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Victoria University of Wellington (Māori: Te Whare Wānanga o Te Ūpoko o Te Ika a Māui) is a university in Wellington, New Zealand. It was established in 1897 by Act of Parliament, and was a constituent college of the University of New Zealand.

Victoria University of Wellington
Te Whare Wānanga o Te Ūpoko o Te Ika a Māui
MottoSapientia magis auro desideranda (Latin)
Motto in English
Wisdom is more to be desired than gold[1]
ChancellorNeil Paviour Smith[2]
Vice-ChancellorGrant Guilford[3]
Students22,273 (2017) [4]
Undergraduates16,787 (2012)[5]
Postgraduates4,829 (2012)[5]

New Zealand New Zealand
Victoria University of Wellington logo.svg

The university is well known for its programmes in law, the humanities, and some scientific disciplines, and offers a broad range of other courses. Entry to all courses at first year is open, and entry to second year in some programmes (e.g. law, criminology, creative writing, architecture, engineering[6]) is restricted.

Victoria had the highest average research grade in the New Zealand Government's Performance-Based Research Fund exercise in 2012, having been ranked 4th in 2006 and 3rd in 2003.[7] Victoria has been ranked 221st in the World's Top 500 universities by the QS World University Rankings (2018).[8]



The original 1903 plan for Victoria University[9]
The Te Toki a Rata building was completed in 2017, and houses the School of Biological Sciences

Victoria is named after Queen Victoria, as 1897 was the 60th anniversary of her coronation. There was a dispute initially as to where to site it, and it opened in temporary facilities in Thorndon. It was eventually decided to place it in Kelburn, where it still has its primary campus. This decision was influenced by the Cable Car company's offer of a donation of £1,000 if it were located in Kelburn so that students would patronise the Cable Car from the city.[10] Several of the Company investors like Martin Kennedy were supporters of Seddon, who stalled on releasing land on the alternative Mount Cook Gaol site for the university, although this site was widely supported in Wellington.[11]

The foundation stone of the historic Hunter Building was laid in 1904. The original name was Victoria University College, but on the dissolution of the University of New Zealand in 1961 Victoria or "Vic" became the Victoria University of Wellington, conferring its own degrees.

An extramural branch was founded at Palmerston North in 1960. It merged with Massey College on 1 January 1963. Having become a branch of Victoria upon the University of New Zealand's 1961 demise, the merged college became Massey University on 1 January 1964.[12]

In 2004, Victoria celebrated the 100th birthday of its first home, the Hunter Building.

Victoria has expanded beyond its original campus in Kelburn, with campuses in Te Aro (Faculty of Architecture and Design), and Pipitea (opposite Parliament, housing the Faculty of Law and Victoria Business School). Victoria also hosts the Ferrier Research Institute and the Robinson Research Institute in Lower Hutt, the Coastal Ecology Laboratory in Island Bay and the Miramar Creative Centre, in Park Rd, Miramar.

In 2015, Victoria opened a new campus in Auckland to service the growing demand for its courses and expertise.[13]

Name-change proposalEdit

In May 2018 it was reported that Victoria was exploring options to simplify its name to University of Wellington[14] (as distinct from Wellington University in Fort Collins, Colorado.[15] Vice-Chancellor Grant Guillford said that the university was pursuing a name change in order to reduce confusion overseas, as several other universities also carried the "Victoria" name.[16] On 27 July 2018, the Victoria University of Wellington Council agreed in principle to the name change, as well as replacing the Māori name with Te Herenga Waka.[17] Of the 2,000 public submissions on the name-change proposal, 75% strongly opposed it. Alumni and students strongly opposed the name change, staff gave mixed feedback, while other university stakeholders[which?] favoured the name change.[18][19]

On 24 September 2018 Victoria University's Council voted by a majority of nine to two to change the university's name to the University of Wellington. The Council also voted to adopt the new Māori name of Te Herenga Waka. The University's Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford abstained from the vote, citing a conflict of interest. Critics such as Victoria University law professor Geoff McLay criticized the name change for erasing 120 years of history. By contrast, Chancellor Neil Pavious-Smith defended the outcome of the vote as "one decision in a much broader strategy to try and help the university really achieve its potential".[20][19] The Council would submit its recommendation to the Minister of Education to make the final decision.[21][19]

