Hughsons’ Building (Former)
87 Tasman Street, Opunake
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
1st September 1983
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Sec 4 BLK XXXVIII Town of Opunake (CT TNB4/1105), and part Legal Road, Taranaki Land District and the building known as the Hughsons’ Building thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 26 February 2015.
South Taranaki District
Pt Sec 4 Blk XXXVIII Town of Opunake (CT TNB4/1105) and Legal Road, Taranaki Land District
Hughsons’ Building (also known as Jeffries Building), constructed in circa 1914 on Opunake’s main street, has historical and social significance for its long record as one of the Hughson chain of general stores supplying essential services to coastal Taranaki throughout much of the twentieth century. As such, it tells the story of the importance of such stores supplying a range of services to small-town communities – including grocery, drapery, boot retailing, ironmongery – and how Hughsons became a household name in the district.
Rahotu Farmer, Charles Jeffries, held commercial investment property in Opunake, including a property from the early twentieth century at the address now known as 87 Tasman Street. That building was destroyed by a major fire in the town in October 1913 but a replacement Jeffries Building on the site was soon erected.
The building is single storeyed and appears to be of plastered brick construction. Although it has little adornment, it contributes to the streetscape of the town. Situated on the north side of Opunake’s main street, the main part of the building comprises a glazed shop frontage, with a pair of set back entrance doors, and a plain verandah supported by decorative posts. Above this verandah, the façade has a curved parapet, beneath which are the words ‘Jeffries Buildings 1914’ and ‘General Merchants’.
Jeffries leased his building to general storekeepers, Messrs Holmes and Arthur, but the lease was terminated when those leasees were called up by ballot to serve in the First World War. In early 1919, the lease of Jeffries Building was taken up by another well-established general merchant, Thomas P Hughson. A settler in Taranaki since 1880, Hughson had established stores in Rahotu (1902), Pungarehu and Oaonui (1910), and opening the store at Opunake enabled him to expand his business and delivery service. Stocks of bread, groceries, hardware, boots and drapery were offered and deliveries were made using an old refitted Ford army ambulance.
In 1924 Messrs T P Hughson and Sons purchased the Opunake building outright. The Depression of the 1930s forced cancellation of the delivery service. In 1934 a new wing was constructed adjacent to the east and housed drapery stocks. This wing continues in an appearance similar to the main building, with a glazed façade and set-back entrance, though its parapet is plainer and there are no posts to the verandah. In 1947, the business expanded to include a Book and Gift Shop, known as Enterprise Bookshop. Where the drapery section had been in the new wing, a hardware department was developed and this remained until 1963, when the Enterprise Bookshop was moved into the premises. The Opunake shop celebrated its 50 year anniversary in February 1969, by which time the Hughsons’ chain of stores had extended to include book shops in Waverley, Hawera and merchants in Patea. It appears that Hughsons was still trading from the Opunake building in the 1980s. Since at least the early 2000s, the building has no longer been in the ownership of the Hughson family and it now operates as an antique store and a gift and stationery shop.
3rd February 2015
Report Written By
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 Central Region Office of Heritage New Zealand