Taranaki Education Board Offices (Former)

16 Lemon Street, New Plymouth

  • Taranaki Education Board Offices (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Elizabeth Cox. Date: 17/11/2001.
  • Taranaki Education Board Offices (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Chris Horwell. Date: 22/04/2011.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 912 Date Entered 1st September 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Sec 2 SO 13319 (CT TNJ3/454), Taranaki Land District and the building known as Taranaki Education Board Offices (Former) thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero meeting on 9 November 2017.

City/District Council

New Plymouth District


Taranaki Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 2 SO 13319 (CT TNJ3/454), Taranaki Land District


Originally completed in 1908, Taranaki Education Board Offices (Former) is a timber two-storey building in New Plymouth, architecturally typical of the Edwardian era and located within an educational precinct. It has historic value because it was the nerve-centre of this important local institution for most of the twentieth century, from where socially important educational decisions were made and put into practice.

From the late nineteenth century to 1989 New Zealand’s primary, secondary and technical schools were managed and administered by district education boards. This role included building, maintaining and inspecting schools, as well as employing teachers. The New Plymouth Education Board was established in 1874 and by 1908 had become the Taranaki Education Board, responsible for 77 local schools and two technical colleges. Early twentieth century population growth in Taranaki, driven by factors like a booming dairy industry, resulted in a significant increase in schools during this period. Between 1900 and 1914, 92 school buildings were created or expanded. The Board also required larger offices to accommodate more staff.

The block between Liardet, Lemon, Grover and Pendarves Streets featured St Michael’s Square. The Board established Central School there in 1884, followed by New Plymouth Technical College in 1907 and their own offices the following year. The Taranaki Education Board Offices building was designed by the Board’s architect, James Sanderson, and constructed by local contractor William Howson. Sanderson retired in 1909, making the office building one of the last he designed in his 21 years as the Board’s architect. This original single storey building was described as ‘[p]robably the most solidly constructed and elaborately finished wooden building in New Plymouth’. The interior of the prominently sited building was lavishly lined and fitted with rimu features.

As the population continued to grow, so did the Board’s responsibilities and the building was expanded or altered to suit. Construction of an upper level on the front portion of the building was completed in 1922. This extension was designed by important Board architect Charles Howard Moore. Auxiliary structures were also created and around the 1970s the interior underwent ‘extensive remodelling’ to modernise the workplace environment.

The Board was an important local institution responsible for educating and providing facilities for 5370 students in 1908, which rose to over nineteen thousand per annum by 1971. Moore’s development of the Taranaki-type classroom in the 1920s demonstrates the type of autonomy education boards had creating their facilities. Okato Primary School, Category 2 historic place (List No.935), is an example of these classrooms which took popular ideas from the Open Air Schools movement and tailored them to local conditions. The Board was disbanded in 1989 as part of an extensive government sector decentralisation programme and remained in the building until that time. Since the Board’s occupancy ended the Taranaki Education Board Offices (Former) has been tenanted by organisations such as English Language Partners New Zealand.

Hardy Street Girls’ School (Former), Category 1 historic place (List No.5117), was used as education board offices in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but Taranaki Education Board Offices (Former) is the only purpose-built education board offices on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Sanderson, James

Sanderson’s career as an architect was primarily in New Plymouth where he was the Education Board architect. He designed commercial buildings for many important companies ‘as well as some of the principle residences.’ He designed the extensions for Holy Trinity Church, Fitzroy, and the Band Rotunda in Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.

Moore, C. H.

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

William Howson

Builder of the Taranaki Education Board Offices, New Plymouth - 1908

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1907 - 1908

- 1922
Upper level constructed

- 1957
Storeroom and office building constructed

Interior modifications

Completion Date

22nd September 2017

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

Information Sources

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Swarbrick, Nancy, ‘Primary and secondary education - School administration and funding’, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/primary-and-secondary-education/page-6, accessed 23 Aug 2017.

Insull, 1978

Insull, H.A.H. (ed.), The Taranaki Education Board Beginnings, Struggles, Progress: A Retrospective of the Administration of Education in Taranaki 1841-1971, 1978.

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.

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