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Newtown and Berhampore local history

What will I find on this page?

Wondering about the local history of Newtown or Berhampore? On this page we aim to collect relevant library resources and interesting local history websites about Newtown and Berhampore, as well as highlight notable persons and organisations long established in Newtown that have a strong community link.



This is simply 'New town' - one of Wellington's first outlying suburbs.


Berhampore was named after a place in Bengal. Local landowner George Hunter married the daughter of Major Paul, an ex-Indian Army officer, and used this name for his holding in honour of his father-in-law. Many of the streets in this suburb were also then given Indian names.

Features Historical & Current

Athletic Park photograph

Athletic Park

Athletic Park "opened for sport" on 6 April, 1896. The final match at the ground was on Sunday 10 October 1999. A crowd of 30,000 was at the Wellington Lions v. Otago match to farewell The Park. The rugby ground was demolished in 2000 and is now the site of a retirement village.

Wellington Hospital photographWellington Hospital

Located in Riddiford St, Newtown, Wellington Hospital was built on its current site in 1878. It has just finished a phase of expansion and renovation.

Newtown Park

Newtown Park, located in Manchester St., Newtown, is a natural amphitheatre. It includes a sports stadium with an athletic track - it's the home of Wellington's athletics - and has a soccer ground above it. You'll find it next to the Zoo on Wellington's green belt.

The New Zealand Film Archive's oldest piece of New Zealand film is believed to have been filmed at Newtown Park - The Departure of the Second Contingent for the Boer War (you can watch online). View an image of Newtown Park Military Camp, 1900, via NZHistory.net.

Government House - Wellington

Government House is located in Dufferin St., Newtown. A Tudor-style house built between 1908 and 1910; Lord Islington was the first Governor to live in it. It was designed by the Government Architect of the time, John Campbell, but his assistant, Claude Paton, did most of the work on it. Government House is a large, two-storied house built of wood. It has a ballroom, grand staircase and dozens of rooms which are used for entertaining special visitors. The Governor-General lives in about one-third of the house. This property has wonderful gardens and grounds. The grounds were once the site of the former Mount View Asylum.

Explore Wellington - City to Sea Walkway (see point A)

Truby King Reserve

Truby King Reserve

Truby King House and Garden is a 1.9 hectare heritage-listed estate in Melrose. The estate was once home to Sir Truby and Lady Isabella King - founders of the Plunket Society. The Truby King Mausoleum is also located in the garden.

Explore Wellington - Southern Walkway (see point 4)

Wellington Zoo

Zoo photographWellington Zoo was founded in April 1906 when a young lion named 'King Dick' (after Prime Minister Richard Seddon) was presented to Wellington City by the Bostok and Wombwell Circus. It is the oldest zoo in New Zealand and the third oldest in Australasia. It houses a variety of animals from New Zealand and overseas, including red pandas and tuataras. The Explore Wellington - Southern Walkway guides you along part of the Town Belt from the Botanic Garden, through parts of historic Aro Valley, Newtown, Berhampore and Island Bay.

Notable persons

(Please note, this list does not include people who are still alive.)

Truby King

Born in New Zealand in 1858, Frederic Truby King won the Eccles Scholarship for medicine at Edinburgh University, and started The Plunket Society in 1907. Truby King has touched the lives of most New Zealanders - as founder of the Plunket movement, that led our mothers and grandmothers into military-style baby management, his influence is enormous. Although his extreme and restrictive views about women would be ridiculed today, he gave them a health regime that dramatically reduced child mortality and was the envy of the world.

Fred Thompson Bowerbank, 1880-1960

Doctor, military medical administrator. Fred Thompson Bowerbank on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

Ronald Brian Castle, 1907-1984

Pharmacist, musician, instrument collector. Ronald Brian Castle on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

Zillah Vivien Castle, 1911-1997

Musician, instrument collector, music teacher. Zillah Vivien Castle on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

John Crewes, 1847-1925

Bible Christian minister, social worker, journalist. John Crewes on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

Alexander Galbraith, 1883-1959

Labourer, railway worker, trade unionist, communist, timber worker. Alexander Galbraith on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

Robin Hyde, 1906-1939

Poet, novelist, journalist. Robin Hyde on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

Martin Kennedy, 1839/1840? - 1916

Merchant, mine owner, businessman, Catholic layman. Martin Kennedy on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

Sybil Audrey Marie Lupp, 1916 - 1994

Mechanic, motor-racing driver, garage proprietor, motor vehicle dealer. Sybil Audrey Marie Lupp on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

Edna Bertha Pearce, 1906 - 1995

Kindergarten teacher and director, policewoman, internment camp supervisor. Edna Bertha Pearce on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

More biographies?

For more notable people from Newtown, visit The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.


