Wellington's George Porter Towers sign has been stolen as moves are made to demolish the brutalist-style building.

The towers were designed by Ian Athfield and built in the 1970s, but they're located right in the middle of a planned development for social and affordable housing.

Some want the building to be saved for its architectural significance.

An application to have the towers heritage-listed is still being considered. A spokesperson said the granting of consent for demolition was a local authority process and unrelated to Heritage New Zealand's consideration.

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Housing New Zealand is looking to build up to 300 homes at the Mt Cook site under a long-term lease.

Documents show on August 14 HNZ's application for certificate of compliance to demolish the 10-storey building was accepted. Resource consent is the next stage for the project.

Some want the building to be saved for its architectural significance. Photo / Georgina Campbell.
Some want the building to be saved for its architectural significance. Photo / Georgina Campbell.

That same week WCC had plans to remove the bronze "George Porter Towers" sign for safekeeping with demolition on the horizon.

The idea was to make some sort of memorial out of it to recognise David George Porter who is a significant figure in the history of social housing, WCC housing portfolio leader Brian Dawson said.

"Before we had a chance to do that, someone has stolen the sign. They've come in, they've unbolted it, and taken it down.

"It's quite a feat because it's a big sign and it was heavily bolted on, so someone's gone to a lot of effort", Dawson said.

The theft has been reported to police.

Jo Bailey, the woman who submitted the application for the towers to be heritage listed, has offered a $500 reward for information leading to the sign's safe return.

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Bailey was disheartened by HNZ's move to demolish the towers.

"I've always enjoyed it as a slightly bonkers building, with its cluster of house-like shapes on top and its big tower with the spiral staircase.

"Like it or loathe it, it has personality and something to say. It might be beige in colour but it's definitely not bland. It's a really quirky part of the Wellington skyline and it really belongs here", she said.

The building was architecturally unique and people would end up "kicking themselves" in the future for not treasuring it now, she said.


A Housing New Zealand spokesperson said they appreciated the architectural significance the towers held for some people in the community.

"The tower however is an earthquake risk and would require a significant amount of money to upgrade it. In order to maximize the site and provide the mix of public and affordable homes needed, the intention is to demolish the tower, subject to resource consent being granted."

The site was crucial to ensuring there was plenty of social housing in the city, Dawson said.

"In the perfect universe we'd have room for everything, we'd keep all of the historic buildings and we'd build all sorts of new ones that are fit for purpose but in reality we can't do that, we've only got limited space."