Wellington Harbour Board Wharf Office Building (Shed 7)

Jervois Quay, Wellington

  • Wellington Harbour Board Wharf Office Building (Shed 7).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Rachel Connolly. Date: 10/01/2009.
  • Wellington Harbour Board Wharf Office Building (Shed 7). 2011.
    Copyright: Jenny Edwards. Taken By: Jenny Edwards.
  • Wellington Harbour Board Wharf Office Building (Shed 7). CC BY-SA 2.0 Licence. Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
    Copyright: Jamie McCaffrey. Taken By: Jamie McCaffrey. Date: 14/04/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1446 Date Entered 27th July 1988


City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 77229

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Inevitably, the Wharf Office building along with other Harbour Board buildings has been touched by the historical events which have taken place around the harbour area.

In 1913 the building formed a background to the bitter battles which took place between the employers and the striking wharf workers . Again in 1951, when a serious dispute arose on the wharves, the Wharf Office and other Harbour Board buildings, was placed under police control and units of the Armed Services called in to handle cargoes.

Shed 7 has been visited by members of the Royal Family, visiting foreign dignitaries, Governors-General arriving and departing, and the commanders of overseas navies. Sometimes the gifts presented to visitors were of historical interest. In 1927, the Duke and Duchess of York were presented with an illuminated address in a miniature sea-chest, made by the Board's workmen, was fashioned from the original Totara timber and muntz metal in the first Queens Wharf in 1862.


In terms of the well mannered style of the building and the careful and articulated use of Italian Renaissance architectural themes, the building represents an extremely fine interpretation of European Italianate design.

The building was designed by F de J Clere, and as such it is a credit to his skill in interpreting in brick and cement a design which would have been (and originally was intended to be ) traditionally executed in stone.

Futures of the building were Clere's patented revolving windows; the W.C. fittings which were to be of polished, picked red pine and the ornamentation which contrasts with the severity of the Head Office and Bond building. The press of the day described the building as 'purely classical in design, the skyline being broken with marine symbols and cupolas'. The Wharfinger's Office had 'an oriel window of ornamental appearance from which he will command a view of the whole of the wharf'.

The design of the building is quite unlike the earlier Bond building but it is obvious that Clere was just as proud of it. Complimentary cuttings from the press of the day about the new building figure prominently in his 'Commonplace Book' in the Turnbull Library. The press thought highly of the design. The original plans provided for construction to be either in 'comp' with brick panels or Oamaru stone with brick panels.


The building follows the curve in Jervois Quay and is a vital and architecturally most important link to the harbour city interface.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Clere, Frederick De Jersey

Clere (1856-1952) was born in Lancashire, the son of an Anglican clergyman, and was articled to Edmund Scott, an ecclesiastical architect of Brighton. He then became chief assistant to R J Withers, a London architect. Clere came to New Zealand in 1877, practising first in Feilding and then in Wanganui. He later came to Wellington and practised there for 58 years.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1886 and held office for 50 years as one of four honorary secretaries in the Empire. In 1883 he was appointed Diocesan Architect of the Anglican Church; he designed more than 100 churches while he held this position. Clere was a pioneer in reinforced concrete construction; the outstanding example of his work with this material is the Church of St Mary of the Angels (1922), Wellington.

As well as being pre-eminent in church design, Clere was responsible for many domestic and commercial buildings including Wellington's Harbour Board Offices and Bond Store (1891) and Overton in Marton. Clere was also involved in the design of large woolsheds in Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa.

He was active in the formation of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and served on their council for many years. He was a member of the Wellington City Council until 1895, and from 1900 a member of the Wellington Diocesan Synod and the General Synod. He was also a member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


An Italianate palazzo style building. The façades are evenly articulated by horizontal bands of two string courses and an entablature, distinguishing each of the three storeys of the building. The windows are decorated with segmented, triangular, and square-headed dressings of simple design. The first floor windows are flanked by partially fluted Corinthian pilasters supporting an emphatic string course. The second floor consists of unfluted pilasters flanking square-headed sash windows. The top storey (second floor) is capped by an entablature with cornice and parapet. The façade on the south-west corner is sensitively offset by an oriel window, which contains the classical theme by incorporating the design elements identified above.


In 1902 it was discovered that five rows of Totara piles had been buried in the reclamation work on which the Wharf Office was built and remedial work had to be undertaken.

In 1911 the public conveniences in the building were removed to the south end of the Head Office building to provide space for transhipping and Assistant Wharfingers Offices. In the same year, the existing offices in the Wharf Office were improved to give better accommodation for the accounts staff. The accommodation was again improved in 1919.

The building was re-classified as 'Shed 7' in 1922. During that year the part used for a Riggers' loft was re-allocated as a customs examinations room.

After an earthquake in 1936 it was decided to remove the ornamentation from the roof. The whole parapet was renewed and the brick buttress was corbelled out to support the end of the timber beams with a reinforced concrete wall 8-9 inches thick.

In 1938, as accommodation was inadequate in Shed 3, an arrangement was come to with the Minister of Customs for constructing on the middle floor of Shed 7 suitable accommodation for customs wharf staff and examining officers. The customs examination work was removed to the ground floor.

All loose stucco was cut and renewed in 1939, the building cleaned down and tinted a cream colour to match the Head Office and Bond building.

After the 1942 earthquake, Shed 7 was examined with other wharf buildings. As a result of the consultant's report the northern end of the Wharf Office was strengthened with reinforced concrete tie beams.

In 1948 the exterior of the building was repainted and in 1961 a contract was let for the painting of doors, sashes and concrete surfaces of the building.

Notable Features

The most outstanding feature of the building is the decorated oriel window which extends from the south-east corner of the building at first floor level.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1896 -

Construction Details

Brick and plastered concrete.

Information Sources

Evans, 1975 (3)

M E Evans. Building Classifications Committee Research Report on Harbour Board Buildings, Wellington NZHPT, 1975.

McKenzie, 1985

J McKenzie. Harbour and Wharves Conservation Area, Wellington NZHPT, 1985.

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.