Hawke's Bay Farmers Co-operative Association Limited Garage

206 Queen Street West, Hastings

  • Hawke's Bay Farmers Co-operative Association Limited Garage. c.1931. The Insurance Council of New Zealand Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
    Copyright: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Taken By: James Henry Daroux.
  • Hawke's Bay Farmer Co-operative Association Limited Garage. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: J Saunders.
  • Hawke's Bay Farmers Co-operative Association Limited Garage. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Paul Le Roy . Taken By: Paul Le Roy – Minicooperd. Date: 19/04/2016.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1095 Date Entered 26th May 2006


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes part of the land comprised in Certificate of Title HBP2/185 and the whole of the building contained thereon.

City/District Council

Hastings District


Hawke's Bay Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 5310 (CT P2/185), Hawkes Bay Land District


This former garage and service station was built for the Hawke's Bay Farmers Co-Operative Association (HBFCA), one of the Hawke's Bay's premier rural services companies of the twentieth century. The Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-op was one of the earliest businesses to enter into the motor industry in Hastings and this garage was one of a number constructed near the Association's many branches. It was designed and completed in 1925 behind what is now the HBFCA Head Office. It incorporated a showroom, service station, and a workshop.

The Garage was built around a frame of reinforced concrete, which meant it was one of the few buildings to survive the Hawke's Bay earthquake and subsequent fires in 1931. In 1934 an additional bay was constructed on the west side of the building. In 1982, when the HBFCA was absorbed into Dalgety and Co., the building was used by large format retailers such as Briscoes and Payless Plastics.

This building is significant as one of two major Hastings buildings associated with an important local company. The HBFCA was a significant player in the rural services industry and was based in Hastings for most of its history. Today the building is a substantial reminder of the success of that co-operative organisation. The building was also one of Hastings' early motor garages, complete with fuel pumping facilities. The bowsers have since been removed.

The building has very high technical value as an industrial structure built to serve a utilitarian purpose. Its barrel-vaulted form is unusual, and the dramatic arched shapes show starkly in raw concrete on the rear elevation. Although the building has undergone changes, these have been relatively superficial, and important features such as the steel roof trusses, ceiling linings and skylights are authentic (if hidden). Changes to the front elevation - Queen Street have reduced its architectural quality, but the strong form and underlying structural elements are intact.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Hawke's Bay Farmers Co-Operative Association was a successful local business and this building is a reminder of its importance to rural Hawke's Bay and the local economy. The Association was based in Hastings and was the organisation's garage. It represented the other half of the company's Hastings' operations, with its head office and department store nearby. This is probably the oldest surviving motor garage in Hastings.

Architectural Value

The architectural quality of the building is compromised by unsympathetic alterations, albeit that some of them are superficial. Under the paint and hoardings, there is a well articulated and strong industrial facade to Queen Street, a character that would extend to the interior had it not had major changes too. The rear elevation, still raw concrete and brickwork, displays the robust, working character of the building.

Technological Value

The technological value of the building is high, especially for the concrete frame, the barrel-vaulted roofs and the steel roof trusses. Lesser elements, such as the skylights and ventilators, are also of technological value. It is a very good industrial building of the inter-war period, and although some of its qualities are presently hidden, the elements that give the building its technological interest are completely authentic. The fact that the original part of the building survived the Hawke's Bay earthquake enhances this interest; its structural capacity is underlined by the fact that the addition of 1934 followed the design of the earlier part. The existence of drawings, specification and structural calculations increases the technological value of the building.

Social Value

There are two parts to the social and historical use of this building. The first is the relationship this building had with the farming community, in particular its co-operative members. The second is its more recent retail history, which has brought many other people into the building. Over its history this building has had a significant social role in the community and is a distinctive landmark to the people of Hastings.

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

Rural service companies, particularly farmers' co-operatives, played an important role in the development of the rural economy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This in turn had a considerable influence on the prosperity of the entire country through the success of primary producers. The HBFCA was one of many such co-operatives and was a very successful and influential company in its heyday. The garage demonstrates the range of services that the organisation provided for its members in its heyday.

