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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.


Tukutuku were presented to the New Zealand pioneers’ and descendants’ club by Mr and Mrs Eruera Stirling for the opening of the Pioneer Women’s Hall in 1962. 

Ngati Whatua Orakei Weavers restored the Tukutuku for the opening of the Ellen Melville Centre on Friday 15th September 2017.

The image (photo credit: David St George) on the left hand side shows the Tukutuku within the centre.

People in Freyberg place outside Ellen Melville Centre

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09 - 379 2030

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 (Dining) - 30 people
  • Capacity standing - 50 people

Eleitino (Paddy) Walker Room

  • Capacity seated (Dining) - 20 people
  • Capacity standing - 25 people

Elizabeth Yates Room

  • Capacity seated (Dining) - 20 people
  • Capacity standing - 45 people

Marilyn Waring Room

  • Capacity seated (Dining) - 20 people
  • Capacity standing - 25 people

Pioneer Women's Hall

  • Capacity seated (Dining) - 140
  • Capacity standing - 205 people 

Freyberg Place Entrances

Main Door 1: HELEN CLARK ROOM (Ground) / PIONEER WOMENS (Upstairs Level 1)

 High Street Entrances

Door 4: MARILYN WARING ROOM (Lower Ground) 

Freyberg Place and High Street entrance information repeated as an image

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

Check out the programmes


Plunket Clinic

Pilates, Tuesday's 11.45am, $15 cash

Events via OurAuckland

No events found