Naseby Post Office (Former)

14-16 Derwent Street And Keswick Street, Naseby

  • Naseby Post Office (Former).
    Copyright: Department of Conservation. Taken By: Department of Conservation. Date: 1/10/2010.
  • Naseby Post Office (Former). Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 17/09/2012.
  • Naseby Post Office (Former). Interior - old post boxes have found new uses. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 17/09/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2267 Date Entered 2nd March 2011

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Sec 1-3, Pt Sec 28, Blk II Town of Naseby (NZ Gazette 1913, p.1610.; NZ Gazette 1870, p.390. and NZ Gazette 1985, p.4766.), Otago Land District, and the building known as Naseby Post Office (Former) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Central Otago District

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 1-3, Pt Sec 28, Blk II Town of Naseby (NZ Gazette 1913, p.1610.; NZ Gazette 1870, p.390. and NZ Gazette 1985, p.4766.), Otago Land District.

Summaryopen/close

The ornately detailed brick Naseby Post Office (Former), designed by Public Works Department architect John Campbell, stands on Derwent Street in the small Maniototo settlement and was opened in 1901 to general acclaim.

Responding to the growing population the first post office opened, named the Mt Ida Post Office located conveniently close to the Ancient Briton Hotel on Leven Street. Land for a post office and neighbouring courthouse on the site of the current buildings was gazetted in 1870. The telegraph was connected to the Naseby Post Office in July 1871. In 1871 tenders were called for the construction of a new post office and telegraph station on the new site. The tender was let to Mr Goodfellow and the second post office opened around April 1871, changing its name to Naseby Post Office in 1873.

In the late nineteenth century there were demands for a new post office building. The tender was let to Messrs Drake, Scoular and Howlitson, and by 26 April 1901 construction was completed. The new Naseby Post Office was officially opened by Maniototo County Council mayor on 28 April 1901. The building was much admired, and considered a mighty improvement. The mayor recalled the visit of Premier Seddon eighteen months prior when at a late hour in the evening, Seddon accompanied by a local deputation ‘entrusted his bulky form on the fragile boards of the old building. The splendid building in which they were now assembled was the result of that deputation and that midnight visit.’ The mayor continued that the building was ‘perhaps somewhat larger than they had hoped it would be but he trusted that the town of Naseby would grow in prosperity and wealth until in the course of time it would harmonize with the post office.’

By May 1901 the staff were settling into their new premises. The Mount Ida Chronicle reported that the building contained dwelling rooms for the postmaster and his family and four official rooms. Two Morse instruments were installed for the despatch and receipt of telegrams, one connected to the Queenstown line and the other to the Dunedin line. Another separate room provided space for the registrar to complete their work, ‘the privacy of which is welcome to a young man in quest of a marriage license or to a father when registering his first twins.’ Throughout the twentieth century there were modifications relating to the use of the building.

Government services in Naseby slowly declined throughout the twentieth century. In 1988 the Naseby Post Office was closed for operation. The postal agency was transferred to the Naseby Store. The Post Office was taken over by the Department of Lands and Survey (now the Department of Conservation).

The Naseby Post Office (Former) is a two storey Baroque-styled red brick building, with a single storey lean-to to the rear. All the facades feature an applied plaster decorative base, banding, and decorative architrave and window lintel elements. All windows feature applied plaster scroll pattern bases under the sills. The building was designed as a combined post and telegraph office with the postmaster’s residence. The residence was situated in the lean-to to the rear and on the upper floor. Access to the post office was via the main entry and lobby off Derwent Street. Access to the residence is through the hallway and stairwell at the rear of the main ground floor.

