Victoria University of Wellington

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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]
Type Public
Chancellor Neil Paviour Smith [2]
Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford [3]
Students22,273 (2017) [4]
Undergraduates 16,787 (2012) [5]
Postgraduates 4,829 (2012) [5]

Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand
Campus Urban
Victoria University of Wellington logo.svg

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.

Māori language Polynesian language spoken by New Zealand Māori

Māori, also known as te reo, is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. Closely related to Cook Islands Māori, Tuamotuan, and Tahitian, it gained recognition as one of New Zealand's official languages in 1987. The number of speakers of the language has declined sharply since 1945, but a Māori language revitalisation effort slowed the decline, and the language has experienced a revival, particularly since about 2015.

Wellington Capital city of New Zealand

Wellington is the capital and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with 418,500 residents. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range. Wellington is the major population centre of the southern North Island, and is the administrative centre of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and the Wairarapa. It is the world's southernmost capital of a sovereign state. Wellington features a temperate maritime climate, and is the world's windiest city by average wind speed.

New Zealand Parliament legislative body of New Zealand

The New Zealand Parliament is the legislature of New Zealand, consisting of the Queen of New Zealand (Queen-in-Parliament) and the New Zealand House of Representatives. The Queen is usually represented by her governor-general. Before 1951, there was an upper chamber, the New Zealand Legislative Council. The New Zealand Parliament was established in 1854 and is one of the oldest continuously functioning legislatures in the world. It has met in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, since 1865.


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]

QS World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). Previously known as Times Higher Education–QS World University Rankings, the publisher had collaborated with Times Higher Education (THE) magazine to publish its international league tables from 2004 to 2009 before both started to announce their own versions. QS then chose to continue using the pre-existing methodology while Times Higher Education adopted a new methodology to create their rankings.


The original 1903 plan for Victoria University Victoria University plan (14849525480).jpg
The original 1903 plan for Victoria University
The Te Toki a Rata building was completed in 2017, and houses the School of Biological Sciences Te Toki A Rata Building, Victoria University of Wellington.jpg
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]

Kelburn, New Zealand Suburb in Wellington City, New Zealand

Kelburn is a central suburb of Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, situated within 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of the central business district.

Wellington Cable Car

The Wellington Cable Car is a funicular railway in Wellington, New Zealand, between Lambton Quay, the main shopping street, and Kelburn, a suburb in the hills overlooking the central city, rising 120 m (394 ft) over a length of 612 m (2,008 ft).

Richard Seddon 15th and longest-serving Prime Minister of New Zealand

Richard John Seddon was a New Zealand politician who served as the 15th Premier of New Zealand from 1893 until his death.

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.

Hunter Building historic building and original building of the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

The Hunter Building is the original building of the Victoria University of Wellington campus in Wellington, New Zealand.

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]

Palmerston North City in North Island, New Zealand

Palmerston North is a city in the North Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Manawatu-Wanganui region. Located in the eastern Manawatu Plains, the city is near the north bank of the Manawatu River, 35 km (22 mi) from the river's mouth, and 12 km (7 mi) from the end of the Manawatu Gorge, about 140 km (87 mi) north of the capital, Wellington. Palmerston North is the country's seventh-largest city and eighth-largest urban area, with an urban population of 86,600.

Massey University university in New Zealand

Massey University is a university based in Palmerston North, New Zealand, with significant campuses in Albany and Wellington. Massey University has approximately 30,883 students, 13,796 of whom are extramural or distance-learning students, making it New Zealand's second largest university when not counting international students. Research is undertaken on all three campuses, and more than 3,000 international students from over 100 countries study at the university.

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 proposal

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 information

Victoria University of Wellington's Pipitea Campus: the Faculty of Law Old Government Buildings, Wellington.JPG
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 Wellington Railway Station west wing.jpg
Victoria University of Wellington's Pipitea Campus: the west wing of Wellington railway station
Victoria University of Wellington's Kelburn Campus: the Hunter Building Hunter Building.jpg
Victoria University of Wellington's Kelburn Campus: the Hunter Building
Victoria University of Wellington's Kelburn Campus VUW-Kelburn.jpg
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 arms

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 Law

Faculty of Law on the left, Houses of Parliament on the right. VUW-Law.jpg
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 institutes

Victoria has more than 40 research centres and institutes, including

To see more, browse an A-Z List of Research Centres and Institutes [44]


Offices of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association. VUWSA Offices.jpg
Offices of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association.

Students' association and student media

Halls of residence [45] [46]

Victoria operated

Privately operated


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 staff

Notable alumni

Orientation Week in the old campus hub VUW-OWeek.jpg
Orientation Week in the old campus hub
Graduation ceremony VUWGraduation.jpg
Graduation ceremony
Panorama of the view from the fifth floor stairwell of the Cotton Building, Kelburn Campus. WellingtonPano.jpg
Panorama of the view from the fifth floor stairwell of the Cotton Building, Kelburn Campus.

See also

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Coordinates: 41°17′20″S174°46′06″E / 41.28889°S 174.76833°E / -41.28889; 174.76833