Wadestown, New Zealand

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Wadestown and Tinakori Hill.JPG
Wadestown and Tinakori Hill, looking from Ngaio
Wadestown is located in New Zealand Wellington
Basic information
Local authority Wellington City
Coordinates 41°15′43″S 174°46′25″E / 41.26182°S 174.77357°E / -41.26182; 174.77357Coordinates: 41°15′43″S 174°46′25″E / 41.26182°S 174.77357°E / -41.26182; 174.77357
Population 3,252[1] (2006)
North Ngaio
East Kaiwharawhara
South Thorndon
Southwest Wilton
Northwest Crofton Downs

Wadestown is a northern suburb of Wellington, (the capital city of New Zealand), located about 2–3 km by road from the Wellington central business district and the New Zealand Parliament Buildings.

Wadestown is a residential suburb located on the northern flanks of Tinakori Hill (or Te Ahumairangi Hill), above the Ngaio Gorge. The harbour side of the suburb was subdivided from the Rhodes house and estate, Highland Park. The suburb is hilly and includes Weld Street which is reportedly one of the steepest streets in Wellington.[2]


The suburb takes its name from John Wade, who arrived in Wellington in 1840 on the vessel "Integrity". In 1841, together with another early settler, James Watt, he acquired land in the area now known as Wadestown, and divided it into one and two-acre lots. There are still roads named Wade Street and Watt Street in the suburb.[3] The suburb is a composite of the original Wadestown and the former suburb of Highland Park, which was naturally absorbed by population and housing growth over several decades.[4]

The Wadestown community has relatively high levels of education and income. The 2006 Census showed that 73.4 percent of people aged 15 years and over have a post-school qualification, compared with 46.3 percent of people throughout the Wellington Region. 47.9 percent of people aged 15 years and over have an annual income of more than $50,000, compared with 23.6 percent of people in the Wellington Region.[1]


School enrolment zones[edit]

The suburb of Wadestown is within the enrolment zones of Wellington High School, Wellington College, Wellington Girls College, Onslow College and Wadestown School. The eastern parts of the suburb, including Highland Park, are within the enrolment zone of Thorndon School.

Primary school[edit]

Wadestown Side School

Wadestown School is a state co-educational primary school for Year 1 to Year 8 children, with a roll of about 350. The school is situated on two sites about 1 km apart.

The Side School in Weld Street is designed for new entrants, and consists of parallel junior classes (Year 1-2). The grounds include landscaped gardens, a playground with a slide and decks, a playing field and a small pool for swimming. The Deputy Principal’s office is situated at the Side School.

The Main School is located on multiple levels of a hilly site between Rose Street and Purakau Avenue, above Wadestown Road. It provides for children from Year 2 to Year 8. The access to the Main School is by footpath from Mairangi Road at the top of Rose Street, and only limited vehicular access is available. There is also pedestrian access from Wilton Road via Purakau Avenue. At the Main School there are four blocks of classrooms at different levels. Despite the hilly site, the Main School grounds include landscaped gardens, a playing field, a large flat playground and three tennis courts. The majority of Wadestown pupils come from the local suburb but a number also come from Wilton, Chartwell, Thorndon, Khandallah and Crofton Downs. The school is designated as Decile 10.[5]

Wadestown School was first opened on the site of the present Side School in Weld Street on 1 June 1881, and was one of the earliest schools in Wellington. It was initially built as a single classroom schoolhouse, but by 1896 it had been extended twice. The original Side School building was demolished after the Second World War and rebuilt in the current layout, being officially opened on 15 June 1946. The Main School began as two classrooms on the present Rose Street site, opening in February 1917. There have been a number of renovations and building developments that have occurred on the site since.

A detailed history of the school was published in 2006 in preparation for the 125th Anniversary in November 2006.[6]

Pre-school education[edit]

Pre-school education in Wadestown is provided by Wadestown Kindergarten. Children often transition there from Wadestown Community Creche which provides early childhood education from 12 months to 4 years.

Wadestown Library


Wellington City Libraries operates a branch library at the corner of Lennel and Moorhouse Roads, at the bottom of a green space known as Philip Myers Park.

Wadestown Community Centre

Community Centre[edit]

Wadestown - looking from Ngaio

The Wadestown Community Centre is located in Pitt Street. The Centre accommodates a number of community groups including the Wadestown Community Creche and the Wadestown Toy Library.


