Commercial Bank of Australia Building (Former)

100 Queen Street East And Russell Street North, Hastings

  • Commercial Bank of Australia Building (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Alison Dangerfield. Date: 30/08/2007.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1072 Date Entered 26th May 2006


Extent of List Entry

Extent of proposed registration includes the land in Certificate of Title HB73/34, Hawkes Bay Registry, and the whole of the Commercial Bank of Australia (Former) contained therein

City/District Council

Hastings District


Hawke's Bay Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 6079 (CT HB73/34), Hawkes Bay Land District


This building was constructed between 1932 and 1933 by a private investment company to house the Hastings branch of the Commercial Bank of Australia (CBA). The building was occupied by the Bank until 1980, during which time it purchased the building (in 1959). The building was then purchased by local business Queen's Chambers Limited and, in 1984, it was sold to the highly successful local stock and station agents Williams and Kettle. It has been leased out to tenants since then.

This building has local historical significance as the first purpose-built chambers in Hastings for the CBA, once one of Australasia's most successful banks. It was in use as banking chambers for 47 years and remains in commercial use.

The building is a good example of the stripped Classical style, and of bank architecture of the 1930s. It stands four-square on a prominent city corner, still proclaiming its original purpose as a bank both because of its site and its austere architecture. It forms part of two groups of buildings of similar scale and architectural quality in Russell Street and Queen Street East. Although it has seen interior changes, the exterior form and detail of the building has a high level of authenticity, with minor exterior changes over its 70-year life; the staircase inside likewise retains its original form. For these reasons, and for its construction immediately after the 1931 earthquake in reinforced concrete, it has some technological value.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The former CBA building was continuously used as a banking premises for 47 years. The CBA was one of a number of banks established in Hastings in the 20th century and, as a successful Australasian bank, it made a considerable contribution to the prosperity of the district. This is the building most closely associated with its tenure, which ended with its merger with the Bank of New South Wales in 1982. Since 1984 the building has been owned by the long-standing and influential stock and station agency Williams and Kettle and has had a variety of occupants.

Aesthetic Value

The former CBA building has aesthetic value for its bold, simple form. It is sited on a prominent corner, playing a significant role in the townscape values of two groups of buildings of similar scale and architectural quality in Russell Street and Queen Street East.

Architectural Value

The building is a good example of the stripped Classical style of the 1930s, a logical and economical answer to the post-earthquake requirements of the bank.

Technological Value

The building has modest technological value as a reinforced concrete structure of the early 1930s; the design of the staircase in terrazzo enhances this value.

Social Value

As a long-standing bank building on a prominent corner site, this building will have considerable social significance for older Hastings' residents as an important and public utility.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

This building, through its past use as a bank, demonstrates the importance of banks and banking in building this country's economic prosperity. In the case of Hastings, its rural hinterland relied heavily on banking facilities and this bank's customers would have been both urban and rural.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

On a modest level, the building is one of a number associated with a significant 20th century Australasian bank, the CBA. Since 1984 the building has also been under the ownership of Williams and Kettle, a significant force in the rural services industry and an historically important firm.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:

It is likely, although difficult to quantify, that there is a certain level of public esteem for this place, having been a bank building for 47 years and visited by thousands of Hastings citizens in that time. This association will fade over time but other associations will emerge with different uses.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

There is modest technical value in the structure of the building. There is significant value in the design of the place, both as a competent and bold example of the stripped Classical style, and for its townscape value on a prominent corner. It is a pivotal building in the townscape as it forms part of two significant groups of period buildings, those in Russell Street and in Queens Street East.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place:

Prominent inner-city buildings constructed after the Hawke's Bay earthquake, such as this building, are symbolic and commemorative both of that event and the revitilisation of the core of city.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

Hastings is, like Napier, a city substantially shaped by the one event (the Hawke's Bay earthquake in 1931) which led to the destruction and rebuilding of much of the city centre. This building is one of many significant buildings that are identifiably from the same post-earthquake period and which so strongly define the character of the city.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Davies & Phillips

Harold Davies (1888-1976) and Eric Phillips (1897-1980) worked independently before forming a partnership with Albert Garnett in the late 1920s or early 1930s. The three were particularly active as part of efforts to rebuild Hastings following the Hawkes Bay earthquake of 1931. Garnett left to work on his own account in 1933 and Davies and Phillips carried on their partnership, which went on to become one of the most successful in the city's history. Davies and Phillips were responsible for the design of a broad range of buildings throughout the Hawkes Bay, although the majority of their work was in Hastings. Among the most important buildings the partnership was responsible for in that city were the former Commercial Bank of Australia Building (1933), Roachs' Building (1934), Las Palmas (1935), and Hastings War Memorial Library (1959), the latter as Davies, Phillips and Chapman.