Naseby Post Office is the most prominent building in the small Central Otago town, and one of the most impressive government buildings in Central Otago as a whole. The Post Office is significant as the only example of a Baroque detailed government building in the Maniototo County. This imposing design with notable decorative features, including ornate moulding and brick banding shows the importance of the Post and Telegraph services to the town and indicates the importance of Naseby as the county seat. The former Naseby Post Office has historical significance, representing the heyday of this now sleepy settlement. Naseby’s eminence in the nineteenth and early twentieth century is illustrated by the substantial building constructed for the provision of post and telegraph services in the town. The building also illustrates the policy of public works expenditure associated with the Liberal Government of the day and the perceived status of officialdom.

In 2010 the Naseby Post Office on its prominent site alongside the Courthouse remains a significant element in the historical townscape of Naseby and continues to serve the community as a visitor’s centre and shop.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The former Naseby Post Office has historical significance, representing the heyday of this now sleepy settlement. Naseby’s eminence in the nineteenth and early twentieth century is illustrated by the substantial building constructed for the provision of post and telegraph services in the town. The building also illustrates the policy of public works expenditure associated with the Liberal Government of the day and the perceived status of officialdom.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

The Naseby Post Office has aesthetic significance. This is the most prominent building in the small Central Otago town, and one of the most impressive government buildings in Central Otago as a whole. The imposing design with its decorative brick banding and ornate stone work makes a strong visual statement.

Architectural Significance or Value

The former Naseby Post Office is significant as the only example of a Baroque detailed government building in the Maniototo County. This imposing design with notable decorative features, including ornate moulding and brick banding shows the importance of the Post and Telegraph services to the town and indicates the importance of Naseby as the county seat. The Post Office, designed by Public Works Department architect John Campbell, also shows the Seddon and the Liberal Government’s commitment to a public works programme. In addition the interior is intact and has a high level of authenticity, providing insight into the provision of postal services and the life of the postmaster in his residence above.

Social Significance or Value

The former Post Office has social significance. As the place where for many years Naseby people congregated to post mail, conduct official business and use the public telephone it was a key gathering place in the small town. The building remains an information centre, retaining its social role now focused on visitors to the town.

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

The former Naseby Post Office has representative significance for the period that it was the settlement’s only post office. The post office had pride of place in towns and cities all over the country, and in Naseby imposing building gives an indication of the importance of the Government in an isolated community.

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

The Naseby Post Office is associated with Government architect John Campbell who made a substantial contribution to the nation’s architectural history. Campbell’s work was widely admired and was appointed the first government architect, an appointment he held until his retirement.

The former Post Office is a reminder of the Labour Government's reforms of the 1980s, which reduced many post offices to postal outlets and prompted the closure of many post offices, including this one.

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

The former Post Office, on the main street of this small settlement was associated with the provision of government services for over 80 years. For locals this remains the 'old post office'. The building still has an important local function as an information centre.

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

The Naseby Post Office shows considerable accomplishment in its design. An elegantly detailed Baroque-style brick building, it is a fine design from the office of the Public Works Department architect (and later the first Government architect), John Campbell in the early twentieth century.

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

The Naseby Post Office built on its prominent site alongside the Courthouse is a significant element in the historical townscape of Naseby. Together they represent the provision of Government services in this isolated settlement. Naseby is notable for its historic townscape (recognised by the Naseby Historic Area), which includes much of the historic town centre. The building sits on the main street of Naseby and makes an important contribution to the town’s wider historic landscape.

Summary of Significance or Values

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, e, g, and k.

Conclusion

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Campbell, John

(Union Church Naseby)

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Maori History

Maori had settlements in Central Otago, associated with early occupation. Six were known on Lake Hawea (Te Taweha o Hawea, Mahaea, O tu Purupuru, Turihuka, Te Taumanu o Taki and Pakituhi) and one near Cromwell (Wairere). The moa-rich area was known for camps where moa were butchered and cooked (for example there were large sites in the Hawksburn and Happy Valley areas, as well as the Nevis Valley), and there were quarries used for stone tools in the region of Tiger Hills and Mount Benger. The swampy plains in the Maniototo provided eels and other food resources. Though Maori are known to have joined the goldrushes, little is known about their participation in the rush at Naseby. There are no recorded Maori archaeological sites in Naseby.

