Pioneer Women’s and Ellen Melville Memorial Hall

Many are surprised to learn that modern architecture can be ‘heritage’ too! It is important to preserve a range of building types and styles to hand on to future generations – not just the obviously old and pretty.

The Pioneer Women’s and Ellen Melville Memorial Hall in Freyberg Square in Auckland’s CBD was completed in 1962 and designed by Tibor Donner (1907-1993). Donner was the Chief Architect of Auckland City Council from 1946-67 and designed many well-known public buildings, including our Civic Administration Building and Parnell Baths.

Ref: 580-5695, Construction of the hall in 1961, Sir George Grey Special Collections
(Eliza) Ellen Melville (1882-1946) was the first female councillor in New Zealand and was elected to Auckland City Council in 1913. During her time on council, Ellen suggested that a hall be built for women's societies and as a memorial to the pioneer women of the province. Due to the war, this project was delayed and it was not until after Ellen's death that the project was finally given the green flag to go ahead. The hall opened on 5 September 1962.

Ref: 1093-ALBUM -214-13, Councillor Ellen Melville, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The hall is a category B heritage place in the legacy Auckland City District Plan (Central) (see reference number 304, Appendix 11). As well as the exterior, the fine interior with tukutuku panels and site surrounds are also protected. The upstairs is used as a community hall, while the ground floor is leased to shops. Just one of the many heritage assets owned by Auckland Council on behalf of the community.

Ref: 7-A12553, 1919 election advert for  Miss E. Melville, Sir George Grey Special Collections
 For more information about Ellen Melville and the hall, you can check out:
Ref: 580-8330, the hall in Dec 1963,  Sir George Grey Special Collections
Author: NB and Rebecca Harfield, Heritage Assets Advisor, Auckland Council  


  1. Thanks for this article, I used to work in the area so know the Ellen Melville Hall well and have been to a few events there. I didn't realise the same architect who designed the Civic administration building was also responsible for this (and the Parnell Baths). Tibor Donner and his work deserves to be better known by Aucklanders. Fascinating to see the photo of the area pre- Freyburg Square too! Dee


Post a Comment

Kia ora! Please leave your comment below.