WellingtonSee & Do
Inside the dining room of the Katherine Mansfield House on Tinakori Road. Blue walls are covered in decor from the 19th century, including a wall of china plates. The table is set with candleabra and pink china.

Katherine Mansfield House & Garden

On a residential Wellington street in the historical suburb of Thorndon, you’ll find a wooden two-story house fringed by a well-kept garden. This is where writer Katherine Mansfield (1888 to 1923) was born and lived for the first five years of her life.

Mansfield wrote short stories, poetry, letters, journals, and reviews. Many of her works have been translated into more than 25 languages.

In the 100 years since the Mansfield family lived at the Tinakori Road address, the house was converted into flats. Its connection to the internationally famous author was all but forgotten. Established in 1986, the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society began work to restore the house. They aimed to recreate how it would have looked when Mansfield’s family lived there.

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The society worked with an expert in the furniture and interiors of 19th-century New Zealand. The wallpaper in the hallway is a recreation of the original, made from fragments found in the 1980s renovation. The dining room is a vibrant hue of sky blue, reflecting the little-known Victorian-era appetite for colour. The house contains furniture made from rare native New Zealand timber, stained to look ebonised as was fashionable in Europe at the time.

Visitors to the house can step back in time to 19th-century Wellington. Take a self-guided tour to understand the function of each room, and learn about Katherine’s life. A permanent exhibition provides a timeline of her life. There’s also a reading corner to discover her work. The house has a changing exhibition space, showcasing artists from Wellington and beyond. Guided tours with the knowledgeable team can be booked in advance.

Katherine Mansfield began writing as a teenager and soon vowed to make it her career. After completing a couple of years of high school in London, she decided to make the Northern Hemisphere her home. She spent much of her time living and writing in England, Switzerland, and France. Mansfield died in 1923 at the age of 34 from tuberculosis. Her legacy of letters and modernist short stories lives on. It inspires writers, musicians, and artists and draws visitors from around the world to visit her birthplace in Wellington.