3 Beechy Street, Opua
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Able to Visit
25th November 1982
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes the land described as Lot 3 DP 196250 (CT NA124C/370), North Auckland Land District and the building known as Opua Store thereon. The building includes piles attaching it to the land beneath.
Far North District
Lot 3 DP 196250 (CT NA124C/370), North Auckland Land District
The Opua Store is a late Victorian style building built on piles over the water by John Raymond Morris in 1914. The store was built on a marine lease in close proximity to the railway and wharf. The store has historical significance as it has been in constant use as a retail business for over 100 years. The family who built and ran the store for the first 64 years had been storekeepers in the area since the late nineteenth century. The store also has architectural significance as one of a small number of trading stores built on piles during the early twentieth century.
In 1884 the railway line from Kawakawa was extended to Opua to directly link the coal mines to the deep-water port at Opua. The transport link was important to the growth of the town as families moved to the area and set up businesses. The route was not only used for goods transport; the wharf was also used for passenger ferries to Russell and by 1911, after improvements to the wider rail network in Northland, the railway was used widely for passengers transiting to the ferry as Opua formed the terminus of the rail line.
John Raymond Morris, who had taken over his father Antonio’s store at Opua in 1899, took a marine lease from the Railway department to construct the Opua store. He built the Opua Store and relocated the family business to the new location in 1914. Morris may have made the move to take advantage of the increase in passengers passing through Opua as he was advertising directly to potential customers in 1913. The store was constructed by Scarlett Deeming on piles over the water. Plans from 1916 indicate that an extension to Beechy Street may have been formed by then, allowing access to the port along a previously impassable route. The extension was legalised by 1922. The store was a two storey building with the public store on the ground floor and the upstairs was a living space. A verandah was built on the rear and sides of the building and the building has a gable roof.
By 1957 portions of the verandah had been infilled and a shed had been constructed to the west of the building. In 1925 ownership of the foreshore at Opua was transferred to the Harbour Board who maintained the lease for the Opua Store site.
John Morris’ sons took over the store after their father retired and retained ownership until 1978 when they sold the business. Further changes were subsequently made to the building; in 1978 a café was situated in the ground floor of the store and by the 1980s the shed had been replaced with a wooden building, extending the store west. A small deck was added to the rear of the building around the same time. In 1984 dormers were added to the east side of the roof as well as a new internal toilet for customers. An upper story balcony has also been added and in 2001 the remaining verandah was infilled as well. Since being sold by the Morris family the store has had several owners since and has been constant trade. In 2016 the store was trading as the Opua General Store.
Responsible for building the Opua Store, Opua, c. 1914
28th June 2017
Report Written By
Madge Malcom, 1994, Tales of Yesteryear, Kororareka, N.Z.
Jack Lee, 1999, Opua: Port in the Bay of Islands, Russell, N.Z.
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.
A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.