Kaiapoi House (Former)

17 Hood Street, Hamilton

  • Kaiapoi House (Former). Frontage of Singer Bar, Hamilton.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: K.Mercer. Date: 5/03/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 2702 Date Entered 30th October 2009


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Unit 1 DPS 84579 (CTs SA67A/556, SA67A/560 (supplementary record sheet)), South Auckland Land District and the building known as Kaiapoi House (Former) thereon. (Refer to map tabled at the Board meeting on 31 October 2013).

City/District Council

Hamilton City


Waikato Region

Legal description

Unit 1 DPS 84579 (CTs SA67A/556, SA67A/560 (supplementary record sheet)), South Auckland Land District

Location description

This property was previously described as 7 Hood Street.


Kaiapoi House (Former) is a significant part of the fabric of Hamilton Central Business District's (CBD) cultural south end. It is thought to be the earliest limestone building in Hamilton, and is the only known example of coursed random rubblework construction known to survive in the wider Waikato. New Zealand wide, and particularly in the North Island it is a rarely used building technique. That it was used for this building as late as the 1890s is also of interest, as by that time concrete and other masonry options were becoming popular . Strategically placed in c1896 on what was Ngatiwairere land at a key North Island transport node, the building was part of Hamilton's original militia settlement and growing commercial district.

The two storied false-fronted pioneer (boomtown) shop is constructed using an uncommon limestone rubble method. Believed to have been built by Irish immigrant James (Jim) Robert Ellison (J.R.E) Hatrick for his successful drapery business, it was known initially as Kaiapoi House because of his agency for the Kaiapoi Woollen Manufacturing Co. Ltd. He eventually left Hamilton to establish businesses for his older children, with the shop being taken over by another draper, Edward Hall.

There have been many varied tenants and businesses operating from this building. Ownership for many years was with two Hamilton families of undertakers: the Hudners and the Scrimshaws. For almost 30 years much of the building was used by the New Zealand Chinese Association's Hamilton/Waikato Branch as a social and cultural centre (1938-c1965). During this period the ground floor shop front was also used by a Chinese herbalist and Chinese Association committee member, Davie Chang, whilst next door, in another Hatrick building, was a commercial laundry run by another committee member, Charlie Fong. Hamilton's role as an agricultural service centre is represented by tenants Osmond and Son, NZ Ltd (c.1939 - c1941) who were veterinary pharmacists and following their tenure, ballerina, Margaret Scrimshaw, provided ballet education from the building between 1943 and 1948, prior to her working in Europe. She was one of New Zealand's leading ballet talents at the time, doing work for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and performing for Queen Elizabeth II. Professional golfer Gerald W. Melvin ran a business repairing and manufacturing golf clubs from Kaiapoi House (Former) between 1948 and c1955. Petals Florist Shop operated out of the building from 1953 for nearly 50 years under three successive managers, becoming a Hamilton landmark.

In 1966 major renovations were commissioned using plans by Angus and Flood architects, changing the frontage, roof and internal layout of the ground floor, including laying concrete over what had been an earth floor to the rear of the building. Bettle Advertising (c2000-c2005) used the building for their offices, before relocating further uptown. Under the name Zephyr (2005-2008), the top floor was used as gallery and the lower floor as a café, before further renovations of the internal partition walls for Singer Bar (2008- ), its name a nod to the building's beginnings as a drapery shop.

Both the construction materials and construction method are unusual for the region. The building has a strong association with Hamilton's cultural, creative, and sporting industries and personalities. The south end area is a potential historic/cultural precinct, already featured in a heritage trail, increasing the streetscape value of the building.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The building has many associations with the development of Hamilton. It is close to the Armed Constabulary redoubt and was one of the sections given to soldiers for fighting in the Waikato Militia during the Waikato land wars. The site was initially used for housing, then for commerce. It is one of the few remaining shops from the 1880s-1890s in Hamilton's early commercial centre. Its use reflects the changing needs of Hamilton's people, from drapery, to supporting agriculture, to cultural needs such as dance tuition, a centre for the Chinese community, a floral studio, a gallery, to finally a café and bar where people can meet.