On 18 December 2018 the Minister for Education, Chris Hipkins, announced that he had rejected the University Council's recommendation, stating that the proposed change did not have sufficient support from Victoria's staff, students or alumni, and that such a change would not be in keeping with institution accountability or be in the national interest.[22][23] On 6 May 2019 Victoria University's Council announced that it would not contest the Education Minister's decision to reject its name-change proposal. The name change had received strong opposition from faculty, alumni, students, and the Wellington City Council.[24][25]

General informationEdit

Victoria University of Wellington's Pipitea Campus: the Faculty of Law
Victoria University of Wellington's Pipitea Campus: the west wing of Wellington railway station
Victoria University of Wellington's Kelburn Campus: the Hunter Building
Victoria University of Wellington's Kelburn Campus

Its main campus is in Kelburn, a suburb on a hill overlooking the Wellington central business district, where its administration and humanities & social science and science faculties are based. The law and commerce and administration faculties are in the Pipitea Campus,[26] near Parliament Buildings, which consists of Rutherford House, the restored Old Government Buildings, and the West Wing of the Wellington railway station. A smaller campus in Te Aro[27] is the base for the architecture and design schools. The newest facility, the Victoria University Coastal Ecology Laboratory supports research programmes in marine biology and coastal ecology on Wellington's rugged south coast.

Day-to-day governance is in the hands of the University Council, which consists of 20 people: four elected by the Court of Convocation, three elected by the academic staff, one elected by the general staff, two appointed by the student union executive, four appointed by the Minister of Education, four selected by the Council itself, and the Vice-Chancellor. The Court of Convocation is composed of all graduates who choose to participate. Charles Wilson, at the time the chief librarian of the parliamentary library, was a member of the original council and its chairman for two years.[28]

For New Zealand residents entry to most courses is open, with a few exceptions. Performance Music requires an audition. There is selection for entry into the second year in degrees such as the LLB, BArch and BDes. BA in criminology and creative writing is also based on selection.

It is one of only three institutions (University of Auckland and Unitec being the others) to offer a degree in architecture in New Zealand.

In conjunction with Massey University it owns the New Zealand School of Music.

Coat of armsEdit

The blazon for the arms is: Vert on a fesse engrailed between three Crowns Or, a Canton Azure charged with four Estoilles Argent.

What this means: The colour of the shield is first described. Vert is green so the shield is green. A fess is a horizontal stripe across the shield and engrailed means the edges of the fess are wavy. The fess is between three crowns and or means gold so the crowns are golden. Conventionally with three objects two are placed above and one below, in this case, the fess. A canton is a square and azure is blue so a blue square is placed on the fess. An estoille is a star and argent is silver so there are four silver stars on the canton. These are supposed to represent the Southern Cross.

Crest: The crest sits above the shield and consists of a crown on which sits a lion rampant (facing left) holding a staff from which flies a banner with the cross of Saint George.

Supporters: These are a lion and a Māori figure.

Motto: "Sapientia magis auro desideranda" which may be translated as "Wisdom is more to be desired than gold".

The modern depiction: The Coat of Arms has been redesigned as a corporate logo and is depicted in monotone only and usually in green. The crest and scroll with the motto have disappeared and what was left has been stylised rather than being depicted in the traditional heraldic manner.


The library was established in 1899.[29] The collections are dispersed over four locations: Kelburn Library, Law Library, Architecture and Design Library and Commerce Library. The library is also has a collection of digital resources and acquires full text material online. In addition to electronic resources, printed books and journals, the Library also acquires works in microform, sound recordings, videos and other media consistent with the University's academic programme needs.[30]

The library holds approximately 1.3 million printed volumes. It provides access to 70,000 print and electronic periodical titles and 200,000 e-books. It is an official Depository Library (DL-296) of the United Nations System (DEPOLIB), one of only three in the country. The J. C. Beaglehole Room is the official repository of all archival and manuscript material, and provides a supervised research service for Rare Books, for fine or fragile print items, and for 'last resort' copies of University publications.

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (NZETC) is a digital library of significant New Zealand and Pacific Island texts and materials, and is arranged according to the library of Congress classification system. The library has two online repositories: the ResearchArchive is its open research repository, which makes the university's research freely available online and the RestrictedArchive, which is the university's private research repository and is accessible only to Victoria University staff and students.[31]

Between April 2003 and February 2010 the library was home to two locally famous residents, Tessa Brown and Sandy Rankine, a pair of library cats.[32]


The faculties are:

  • Faculty of Architecture and Design[33]
  • Victoria Business School[34]
  • Faculty of Education[33]
  • Faculty of Engineering[35]
  • Faculty of Graduate Research[36]
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences[37]
  • Faculty of Law[38]
  • Faculty of Science[39]
  • Toihuarewa - a separate pan-University Faculty equivalent[40]

Faculty of LawEdit

Faculty of Law on the left, Houses of Parliament on the right.