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

Farmers' co-operatives, of which the HBFCA was just one, are important organisations in rural history in that they offered an alternative to private companies, who did not necessarily act in the interests of farmers. The farmers' co-ops live on in some of the companies that took them over, although that is not the case with the HBFCA.

(f) The potential of the place for public education:

As a survivor of the Hawkes Bay earthquake and as one of the few standing garages of any age left in Hastings, and one with the additional uses of car showroom and service station, there is potential for the building to offer some form of public education.

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

The technical value of this place is high, as an industrial building of the inter-war period that (despite appearances) has a high level of authenticity in its important structural and functional features. The design is technically competent, a fact illustrated by the building surviving the Hawke's Bay earthquake, and being added to in like style. Given the unusual form of the building, of three vaulted roofs, it is possible that further study would show technical innovation in the design.

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

This building predates the Hawke's Bay earthquake and is therefore not of the style of the 1930s buildings that dominate central Hastings. For this reason it is an interesting counterpoint to the prevailing architectural styles, particularly in its semi-industrial form, reflecting not only an earlier style but a less common function in the CBD.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Vulcan Foundary

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-operative Association was founded in 1891. It was set up to enable the region's primary producers to secure a financial interest in the marketing of their produce. Several similar cooperative associations were established in other rural districts, with coordination provided at a national level by the Farmers' Co-operative Association N.Z. Limited. The activities of the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-op quickly expanded and it soon operated grain and produce stores, grass-seed dressing plants, warehouses, and retail outlets for merchandise. In 1899, the Farmers Co-op erected a building on Market Street with the largest floor space in Hastings. Along with the firm of de Pelichet McLeod, the Farmers Co-op helped to generate growth in Hastings' trade, capturing much of the rural business that had previously gone to Napier and Port Ahuriri.

Branches of the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-op were also opened in other towns, including Napier, Waipukurau, Dannevirke, Wairoa, Takapau, and Woodville. Business interests continued to broaden. In 1948, the Co-op's activities were listed as those of 'Wool Brokers, Stock Agents & Auctioneers; Insurance & Shipping Agents; Grain, Seed & General Merchants; Garage Proprietors; Land & Estate Agents'.

The rising popularity of the motorcar in the early twentieth century, and the profits to be made, prompted an increasing number of firms to enter into the motor trade industry. At this time motor garages did nearly everything from constructing and selling cars, to servicing and filling them with petrol. The Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-op was one of the earliest to enter into the trade in Hastings, along side firms such as Sullivan, Ross and Company, D.E. Davis, and S. Boyd. The Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-op opened garages near many of its branches. The Garage on Queen Street in Hastings was constructed behind the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-op's main building in 1925.

Plans compiled by the Vulcan Foundry indicate that the building design was completed in June 1925, and the structure was completed at the cost of £7,800 later that same year. A panoramic photograph of Hastings, taken in 1927, is the first known photograph showing the structure. The garage was first advertised that same year in Wise's Post Office Directories.

Providing fuel for vehicles was originally via imported two gallon (18 litre) cans that were sold at motor garages, as well as places such as general stores and chemists. Later, cans were refillable. By the mid-1920s, government concerns over a spate of tragic accidents and property loss, caused by the mishandling and use and storage of cans, led to the decision to move to underground storage and fixed pumps, or bowsers as they were known.

By the end of 1926 most motor garages had installed underground storage and bowsers. The Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-op garage in Hastings was, at the time of its completion, likely to have been one of the first purpose-built garages with bowsers in New Zealand.

From 1928 the Garage was advertised as a 'Buick Service Station Motor Garage', indicating the vehicle franchise it was then associated with, and was managed by William Alexander (Bill) Greer (1895?-1975). Greer had originally worked at the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-op garage in Napier before being transferred to Dannevirke to manage a new garage there. He went on to found the company Stuart Greer Motors Limited.

The building was used to store cars and undertake mechanical repairs. It included a showroom at the front, a service station, and a workshop.

