Seminar with Dr Ben Schrader: ‘Inventing History: The Curious 1958 Campaign to Save Wellington’s Oldest Pākehā Building’ – Friday 23 September

The History Programme of the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington is hosting a seminar with Dr Ben Schrader on Friday 23rd September | 12.10-1.30pm .

Presented in OK406 at VUW and via ZOOM—please register for the Zoom by clicking this link:

Inventing History: The Curious 1958 Campaign to Save Wellington’s Oldest Pākehā Building

This talk examines the 1958 campaign to save what was then Wellington’s oldest Pākehā building: the Bethune and Hunter Building in Bond Street, built in 1843. Historic preservationists invented a tradition that placed the building ‘at the very heart of the foundation of the city’. They argued its preservation would provide a teaching resource about the early settler colonial town and enrich Wellingtonians’ place identities. Some of the city’s leading Pākehā historians – including John Beaglehole, Graeme Bagnall and Paul Pascoe – got behind efforts to save the building. Just when its future seemed assured, Wellington City Council demolished the structure. It was a huge shock for the city’s nascent historic preservation movement. However, in researching the campaign, I discovered that much of the preservationists’ history making was untrue. Why? And does this mean the Bethune and Hunter building’s demise was the right outcome? Alternatively, might its retention have encouraged more robust and diverse understandings of Wellington/Te Whanganui a Tara’s past to emerge?

For information can be found here.