Kaiapoi House (Former) is significant in being owned by two borough councillors: J.R.E. Hatrick and E.G. Scrimshaw, the latter also serving as Deputy Mayor. Scrimshaw's funeral services operated for at least 30 years, one of the longer term funeral services in Hamilton which would be known to many families in that role. It is also associated with the talented ballerina Margaret Scrimshaw, E.G. Scrimshaw's daughter, who worked in London theatre and gave a Royal Command Performance, before returning to Hamilton where she continues to live.

Architectural Significance or Value:

Kaiapoi House (Former) is one of the few remaining false front façade commercial buildings remaining in Hamilton, albeit missing the false front façade. It is a rare example of a rough-cut limestone rubble building in Hamilton. It is also believed to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, stone building in Hamilton.

Technological Significance or Value:

Kaiapoi House (Former) provides important insights into the work of stonemasons in New Zealand in the late 19th century and of a building technique that is relatively rare in New Zealand. The building's side and back elevations are constructed using the coursed random rubblework method.

Cultural Significance or Value:

Both the Hamilton's south end and Kaiapoi House (Former) in particular have strong associations with Waikato's Chinese community, providing a focus for cultural celebrations and news of the broader Chinese community through the New Zealand Chinese Association.

Social Significance or Value:

Petals Florist operated for approximately 53 years so the building is strongly associated with the name Petals by many Hamiltonians. Several Historic trails incorporate the building and perpetuate the Petals name, ensuring that the community association will continue.

The building was used as the branch headquarters for the Chinese Association and hosted many important functions marking date on the Chinese calendar. The Chinese Ambassador visited and was entertained there.

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

The building has strong local significance as it is one of a few remaining buildings from Hamilton's commercial district of the late 19th Century, and was built on a site that recognised the value of Hamilton's location as a transport hub.

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

The building is associated with the New Zealand Chinese Association Hamilton/Waikato Branch, which drew members from a large geographical area, providing a vital social hub for the Chinese community. It helped to meet the social and ceremonial needs of migrants who sometimes struggled to speak English, while providing a place to keep alive Chinese culture for their first and second generation New Zealand descendants.

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

Many Hamilton residents still remember Kaiapoi House (Former) as Petals Flower Shop. The community has built up a myriad of stories relating to its ownership and use, recounted in posters, marketing materials, the architectural heritage trail 'Hamilton's Historic Southend', and a program to teach school students about local historic heritage. The current name, Singer Bar, is a tribute to the building's drapery origins, and marketing materials exploit the colourful history of the structure, raising further public awareness of the site's history.

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

The place has already been included in a number of community and school education programs, such as the architectural heritage trail 'Hamilton's Historic Southend', and a Waikato Museum program used to teach school students about local historic heritage and architecture. Additionally, as a rare example of coursed random rubblework, it provides opportunities for increasing knowledge and understanding by architectural students and other relevant professionals, about the work of stonemasons in New Zealand and of this type of construction, that is relatively rare, particularly in the North Island.

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

The coursed random rubblework construction sheds insight into the work of stonemasons in 19th century New Zealand. The place is a well constructed and typical example of this form of stone construction that has survived for over 100 years and demonstrates technical accomplishment.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places:

Kaiapoi House (Former) is believed to be the oldest limestone building in Hamilton, and the only known example to use the coursed random rubble technique as a construction style in Hamilton and the wider Waikato.

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

The streetscape value of the Kaiapoi House (Former) is increased by the building's context in a potential historic precinct area, encompassing Hood and Victoria Streets - the older part of Hamilton West's Central Business District - similar to the historic precincts seen in the Pollen Street, Thames historic area and the Jackson Street, Petone historic area. In particular, it is a few doors away from Office of the Waikato Hospital and Charitable Aid Board (Former), and clearly visible from both the Category I Bank of New Zealand Building (Former) and the Post Office (Former). Within this area, it is the only stone structure. The building is already included in an architectural heritage trail of 'Hamilton's Historic Southend'.


