Michael Kelly


I am an historian who has worked mainly in historic heritage since I graduated from university in 1983. I worked for the Historic Places Trust (now Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga) and the Department of Conservation in the 1980s and early 1990s, between which I completed a Diploma of Journalism. I have had my own consultancy since 1997, working for clients such as Heritage New Zealand Pouhere and Department of Conservation, Wellington, Hutt, Gisborne and New Plymouth City Councils, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, New Zealand Defence Force and many others. I prefer to work in collaboration with other heritage specialists, as I see that as the way to get the best outcome for clients and heritage. 

I have written histories, heritage studies, conservation plans, heritage trails, heritage inventories and many other documents. I have written two biographies and two books on the Royal Wellington Golf Club.

I was the editor of Phanzine from 2000 to 2007. I taught heritage conservation at the School of Museum and Heritage Studies at Victoria University from 2007 to 2019.

I am married and live in Mt Cook, Wellington with my wife Helen McCracken and my children Caitlin and Conal. In my (regrettably small) leisure time I like to play golf, taste beer and wine, watch sport, listen to music and ignore the garden.

Although I have prepared many hundreds of documents, reports and histories, relatively few are ‘published’ in the literal sense of the word. Some of those that have been are as follows:

The New Zealand Government Buildings: Past and Present, Department of Conservation, 1996

‘The History of Old Coach Road’, in Onslow Historian, Vol. 27, No.2, 1999

“Building a Case: Assessing Significance” in Trapeznick, Alex ed., Common Ground: Heritage and Public Places in New Zealand, Otago University Press, 2000

‘Lung of the Capital: The Basin Reserve’, in Gentry K. and McLean G. 2006, Heartlands: New Zealand historians write about where history happened, Penguin Books, Auckland

Wild animal control huts: a national heritage identification study, Department of Conservation, Wellington 2007

Royal Wellington Golf Club: A Continuing History 1995-2009, RWGC, Wellington 2009

Carry On: A Biography of John Wilson, Wilson Family, Wellington 2012

The Heretaunga Course: Royal Wellington Golf Club 2011-2014, Wellington 2014 (with Mark Stephens)

Examples of (and links to) my recent professional work may be found below:

Mt Victoria Heritage Study (2017)

National War Memorial Conservation Plan, 2018 (for Ministry for Culture and Heritage, with Russell Murray and Sarah Poff)

Sarjeant Gallery Conservation Plan, 2019 (with Russell Murray and Chris Cochran)

Shamrock Hotel Conservation Plan, 2020 (with Russell Murray and Chris Cochran)

Fyffe House Conservation Plan, 2020 (with Russell Murray and Sarah Poff)


  • Assessments of environmental effects
  • Expert witness
  • Heritage inventory preparation
  • Heritage trail preparation
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Tour guiding


  • Heritage
  • Local