The Establishment of Naseby

The site of the Naseby goldfields and township was originally part of a depasturing license Run 204 called the Sowburn. After the discovery of gold the Otago Provincial Council cancelled the license and proclaimed the Mt Ida Goldfield.

In May 1863 prospectors working their way across the Maniototo from the Dunstan found gold in the vicinity of Naseby. More gold was found in the gully near the head of the Hogburn close to the location of the later township. By the beginning of July, five gullies were being mined and by the end of the month a canvas town had sprung up. This town, with a population of around 2,000, had a main street with about eighteen stores, two bakers and a butchery. By August 1863 5,000 men were reported prospecting in the Naseby locality.

While the original canvas town was set up in the Hogburn Gully, when the official town of Naseby was surveyed it was situated at the mouth of the gully, about a kilometre from the original location. The name Naseby was evidently taken from the English town that was the birthplace of John Hyde Harris, Superintendant of Otago in the 1860s. Mt Ida was a term used for the wider area.

The first postal services in New Zealand were managed by the New South Wales government until the end of 1848 when an ordinance was passed and management was handled by the Customs Department and the later Colonial Secretary’s office. With the formation of the Provincial Councils, the General Government was responsible for postal services, with Chief Post Offices in each province. Under the 1856 Local Posts Act, Provincial Councils were able to establish their own post offices, with the General Government managing core services. This led to a large number of postal agencies in country areas. The discovery of gold led to demand for postal services and led to the expansion of postal delivery routes, including that to Naseby which was serviced by Cobb and Co. via the Pigroot, from Palmerston to Maniototo, until the establishment of the railways in 1878.

Responding to the growing population the first post office opened, named the Mt Ida Post Office. The first post office was apparently located on a corner site in the township, with the building subsequently sold and relocated where it was used as a kitchen. A photograph dated c.1870 shows this first post office located one door up from the Ancient Briton Hotel in Leven Street, Naseby’s main street. Land for a post office and neighbouring courthouse on the site of the current buildings was first gazetted in 1870.

Telegraph services developed in the mid 1860s, the first in New Zealand established 1862-1864. These were managed by the Telegraph Department from 1865. The telegraph was connected to the Naseby Post Office in July 1871, and in 1894 combined service became known as the Post and Telegraph Department.

In 1871 tenders were called for the construction of a new post office and telegraph station. The tender was let to Mr Goodfellow. This building was a single storied gabled building with a veranda, parallel to the street front, and was noted as one of the more substantial buildings in Naseby. It was opened around April 1871. In 1873 the name of the post office was changed from Mt Ida to Naseby. The abolition of the Provinces in 1876 led to the establishment of sixteen Postal Districts, with Dunedin as the Chief Post Office for the Otago region.

While Naseby’s fortunes had declined with the ending of the gold mining era, this was further accentuated when the Central Otago railway line was constructed through Ranfurly in 1879, marginalising Naseby from the main transport route.

The Third Post Office

While Naseby’s growth slowed in the latter part of the nineteenth century, there was still optimism apparent as shown by the Government investment in the town. The most obvious reflection of this was the construction of the imposing new post office. In 1900 plans were prepared for a new post office in Naseby. John Campbell, Department of Public Works architect from 1889 until 1909, and Government architect from 1909 until his retirement in 1922, designed the new building. Campbell was responsible for the standardisation of the architecture of government buildings, particularly evident in the design of post offices. During a post office building boom between about 1900 and 1914 he was largely responsible for two major post office buildings of similar design (the Auckland and Wellington chief post offices), and many smaller post office buildings.

