Courthouse (Former)

2 Belgium Street, Massey Park, Waiuku

  • Courthouse (Former). Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Google Maps 2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2611 Date Entered 7th April 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Allot 321 Parish of Waiuku East (NZ Gazette 1981, p. 2796), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Courthouse (Former) thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 25 June 2015.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Franklin District Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Allot 321 Parish of Waiuku East (NZ Gazette 1981, p.2796), North Auckland Land District


Erected in 1883, the former Courthouse at Waiuku is a relatively early surviving purpose-built court building designed by the Public Works Department (PWD). Originally located in nearby Court Street, the single-storey timber structure reflects the growth of Waiuku as a colonial township and local administrative centre in the decades after the third New Zealand - or Waikato - War (1863-4). Adapted for different usage in the 1960s, the building has formed a notable part of community life for more than 130 years. Since relocation to former railway land in 1974, it has served continuously as headquarters of the Waiuku Search and Rescue Organisation.

Waiuku lay on an important portage route for Maori, connecting the Manukau Harbour and the Waikato River. After the government sold land for a township in the early 1850s the settlement became a place of considerable mercantile and other exchange between Maori and Pakeha. Early attempts by the colonial authorities to enforce a European legal framework included creating a Resident Magistrate’s Station by early 1859, upgraded to a Resident Magistrate’s Office by 1861. After European expansion in the wake of the Waikato War, the office was frequently referred to as a ‘courthouse’. In the early 1880s, it was housed in a multi-purpose cottage on Queen Street (Allotment 18).

In 1883, the government erected a new, purpose-built courthouse on elevated land overlooking the settlement, in Court Street. The land incorporated the site of an earlier pa and a stockade constructed by settlers during the Waikato War - the latter demolished to make way for the new structure. Created under the supervision of the PWD architect, P.F.M. Burrows (1842-1920), the courthouse was built at the same time as an identical structure at nearby Pukekohe. The PWD had been founded in the early 1870s to assist with the creation of the colony’s infrastructure, but was operating under straightened circumstances due to the Long Depression. The contractor for the Waiuku courthouse was a Mr Scott, although Samuel Thomas Rossiter (1860-1936), who later became a notable local builder, also stated that he was engaged to undertake its construction, perhaps as an employee or sub-contractor.

The new courthouse had an L-shaped plan with a projecting front bay. It combined restrained Gothic and Elizabethan Revival influences. Internally, it incorporated a main courtroom and two smaller rooms, possibly offices.

The courthouse was used to hear cases relating to minor offences, as well as matters such as the decisions of local Licensing Committees and Assessment Courts. During the 1880s and 1890s, the building was used as a polling station. In 1894, a number of local Maori were summonsed to appear at the court for their refusal to pay a dog tax, a cause that for many Maori communities symbolised resistance to European rule. In 1914, the courthouse also housed a commission enquiring into the creation of Waiuku Town District. Subsequent alterations to the structure included repairs in 1935 and other modifications in 1940. As preparation for its conversion to other use after the erection of a new courthouse, the main courtroom was partitioned and Gibraltar lining installed in 1963.

The courthouse was moved to its current position in Massey Park in 1974. The new site had previously formed part of land reserved for the Waiuku Branch Railway - the early twentieth-century Waiuku railway station building lies immediately to the west. After relocation, the courthouse building served as headquarters of the Waiuku Search and Rescue Organisation, which had been founded in 1973 in response to loss of life in the Waikato River. In 2015, the building was still utilised by Waiuku Search and Rescue, representing 40 years use for this purpose and more than 130 years of broader service to the community.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Burrows, Pierre Finch Martineau

Burrows was born in Norwich, England, and arrived in New Zealand about 1863. He began working under W H Clayton in the Colonial Architect's Office in 1874 and became Chief Draughtsman in 1875. When Clayton died, Burrows took over his duties, but he did not receive a designation of Colonial Architect.

Burrow's most important buildings include the Post Office at Christchurch (1877), the Supreme Court House, Wellington (1879), and the Mount Eden Prison (begun 1883). He was also responsible for a number of smaller post offices and courthouses. His brother Arthur Washington Burrows was also an architect, practising in Auckland and Tauranga.

S. T. Rossiter

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1883 -

1963 -
Partitioning of main courtroom

1974 -
Relocated to current site

Completion Date

5th June 2015

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR)

Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives

Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR), 1883, Session I, D-1, pp. 45-6.

Auckland Star

Auckland Star

Auckland Star, 12 Mar 1883, p. 3; 4 Dec 1890, p. 5; 23 Nov 1896, p. 8; 3 Apr 1909, p. 1.

Bay of Plenty Times

Bay of Plenty Times

Bay Of Plenty Times, 3 Jul 1884, p. 3.

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1902

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol.2, Christchurch, 1902

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Vol.2: Auckland Provincial District, Christchurch, 1902, pp. 672 & 680.

Daily Southern Cross

Daily Southern Cross

Daily Southern Cross, 28 Jan 1859, p. 2; 20 Sep 1861, p. 1; 10 Jul 1863, p. 3; 28 Jul 1863, p. 4; 13 Jun 1866, p. 4; 8 Aug 1876, p. 1.

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1932, p. 6; 28 September 1933, p. 6.

New Zealand Herald, 7 Apr 1877, p. 1; 17 Apr 1883, p. 6; 4 May 1883, p. 6; 14 Mar 1884, p. 3; 26 Apr 1884, p. 3; 12 Dec 1884, p. 3; 4 Jun 1886, p. 4; 11 May 1887, p. 8; 29 Aug 1887, p. 8; 16 Feb 1894, p. 6; 16 Mar 1895, p. 8; 30 May 1914, p. 16; 22 Jun 1935, p. 7; 7 Jul 1937, p. 24.

Waikato Times

Waikato Times, 28 Aug 1879, p. 3.

Morris, 1965

Nona Morris, Early Days in Franklin: A Centennial History, [Pukekohe], 1965

Muir, 1983

Muir, Brian, Waiuku and Districts: The Romantic Years, Waiuku, 1983.

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand