86 Khandallah Road, Khandallah, Wellington

Welcome to the Onslow Historical Society!

The Onslow Historical Society started from small beginnings in 1968. Founder President, the late R.J.(Bob) Meyer, of Johnsonville persuaded friends and historically minded people in the district to join with him and create a group dedicated to recording, conserving and promoting history. Over nearly 50 years we have grown membership to around 300 and built a large and significant community archive collection.

Our areas of interest are the northern and western suburbs of Wellington and adjoining rural land. This includes Churton Park, Glenside, Grenada Village, Paparangi and Newlands in the north, to Ngauranga, along Hutt Road to Kaiwharawhara on the east, Wadestown, Wilton and Chartwell from the south, along the western hills bordering Crofton Downs, Ngaio, Khandallah and Raroa, over the hill to Ohariu Valley, and Johnsonville. And everything in the middle!

There is a rich history here. Maori pa existed at Makara and Ohariu, at Ngauranga and Kaiwharawhara. Maori travelled across the land, hunted in the bush clad hills and built and maintained their gardens. European settlement from 1840 saw this land purchased and become part of the NZ Company's first colony. The hundred acre blocks were carved out of this landscape and NZ's first organised farming scheme was devised. The early settlers followed Maori tracks to their new homes and so the Bridle Track and the first Old Porirua Road led settlers out of the city. Timber from the Ngaio Gorge and surrounding hillsides was felled for building in the new city of Wellington.

Our role as a Society is to provide information, education, entertainment and the opportunity for all to discover and participate in local history initiatives.

We open our Historical Centre to the public on Sundays, 1 - 4pm, or by appointment. We publish regular newsletters and our magazine "The Onslow Historian" is free to subscribing members.

The front façade, 2015, of the Khandallah Automatic Telephone Exchange, known as KATE, at 86 Khandallah Road, Khandallah, Wellington.

It is the second oldest exchange, of its type, to have survived in New Zealand and is now a registered heritage building due to the work of the Society.

It was designed by Government architect, J. Campbell in 1918 and American Western Electric Company rotary automatic was installed by June 1922. Khandallah resident J. N. Wallace was the project engineer.

We welcome new membership and sponsors. A fee, or donation, annually, makes it possible for the Society to continue its work. The size and scale of this depends on our finances. The continued work of the Society will ensure that our history is recorded, the archives are maintained and that future generations will enjoy the heritage that is their right.


Membership fee: $25
This is a family fee and includes, husbands, wives, partners and children.

  • Subscribe by cheque

    Onslow Historical Society is registered with Charities Services (CC43997). This means that donations to the Society are eligible for tax rebates.

    Please print and post the Membership Application to the below address.

    The Secretary
    Onslow Historical Society
    86 Khandallah Road
    Wellington 6035


    A Ngaio-Khandallah scene, 1928. On the left is the Onlsow Historical Centre, KATE, 86 Khandallah Road after the building had been extended in 1925. This interesting scene contains so much of the activity of the suburbs. The steam train speeds along the track running parallel with Khandallah Road. It is on the main trunk line, has passed Ngaio Station and is about to pass the Simla Crescent Crossing. The entrance to Ngatoto Street is just discernible to the right of our building, it curves alongside Colway Farm’s boundary of Macrocarpa trees. There is a glimpse of the Khandallah Masonic Lodge building, behind. Above the NZ Railways develop the Tarikaka Settlement of railway workers’ cottages on former Aplin farmland; 93 houses were built on 20 acres of land. The settlement is a noted heritage area today, due to the work of the Society urging recognition owork of the Socif the values. almost all houses Are intact, as originally built, painted and poised along each side of Tarikaka Street. Houses on the skyline, on the left, are on Aplin Terrace, and , on the right up in hills, are Chelmsford, Heke and Makererua Street houses.