The tender was let to Messrs Drake, Scoular and Howlitson, and by 26 April 1901 construction was completed. The new Naseby Post Office was officially opened by Maniototo County Council mayor on 28 April 1901. The building was much admired, and considered a mighty improvement on the old building. The Mayor recalled the visit of Premier Seddon eighteen months prior when at a late hour in the evening, Seddon accompanied by a local deputation ‘entrusted his bulky form on the fragile boards of the old building. The splendid building in which they were now assembled was the result of that deputation and that midnight visit.’ The mayor continued that the building was ‘perhaps somewhat larger than they had hoped it would be but he trusted that the town of Naseby would grow in prosperity and wealth until in the course of time it would harmonize with the post office.’

The new premises included two outbuildings: the Postmaster’s Shed and the Post Office Shed. The Postmaster’s Shed was a small single gabled brick structure which contained an earth closet, a copper and a wood and coal store. The Post Office shed had an earth closet (with a door opening to the yard), and a separate wood and coal store.

By May 1901 the staff were settling into their new premises. The Mount Ida Chronicle reported that the building contained dwelling rooms for the postmaster and his family and four official rooms.

‘There is a fine large entrance on entering which the visitor is confronted by a large notice window in which is hung for the convenience of the public, the monthly post office bulletin..., local mail notices &c. Underneath this window are the letter and newspaper boxes. The letter boxes are 33 in number, of which 21 are at present engaged. They are fitted with Yale locks, which are now used in all post offices in the colony...A door to the right hand of the entrance hall gives admittance into the public room...The table for writing telegrams is divided off into six compartments each just large enough for use by one at a time. There is a window at which the mails are distributed, which is partitioned off from that for savings bank and money order business.’

The room also displayed information about matters concerning Crown lands.

The Mount Ida Chronicle went on to describe the ‘large, airy’ staff office. The room was 18 by 25 ft [4.8 by 7.6m]. There was a counter by the window with drawers and a large rack with indexed pigeon holes. Another rack provided pigeon holes for outward male. Two Morse instruments were installed for the despatch and receipt of telegrams, one connected to the Queenstown line and the other to the Dunedin line. There was also a small room or box for making telephone calls. The office and public room had a linoleum dado.

There was also a telephone box in the public room, though this was not connected initially because there were no available lines. Naseby was not at this time connected to Hyde, which would have allowed connection to all centres on the Maniototo Plain. The writer expressed a wish for Naseby to be a sub-exchange, and wrote hopefully that perhaps when the next mining boom occurred the Government would get the work done.

Another separate room provided space for the registrar to complete their work, ‘the privacy of which is welcome to a young man in quest of a marriage license or to a father when registering his first twins.’ This room also included a map of New Zealand which indicated all postal towns and mail routes.

In 1917 following strong community demand, telephone exchanges were established at both Naseby and nearby Ranfurly. In Naseby this development was stymied by the obvious decline of the town in the face of the main road and the rail line going through Ranfurly. In August 1924 the authority to establish the exchange at Naseby was cancelled.

In the post office area the telephones were removed from the public and staff telephone cubicles. The Private Boxes were relocated to the mail room. The telephone switchboard was removed from the mail room. Originally varnished timber elements were painted.

Throughout the twentieth century there were modifications relating to the use of the building. In the residential part of the building the scullery was converted to a kitchen, with the original coal range removed and a 1950s Shacklock 501 installed. Some of the original doors replaced and the bathroom modernised.

Government services in Naseby slowly declined. By 1961 a new court had opened in Ranfurly and in April of that year the last hearing was held in the Naseby Courthouse. The Department of Justice realised there had been a discrepancy in the titles of the post office and the courthouse, with the post office sitting on a small portion of courthouse land. This was rectified with the gazetting of 5.1 perches of the courthouse title for the post office.

In 1988 the Naseby Post Office was closed for operation. The postal agency was transferred to the Naseby Store. The Post Office was taken over by the Department of Lands and Survey (now the Department of Conservation). In 2010 the building remains under the management of that department. It is used as a shop and for accommodation for Department of Conservation field staff.

