Customhouse (Former)

22 Customs Street West And Albert Street, Auckland

  • Customhouse (Former), Auckland. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Pear285 - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Pear285. Date: 4/12/2013.
  • Customhouse (Former), Auckland.
  • Customhouse (Former), Auckland. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 18/09/2011.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 104 Date Entered 5th April 1984


City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 105830 (CT NA75C/403), North Auckland Land District


This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. The following text is the original citation considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The former Customhouse was designed by Thomas Mahoney, the second generation of an important architectural practice. French Renaissance in style it bears a strong resemblance to the Marshall and Snelgrove building in Oxford Street, London, which must have influenced Mahoney when on a trip to Britain in the 1880s.

Built between 1888 and 1889 the Customhouse is related to the City Art Gallery in age and style. But Mahoney's composition is constrained by an inner city site and it is less varied than that of the Gallery. It has a tower which rises one floor above the main façade. Mahoney, create maximum vitality within a shallow plane by introducing attached columns on the recessed parts of the wall and by using pilasters on the projecting pavilions and tower. The ornamental treatment of the two street facades, combined with numerous windows and a balustrade, which marks the junction between the walls and pavilion roofs, lend a Victorian character to the Customhouse. The extravagance of the workmanship and materials reflects the affluence and optimism of the city when it was feeling its commercial strength.

The Customhouse became obsolete seventy years later but was saved from demolition through the concerted efforts of the local people and organisations with help from and American businessman. It has been restored and reused as a combined cultural and commercial centre.

It is significant as having been a major public building of the colonial era - an impressive piece of architecture rich in townscape quality.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mahoney, Edward

Edward Mahoney (1824-1895)

Edward Mahoney emigrated from Cork, Ireland with his wife Margaret and three children. The Mahoneys arrived in Auckland in 1856 where Edward set up as a building and timber merchant. In 1876 he established the architectural practice that later became Edward Mahoney & Sons, which for over thirty years designed and supervised construction of many Catholic buildings as well as churches for other denominations.

The Church of St John the Baptist, Parnell (1861) and St Mary's Convent Chapel (1866) are two of the earliest surviving ecclesiastical buildings designed by Edward Mahoney and reflect the gradual evolution from simple Gothic Revival structures to more ambitious and creative use of the Gothic form such as may be seen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Khyber Pass (1881); and St Patrick's Cathedral, the latter completed in 1901.

Edward Mahoney was a founding member of the Auckland Institute of Architects, attending the first meeting in December 1880 where he was appointed honorary treasurer. He became president of the Institute in 1883. His sons Thomas (1855?-1923) and Robert (1862-1895) joined him in practice in 1876 and the early 1880s respectively.

Upon Edward's retirement in 1885, Thomas and Robert carried on the practice. After Robert's death in 1895, Thomas changed the firm's name to E. Mahoney & Son. The Mahoneys designed a wide variety of buildings including the Auckland Customhouse, hotels, commercial buildings and houses, their best-known surviving domestic buildings being the Pah, at Hillsborough (1877) and the Dilworth Terrace Houses, Parnell (1899). Their ecclesiastical buildings included St Mary's Church of the Assumption, Onehunga (1888) and St Benedict's Church, Newton (1888).

The firm of Edward Mahoney & Son continued to practice for a short period after Thomas Mahoney’s death in 1923, but was eventually dissolved in 1926.

Source: NZHPT Registration Report for Bank of New Zealand (Former), Devonport (Register no. 4511).

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1889 -

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.