Wadestown is served by the No 14 Wilton bus route.[7]

Wellington had a tramway system between 1878 and 1964. Wadestown was part of the network from 1911. The narrow and steep cutting that forms part of Lennel Road between Barnard Street and Sefton street was specifically created for the tramway.[8] The Wadestown tram line was closed in 1949.[9]

The Johnsonville line runs along the lower slopes of Wadestown, above the Ngaio Gorge. The line was originally created by the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company in the mid-1880s, as part of the proposed line from Wellington to Palmerston North. This line was the route of the North Island Main Trunk railway out of Wellington until 1938, when it became the Johnsonville branch line after completion of the Tawa Flat Deviation.[2] There are no train stations in Wadestown itself, although there is a Wadestown crossing loop on the line. The nearest station is Crofton Downs. The steep hillsides in Wadestown occasionally cause difficulties for the commuter train service.[10]


Wadestown has two main churches: Wadestown Presbyterian and St Lukes Wadestown (Anglican). Both churches are located on Wadestown Road, and both trace their history back to original establishment in Wadestown in 1881. A Catholic church, St Brigit's was operating in Wadestown until Mid-2007 when it was closed due to Catholic parishioners moving out of the suburb. [1]

In August 2012, the Wadestown Presbyterian Church building and church hall were identified as earthquake prone, and were closed pending earthquake strengthening. Services were transferred to alternative locations.

Historic places[edit]

Highland Park above the harbour, old Wadestown behind Moorhouse St.

Highland Park[edit]

Highland Park run belonged to William Barnard Rhodes, "the richest man in New Zealand". It was the site of The Grange, his residence overlooking the harbour. Highland Park had been bought by Rhodes before 1849 and was part of the original James Watt and John Wade holding.[11] Subdivision in the 20th century after his widow's death resulted in much more generous houses of much better quality. Family members are commemorated in street names: Anne Street, Sar (Sarah Anne Rhodes) Street, her brother - Sefton Street and Moorhouse Street and her step-grandson William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse 1887-1915 who was awarded a VC

Fort Buckley[edit]

One of the most significant places of historic interest in Wadestown is Fort Buckley. The fort overlooks Wellington harbour from the top of a steep hill in Barnard Street, above Kaiwharawhara. Fort Buckley was built in 1885 in response to concerns that Russia was gearing up to expand its empire in the South Pacific. Fort Buckley was the first fort capable of defending Wellington's port from a naval attack. It is of national historical importance because the battery is one of the least altered examples of the first defences constructed in the late nineteenth-century in preparation for an expected Russian naval invasion. Fort Buckley is part of a wider network of coastal defences erected around that time, and its construction reflects New Zealand’s increasing independence from Britain on military matters during that period.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust gave the fort a category 1 historic place listing in 2004. The Fort is now a recreation reserve managed by the Highland Park Progressive Association (HPPA) in partnership with the Wellington City Council (WCC).[12] [13]

Salisbury Garden Court[edit]

Salisbury Garden Court is a group of 16 houses clustered in matching pairs around a tennis court near the top of Tinakori Hill in Wadestown. Special aspects of the area are the central court, the bush reserve around the group of houses, and the very steep, pedestrian-only access. Built in 1929-30, the houses show the influence of ‘Garden City’ design ideas. Wellington City Council has designated Salisbury Garden Court a Heritage Area.[14]

During the Great Depression and War years, the earliest tenants made full use of the tennis court as a central activity area. In the 1950s, the Court briefly became a miniature ‘Polish village’, as at one point 13 of the 16 houses were occupied by Poles, many of whom had arrived in New Zealand in 1944 as child refugees. By the 1970s, a ‘hippy commune’ was flourishing at the Court. A documentary film ‘A Place to Stay’, was made by Marie Russell in 2009 about the unique design and unusual social history of Salisbury Garden Court. The film explores the interaction of urban design and community.[15]

4 Goldies Brae. Until 1907 in Onslow Borough

No 4 Goldies Brae[edit]

Another historic place in Wadestown (although strictly located just inside the Thorndon boundary), is the house at 4 Goldies Brae. It is popularly known as the Banana House because of its crescent-shaped layout. The house was constructed in 1876. It is unusual because of the continuous glazed gallery (or conservatory) that provides enclosed access to each of the ten rooms. This gallery provides solar heat to the rest of the house. The house has a Category 1 listing from the NZ Historic Places Trust.[16] Silston Cory-Wright lived in this house from 1928 until his death in 1976.[17]

Onslow Borough[edit]

Until April 1907 Wadeston was administered (as its most populous part) within the Borough of Onslow. The boundary placed Goldies Brae in Onslow which extended right through to modern Ngaio and Khandallah. Modern Northland was administered separately. The difficulties of building for early-established Wadestown houses adequate drainage within Onslow's boundaries, the subdivision of the Highland Park estate and the appeal to the residents of this very steep area of joining Wellington's tramway system led to amalgamation in April 1907.[18]

