Blue heritage plaque unveiled at Randall Cottage Wellington

Heritage friends, noted New Zealand writers and historians, diplomats and city councillors, all gathered at Randall Cottage, built in the 1860s, in Thorndon during Wellington Heritage Week to celebrate 20 years of the Cottage being a writer in residence property.

A solid blue plaque stands before Randall House with a white picket fence in the foreground.
The Blue Plaque at Randall Cottage in Thorndon. Photo: HNZPTexpand/collapse

Randall Cottage in St Mary’s St, near Wellington Botanic Garden ki Paekākā, has been a writers’ residency for New Zealand and French writers since 2001. Before that, the Category 2 heritage listed cottage was in the ownership of the Price family. Susan, the daughter of Beverley Price (nee Randall) and her late husband Hugh, gifted her 1920s apartment building Chevening in Salamanca Rd, Wellington, to the care of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga in 2019.

At the Randall Cottage celebrations Beverley spoke about her early settler family bringing up a large family in this small cottage in the 1860s. After taking over the cottage over two decades ago and carrying out renovations, Beverley said they wondered what the family would do with it. It turned out to be a marvellous decision when a writers’ residency was mooted, the property was purchased, and the Randall Cottage Writers Trust was formed.  

Christine Hurley, current chair of the Trust and Sir Vincent O’Sullivan, one of New Zealand’s best-known writers, along with other speakers praised the opportunities that the writers in residence experience had provided, the high standing it had created throughout the literary world, the growth of French/New Zealand relations, and the strong partnership established with government and other agencies in the city.

The Randall Cottage Writers Trust is supported by Creative New Zealand, the New Zealand-France Friendship Fund, Arts Foundation of New Zealand, and Wellington City Council, working in partnership with the Embassy of France.

Franco-Turkish novelist, playwright and screenwriter, Sedef Ecer, has been selected as the 2023 French artist-in-residence and will come to Aotearoa New Zealand early next year.

The unveiling of a blue heritage plaque for the Cottage capped off a beautiful Spring Saturday morning event.

David Watt