Public Trust Office (Former)

11 Mayoral Drive, Auckland

  • Public Trust Office (Former). Image courtesy of -
    Copyright: geoff-inOz. Taken By: geoff-inOz. Date: 9/11/2009.
  • Public Trust Office (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 5/01/2006.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 664 Date Entered 27th July 1988


City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 4 DP 4059 (CT NA172/8), North Auckland Land District

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Public Trust office came into existence in NZ in 1872 when the Public Trustee Bill, instigated by Julius Vogel, passed through Parliament. The main function of the Public Trustee was to administer the estates of deceased persons who had named him as executor of their wills, and the estates of those people who died intestate.

From approximately 1910 the Trust went through a period of 'unprecedented expansion, much reorganisation and large amount of political criticism.

In 1912 a Government Commission investigated the dealings of the Trust. The amount of work given to the Public Trustee, at that point Dr Frederick Fitchett, was well beyond the capability of the resources provided. Under the Public Trust Office Amendment Act, October 1912, provision was made for the appointment of four local Deputy Public Trustees in four major centres; including Auckland. This was the first delegation of authority made since the initial Act of 1872.

The opening of the Auckland Office was a part of the general move toward decentralisation. It acted for forty years as the centre in Auckland of the Public Trustee business.


The Public Trust office façade is one of the few classical buildings with a temple front detail in Auckland. This particular detail is unusual in that it has no pediment as it was taken from a circular prototype.

Hoggard & Prouse were influenced by the neo-classical designs of Sir John Soane. The classical style is used to convey association of stability and continuity and elements were combined in a picturesque manner. Axiality and symmetry no longer governed the planning, this was influenced by the utilitarian demands of the brief. The three storeys and the window detail within the temple front were a result of practicalities such as the need for daylight and classical motifs were applied to form a picturesque composition.

There was much debate concerning the use of concrete to imitate stone. The whole building was conceived of as a strong box and concrete was chosen because of its durability and economic cost. The debate was as to whether cement was a suitable material for a public building. The extent of which the designers want to detail the concrete with masonry lines was commented on, 'One almost shudders on finding that certain lines have been cut on the cement face of the Public Trust to represent stone joints'. This criticism shows the influence of the thought of the Arts and Crafts movement and which lead to the removal of all classical decorative detailing from designs. It is the beginning of modern movement ideas of new materials such as concrete had to express their true nature and this building represents how the transition from the Victorian and Edwardian thought to 'modern' architectural thought occurred. These ideas were developed further in their next major design, the NZI building probably due to the influence of Gummer who joined the firm in 1913.


The Public Trust office building still maintains its original orientation despite the redevelopment of Mayoral Drive. It is one of a number of neo-classical buildings in the Civic Centre which give character to the area.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Hoggard & Prouse

The partnership of Hoggard and Prouse practised initally in Wellington. The firm was one of the pioneers in the use of steel framed and concrete floored construction in New Zealand. Their four storey Cadbury Warehouse (1908) was an extremely early example of this type of construction to be found outside America.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


The façade of the Public Trust incorporates a detail used by Sir John Soane on the bank of England. Originally the detail came from the circular Temple of Vesta at Tivoli and consequently has no pediment.

Behind the temple detail are three storeys. The ground floor openings are rectangular with a central arch entrance. The first floor windows each have a balcony supported on consoles. These rectangular windows have a keystone and pediment detail. The third floor windows have a segmented arch and an eared trim.

The corinthian columns support an architrave, frieze, cornice and balustrade. The building is constructed on a sloping site and has an ashlar base. The bays on either side of the projecting temple front have the same window detailing.

The vestibule floor was paved with black and white marble tiles and the main stair was marble with wrought iron balustrade.


The modifications were carried out by the continuation of the firm of Hoggard & Prouse, Gummer & Ford. In 1930 a new storeroom and strong rooms were added and the cashiers area in the vestibule was altered. In 1945 the alterations were again designed by Gummer & Ford. This included a proposed rooftop cafeteria.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1912 -

Construction Details

The Public Trust Office is constructed with a steel frame and re-inforced concrete floors. It was designed to house valuable papers in perfect safety from 'pillage, fire and water' and consequently was solidly constructed in concrete and steel to be fire and earthquake proof.

Information Sources

New Zealand Building Progress

New Zealand Building Progress

June 1913

Vennell, 1973

C. W. Vennell, A Century of Trust, a history of the New Zealand Public Trust Office, 1873-1973, Auckland, 1973

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.