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


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Hatrick, James Robert Ellison

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Angus and Flood

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

MSM Architects

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Kaiapoi House (Former) was built as a drapery store for J.R.E. Hatrick. Apart from 1938-1965 when much of the building was used by the local branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association, the building subsequently followed the pattern of other buildings in the immediate neighbourhood of a retail/commercial nature. There have been no fewer than ten very different businesses operating from the premises over its c112 years, with the longest occupation being Petals Flower Shop for nearly fifty years. The final stage of its use reflects a neighbourhood trend towards recreation in the form of a bar, café and live music venue.

Hamilton was established in 1864 as a planned settlement of the Waikato Militiamen on what was Ngatiwairere land. Hood Street was at the south end of Hamilton West in an area of one-acre sections close to smaller allotments planned for commercial and retail development, and close to the militia redoubt, camp, and river boat landing. Hood Street was once the main thoroughfare into Hamilton from the southwest. The strategic importance of the street was recognised in 1875 by the purchase of the corner section by the Bank of New Zealand. A substantial building was thus erected not far from the river wharves at the southern end of Great South Road (Victoria Street), and handy to the administration offices which had clustered around the military redoubt. By 1918 Hood Street boasted several retail buildings including a laundry, an iron shop cum garage, the Office of the Waikato Hospital and Charitable Aid Board (Record no. 9279) and a large two-storey guest house, the Grand Central Private Hotel (Record no. 5310). Hamilton continued as a service centre for a growing rural economy, developing into New Zealand's largest inland city.

The original town grant of one acre was to J. Ross, a private in the 4th Waikato Regiment. Samuel Tanfield, Postmaster, then bought the property, subdividing it c1877. Lizzie Knox Hatrick, wife of James (Jim) Robert Ellison (J.R.E) Hatrick (b.1852), bought the lot in 1892 for £110. In fact she bought several lots, owning the southern Hood Street frontage as far as Anglesea Street with the exception of Lot 10. Kaiapoi House (Former) is believed to have been built by or for J.R.E Hatrick sometime between 1888 and 1897. Hatrick had used several existing premises in Hamilton West before building his own shop. It is thought to be one of the earliest, if not the earliest, stone building in Hamilton, and is the only known example of coursed random rubblework construction known to survive in the wider Waikato. Brick works opened in Hamilton in early 1876, so it is curious that Hatrick would go to the effort of bringing in the limestone. Hatrick migrated to New Zealand in 1880, moving from Auckland to Hamilton in 1881 where he married and started business as a draper. Despite competition from other drapers in Hamilton he kept his business going through the late 19th century depression.

Hatrick had become the local agent for the Kaiapoi Woollen Manufacturing Co. Ltd., which was based in Christchurch, New Zealand. He thus named the building he occupied at the time Kaiapoi House, taking the name with him when he eventually opened in the Kaiapoi House (Former) building. His advertisements emphasised his support for local manufacturers (including 'colonial' shoe makers), his honesty and the good value his prices provide. He sold a wide range of haberdashery, fabrics, carpets and handiwork supplies such as embroidery patterns and crewel wools. He also acted as an insurance agent. On at least one occasion he also sold spring seeds. He supplied boots and clothing for the deprived via the Waikato Hospital and Charitable Aid Board. By at least 1887 he had another shop in Hamilton East which he called Kent House, an outlet through Mr Ford's shop in Te Awamutu, and he did some business in Cambridge. The family helped to run the business, with his eldest daughter doing the books, while another daughter served near the front of the shop, selling ribbons.

The family lived in a house behind the shop while a larger house was built for them further down Hood Street, so the shop was not equipped with a toilet or kitchen at this time. The house at the rear of the property was too small for a family of eight children, one of the reasons they built a large two storey house further down the road. Hatrick also built a single storey house next to his shop for Mrs Redmond, a dressmaker. He employed dressmakers and machinists with tailoring skills in his stores: Mrs Redmond may have been one of these employees.

