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Auckland Council

About Ellen Melville Centre

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.

An artist's impression of the revamped Ellen Melville Centre, Freyberg Place and Courthose Lane.

Booking Ellen Melville Centre

You can book Ellen Melville Centre for your meetings, private functions, exhibitions, films, concerts and performances.

Betty Wark Room

  • Capacity seated - 40 people
  • Capacity standing - 50 people

Eleitino (Paddy) Walker Room

  • Capacity seated - 20 people
  • Capacity standing - 25 people

Elizabeth Yates Room

  • Capacity seated - 31 people
  • Capacity standing - 45 people

Marilyn Waring Room

  • Capacity seated - 20 people
  • Capacity standing - 25 people

Pioneer Women's Hall

  • Capacity seated - 173
  • Capacity standing - 205 people 

History of Ellen Melville

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.

The Pioneer Women's and Ellen Melville hall in Dec 1963.

Influential Pioneer Women

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).

Events at Ellen Melville Centre

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.



Circability classes at Ellen Melville Centre Plunket classes at Ellen Melville Centre
Splice community Youthtown workshops at Ellen Melville Centre


Programmes at Ellen Melville Centre


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Selwyn community education  Splice community  Plunket classes  Youthtown workshops

Starts 16 October

(8 weeks)

FREE Starts October  Starts 20 Sept  FREE Starts 21 Sept 

9:15 am - 12:15 pm

ESOL General English for Migrants
This course is designed for students with elementary and pre-intermediate English ability.

 8:30 am

 Walking Group
(Meets and departs from Helen Clark room)


 9:30 am -12:30 pm

 Playgroup and Child Health Clinic (Helen Clark & Marilyn Waring rooms)  

 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Hip Hop Dance Workshop
For ages 13+
(Pioneer Womens Hall) 

To register or for more information call phone 521 9623 or go to  10:00 am - 11:00 am

Chinese Seniors friendship group
(Helen Clark room)

 Youthtown workshops Selwyn community education

 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Community Splicing
(Helen Clark room)


 FREE Starts 20 Sept 

  Starts 19 Oct
  12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Lunchtime Talks
(Helen Clark room)

 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm 

Theatre Workshops (Pioneer Womens Hall) 

9.15am – 12.15pm


Prepare yourself to take the General IELTS test. The teacher will explain each component and you will practice each component.  For students with a minimum of intermediate level English.

   2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
The Digital Sports Hour
(Helen Clark room)
 Splice community  Splice community
   2:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Community Splicing
(Helen Clark room)
 FREE  12 Oct to 14 Dec
   6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Tuesday Night with Splice
(Helen Clark room)

 10:30 am -11:30 am
Yoga Playgroup 

5:30 pm - 6:30 pm 
Tai Chi


  Toastmasters meetings    6:30pm – 8:30 pm
Life Drawing
(Betty Wark room)

Starts 10 Oct


7:00 am - 8:30 am   Toastmasters Meetings
(Betty Wark room)


Circability classes

  Starts 3 Oct    
  6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Contemporary Poi
  7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Mindfulness through Juggling
  Selwyn community education    

Starts 17 Oct

(8 weeks)


9.15am – 12.15pm

ESOL Workplace English

This course is designed for students with Upper Intermediate and Advanced English. Useful for staff with English as a second language.

  To register or for more information call phone 521 9623 or go to    


Contact Us

 09 379 2030


Events via OurAuckland