Heritage > The Wellington Waterfront
View of the Wellington waterfront.
View of the Wellington waterfront.
Few issues have had a higher profile in the minds of many Wellingtonians than the development of the Wellington waterfront. For over a century, much of what we now consider to be open public space was locked away from the average citizen with a line of stern buildings and wrought iron gates. These marked the boundary line between land controlled by the Wellington Harbour Board and Wellington City Council. Inside the gates, cranes shifted mountains of freight and heavy trucks and machinery moved continuously. It was a dirty and dangerous place and for much of it, access was tightly restricted. The Harbour Board's rule was law - even City Council bylaws did not apply on the waterfront.
However from the early 1980s things began to change. Most commercial shipping was now using the container wharf at Aotea Quay, so there was far less activity and heavy machinery operating around the inner harbour wharves. The development of Frank Kitts Park brought a splash of green to the otherwise grey concrete and asphalt wharfs. The excitement of waterfront motor racing began in 1985 and the first dragon boat festival was held in the late 1980s. People began to realise that an important and exciting public space was sitting on the city's doorstep which until then had been largely ignored. Then in 1989 as part of a national process of local body amalgamations, the Wellington Harbour Board merged into the Wellington City Council and for the first time since 1880, the City had direct control over how the Wellington waterfront was going to develop.
The establishment of Lambton Harbour Management (now called Wellington Waterfront Ltd) at around this time saw the creation of a publicly owned organisation which was dedicated to day-to-day management of the waterfront, as well as overseeing future developments and trying to find a balance between commercial and recreational activity. Though often controversial, Lambton Harbour Management have had a huge role in opening up the waterfront to the citizens of Wellington.
As an area still under continual development, the Wellington waterfront offers a fascinating example of urban planning and renewal in progress.
The library has a number of resources which can be found in the Central Library to help you research the past history, the present and future developments of the waterfront in greater detail. Some of the books may also be available in branch libraries. You can check the library's online catalogue for location details of these books and their availability.
Most of these books are available as lending copies, but some are always in high demand so remember that reference copies are always available of the 2nd floor of the Central Library. Most of these books look at the waterfront from a historical perspective, helping to put into perspective the extraordinary changes that have taken place in the last two decades.
The library has been collecting a number of resources for several years which concentrate on the current development of the waterfront area. Most of these have not been published as books, so they are kept behind the reference desk on the 2nd floor of the Central library.
Many of these non-book resources don't appear on the library's online catalogue, so the best thing to do is to ask a reference librarian on the 2nd floor if you wish to view or copy any of this material - they will be more than happy to help!
Such material includes:
One of the most useful resources is the collection of newspaper clippings that library staff have been carefully collecting for a number of years. These are placed in large envelopes and form part of the Wellington Vertical File collection which is kept behind the 2nd floor desk.
Check out our collection of online databases at www.mygateway.info. You'll need to log in with your library card number and surname to search these databases, so have your library card handy!
With mygateway.info, you can access databases like Proquest ANZ Newsstand, to help you track down newspaper articles published from the mid-1990s onwards.
The EBSCO suite of databases also features two resources you may find useful: the Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre (which provides online access to New Zealand Herald articles), and MasterFILE Premier - an excellent resource for international magazine and journal articles (you could search these for information on the phenomenon of redeveloping old disused wharfs and docks which has been happening in cities all over the world).
This is just a sample of what our databases have to offer - visit our mygateway.info New Zealand portal for a full selection of databases and resources.