Physical Description

Setting

The Naseby Post Office is located in the small Central Otago town of Naseby which sits at the base of the Hawkdun Range. The Post Office is located on Derwent Street, the main street of the town. The Post Office sits within a group of historic buildings which include the former Courthouse immediately to the south and next to that the former Masonic Hall. These buildings back onto a residential area characterised by small scale housing. Across the road is the Naseby recreation reserve, an open green space and playing area. With its elaborate appearance the former Post Office makes a significant contribution to the streetscape of the small town and is the most substantial building in Naseby.

Physical Appearance

Exterior

The Naseby Post Office is a two storey Baroque-styled red brick building, with a single storey lean-to to the rear. The building has a hip roof with finials at the ridge ends, and red brick chimneys capped with salt glazed chimney pots. The foundation is unreinforced concrete. The roof is corrugated iron with timber framing.

All the facades feature an applied plaster decorative base, banding, and decorative architrave and window lintel elements. The façade to Derwent Street is elaborately modelled. This elevation has a projecting central bay, in which the main entry is located, topped with a scrolled pediment which has an applied plaster motif noting the date of construction. A segmented pediment over a brick arch marks the main entry lobby, which has plaster pilasters. The front entry is reached via generous concrete steps with scrolled columns on the support bases.

The ground floor windows either side of the bay have a relief frieze panel above, capped with triangular pediments, while all other windows feature applied flat plaster lintel blocks with plaster keystones. All windows feature applied plaster scroll pattern bases under the sills.

The entry to the Postmaster’s residence has decorative side light windows and a curved pediment over. The back door has a simple plaster capping.

The new premises included two outbuildings: the Postmaster’s Shed and the Post Office Shed. The Postmaster’s Shed was a small single gabled brick structure which contained an earth closet, a copper and a wood and coal store. The Post Office shed had an earth closet (with a door opening to the yard), and a separate wood and coal store. These are located at the rear of the Post Office.

Interior

The building was designed as a combined post and telegraph office with the postmaster’s residence. The residence was situated in the lean-to to the rear and on the upper floor. Access to the post office was via the main entry and lobby off Derwent Street. Access to the residence is through the hallway and stairwell at the rear of the main ground floor.

In the original configuration, the ground floor had the mailroom and office opening directly of the entrance. Behind this was the kitchen and dining room, with a scullery behind the kitchen. Upstairs accommodation contained four bedrooms, a sitting room and a bathroom. The lower exterior walls of the two storey section are triple brick cavity, while the upper floors are cavity double brick.

The interior walls are a combination of plastered brick and timber frame with applied lath and plaster. Ceilings are typically wide timber boards with moulded battens to primary rooms, and narrow tongue and groove boards to service rooms. Floors throughout are timber, except the scullery which as a poured concrete floor.

After the post office closed in 1988, as a result of the Labour Government reforms of the 1980s which saw the closure of many post offices and the creation of postal agencies, the building was converted into use for rental accommodation.

In 2010 the ground floor public area and mailing room is now used for an information and visitors centre, while the kitchen at the rear and upstairs accommodation is used for Department of Conservation staff facilities.

Construction Dates

Other
1870 -
Site gazetted for Telegraph Office

Original Construction
1871 -
Post Office and Telegraph Station completed

Other
1988 -
Post Office closed

Construction Details

Brick, timber, corrugated iron

Completion Date

6th December 2010

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Gilkison, 1978

R. Gilkison, Early Days in Central Otago Whitcoulls, Christchurch, 1978

Hamel, 1985

J Hamel, Gold miners and their landscape at Naseby. NZ Forest Service, 1985.

Martin, 2004

Lewis E. Martin, Built For Us: The Work of Government and Colonial Architects, 1860s to 1960s, Dunedin, 2004.

O'Neill, 1976

J O'Neill. The History of Naseby. Naseby 1976.

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area 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.