More blue heritage plaques for Whanganui buildings

Two more heritage Blue Plaques have recently been unveiled in Whanganui with great community support, the recipients being the St Paul’s Memorial Church at Putiki and St Mary’s Anglican Church in Ūpokongaro. They are Whanganui’s fourth and fifth heritage buildings to receive the plaques.

Church, iwi and community leaders gather at the Blue Plaque unveiling at St Paul’s Putiki.
Church, iwi and community leaders gather at the Blue Plaque unveiling at St Paul’s Putiki.expand/collapse

St Paul’s also received a special plaque over a year ago from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga at a church service attended by community leaders, iwi, heritage groups and board and management of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, in recognition of significant conservation work carried out at the church.

A Blue Plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person, events, building, or former building on the site.

First started in London, the initiative was picked up in Canterbury, New Zealand, in 2017, and has since seen over 28 historic places recognised, with the addition of these new ones in Whanganui. Not limited to Whanganui, Randell Cottage, in Wellington’s Botanic Gardens ki Paekākā, also received a plaque recently during Wellington Heritage Week in 2022.

Blue Plaques were brought to Whanganui by the Whanganui Regional Heritage Trust, with the first one going to the former BNZ Building, in Raetihi, in 2021.

Helen Craig, Historic Places Aotearoa executive member, Whanganui Regional Heritage Trust chair, and new Deputy Mayor of Whanganui says she is thrilled the new plaques recognise Whanganui’s bicultural early religious communities.

“Both of these churches are loved by their congregations and the community,” says Helen.

She said that many heritage building owners want a plaque, but it is more about the Trust being able to cope with the work. “The plaques serve as a visual indicator of important heritage buildings in order to spark people’s curiosity to learn more.  It is a way for the owners of the buildings to tell part of their story.”

The Whanganui Regional Heritage Trust is also moving to unveil a further blue plaque for the old fire station on the corner of Guyton and Wilson St in Whanganui.

David Watt