Victoria’s history

The University, originally known as Victoria College, was founded in 1897. Teaching began at Victoria in April 1899 and in the first year 115 students enrolled.

Early years

For the first few years, lectures took place in rented accommodation in the city while a debate raged over where the new university’s home should be built. Eventually, the College Council decided to build on ‘six vertical acres’ in Kelburn, the site of the Kelburn Campus today.

Research

Research at Victoria began in 1899 following the arrival of the University’s four pioneering Professors—Thomas Easterfield, Hugh Mackenzie, Richard Maclaurin and John Rankine Brown.

Growth

In 1904, the first stage of what is today known as the Hunter Building was begun, and the building was opened in 1906 by the Governor of New Zealand, Lord Plunket.

A pattern of growth was quickly established. Student numbers rose from 254 in 1905 to over 700 in 1923, with three additions made to the building over this period. A reputation for fine teaching and research also grew, thanks to the efforts of early academics such as Professors ‘Tommy’ Hunter, J.C. Beaglehole and George von Zedlitz.

In 1961, the University of New Zealand system was dissolved, and on 1 January 1962, Victoria College became Victoria University of Wellington.

Expansion

The University incorporated the Wellington College of Education as the Faculty of Education on 1 January 2005. The following year, Victoria and Massey Universities set up the New Zealand School of Music, a centre of musical excellence that combined the institutions’ music programmes.

Today

From a single campus in Kelburn with fewer than 260 students, Victoria has grown into a network of campuses, research centres, institutes and partnerships worldwide.

Campus plaques are located across the University offering insights to those who have contributed to Victoria since it was established in 1897.