Our story

With ambitious aspirations to grow both in size and influence, Te Huanui is important to our future and a great opportunity for positive inner-city development.

The site at Te Huanui has considerable potential. Its location at the crossroads of the central city, Te Aro and Kelburn provides the University with a rare opportunity to grow, to strengthen connections to Wellington, and to make a significant contribution to the capital city.

The site is currently occupied by the Gordon Wilson Flats and the McLean Flats, both of which are abandoned. The Gordon Wilson Flats is a large former state housing development that was completed in 1959. Structural issues were identified in 2011 and the building, then owned by Housing New Zealand, was deemed potentially earthquake prone. Residents of its 87 units were evacuated in May 2012.

In 2014, the University purchased the site occupied by the Gordon Wilson Flats from Housing NZ.

A District Plan change to rezone the site as ‘institutional precinct’ was considered at a Wellington City Council hearing in December 2015 and approved in April 2016, along with an application to delist the building as a heritage site. These changes would enable the University to provide improved educational and research facilities for the benefit of Wellington and New Zealand.

In 2017, the Council’s decision to delist the Gordon Wilson Flat’s heritage status was successfully challenged in the Environment Court.

In 2019, the University purchased the McLean Flats, which neighbour the Gordon Wilson Flats, from Housing NZ. The University did this to ensure it would be able to maximise the potential of the site. While the Gordon Wilson Flats are unsafe and unsuitable for renovation, our proposal for Huanui includes the retention and refurbishment of the McLean Flats. Wellington City Council designated the Gordon Wilson Flats as earthquake prone in June 2019.

In July 2019, the University began a year-long feasibility study to better understand the site and its potential.

The University is now applying for resource consent to redevelop the site in a way that will enhance the area and contribute to Wellington and the wider Wellington community. If successful, the redevelopment would involve the demolition of the Gordon Wilson Flats. The smaller McLean Flats would be retained, refurbished, and integrated within modern research and teaching facilities, acknowledging the legacy of this site in our city's social history.

The Te Huanui proposal includes the construction of a dedicated pedestrian link between the city and Kelburn campus, as well as a lively and spacious outdoor plaza. University and civic communities alike would find themselves at home at Te Huanui—a place that celebrates education, collaboration, innovation and vocation.

True to its name, Te Huanui evokes both a pathway between the city and our Kelburn campus, and also represents Te Herenga Waka’s commitment to ambitious research for transformative impact and education that prepares students for extraordinary lives.

Take a look at our timeline.