Wellington Central Library proposed for heritage recognition


The public has the opportunity to give their views on the Wellington Central Library following a proposal by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga to recognise it as a Category 1 historic place.

The library, designed by Athfield Architects, opened in 1991 and was the centrepiece of Wellington’s Te Ngākau Civic Square precinct.  It has been closed since March 2019 due to seismic concerns.

Entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero would recognise the heritage values of the library.  Its protection comes through scheduling on the Wellington City Council’s district plan.

"We really want to hear what people think about Wellington Central Library,” says Director Central Region, Jamie Jacobs.

“It is important to note that listing with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga does not mean it will be protected.  Ultimately that decision will rest with Wellington City Council and the wider community it represents. 

"The library has been affectionately dubbed ‘Wellington’s living room’ because it has been much-loved and visited over the years.  We’d like the public to read the listing report and send us their thoughts on the merits of recognising its significance.  All submissions are really appreciated as they add to our knowledge of the library and how it is viewed.

"If it is given Category 1 recognition it will be the first heritage place listed from the 1990s.”

The listing report, written by Heritage Assessment Advisor Kerryn Pollock, details the library’s considerable aesthetic, architectural, cultural, historical and social significance or value. 

"In terms of architecture alone, the library is significant as an authentic example of postmodern architecture,” says Dr Jacobs.

"The late Ian Athfield was chief architect of the civic centre project and his contribution to, and influence on, architecture in New Zealand is immense.  The library is the centrepiece of Te Ngākau Civic Square and fulfils the design brief that called for an architecturally distinguished building.  Winning three major achitecture awards is testament to achieving that.

"But just as important was its value as a central city place to meet, read and study, enjoy all its facilities and relax in.”

The listing report is available to read here, with public submissions welcome until 13 October.

Media contact:

Jamie Douglas
Manager Communications
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
tel: 027 683 9065
email: jdouglas@heritage.org.nz