  • Newtown! : community in a Wellington suburb, edited by Martin Doyle (1998).
    Published by the City Council in the late 1990's, this books covers many of the social services, unusual characters and past history which makes this area so special.
  • Newtown School Jubilee publications - these three jubilee publications from three different eras give a potted history of not only Newtown School but of the suburb as a whole:
  • Newtown School jubilee souvenir: 1879 to 1934.
  • 80th Anniversary Jubilee Celebrations, Newtown School, 1879 - 1959
  • On the edge of our city, by J.M. & B.M. Kenneally (1984).
  • The Streets of my City: Wellington, New Zealand, by F.L. Irvine-Smith (1948).
  • The Cyclopedia of New Zealand (volume 1, 1897)
    This late-Victorian almanac and directory for Wellington contains many entries for the businesses, institutions and notable Wellingtonians that were based in Newtown at the end of the 19th Century. This text is also available online through the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre
  • Images

    The images below have been sourced from Wellington City Libraries' Postcard Collection, and the National Library's Flickr Commons photostream. Click for a larger version.

  • Wellington Hospital, from the library's Postcard Collection
  • Public Library, Newtown, from the library's Postcard Collection
  • Wellington Hospital and grounds, from the library's Postcard Collection
  • Lake, Newtown Park, from the library's Postcard Collection
  • King Dick's new house, Wellington Zoo, from the library's Postcard Collection
  • Photographer: William Raine Hall. View of a rugby game at Athletic Park, Berhampore, Wellington, 1920s. Reference number: 1/1-005428-G, Photographic Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library
  • Photographer: William Hall Raine. Wellington Public Hospital building nearing completion, Adelaide Road, Newtown, ca 24 Aug 1927. Reference Number: PAColl-7796-17. Photographic Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library

    Library Online

    Here are some electronic resources to help you in researching Newtown's history:

  • The Wellington Local History Database
    This is an index database based around a collection of newspaper articles dating back to the 1940s when the clipping and indexing of local newspapers first began at the Central Library. The complete article can be viewed by either requesting the listed WVF subject file from library staff at Central Library, or requesting to see a microfilmed copy of the original newspaper.
  • The Evening Post Clippings Collection
    The Evening Post Clippings Collection contains several hundred thousand newspaper clippings collected between 1927 and 1977. It was originally assembled and maintained by Evening Post library staff as a reference collection by newspaper journalists and editors and is now housed on the 2nd Floor of the Central Library in 30 filing cabinets. A database search will result in a list of subject envelopes with each envelope containing up to 50+ clippings. A search on a suburb's name will bring up all those envelopes with the term in their subject heading though other subjects (such as the zoo or Wellington Hospital) may require more specific searches.
  • The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre
    The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre contains several heritage digitised books which contain a wealth of information about early Wellington suburbs (including the Cyclopedia of New Zealand). Run a simple keyword search and see happens!
  • Wellington City Archives
    Located near the Basin Reserve, the Wellington City Archives is one of the first places to visit if you wish to engage in primary historical research into Wellington's suburbs. The manner in which material is arranged at the archive means that you will need to approach your research with an interest in a specific street, building or institution rather than the suburb as a whole. There is an on-line database on their website which will enable you to see what files and other information is held, but you will have to visit the archive itself to view the material. Note that file retrievals normally take one working day to process from the time they are requested but requests can be made by phone or email.
  • Papers Past
    Provided by the National Library, Papers Past showcases selected 19th century New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The site currently contains digital images of over one million pages from more than 40 publications.
  • DigitalNZ
    Also from the National Library. This is is an initiative that aims to make New Zealand digital content easy to find, share and use. It includes content from government departments, publicly funded organisations, the private sector, community groups, and even social networking sites like Flickr. You can search across all available sources of information at once, or select your preferrred sources, and it's possible to refine your results by format, e.g. newspapers, images, manuscripts, digitised books, etc.
  • General community websites

  • Berhampore Centennial Community Centre
  • Explore Wellington - City to Sea Walkway
  • Rongotai Electorate Information (includes Newtown and Berhampore) (PDF)
  • Quick stats about Berhampore West (Statistics NZ)
  • Quick stats about Berhampore East (Statistics NZ)
  • Quick stats about Newtown West (Statistics NZ)
  • Quick stats about Newtown East (Statistics NZ)
  • Mary Potter Hospice
  • Berhampore Golf Course
    Explore Wellington - City to Sea Walkway (see point 10)
  • Newtown Community and Cultural Centre
  • Newtown Library
  • University of Otago School of Medicine
  • Smart Newtown
  • Wellington City Council
  • Wellington Hospital
  • National Hockey Stadium
    Explore Wellington - City to Sea Walkway (see point 7)
  • Toi Whakaari
  • NZ School of Dance
  • Contact us

    This page is written and maintained by our Local History Librarian, Gabor Toth. Our aim is to collect in one place useful sites and library resources for discovering historical content about Newtown & Berhampore. We'd be pleased to hear from you about this page - you can email us with any feedback.

    Heritage Links (Local History)