On 3 February 1931 an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale hit the Hawke's Bay. In the two and a half minutes that it lasted 256 people lost their lives, huge tracts of land rose out of the sea, and much of the built environment in Napier, Hastings and the wider Hawke's Bay was destroyed. The earthquake changed the face of Napier, which had been a small seaside town, with a picturesque harbour and Victorian buildings comprising the commercial centre. Many of the buildings not damaged by the earthquake were destroyed by fire. The records of the Insurance Council of New Zealand indicate that the Garage had a severe crack in one of its walls, but was otherwise undamaged. A photograph taken shortly after the disaster indicates that it remained open for business.

In October 1934 a permit to alter the building was granted. This allowed for the addition of a western bay, and from that time the building has had the three-bay form that exists today. The cost of the addition was estimated at £3,980.

The Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-op underwent a number of changes in the 1980s. In 1982 it became the Hawke's Bay Farm & Finance and HBF Dalgety & Company Ltd. This company was then subsumed into Dalgety & Company Ltd and then acquired by Common Shelton Ltd. The following year, Dalgety New Zealand Ltd and Crown Consolidation merged. The Garage was closed and the building became a retail outlet, specifically Briscoes on one side and Payless Plastics on the other.

The property, including the garage, was sold by the HBFCA in 1991 to Douglas Crawford and Thomas Harris. In 1996, a new front wall was built on its northern side and the retail area extended. The building is currently not tenanted.

Physical Description

The Hawke's Bay Farmers' Co-operative Association Garage is located on the south side of Queen Street West, near the Association's former Headquarters in Hastings' central business district. The building has an unusual vaulted form, most clearly evident on the rear elevation. Here, the reinforced concrete frame of the building is exposed, with columns, a horizontal beam at eave level, and arches above. There are two wide arches (the west is a later addition of 1934, confirmed by the details and materials being slightly different) with a small arch between. The infill material is unpainted brickwork.

The front elevation has a dramatic arched parapet, of a shallower curve than the barrel-vaulted roof behind, with a short horizontal parapet on the east side. The parapet has a moulded capping, the original name of the building running around under the capping, and five blanked off windows with curved heads. An advertising hoarding now covers a large part of the elevation above verandah level. Changes below the verandah include modern doors, but the original structural layout of columns is still evident. A stark blue and yellow colour scheme, along with advertising, obliterates much of the quality of what was a handsome industrial street elevation.

The main part of the facade is symmetrical, and covers the original part of the building, a wide and narrow bay. The third bay, added on to the west side and flush at the back wall, is set back from the road frontage and has a lean-to roof, rendering it subservient to the main part of the facade.

Written information indicates that, inside, the original character of the building is disguised by modern finishes, the suspended ceiling in particular. Visible through holes in the ceiling are steel trusses with curved top chords (apparently shaped from steel with a profile close to that of railway line); tongue and groove boarding, and impressive skylights, which together suggest a high degree of authenticity in the roof structure of the building.

The plan layout is presently two main spaces, one in the west addition, and the other the original part of the building. A row of columns in this space indicate the spans of the wide bay and the narrow central bay. The drawings of 1934 indicate the use of the whole of the ground floor which included at that time, showroom (left front), and service station (front right); offices and workshops behind, and sundry other rooms such as toilets, tyre room, car wash, battery room and 'bulk benzine store' at the rear.

Notable Features

Form and fabric fo the street elevation.

Concrete structure and steel roof trusses.

Other original fabric, including linings and skylights.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1925 -
Garage designed and constructed

1934 - 1935
Western bay of building constructed

1991 -
Building consent issued to erect a board sign

1996 -
Building consent issued to construct a new front wall on northern side and extend the retail area.

2004 -
Resource consent issued to erect sign

modern front door added. Date unknown

false ceiling added. Date unknown

Construction Details

Reinforced concrete frame, brick infill panels, steel roof trusses.

Completion Date

1st January 2006

Report Written By

Michael Kelly and Chris Cochran

Information Sources

Boyd, 1984

Mary Boyd, City of the Plains, A History of Hastings, Wellington, 1984

Other Information

A fully referenced verion 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.