The Faculty of Law is located in the restored Old Government Buildings at the centre of the country's law-making precinct, in close proximity to Parliament, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, and the District and High courts. The Faculty is rated 19th in the world in the 2013 QS World University Rankings[41] and led New Zealand's law faculties for research in the most recent Performance-Based Research Fund Evaluation.[42]

It offers undergraduate degrees (LLB and LLB(Hons)) and the postgraduate Certificate in Law (CertLaw), Diploma in Law (DipLaw) and Masters in Law (LLM) as well as the Doctor in Philosophy of Law (PhD). The Law Students' Society organises social events as well as legal skills competitions and public addresses. Many judges, MPs and notable New Zealanders are alumni of the Faculty. In 2013, the Faculty had 1781 law students enrolled. The Dean is Professor Mark Hickford.

Research centres and institutesEdit


Students' association and student mediaEdit

Halls of residence[45][46]Edit

Victoria operated

  • Boulcott Hall (Catered)
  • Capital Hall (Catered)
  • Joan Stevens Hall (Catered)
  • Katharine Jermyn Hall (Catered)
  • Weir House (Catered)
  • Willis St: Cumberland House (Catered)
  • Willis St: Education House (Self-catered)
  • University Hall (Self-Catered)
  • University Hall: Whānau House (Self-catered)

Privately operated

  • Te Puni Village (Catered & Self-catered)
  • Victoria House (Catered)
  • Helen Lowry Hall (Catered)
  • Everton Hall (Self-catered)
  • Stafford House (Self-catered)


In July, 2016, a Victoria University of Wellington staff member Rebekah Proctor was jailed for two years and five months for defrauding the university out of $480,000 – as of 27 October Proctor has appealed her sentence.[47][48] In October 2016 students protested the cut of several European languages, including the German language department losing 43% of staff.[49] Also in 2016, Victoria University of Wellington was embroiled in a row with the Tertiary Education Union, when it was discovered that union members were being paid less than non-union members.[50] This led the TEU to characterise the Vice-Chancellor Grant Guildford as being anti-union, and resulted in a one-day strike.[50][51][52]

In late 2015, academics and students at Victoria University of Wellington spoke out at the university hosting Israeli Defence Force troops for a public lecture.[53][54] The opposition for this public lecture came about because of the soldier's involvement in Operation Protective Edge, which is thought to have killed at least 2000 Palestinians, most of them civilians.[53]

In 2012 a Facebook page that is associated with Victoria University of Wellington students, Overheard @ Vic, was in the media for the many rape comments that were made.[55] These included comments like "you've got to rape the paper, man, you can't let the paper rape you" and "at least ugly girls don't get raped".[55] In response to this, a spokesperson for Victoria University of Wellington said that "student safety was a key focus, and the university had partnered with police and Wellington City Council to promote awareness of personal safety".[55]

In 2010 there was widespread condemnation of Victoria University of Wellington removing the Gender Studies department.[56] In 2017, a minor in Gender Studies was made available.

