Story: Historic places

Saving the Mission to Seamen building

Saving the Mission to Seamen building

The mid-1980s proposal to demolish Wellington's Mission to Seamen building was the catalyst for a public backlash against what many thought was the indiscriminate destruction of the city's heritage buildings. An unprecedented campaign was mounted to save the building. It included painting messages on the building promoting its retention and the creation of a human chain around it when its demolition seemed imminent. This photograph shows architect Stuart Niven on the morning of 9 June 1986. He had been on watch outside the structure since 6.30 a.m. to ensure demolition crews did not arrive without warning. In the end the government owners backed down and the building was saved. It was later converted into upmarket apartments, destroying the spacious interior hall in the process.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Dominion Post Collection (PAColl-7327)
Reference: EP/1986/2707
Photograph by Greg King

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Ben Schrader, 'Historic places - Destruction and renewal, 1980s to 2000s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 4 July 2022)

Story by Ben Schrader, published 22 Oct 2014, updated 19 Aug 2016