage buildings nearby, which include the Ministerial Residence (Former) next door at 41 Pipitea St (Register no. 1405); Old St Paul’s in Mulgrave St (Register no. 38), and the former Thorndon Fire Station nearby in Murphy St (Register no. 1440), it is a representative reminder of the nineteenth-century pattern of European settlement in this part of Wellington, which has now significantly altered to mainly commercial use. The site may also be of interest to Maori, as Pipitea Pa (NZAA Site Record No. R27/222) was in this area.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1868 -
Construction of single-storey house

1895 -
Substantially modified to two-storey villa

2001 -
Modifications to the rear of the house

2012 -
Seismic strengthening on the foundations

Completion Date

19th October 2012

Report Written By

Vivienne Morrell

Information Sources

Grouden, 2011

Grouden, Victoria ‘39 Pipitea Street, Thorndon, Wellington: Archaeological Assessment Report’, Capital Heritage Ltd, Sept 2011

Other Information

A fully referenced proposal summary report is available from the Central Region office of NZHPT.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.