The sound of music in the central city

Imagine Wellington’s Civic Square buzzing with music students, professional musicians and enthusiastic amateurs.

Wakefield street elevation

Imagine catching snippets of rehearsals on your way to work, popping into a student performance on your way home, browsing and listening to works in a first-class music library or joining a community musical event. Imagine the Wellington Town Hall reopened, revitalised and once again home to outstanding musical performances.

All these experiences could soon become a reality thanks to a collaboration between Victoria, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) and Wellington City Council to create a national centre of musical excellence in the heart of the capital city.

Once completed, Victoria’s New Zealand School of Music (NZSM) will take up residence, as will the NZSO, in a complex that features a restored and earthquakestrengthened Wellington Town Hall and redeveloped adjoining buildings.

The first stage, involving strengthening of the Town Hall, starts soon. Victoria and the NZSO are jointly fundraising for $30 million towards the project, which would create purpose-built facilities for the NZSM and NZSO and link them to the Town Hall and Civic Square.

Former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast is leading the fundraising campaign. “This is one of those rare opportunities that can truly inspire a community to create something magnificent. We’re looking for support to achieve our vision for a world-class centre of music innovation in Wellington’s Civic Square.”

“This is a game changer for music at Victoria and our engagement with Wellington’s creative communities and industries,” says Professor Jennifer Windsor, Victoria’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“We’re fortunate to offer the best and most comprehensive education for music in the country. Now we hope not only to have the facilities to match that, but to be a committed partner in nurturing Wellington and New Zealand as a magnet for creative talent.”

The new director of the NZSM, Professor Sally Jane Norman, is also upbeat. “Not only will the School have access to state-of-the-art educational and performance facilities, including the Town Hall’s world-class acoustics, it will also benefit from shared teaching and research with the NZSO.

“No other university in this part of the world has the opportunity to co-locate their School of Music with a full-time professional symphony orchestra.” Victoria hopes to welcome its first students to the national music centre in 2022.

To find out more and get involved with the fundraising campaign.

Wanted: Your memories of Wellington’s grand old dame

Closed since earthquakes in Wellington in 2013, the Town Hall has always held a special place in the hearts of Wellingtonians.

The remarkable acoustics of its main auditorium have been rated among the world’s best and, over the years, the building has played host to events ranging from the exquisite to the wild.

From magnificent classical concerts to the pounding beats of dance parties, from debutante balls to the recording of the soundtracks for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, the Town Hall has provided the backdrop for our memories.

People are sharing these memories on the MyTownHall blog and we’d love to hear yours! Send your stories, images or videos to