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Heritage Buildings

The Wairarapa Combined District Plan lists a number of properties and buildings as being heritage items. Download our guide (PDF, 14MB) to discover further information about these heritage items. 

The Masterton District Council can provide one hour of free consultation with a Conservation architect if you have a property listed as a heritage item in the Wairarapa Combined District Plan and we also help with some of the maintenance costs ($50 per year is put aside for each house).

To apply for either of these you will need to put your request in writing to the Masterton District Council.

Heritage Precincts Guidelines

Victoria Street Heritage Precinct

The heritage precinct of Victoria Street in Masterton is valued for its high-quality housing from a cross section of eras, representative of early and developing Masterton. The subdivision of James Wrigley’s farm to create Victoria and Albert Streets in 1878 was the first major subdivision of suburban land outside the town, which was laid out in 1954. Victoria Street was considered a very desirable address in the period 1880-1910 – the quality of many of the houses reflects this. This precinct has value for its link to Masterton’s history, as well as for its distinct, high-quality character, adding to Masterton’s sense of place.

The maintenance and restoration of heritage buildings, as well as alterations/new developments, should be sympathetic to this heritage character so that they add to the value of the streetscape and preserve this important part of Masterton’s heritage.

Streetscape Character

The character of streetscape comes from a combination of elements:

  • a predominance of original cottages and villas
  • a consistency of one or two storey houses with common setbacks from the street edge
  • a limited range of materials, detailing and colours reflecting the times in which the houses were built.

Housing Types

The house designs of Victoria Street were based on overseas domestic building styles and were modified to suit local conditions such as climate, and the supply and cost of building materials. There are three types; Cottages, Villas and Bungalows.


Early dwellings on Victoria Street (1879-1881) were workers’ houses or small cottages. Cottages had two or four small rooms under a hip or gable roof with a lean-to kitchen at the rear.

Key elements of Victorian Cottages

  • symmetry
  • central corridor with one room on each side
  • front verandah
  • painted timber walls and corrugated iron roof
  • a low stud (wall) height of 2.4m (8ft)
  • house close to, or right on the street boundary
  • low picket front fence


Villas were larger, more complex houses than cottages. They gradually evolved to become more decorative in late Victorian and Edwardian eras. The most notable examples of villas in Victoria Street were built by the Byford brothers, who were renowned for their fine carpentry and craftsmanship.

Key elements of Villas

  • projecting front room(s) with bay windows
  • stud height of up to 3.6m (12ft)
  • greater complexity to roof forms than cottages
  • decorative timber work


Victoria Street contains some examples of the ‘Arts and Crafts’ bungalow style built in the 1920s. These houses have low pitched, sweeping roofs with deep verandah porches and large front gardens.

House additions and alterations

Alterations or additions to an existing house should consider the following:

  • whether the addition is in keeping with the type, style, materials, and details of the original.
  • minimising changes to the original house.
  • changes at the front of the house have perhaps the greatest potential to adversely affect the character of the precinct, therefore consider extending to the rear of the house.
  • ensure that as much of the original facade is maintained with front alterations.

Materials and details

The materials and details of houses reflect the era in which they were built. Consider the following:

  • use materials, features and forms that are appropriate for the age and style of the house. (This should be considered even for minor repairs and maintenance to the exterior of the house).
  • avoid mixing features from different periods.
  • avoid using modern materials such as aluminium windows and doors, which are incompatible with the original style.


  • As a general rule, try to ‘hide’ parking or make it as unobtrusive as possible to minimise effects to the streetscape. Consider the following:
  • new garages or carports should be located to avoid impact on the streetscape (preferably at side or rear of the house). If located at the side of houses, place behind the front wall of the house.
  • garages, carports and accessory buildings should use materials and colours that match the house.
  • when on-site parking is required and it is not possible to fit this at the side or rear, an open parking space is preferable to a structure in front of the house. Planting and paving can be used to ‘soften’ the appearance and make the most of limited space.

Fences and Planting

  • Traditionally front gardens were designed for public display with low fences and decorative planting. Consider the following:
  • choose front fences that match the era of the house
  • front fences should be low and no more than 1m high. Side fences (behind the rear of the house) and rear fences may be higher.
  • gates for driveways and paths from the street should maintain the fence line.
  • planting should be designed with consideration to enhancing the streetscape.
  • decorative planting will generally suit in the front yard.

Masters Crescent Heritage Precinct 

Includes houses in Masters Crescent, McGregor Crescent, Hoskings Place, Bennington and Beethan Streets in Masterton

The heritage precinct of Masters Crescent in Masterton is valued as a significant, intact example of the first Labour Government’s innovative model state housing programme of the 1940s. The state house is a valued and iconic feature of the New Zealand landscape and an important element of our national identity. Built from the best materials of the day and designed by architects, state houses embody simple and robust design. The overall layout and design of the area takes its cue from the garden city movement of the early twentieth century. The garden city ideals are expressed in the fenceless front gardens and the sense of open space. The maintenance and restoration of heritage houses, as well as alterations/new developments in this area, should be carried out in ways consistent with the uniqueness and long-term value of the area. These guidelines are designed to protect the unique qualities of the area without stifling people’s desire to make their own place.

Housing Types

The house designs of Masters Crescent are derived from popular architectural styles of the times; English Domestic Revival and Moderne Style.

English Domestic Revival

The majority of the houses are designed in this style. This style developed from the farmhouses and cottages of rural England with contributions from the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Key elements of English Domestic Revival

  • asymmetrIcal
  • steep pitched gable or hipped tiled roofs
  • detached and semi-detached house type
  • painted weatherboard, brick or cement render
  • use of ‘lean-to’ additions at side or rear
  • main entry at the front or side of the house
  • entry doors glazed
  • windows are timber and divided into panes
  • chimneys
  • plastered foundation walls (plinth)


Moderne Style

There are some examples of the Moderne Style. The Moderne style originates from the Modern Movement in Europe and was sleek and streamlined and characterised by rounded corners, horizontal lines, parapet walls concealing flat roofs and smooth wall surfaces.

Key elements of Moderne Style

  • asymmetrIcal
  • flat roof behind a parapet wall
  • face brick or plastered external walls
  • use of ‘add on’ forms, which reduce in height towards the rear of the section
  • main entry at the front or side of the house and located in a recessed porch
  • entry doors glazed
  • windows are timber and divided into panes
  • some windows wrap around external corners
  • some windows are circular
  • horizontal banding
  • plastered foundation walls (plinth)
  • chimneys

Alterations Checklist

Alterations or additions to an existing property should consider the following:


  • whether the addition is in keeping with the original style
  • the impact that the addition will have on its surroundings
  • extending to the rear of the house to minimise impact to the streetscape
  • ensure that as much of the original facade is maintained with front alterations
  • use materials and finishes that complement the existing house rather than alter it.
  • avoid plastering on face brickwork

Garages and gardens

  • avoid additions or garages at the front of the section so that the open aspect of the house to the street may be retained.
  • garages or carports at the side of houses should be set behind the front wall of the house
  • gardens should fit with the open feel of existing properties and high front fences should be avoided
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