Petone Settlers Museum

The Esplanade, Petone, Lower Hutt

  • Petone Settlers Museum. CC BY 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Ulrich Lange - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Ulrich Lange, Bochum, Germany. Date: 14/03/2017.
  • Petone Settlers Museum (side view). CC BY 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Ulrich Lange - Wikimedia Commons . Taken By: Ulrich Lange, Bochum, Germany. Date: 14/03/2017.
  • Petone Settlers Museum. CC BY-SA 2.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Gordon Haws - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Gordon Haws. Date: 25/02/2005.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 206 Date Entered 6th September 1984 Date of Effect 6th September 1984


City/District Council

Hutt City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Pt land between high water mark & sthn boundary of Esplanade SO 14160


The Petone Settlers Museum on Petone's foreshore was constructed in 1939 as part of the Wellington Province's centennial commemorations marking the arrival in Petone of the first New Zealand Company immigrant ships, the 'Aurora' and the 'Cuba', in January 1840. Planning for the construction of the monument began in 1936 at a Dominion Conference of Provincial Centennial Organisations. In 1938 the decision was made by the 'Wellington Provincial Council New Zealand Centennial Organisation' to erect just one Wellington provincial memorial, at Petone, and that the memorial would be a bathing pavilion. A national competition was held to find the final design of the building, with noted Wellington architect, William Gray Young (1885-1962) adjudicating. The winner was the Auckland-based architect Horace Lovell Massey (1895-1979).

Massey's design for the 'Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial' combines Stripped Classical and Art Deco elements. It consists of a central Hall of Memories, flanked with bathing pavilions for beach-goers. The focal point of the building was (and still is) an arched etched-glass window on the north façade, which depicts the first meeting of the New Zealand Company Settlers with the Te Ati Awa people. At the base of the window, a relief representing the prow of the 'Aurora' protrudes to the north.

In May 1939 MacLauchlan and Lane of Petone won the tender to construct the memorial. The building was opened by Governor-General, Lord Galway, in front of a large crowd, on 22 January 1940.

In 1977 the western bathing pavilion was converted to the Petone Settlers Museum. Two years later the eastern bathing pavilion was converted to what is now the Charles Heaphy Gallery. In 1988-1989 the building was refurbished to meet modern museum requirements. Today the museum is a repository of local history, with an emphasis on Maori and Pakeha settlement of the Wellington region.

This building, now known as the Petone Settlers Museum/Te Whare Whakaaro o Pito-one, has great representative significance as it commemorates the arrival of the first New Zealand Company immigrants to Wellington in January 1840. Designed by a noted architect, it is a prominent landmark on the Petone foreshore. It has additional community value as a museum dedicated to local history for over a quarter of a century.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Massey, Horace Lovell

Massey (1895-1979) was born in Auckland and educated at Auckland Grammar. In 1919 he won a scholarship which allowed him to study for three years at the Architectural Association in London.

He returned to Auckland in 1922 and in the mid-1920s was a partner in the firm Massey, Morgan, Hyland and Phillips who were responsible for much hospital work including the Nurses' Home at Napier Hospital (1925-26) and the Fallen Soldiers' Memorial Hospital in Hastings (1925). Massey himself was an active member of the Auckland Hospital Board for many years.

In the late 1920s Massey was in partnership with G.E. Tole, followed by a period on his own during which he designed Cintra Flats, Auckland (1936). In the 1940s and 1950s he was senior partner of the firm Massey, Beatson, Rix-Trott and Carter who were responsible for a wide variety of work including Pukekohe War Memorial Hall, Coates Memorial Church, Matakohe (1950), Auckland Crematorium (1952), Takapuna Grammar School (1956) and Norwich Union Insurance Society Building, Queen Street (1963).

Massey also designed many fine houses including the Geddes House, Remuera (1936-37), McArthur House, Orakei (1938) and Melvin House, Achilles Point (1942). He was involved with the New Zealand Institute of Architects and devoted time to the publication of professional papers. As an architect he was influential in introducing the ideals of the Modern Movement to Auckland.

H.L. Massey

Horace Massey was born at Auckland in 1895 and was educated at Auckland Grammar School. He was articled to architect Alec Wiseman and also worked with R.K. Binney and Hoggard, Prouse and Gummer. During the First World War (1914-1918), he was billeted for a while before proceeding to France where he served until the end of the war. During his time in England he took a great interest in local housing. At the end of the war he was one of 3000 entrants in the Daily Mail Ideal Homes Competition. He won the £500 first prize in the northern industrial section and was also awarded one of six New Zealand Expeditionary Forces scholarships to study for three years. He chose to study in London at the Architectural Association School and then returned to New Zealand and became a partner in the firm Massey, Morgan, Hyland & Philips. He left this partnership in the mid 1920s and practiced on his own for a couple of years before forming the partnership Tole & Massey. In the mid 1930s he again practiced on his own, later setting up the firm Horace L. Massey & Partners. In the late 1940s he became a senior partner in the firm Massey, Beatson, Rix-Trott & Carter. Massey retired in the late 1950s and died in 1978 at the age of 83.

Massey was a prolific architect. One of his former partners estimated that he designed one in every five architect-designed houses in Auckland during the 1920s. During this decade he was responsible for a wide variety of designs including: Hawkes Bay Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital (1925); rebuilding the Lyric Theatre, Auckland (1926); Whangarei Nurses' Home (1927); Holy Cross Convent, Epsom (1928); and Heards Factory, Parnell (1929). The next two decades his work included: St Michael's Church, Remuera (1933); Cintra Flats, Symonds Street (1935); Whangarei Public Library (with Morgan, 1936), A.L. Caughey home, Remuera (1937); Provincial Centennial Memorial, Petone (1940) and Auckland Crematorium (1943).

Massey received both national and international acclaim for his designs. In 1922 he was awarded the second prize (with Morgan and Armstrong) for the Bengal Legislative Council Chambers in Calcutta. In 1933 he was commended for his entry in the competition for the design of premises for the Royal Institute of Architects in London. He won New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) gold medals in 1933 for St Michael's Church, Remuera (with G.E. Tole); in 1937 for Cintra Flats, Auckland; in 1938 for the Whangarei Public Library (with A.P. Morgan); and in 1940 for the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial in Petone. The Petone design was also the winning entry in a competition for the design of the building. At the time Massey was the only architect to ever have won four NZIA gold medals. In 1950 he was awarded the NZIA bronze medal for the design of his own home.

Massey was also well known for his landscape design work. In 1930 he prepared a plan for the reclamation of Hobson Bay but the design was never implemented. In the mid 1930s he designed a large floral carpet, which was exhibited in the Auckland Town Hall. In 1937 he prepared a garden design for G.H. Abel in Remuera complete with tennis court, putting green, formal garden and green house. In the 1940s he redesigned the garden of Mr N.B. Spencer, which won the 1947-48 Tudor Rose Bowl in the Remuera Round Garden Competition. In 1948 he replanned the garden of John Dreadon in Orakei Road. He also wrote several papers on garden design.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1939 - 1940

1977 -
Western bathing pavilion converted to the Petone Settlers Museum

1979 -
Eastern bathing pavilion converted to what is now the Charles Heaphy Gallery

1988 - 1989
Refurbished to meet museum requirements

Completion Date

16th August 2001

Report Written By

Helen McCracken / Geoff Mew

Information Sources

Alexander Turnbull Library

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

New Zealand Centennial, 1940. MS-Papers-1293-354/1-2

Evening Post

Evening Post

20 December 1938

Other Information

NZIA Gold Award Winners 1940

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.