Notable academics and staffEdit

Notable alumniEdit

Orientation Week in the old campus hub
Graduation ceremony
Panorama of the view from the fifth floor stairwell of the Cotton Building, Kelburn Campus.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Beaglehole, J. C. (1949). Victoria University College an Essay towards a History. pp. 60–61.
  2. ^ Wellington, Victoria University of (7 March 2018). "Chancellor Neil Paviour-Smith".
  3. ^ "Vice-Chancellor". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015.
  4. ^ (PDF) Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b "2012 Annual Report" (PDF). University of Victoria of Wellington. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 September 2013.
  6. ^ "Victoria University". Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  7. ^ Performance-Based Research Fund—Evaluating Research Excellence: the 2012 assessment Archived 12 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2013-04-12.
  8. ^ "QS World University Rankings". 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Victoria University Flickr".
  10. ^ Barrowman, Rachel (1999). Victoria University of Wellington 1899 ~ 1999 A History. Wellington: Victoria University Press. p. 25. ISBN 0-86473-369-0. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  11. ^ Bourke, Kevin (2008). Kelburn, King Dick and the Kelly Gang: Richard Seddon & Political Patronage. Wellington: Hit or Miss Publishing. pp. 81–84. ISBN 978-0-473-13450-1.
  12. ^ "Massey University history". Massey University. Archived from the original on 18 February 2008. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  13. ^ "Victoria University expands its presence in Auckland". 16 April 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015. Victoria University of Wellington is opening expanded premises in Auckland, providing a central city base to service growing demand for its courses and expertise.
  14. ^ "Victoria University mulls name change". Radio New Zealand. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  15. ^ Wellington University , LLC
  16. ^ Dreaver, Charlie (24 May 2018). "Victoria University name causes 'issues for graduates'". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  17. ^ "Victoria University agrees to remove "Victoria" from its name". 27 July 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Victoria University name change in sight despite opposition". Radio New Zealand. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  19. ^ a b c "Victoria University council votes in favour of changing name". Radio New Zealand. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  20. ^ Long, Jessica (24 September 2018). "Wellington's Victoria University votes to change its name to University of Wellington". The Dominion Post. Archived from the original on 7 December 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  21. ^ "Name simplification". Victoria University of Wellington. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  22. ^ Long, Jessica; Williams, Katarina (19 December 2018). "Victoria University of Wellington name change rejected by Minister". Archived from the original on 5 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  23. ^ "Victoria University of Wellington name change declined by education minister". Radio New Zealand. 18 December 2018. Archived from the original on 31 January 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  24. ^ Fonseka, Dileepa; Woolf, Amber-Leigh (6 May 2019). "Victoria University of Wellington abandons plans to change its name". Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  25. ^ "Victoria University of Wellington drops fight over name". New Zealand Herald. 6 May 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  26. ^ Wellington, Victoria University of (10 March 2017). "Pipitea campus".
  27. ^ "Te Aro Campus". Archived from the original on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 4 October 2006.
  28. ^ Scholefield, Guy Hardy, ed. (1940). A Dictionary of New Zealand Biography : M–Addenda (PDF). II. Wellington: Department of Internal Affairs. p. 520. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  29. ^ "The Library - Te Pātaka Kōrero". Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  30. ^ "Collection Development and Management |". Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  31. ^ "Local Digital Collections |". Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  32. ^ "Fundraiser for sick library cat | Otago Daily Times Online News : Otago, South Island, New Zealand & International News". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  33. ^ a b "Faculty of Architecture and Design - Faculty of Architecture and Design - Victoria University of Wellington".
  34. ^ "Victoria Business School - Victoria Business School - Victoria University of Wellington".
  35. ^ "Faculty of Engineering - Faculty of Engineering - Victoria University of Wellington".
  36. ^ "Home - Faculty of Graduate Research - Victoria University of Wellington". Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  37. ^ "Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Victoria University of Wellington".
  38. ^ "Faculty of Law - Faculty of Law - Victoria University of Wellington".
  39. ^ "Home - Faculty of Science - Victoria University of Wellington". Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  40. ^ Wellington, Victoria University of (2 December 2016). "Toihuarewa".
  41. ^ "Jump Start Rankings". Archived from the original on 24 May 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  42. ^ "Faculty of Law - Faculty of Law - Victoria University of Wellington".
  43. ^ "Robinson Research Institute". Victoria University of Wellington. 4 December 2014.
  44. ^ Wellington, Victoria University of. "Centres and institutes - Victoria University of Wellington".
  45. ^ "Hall comparison charts". Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  46. ^ "Self-catered halls" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 February 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  47. ^ "University fraudster appeals jail sentence". Radio New Zealand. 27 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  48. ^ "Staffer fleeced Victoria University". Stuff. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  49. ^ staff, Newshub digital (24 October 2016). "Students protest Victoria University of Wellington language cuts". Newshub. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  50. ^ a b "University in union pay row". Stuff. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  51. ^ "University slammed for 'anti-union' job ads". Radio New Zealand. 6 September 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  52. ^ "Staff see red over Vic Uni pay dispute". Radio New Zealand. 15 September 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  53. ^ a b "Protest over Israeli soldiers". Stuff. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  54. ^ "Soldiers' talk 'a propaganda exercise'". Radio New Zealand. 3 October 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  55. ^ a b c Kavanagh-Hall, Erin (25 October 2012). "Rape Crisis appalled by 'sick jokes'". Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  56. ^ Fisher, Amanda (1 December 2010). "Axing gender studies 'setback to rights'". Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  57. ^ Hughes, Beryl. "Patricia Marjorie Ralph". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  58. ^ "Rosslyn Shanks". iwonderweather. Retrieved 18 August 2016.

External linksEdit