Sir Ian Athfield


Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa – ka nui te mihi ki a koutou

It is with enormous sadness that the team here at City Gallery acknowledges the death of one of our most well loved and significant architects, Sir Ian Athfield.

City Gallery, like many other galleries in NZ, has had a long association with ‘Ath’. In 2012, we were proud to work closely with Ath and members of his family and office to present the exhibition Athfield Architects: People and Place. The exhibition traced four decades of the firm’s dynamic history, providing a vivid sense of the office and its vision, a vision established and led vigorously by Ath. One only has to visit the idiosyncratic, distinctive and now iconic offices in Khandallah to see how the Athfield vision was lived and put into practice every day.

My earliest memory of Ath, and one of my fondest, was listening to him give a wickedly irreverent speech at Sir Miles Warren’s retirement function in Christchurch in the mid 1990s. His humorous words reduced the audience – and guest of honour – to tears of laughter. The intelligence and wit expressed in his tribute came to characterise all my encounters with him.

City Gallery’s location in Civic Square, largely designed by Athfield Architects, means we are fortunate to be surrounded by daily reminders of the enormous contribution this talented and original architect has made to NZ’s built environment. He will be sorely missed.

Our thoughts and good wishes go to Ath’s family, friends and colleagues at this sad time.

Ngā mihi nui



Elizabeth Caldwell, Director, City Gallery Wellington

image: Ian Athfield at home in the 1970s. Courtesy of Tony Athfield