Notable people[edit]

Wadestown - looking from Crofton Downs

Notable people who have grown up, lived or worked in Wadestown include:

  • William Barnard Rhodes (1807?–1878) - a New Zealand businessman, pastoralist and politician
  • James Hutton Mackenzie (1849–1949) - Presbyterian minister, Moderator of the Presbyterian Assembly 1910, and Clerk of the Assembly for 25 years
  • Elsdon Best (1856–1931) - Farm worker, soldier, sawmiller, health inspector, ethnographer, writer
  • Joseph Firth (1859–1931) - Headmaster of Wellington College 1892 - 1920
  • Lily May Atkinson (1866–1921) - Temperance campaigner, suffragist, feminist
  • Silston Cory-Wright (1888 - 1976) - Engineer, university lecturer, soldier, company director
  • Percy Roy Angus (1893–1961) - Railway engineer and administrator
  • Clarence Edward Beeby (1902–1998) - Educational psychologist, university lecturer, educationalist, senior public servant, ambassador
  • Sylvia Ashton-Warner (1908–1984) - Educationalist, teacher, writer
  • Peter Campbell (1937-2011) - Art critic and former apprentice to Denis Glover[19]
  • Elizabeth Knox (1959–present) - Writer
  • Ian Foster - Director, the Computation Institute of the Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago, who currently resides in Chicago[20]
  • The residence of the Dutch Ambassador is also found in Wadestown, opposite the Branch Library

Geographic boundaries[edit]

From a boundary between Wadestown and Thorndon at the northern end of Grant Road, the Wadestown boundary follows a line along Frandi Street and Sar Street, above the Hutt Road to a point below the eastern most extent of Barnard Street. From there, the boundary turns northwest and continues into the Ngaio Gorge to an intersection with Kaiwharawhara Road. It then follows the course of the Kaiwharawhara stream up the Ngaio Gorge to the intersection of Churchill Drive and Blackbridge Road. The boundary then turns south and follows a line along Wilton Road to the intersection with Norwich Street. From there, it takes a line to the top of Tinakori Hill above Salisbury Garden Court. The southern boundary descends along the top section of Weld Street and then runs east above Wade Street, descending southwest of Orchard Street into Thorndon.[21]

Electorate boundaries[edit]

Prior to 2014, Wadestown was in the Wellington Central electorate.

In 2014, the Electoral Commission announced various changes to electorate boundaries. One of these changes was to extend the boundaries of the existing Ōhariu electorate to now include Wadestown.[22]

Further reading[edit]

  • Monigatti, Debbie (2006). Windows over Wadestown. Wellington: Debbie Monigatti Communications. pp. 112 pages. ISBN 978-0-473-11677-4. 
  • Ward, Ray (1997). The History of Rose Street, Wadestown. Wellington: Ray Ward. pp. 23 leaves. 


  1. ^ a b Quickstats about Wadestown
  2. ^ a b "Wellington places: Wadestown". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  3. ^ Irvine-Smith, Fanny L (1948). "Streets of my city, Wellington; Part 3: Chapter 1 - Northern Suburbs". Wellington City Libraries - Digitised book. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Wadestown History
  5. ^ "Wadestown School - Profile & Contact Details". Educationcounts.govt.nz. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Monigatti, D (2006)
  7. ^ "No 14 - The Silver Route - (Kilbirnie - Wilton)". Metlink. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  8. ^ "Wellington tramway remnants". Markline-users.net. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "History of Trams in Wellington". Wellington trammway museum. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "Train line closed after slip". Stuff.co.nz. 9 January 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  11. ^ Highland Park Estate. New Zealand Times August 1905, Page 7
  12. ^ "Fort Buckley". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  13. ^ "Historic Wadestown fort gets a facelift". Stuff.co.nz. 15 July 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  14. ^ "Salisbury Garden Court Heritage Area Boundaries" (PDF). Wellington City Council. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  15. ^ Marie Russell (2009). "A Place to Stay". Wellington: New Zealand Film Archive. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  16. ^ "Goldie's Brae". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  17. ^ Stace, Nigel (22 June 2007). "Cory-Wright, Silston 1888 - 1976". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. 
  18. ^ Municipal Consolidation. Evening Post, 16 May 1907 page 6
  19. ^ "A tribute to Peter Campbell". Beatties book blog. 27 October 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  20. ^ "Ian Foster". Listener. 2 April 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  21. ^ "Wellington suburbs: Crofton Downs, Ngaio and Wadestown" (PDF). Wellington City Council. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  22. ^ "2014 Electoral Boundaries - Key Changes". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 

External links[edit]