Coles Joinery Factory

54 Bridge Street, Ongaonga

  • Coles Joinery Factory, Ongaonga. CC Licence 4.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Michal Klajban - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Michal Klajban. Date: 11/05/2016.
  • Coles Joinery Factory, Ongaonga. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Paul Willyams. Taken By: Paul Willyams. Date: 4/01/2010.
  • Coles Joinery Factory. Ongaonga. Building detail.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Karen Astwood. Date: 27/09/2018.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 172 Date Entered 1st September 1983


City/District Council

Central Hawke's Bay District


Hawke's Bay Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 20578


The Coles Joinery Factory is an important remnant of New Zealand's industrial heritage.

E. P. Coles immigrated to New Zealand with his young family in 1878. He was one of the first pakeha to settle in Onga Onga, a small settlement about 16 kilometres northwest of Waipawa in the Hawke's Bay. By the turn of the twentieth century Onga Onga had developed into a service town supplying the local farming industry. Coles established a builders and contracting business. He had twelve sons and six of them were to become involved in the family business. In 1905 the business was taken over by his sons. By 1906 the business had expanded to include Eketahuna, Hastings, and Tikino. The firm did everything to do with the erection of a house including surveying, plans, construction, joinery, bricklaying and glazing. In addition they were the local undertakers and constructed coffins. Coles Joinery built the homesteads of Ashcroft and Forest Gate Stations, and it can be assumed that they built most houses in Onga Onga before 1920.

Coles Joinery closed in 1953, and the land and buildings remained in the ownership of Frank Coles. Frank died in 1982, ending over 100 years of association with the Coles family. In the 1980s the local community became concerned for the future of the building. Eventually the building and associated outbuildings were re-used as a museum. Today the building contains examples of tools and machinery, including the tramline.

The Coles Joinery Factory is thought to be one of the only remaining examples of a small rural joinery factory in New Zealand. The building, as one of the largest buildings in Onga Onga, is a significant local landmark and makes an important contribution to a largely authentic late Victorian early Edwardian rural town.


Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

Registration includes tramline.

Construction Dates

Completion Date

2nd December 2002

Report Written By

Helen McCracken

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.