Hatrick's youngest daughter, Mrs Maxwell, remembered that 'outside on the wall high up opposite Mrs Redmond's there were two chimneys and it was during the Boer War and my twin brothers told me that those chimneys were for them. If the Boers came, one of them would hide in one chimney and the other in the other. There was no place for me to go.' There was a fireplace downstairs in a small sitting room at the back of the shop, and another upstairs, feeding the two chimneys. Mrs Maxwell also remembers horses being tethered to the veranda posts at the front of the shop.

Hatrick was active in the community, standing for the Hamilton Borough Council in 1884 then withdrawing, being elected in June 1887, only to resign in September, elected again in May 1901 to resign in August the same year. He resigned from the latter term due to a dispute with the council over the verandah of his shop in Hood Street, which the Council initially wanted him to widen as the posts obstructed the footpath. Hatrick refused to comply as when it was constructed it complied with the Council requirements of that time. This resulted in the Borough's solicitor being 'instructed to take proceedings against Mr Hatrick to make him remove his veranda.' He resigned at the next Council meeting, and the verandah was demolished.

His family were actively involved in the Presbyterian Church. He was also a Cricket Club member; he participated in the Hamilton Literary and Debating Society and was involved in the Hamilton West School. Hatrick leased and rented paddocks around the town, perhaps for the horses he required to visit his other stores.

Hatrick left Hamilton c1903-4 to set up a business in Te Aroha for two of his children, with Lizzie Knox Hatrick conveying all her land in 1904 to a farmer, Andrew Casey of Hamilton, for £3500. Another draper, Mr Edward Hall, moved into the building, making use of Hatrick's goodwill by continuing to use the Kaiapoi House name, and declaring on the outside 'Hall late Hatrick.' A photograph taken c1908 shows that a veranda to the broader footpath width had been added. The main entrance is a single door to the left of the frontage with two large windows to the right. It is unknown exactly how long Hall remained at the site, but he was still trading in Hamilton in 1910. It is not clear who the tenants were of Kaiapoi House (Former) between 1910 and 1939.

The property conveyed from Milne (possibly A C Milne) to McGregor in 1912. By 1918 the property was surveyed showing the name 'Hudner' on the Kaiapoi House (Former) property, with the next door dressmakers (Mrs Richardson's) house subdivided off with the name MacGregor. The sale of the Kaiapoi House (Former) section to Hudner went through in 1920. An undertaker named Eric G. Scrimshaw (d.1968) had been leasing number five (next door on the Victoria Street side) since 1930, and had been working out of Hood Street since at least 1928. There is a story that Scrimshaw used the ground floor of the Kaiapoi House (Former) building while he was renovating at number five to form his chapel and office. Donald Kwok recalls '...that there was a big hole in the middle of the ground floor, which was said to have been used by Scrimshaw as part of his undertaking activities...' The Chinese Association boarded this over. Leighton's Auckland Provincial Directory for 1930 lists Hamilton Stores Ltd at number five, then Chas. Fong, then at number seven Sermshaw [sic] (Eric C.), undertaker. However, neither Scrimshaw's daughter Margaret nor his son-in-law, George Pellow, who had worked as an undertaker at number five, knew anything about Scrimshaw working from this building. By 1931 Catherine Hudner, a confectioner, was listed as owner of the property. She is believed to be the sister of two brothers who were undertakers, who lived at the Anglesea Street end of Hood Street. So another possible explanation, is that the Hudners operated their undertaking business out of the property during the period they owned it, or that Walter Burrow, another undertaker operating out of Hood Street in 1928 was operating out of the property.

Directories for 1932-4 do not list anyone at Kaiapoi House (Former): indicating the property was vacant. Alternatively, it could have been used as a storage facility or non-public workshop.

Osmond and Sons, NZ Ltd, veterinary chemists, operated out of the premises managed by J. Holden from at least 1939-1941. By 1944 they had moved into Victoria Street premises. A photograph from ca.1939 advertises Anslow Manufacturing Company, suggesting they used the top floor. However, the New Zealand Chinese Association Hamilton Branch is believed to have occupied the back section of the ground floor and the entire first floor of the building from 1938, suggesting Osmond and Sons may have had an agency for Anslow.

