Why heritage buildings matter

Heritage buildings keep our history alive, providing value throughout New Zealand.

We'll ask heritage experts and community leaders why heritage buildings matter, and why they should be retained. We'll add their comments to this page. 

Photo of the Public Trust Office Building.
Former Public Trust Office Building, Wellington
Paul James, Chief Executive, Manatū Taonga - Ministry for Culture and Heritage

"From community hubs to hotels, clubs and commercial buildings, heritage buildings are part of the daily interaction of diverse New Zealand communities. They add to the visual appeal and character of our towns and cities.

"Our built heritage tells us the story of our past and gives us perspective for today. Heritage buildings are substantive reminders of the people and events of our history.

"Since October 2015, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage has tenanted the former Public Trust Office building on Lambton Quay in Wellington. This heritage-listed building was previously earthquake-prone and vacant since earthquakes rocked Wellington in 2013.

"Wellingtonian Maurice Clark, known for his commitment to the city’s heritage landscape, purchased the building in 2014 and began strengthening and refurbishment work. This dedication and the Ministry’s guarantee of a 15-year lease helped make seismic strengthening a viable project. Extensive strengthening and refurbishment means the building not only provides a modern working environment for Ministry staff, but its ornate exterior will continue to be part of Wellington’s streetscape for years to come." 

Photo of Antrim House
Antrim House, Wellington

Andrew Coleman, Chief Executive, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

“Heritage buildings are the places the community values which have important stories to tell. To see and touch these physical markers of our past and present provides continuity and pride of place.

“A key advantage of retaining and using heritage is its point of difference as unique, stand-out features, often set against buildings almost every town or city has a version of.

“In Wellington, for example, the Beehive is a tourist attraction and a real feature of the central city. Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga's National Office, Antrim House, is another heritage place that regularly draws admiring visitors pleased to see fine early architecture.

“It is important that heritage places continue to be used. Some may need to be adapted to give it new life and a bright, healthy future. While retaining their original beauty a new chapter can be written within the cover of the same book. They continue to tell, and be, our collective story.”