Hoogerburg, Magdalinos & Williams

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

This building was erected in 1932 as premises for the Commercial Bank of Australia (CBA) in the aftermath of the Hawke's Bay earthquake.

The CBA was founded in Melbourne in 1866 with a nominal capital of £500,000. The prospectus stated that it was intended to provide credit for small traders, farmers, and so forth. After a period of slow growth in Melbourne and its suburbs, greater expansion followed the acquisition of the Australian and European Bank in 1879. Paid-up capital reached £1,000,000 in 1887. The CBA was one of fifteen banks forced to close for a time in April 1893 when an economic depression precipitated a massive rush on funds. A period of reconstruction and redevelopment ensued, lasting until 1920. In 1918, the CBA bought the National Bank of Tasmania and a further period of expansion followed.

The CBA commenced operations in New Zealand in 1912, in premises in Featherston Street, Wellington, and growth was swift. Progress in the bank's operations in New Zealand may be gauged by five yearly deposit figures of £46,000 in 1913, £449,000 in 1918, £1,000,000 in 1923, £1,630,000 in 1928, and £1,660,000 by 1933.

The first branch of the CBA opened in Hastings in 1925, in a building on Heretaunga Street West, with just two staff. This building was destroyed in the Hawkes Bay Earthquake in 1931 and operations had to move to a temporary, corrugated iron clad building in the backyard of the Bank of New South Wales. This temporary building, known as the Community Banks Building, was used by all banks then operating in the town (with the exception of the Bank of New South Wales), having lost their buildings in the earthquake.

In 1933 a new building was completed on the corner of Queen and Russell Streets for the use of the CBA. Designed by the local architectural firm of Davies, Garnett & Phillips, the building occupied land acquired by Frank Candy, a company manager of Hastings, who sold the property almost immediately (and presumably while construction was still taking place), to Bank Chambers Limited in December 1932. The company was based in Hastings and, as the building was a purpose-built bank, it would appear to have had a direct association with the CBA. During the company's tenure the building underwent unspecified alterations, in 1939. The bank leased the premises until 1959, when it bought the property. It remained the Hastings branch of the CBA until 1981, when the property was sold to Queen's Chambers Limited. The CBA then moved to a new building, merging the following year with the Bank of New South Wales to form Westpac.

In 1984 the building was bought by Williams and Kettle Limited, the long-standing Hawke's Bay stock and station agents established by Fred Williams in 1880. The building was presumably acquired as an investment property. In 1985 major changes were made to the interior ground floor layout, with the removal of existing partitions (some original) and the building of new; the staircase and strongroom on the Queen Street East side of the building however, remained untouched. This work was designed by Hastings architects Hoogerbrug, Magdalinos and Williams, and the drawings are dated December 1984. At that stage it was known as the 'real estate building'. The building has since been on-sold.

Physical Description

The former CBA Bank is a two-storey, reinforced concrete building, standing prominently on the north side corner of Russell Street and Queen Street East. All major structural elements of the building - foundations, exterior and some interior walls, and the ground and first floors - are in-situ concrete, while some interior partitions and the roof framing are in timber. The building is stripped Classical in style, devoid of decoration but for fluted panels between the ground and first floor windows; these are recessed from the grid of columns, which rise through both storeys. The columns stand on a solid plinth, and support a plain parapet. These elements define the simple but bold geometric form of the building.

There are three bays to each elevation, of varying widths and with large windows, with a central bay on the corner; this has the main entrance at ground level and a window with curved frame and glass above. There is another entrance at the end of the Queen Street East facade, with terrazzo finishes to the porch; inside this entrance there is a terrazzo staircase with the original wrought iron balustrade giving access to the first floor. The original ground floor plan shows three entrances (one on Russell Street, the main one on the corner, and the third on Queen Street East, making full use of the corner site); a public space, offices and a strong room, while the first floor had a surgery, waiting room and offices.

The building occupies a prominent corner site, and anchors the ends of two rows of buildings, one forming the east side of Russell Street and the other the north side of Queen Street East.

Notable Features

Reinforced concrete structure; exterior elevations and staircase.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1933 -
Building completed

1939 -
Alterations to premises

1967 -
Alterations to premises

1985 -
Sign erected on building

1985 -
Major alterations to ground floor offices, including removal of partitions (some of them original) and the construction of new partitions.

Construction Details

In-situ reinforced concrete; timber-framed roof; steel-framed windows.

Completion Date

1st January 2006

Report Written By

Michael Kelly and Chris Cochran

Information Sources

Dawe, 1984

C. E. Dawe, Westpac Banking Corporation in Hastings 1884-1984, Wellington, 1984

Dawe, 1986

C. E. Dawe, Banking, Inside and Out, Wellington, 1986

More, 1935

More and Burton, Banking in New Zealand, Wellington, 1935

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Central Region Office.

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.