Massey University Colombo Hall's heritage celebrated


Heritage New Zealand has recognised the significance of Colombo Hall, at Massey University’s Manawatū Campus, by adding it to the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero (the List) as a Category 2 historic place.

Karen Astwood, Heritage New Zealand’s Central Region Area Manager, says the List entry process was positive and "a great opportunity to work with the university to celebrate and recognise its heritage, as well as share the Colombo Hall experiences of former staff and students."

These stories showed that Colombo Hall has been an important, and lively part of the university’s social fabric since it was opened in 1964 by Prime Minister Keith Holyoake.

The student hostel was named after the Colombo Plan – a high profile international economic assistance programme – because scholarship students lived there, alongside other international and local students. When it was signed in 1951, an aim of the Colombo Plan was to stop the spread of Communism through Asia by enhancing living conditions, rather than by military means. New Zealand’s main focus was providing expertise and training. Massey University’s agricultural courses were a big draw-card and the government provided scholarships for international students to go there.  

Massey University Colombo Hall was New Zealand’s first purpose-built Colombo Plan student hostel and also launched a major period of development at the Manawatū campus, driven by the need to keep-up with the 'baby boomer' demand for courses. Other buildings on the List include Massey University’s Main Building and the Refectory, which date from its early period as an agricultural college. Colombo Hall’s modernist architecture is very different and signalled the institution’s coming of age as a university, which also happened in 1964.

Karen encourages those interested in exploring Colombo Hall’s story to go to Heritage New Zealand’s recent List entries webpage or to search the List online (

For further information

Karen Astwood
Central Region Area Manager
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga