Tasman Street Wall

Tasman Street, Mt Cook, WELLINGTON

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The Tasman Street Wall is an important physical reminder of the long occupation and use of Mt Cook. Constructed of bricks made by prisoners on Mt Cook itself, the wall is the oldest structure still standing within the former Mt Cook Reserve. Mt Cook was originally Pukeahu, a pa occupied intermittently by Maori. In 1843 troops were brought in to protect Wellington from potentially hostile Maori and occupied the hill, the beginning of a long military association with the area. The hill was later occupied by barracks, a magazine and a prison. In 1843, barracks were built to accommodate Imperial troops assigned to protect Wellington during the New Zealand Wars. After the troops left in 1865 the barracks housed immigrants. In 1879 the building was demolished, more levelling took place and a huge gaol was built by prisoners from the nearby Terrace Gaol. Only one wing of six planned was built (c.1882) and the prison finally closed by 1900. The building was taken over by the Army for use as barracks and it was not until 1930 that it was finally demolished to make way for the National War Memorial and Dominion Museum. The oldest part of the wall dates from at least 1891, and perhaps earlier. Built by prisoners who made the bricks on site at Mt Cook, the first section of wall built was at the northern end. It was extended further north to meet the Mt Cook Police Station in 1893/94 and after a period of work in 1896 the last section was built some time after 1897 and completed by 1899. The wall has been altered in places, particularly by the addition of two stairs, at least one of which was built to give access to air raid shelters constructed in 1942. A sub-station was built in the wall in 1965 and courses of brick were added to the southern end of the wall during the 1940s. The wall is a gravity wall i.e. it uses its sheer bulk to retain the earth behind. This approach is enhanced by the rake (or tilt) of the wall, which acts like a buttress. The construction is English bond - alternating courses of headers and stretchers. The wall is interrupted in three places; by two stairs and a sub-station. The wall is at its highest at the northern end, where the land rises above the former police station. It is at its lowest at the southern end, where the wall retains two tennis courts. Brick walls of the age of the Tasman Street Wall are very rare in Wellington and there is almost certainly nothing of this size in the city. It is likely to be rare nationally. While the wall is a relatively prosaic structure, it is the oldest construction of any type left on Mt Cook Reserve. Its brick construction links it directly to the penal history of the area, to the prisoners who made the bricks and built the wall, and the general era of brickmaking that so characterised this part of Wellington. It is an important historic structure of regional significance.

Tasman Street Wall | Michael Kelly | 01/10/2007 | NZ Historic Places Trust
A c.1891 weephole, surrounded by arrowed bricks. Note the unusual stretch of upright headers to the left of the weephole. | Michael Kelly | 01/10/2007 | NZ Historic Places Trust
Tasman Street Wall | NZ Historic Places Trust



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 2


Able to Visit

List Number


Date Entered

6th June 2008

Date of Effect

6th June 2008

City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Extent of List Entry

Registration includes part of the land described in WN54C/503, WN54D/136, WN6C/802 and New Zealand Gazette 1994, p.2705 and the structure known as Tasman Street Wall. Registration excludes the substation building but includes the surrounding brickwork (Refer to Extent of Registration Map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 87064 (RTs WN54C/503, WN54D/136), Sec 1253 Town of Wellington (RT WN6C/802), Sec 1 SO 36519 (New Zealand Gazette 1994, p.2705), Wellington Land District.

Location Description

West side of Tasman Street between 60 Tasman Street (Massey University carpark) and the former Mt Cook Police Station, corner Buckle Street and Tasman Street

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