Wellington Harbour Board Shed 13

37 Customhouse Quay, Wellington

  • Wellington Harbour Board Shed 13.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Kayla Wilson. Date: 15/07/2011.
  • Wellington Harbour Board Shed 13.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Kayla Wilson. Date: 15/07/2011.
  • View over Shed 13 Customhouse Qy looking towards Lyttelton ferry berth, Wgtn, taken ca 1930s by Sydney Charles Smith. 1/2-045632-G. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image..
    Copyright: Alexander Turnbull Library.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 236 Date Entered 18th March 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 201 DP 67374 (CT WN36D/595), Wellington Land District, and the building known as Wellington Harbour Board Shed 13 thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.

City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 201 DP 67374 (CT WN36D/595), Wellington Land District


Built in 1905 as a storehouse for the Wellington Harbour Board (WHB), ‘Shed 13’ has historic heritage value for having played an integral part in Wellington’s trading and commercial history. It remains an important feature of the city’s waterfront and has architectural and aesthetic significance for its simple, elegant design. It also has technological significance for housing a rare remnant of the WHB’s important hydraulic power lifting system, an intact ‘jigger’ for warehouse stacking.

In 1880 the WHB was established to ensure that profits made from shipping were channelled back into the industry through the development of Wellington's harbour facilities. Shipping was then the primary means of transporting goods to, from, and around the country, and trade depended on safe harbours that were well equipped for the loading, unloading and storage of freight. When the new Board acquired control of Queen's Wharf in 1882, it began erecting wharves and warehouses on reclaimed land that would accommodate the needs of the steamships docking at the harbour.

In 1904, following the successful reclamation of the land along Queens Wharf to Railway Wharf, the Harbour Board decided to build two new storehouses, initially known as Sheds V and W until in 1922 the WHB’s new numbering system changed them to Shed’s 11 and 13. The new stores would accommodate increased goods, replace the old facilities, and serve as a customs examination point for international goods.

Plans for the stores were drawn by William Ferguson, WHB chief engineer, and Hunt and MacDonald’s construction tender for £8,519 was accepted. To create sturdy foundations for the sheds, the contractors were to drive ‘piers of piles connected together by beams of concrete, reinforced with steel’ deep into the reclaimed land. Patented skylights featured along the length of the buildings, which were clad in roughcast and stucco under the parapets, with the Harbour Board crest above the doors.

Built as a matching pair stretching parallel to the waterfront, Shed 11 and Shed 13 are both 51.9 metres long by 10.3 metres wide, and have 10 large doors. The interiors were originally designed as one large storage space although there were timber partitions built to create smaller storage spaces and offices. Shed 13 housed a ‘scavenger’s room’. The exteriors were built using brick and plaster with Marseille tiling on the roof, in a Dutch colonial style, which can especially be seen in the detailing above the doors. The interiors used both indigenous and imported timbers including matai, rimu, Baltic pine and Oregon.

The sheds also featured state-of-the-art engineering technology in the form of hydraulic hoisting systems. The Wellington Harbour Board had, since 1887, been leading the way with this infrastructure, developed by William Ferguson. Water, pumped into hydraulic accumulators by steam engines, was maintained under pressure and used to power the Port’s cranes, jiggers, winches and wool presses, as well as traversers in the storage sheds. Shed 13 retains one of the last remnants of this system: an intact jigger system ‘comprising two whims and all the associated counterweights, static cables, hauling cables and sheaves.’

Between 1936 and 1938, restoration work to the building was carried out. The tiles were replaced, the walls were cleaned and re-pointed, and the plasterwork coloured with a cream wash.

In the 1970s, as container shipping increased and coastal trading decreased, use of Shed 13 also declined. A number of ideas for adaptive reuse of the building were proposed, including a hotel for school-children visiting Wellington.

In 2009 the Mojo Coffee Cartel began leasing Shed 13 for the headquarters of the company, including their roastery and a coffee bean storehouse. Mojo refurbished the building, restoring the exterior and upgrading the interior. Interior additions were needed for the roasting, packing and storage of tonnes of coffee beans as well as office and retail space, but all of the historic jigger hardware was retained. Shed 13 has become a visitor attraction, with daily tours showing the coffee roasting process as well as highlighting the heritage values of the original hydraulic lifting systems. Now partially returned to its original use, Shed 13 contributes to the distinctive atmosphere of Wellington’s waterfront.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

William Ferguson (Wellington Harbour Board Engineer)


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1904 - 1905

1936 - 1938
Maintenance and removal of tiles, addition of corrugated fibrolite sheeting

1938 -
Marseille roof tiles replaced with corrugated asbestos sheets

2002 - 2003
new roof, flashing and guttering

2009 -
structural strengthening and refurbishment; refit for Mojo coffee roastery including addition of two mezzanine floors

Completion Date

30th April 2018

Report Written By

Kayla Wilson and Blyss Wagstaff

Information Sources



Wednesday 3 October 2001, 16

Dominion Post

Dominion Post, Wellington

Tuesday 9 July 2002, A7

Monday 9 December 2002, A6

Wednesday 22 July 2009, 5

Evening Post

Evening Post

Friday 10 August 2001, 3

Wellington City Council

Wellington City Council

Heritage Building Inventory, ‘Waterloo Quay, Shed 13’, 2001.

Institute of Professional Engineers in NZ (IPENZ)

Institute of Professional Engineers in NZ

‘Engineering Heritage Record: Wellington Harbour Board Hydraulic Power System’, https://www.engineeringnz.org/our-work/heritage/heritage-records/wellington-harbour-board-hydraulic-power-system/, accessed 30 April 2018

Other Information

NZIA Local Architecture Award Winners 2007, Category: Heritage/Conservation

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand

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.