ACE Aotearoa became an incorporated society on 02 August 2002 (Reg No.1230590). It had previously been known as the Association for Continuing Education which was formed in 1974, at a meeting called by the Auckland WEA, and attended by representatives of the university and the newly established community schools. It was seen as a coordinating body for community education activities, a grass roots organisation, which would reflect new developments in education. The first AGM and conference was held on 7 December, 1974. Its title was “Community Education for All”.

Between 2002-2003 the National Resource Centre merged with ACE Aotearoa after the National Resource Centre decided it was more beneficial for the sector to have one lead organisation rather than two. The National Resource Centre was established in 1989 and took over the assets of the National Council for Adult and Community Education. It operated as a coordinating body and centre for the dissemination of information and the promotion of research. However, it had limited resources and was never able to fund research. It functioned mainly as a provider of information through its publication, Lifelong Learning in Aotearoa.

ACE Aotearoa owns the premises and maintains an office at 192 Tinakori Road, Thorndon, Wellington. The distinctive building which was passed onto ACE Aotearoa by the National Resource Centre has been the location for past ACE umbrella organisations, the National Resource Centre and the National Council of Adult Education. The building was built in 1909 and had been the home of the National Council of Adult Education since 1949. The Council purchased the building in 1952.

The timeline below charts some of the key events in the history of the sector.

2002 – NZACCE is renamed ACE Aotearoa, takes over the role and resources of the NRC. The organisation is later contracted by the Tertiary Education Commission to deliver specific services, including an annual conference, a newsletter and Adult Learners’ Week.

2001 – The Working Party on Adult Education and Community Learning’s report, Koia Koia is published, and the current era of adult and community education begins. ACE becomes part of the government’s tertiary education system.

1998 – CLASS (Community Learning Association Through Schools) is established to serve the interests of adult educators working from schools.

1992 – NZACCE co-organises a five-day conference with the Asian South Pacific Bureau of Education, marking the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi. From now on the Association has a Maori and non-Maori co-chair. Without a well resourced government agency the NZACCE becomes the focal point of the sector.

1989 – Community Learning Aotearoa/New Zealand (CLANZ) is established to advise the Minister and allocate small grants to community groups. CLANZ is not given legal status and can not employ staff. CLANZ’s advisory powers are removed in 1991, and its annual allocation for distribution to groups reduced by 60 percent.

1988-1992 – Government funding cuts bring to a close the work of agencies such as the, Wairarapa Community Action Plan and the Nelson Community Education Service. In 1992 all funding to WEAs is removed.

1988 – NCAE is disestablished.

1979 – The Rural Education Activities Programme (REAP) is established.

1974 – The membership organisation, the Association of New Zealand Community Education (ANZCE), is formed. [In 1977 the name is changed to the New Zealand Association of Continuing and Community Education (NZACCE)].

1971 – The first Officer for Continuing Education is appointed at a senior level in the Department of Education. There are other new initiatives: University Extension Departments; the first community colleges; and innovative community education services in both Nelson and the Wairarapa. The Educational Development Conference involves some 60,000 New Zealanders in group discussions. Lifelong Learning is seen to be an important part of the education system.

1970 – UNESCO designated International Education Year prompts a government review of adult education.

1955 – NCAE funding peaks.

1947 – The Adult Education Act establishes a National Council of Adult Education (NCAE), served by an executive officer. NCAE’s primary function is “to promote and foster adult education and the cultivation of the arts”. Funding for adult education is doubled.

1938 – The Education Amendment Act establishes a representative Council of Adult Education (CAE) to coordinate the activities of adult education organisations and promote adult education. At this time no other country has a statutory body to coordinate the activities of adult education organisations.

1921 – The Country Women’s Institute, the first rurally-based national women’s organisations is established. Later adult education opportunities are also provided by the Women’s Division of Federated Farmers (1925) and the Association for Country Education (1935).

1915 – WEA established.

ACE House

ACE House at 192 Tinakori Rd in historic Thorndon has played a significant role in the history of the ACE Sector for over fifty years. It has hosted hundreds of sector members and community groups for meetings, working groups, summits and celebrations.

The History

IMG_0163 copy_0.jpgOur house is a very, very, very fine house … The words of the 1970s song aptly describe the house which sits rather grandly beside a row of tiny workers’ cottages built in the late 19th century.

The house was built in 1909 for a Mrs Margaret Hacon, a widow who decided to return to her home town of Wellington after the death of her husband, a prominent Christchurch doctor.

Mrs Hacon bought the building on the corner of Tinakori Rd and Poplar Ave and arranged for it to be removed. She then commissioned architects Hoggart and Proust to design her new home.

The design of the house was avant garde and in the 1995 WCC Heritage Buildings Inventory (Volume 3: Streets O to Z – House, 192 Tinakori Road) it is recognised as being of significance. The style is described as “…a Baroque version of a German/Swiss half timber framed vernacular style.” A more recent assessment suggests the minor decoration beneath the triple windows on the facade is more likely to represent Art Nouveau forms and the overall design follows German trends rather than Swiss.

Original plans for the house are currently displayed just inside the front door and reveal that the original layout downstairs comprised living rooms, dining room, kitchen and scullery while upstairs there were bedrooms (including a maid’s room) and a bathroom.
A garage was built in 1945 and the downstairs meeting room was added in 1962 and an external staircase in 1966.

Link with Community Education

Since 1949, 192 Tinakori Rd has been the home of community learning. It was the office of the National Council of Adult Education established by the Education Act in 1938 with the function of coordinating the activities of organisations concerned with adult education.

The National Council of Adult Education purchased the house in 1952 with the help of a grant of £4,250 from the Minister of Education, Ronald Algie. Since the purchase of the house tenants have included the Regional Council (later the Department) of Adult Education of Victoria University, WEA and ESOL Home Tutor Schemes, now English Language Partners NZ.

When the National Council of Adult Education was disestablished in 1988, the assets were transferred to the current national body ACE Aotearoa.

Earthquake Strengthening

After the Christchurch earthquakes, Wellington buildings came under close scrutiny and the house was “yellow stickered” by the Council. This meant it required earthquake strengthening.

Strengthening work began in 2013 with the removal of the chimneys and a building consent application was accepted for the undertaking of critical work to strengthen the foundations (tie the House to the piles and replace rotten, unreinforced concrete). Upgrades to other aspects of the building were also required to bring the building closer to current Council compliance codes. These included smoke and heat detectors, an improved fire escape, and an accessible ramp to the House. The estimated cost of the upgrade has been $120,000.

Our Fundraising Campaign

Donate to ACE AotearoaA number of generous donors contributed to the ACE House strengthening which is now complete.

How You Can Help
If you would still like to contribute to the earthquake strengthening project you can do so in a in a number of ways:

  • A one off donation using the Donate button on our website homepage
  • Adding a donation to registration fees for Hui Fono or ACE Conference
  • Developing your own fundraising idea
  • Emailing us old photos or sharing memories of the house for the ACE House webpage.

With your help we can ensure the future of our ACE House.