Our Labyrinth History

The The History of our Frederic & Margaret Wallis Labyrinth

The labyrinth was originally constructed and opened in 1999 in the grounds of Frederic Wallis House, a nearby retreat and conference centre located at 12 Military Road, Boulcott, Frederic Wallis House was centred around a large, two-storied house built in 1927, and bought by Margaret Wallis as an ecumenical retreat and conference centre in 1937. She named it after her late husband Frederic Wallis, the third Anglican Bishop of Wellington (1895-1911).

The centre grew to include a chapel and additional buildings for staff and guests, and could accommodate up to 32 people overnight. The centre was located within two acres of beautiful gardens, including heritage trees which remain protected now. Frederic Wallis House was used by local community organisations, many Church groups, and businesses for conference and training.

 The Hutt Valley District Health Board was also a regular user of the venue for meetings and social functions, and the House provided a special place for out-of-towners to stay overnight when visiting friends or relations in hospital.

When it came time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the House in 1997, the residential community and management committee associated with the House, wanted to mark it with something permanent, functional, and which involved the whole community in its creation. Following a chance encounter with the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco and experiences with a portable labyrinth in New Zealand by community members, the decision was made to build a labyrinth, modelled on the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France. It was to be slightly smaller in size:

  • Diameter 12.5 metres
  • Circumference 39.26 metres
  • Total area 122.71 square metres

A New Zealand flavour was given to the design with the use of colourful tiles and native wood. The central feature was a 6-petalled flower design, made of macrocarpa wood.

The labyrinth was built over two years using volunteer and professional labour and contains over 22,000 tile pieces in 23 colours. About 800 volunteer hours went into the design, development and building of the Labyrinth.

The mosaic tiles were also representative of the colours of the surrounding plants. The yellow tiles reflect the native kowhai tree, the symbol of Frederic Wallis House.

Once completed the Labyrinth was dedicated and blessed on the 4th of September 1999.


A property developer purchased the Frederic Wallis House and gardens in 2006/07.

As the garden and Labyrinth had always been accessible and used by the community, the suggestion to save the Labyrinth was made.

The proposal was to cut the Labyrinth into slices, transport them to their new location within the grounds of Hutt Valley District Health Board, there to be reassembled.

The Hutt City Council approved relocation plans for the Labyrinth in September 2007, and an appeal began for donations towards the cost of relocation.

A substantial donation of $40,000 was made by the Frederic Wallis House Trust to start the appeal. Additional funds came from publicity generated in the Hutt News, and approaches to local churches, service clubs, community trusts, former Friends of the House, and supporters of the Labyrinth. In all, a total of $50,000 was raised, to cover the cost of the move, restoration and beautification work to the Labyrinth surrounds.

Before the labyrinth was moved to the Hutt Hospital site, a ceremony was held at its former location. This was to give thanks to God for the labyrinth and all that it had meant over the eight years in its original location, and to pray for a safe move.

The new site at the Hospital was also blessed, and stones and other symbols brought over to be incorporated into the relocated labyrinth and surroundings . It is intended to retain the kowhai symbol of the house, with plantings of kowhai around the labyrinth in its new location,

During October and November of 2007 the Hospital site was built up and drained. The Labyrinth itself was cut into eight pieces like a pizza, lifted, and brought over for relaying and rejoining.