The Ellen Melville Centre is an Auckland Council community hub in the centre of Auckland city.
Formerly known as Pioneer Women's and Ellen Melville Hall, the Ellen Melville Centre has five diverse hireable spaces, and easy access onto Freyberg Place.
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09 - 379 2030
You can book Ellen Melville Centre for your meetings, private functions, exhibitions, films, concerts and performances.
Betty Wark Room
Eleitino (Paddy) Walker Room
Elizabeth Yates Room
Marilyn Waring Room
Pioneer Women's Hall
Main Door 1: HELEN CLARK ROOM (Ground) / PIONEER WOMENS (Upstairs Level 1)
Door 2: BETTY WARK ROOM (Ground) / ELIZABETH YATES (Level 1) / PIONEER WOMENS
Door 3: ELETINO (PADDY) WALKER ROOM
Door 4: MARILYN WARING ROOM (Lower Ground)
In 1913, Auckland elected Ellen Melville the first female councillor in New Zealand. Ellen suggested a hall for women’s societies and a memorial to pioneer women in the province. Tibor Donner designed the project, but it wasn't completed until 1962 due to the war. This was after Ellen’s death in 1946.
It has had a variety of uses over the years including a childcare centre.
After a reburbishment, the complex reopened as The Ellen Melvile Centre on 15 September 2017. The five rooms in the centre were named after Ellen, as well as the influential pioneer women below.
Helen Clark (1950 - )
Helen Clark was New Zealand's 37th Prime Minister and the first woman elected into this position in 1999. As a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, she advocated for global action for women’s equality.
In 2009, she was the first woman appointed as Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). At the time Forbes ranked her the 21st most powerful woman in the world. She also chaired the United Nations Development Group.
She is a member of the Order of New Zealand for services to the country.
Elizabeth Yates (1845 – 1918)
Elizabeth Yates was the first woman in the British Empire elected as Mayor and a strong advocate for women’s suffrage. She was Mayor of Onehunga Borough during 1888-92 and councillor during 1885-88 and 1899-1901.
Premier Richard Seddon and Queen Victoria both congratulated her on her achievements.
A pioneer in the participation of women in public life, she was a Justice of the Peace and officiated as a magistrate for cases involving women.
Betty Wark (1924 – 2001)
Betty Wark was a strong voice for women, and Maori and Pacific Island people.
In the 1960's she was involved in the Maori Women's Welfare League, the Maori community centre at Ponsonby and Te Unga Waka, the Maori Catholic urban marae in Epsom.
She also helped tenants affected by urban renewal through the Freemans Bay Advisory Committee.
In the 1970's, she ran hostels to accommodate homeless young Maori and Pacific island men. In 1976, the first of the Arohanui Incorporated homes is set up in Ponsonby and Betty took up a position as a house mother.
She was involved in the Ponsonby Citizens Advice Bureau and the People’s Union, and helped form the Tenants' Protection Association.
Awarded the Queen's Service Medal, she was elected as an Auckland City Councillor at 63 years old.
Marilyn Waring (1952 - )
Highly commended for her contribution to feminism, human rights and environmental issues, Marilyn has received:
• Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977
• Commemorative Medal in 1990
• Suffrage Centenary Medal in 1993
• Special Award of NZ Foundation for Peace Studies for Peacework in 1995
• Companion of the NZ Order of Merit in 2008
• AUT award for Excellence in Graduate Research in 2010
• Doctor of Letters Honoris causa, Glasgow Caledonia University – for her “outstanding international contribution towards the understanding of feminism and female human rights"
• NZ Human Rights Defender award in 2013
• Women of Influence Award in 2013
• AUT University Medal in 2014
• NZ Institute of Economic Research Economics Award in 2014
The College of Nurses (Aotearoa) now award an annual scholarship for graduate study called the Marilyn Waring Scholarship.
Eleitino (Paddy) Walker (1917 – 2015)
Eleitino Edwina Diana Patricia (Paddy) Walker was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Auckland City Councillor.
She was First Peace Ambassador for the Pan Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association and a Founding member and Founding President of P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A. (Women) Inc.
She was also President of the National Council of Women (Auckland branch).
As well as classes and community programmes, the centre also hosts arts, culture and technology events. There’s something for everyone!
This historic building has five rooms available for hire. Also available is a flexible urban living room which integrates on to the outdoor area of Freyberg Place.