Despite the name, the New Zealand Chinese Association Hamilton Branch served a large area, from Huntly down to Taumarunui, from Thames to Whakatane, and at one stage out to Tauranga and Rotorua as well. Eventually in the 1950s they changed the branch name to 'Waikato'. Anyone with some Chinese ancestry was welcome in the association and membership was free, so it is difficult to say exactly how many members the Branch had.

The immediate locality had a number of buildings with Chinese tenants during the time of the Association. The lower floor of Kaiapoi House (Former) was rented by a Chinese Herbalist for a while, while the adjacent single storey building (number nine) was rented by one of the many Chinese laundries in the area.

At the time of the New Zealand Chinese Association Hamilton/Waikato Branch's tenancy, the upper floor was divided into two rooms, with the partition wall having a single villa-style door. The smaller room over looking Hood Street was used by the Executive Committee and had two sash windows. The larger first floor back room included a fireplace and was used for general activities.

The Association met together for various annual celebrations. The biggest annual event was the Double Tenth celebration (China's national day), usually a picnic, which was also the AGM, attracting about 150 people. The Chinese New Year was celebrated with a dinner at Kaiapoi House (Former), attracting almost as many people. Ching Ming in April involved visiting family graves and an opportunity to socialise. In the mid-1950s the members were proud to host the first Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand at Kaiapoi House (Former). The rooms were also used by members for private functions such as weddings.

According to Lynn Allen, food for the Association gatherings was either brought by the members or cooked in the house behind the building. Usually after every function a Mah Jong game would start, going on into the early morning of the next day. There was some gambling, but no opium was smoked (despite some rumours to the contrary).

The Chinese elders ran a school out of Kaiapoi House (Former) for approximately four years after WWII on Sunday afternoons from one to three. The New Zealand born young Chinese people could not speak their language, and the elders believed it was important that it did not become lost to New Zealand born Chinese.

From at least 1941 the lower floor of Kaiapoi House (Former) was rented to Davie Chang, sometimes referred to as Dr Chang, or Yee Chonhai, a Chinese herbalist. He was also a member of the 1938 New Zealand Chinese Association Hamilton Branch Executive Committee. 'The window was sign written [giving his business name in Chinese characters], and full of a display of herbs, seeds and spices etc.'

In 1942 Catherine Hudner sold the property to Eric George Scrimshaw, who also bought the building next door (number five) on the same date. Scrimshaw was a member of the Borough Council 1944-56, serving at least some of this time as Deputy Mayor.

By 1944 Chang had moved his business into the Dominic Building in Garden Place, Hamilton. The new ground floor tenant (c1943-1948) was Scrimshaw's daughter, Margaret (later Mrs Pellow), one of New Zealand's most talented young ballet dancers at that time. Her School of Ballet entrance was through the front, while the Chinese Association used the back stairs. 'They kept fairly well to themselves, and she was hardly aware of them being there.'

Margaret taught classical ballet to younger children during the day, with older students attending in the evenings. 'Her entrance was at the front [on the left/eastern side], she had no back door. Her room was divided into two. There was a small area at the front for changing and waiting, with seats for mothers to sit on; the shop [window was] curtained. At the back was the large dancing studio, with mirrors, and rails round the walls.'

After the end of World War II and Margaret gaining the Royal Academy of Dancing Solo Seal exam, she was able to travel overseas for further training, following the recommendations of Espinosa, examiner and founder of the British Ballet Organisation, when he saw her dance some years earlier. Her first work overseas was for the BBC and she was invited to take part in a Royal Command Performance whilst working in London. After Margaret's departure the golfing professional Gerald W. Melvin rented the ground floor shop front from 1948 to c1955. He repaired and manufactured golf clubs. In one directory the business was listed as PGA Sports Specialists, in another as Sports Depo, and in another simply under Melvin's name.

Mr Denis Fairbrother established Petals Florists in 1953, running it with his wife, Mrs Nan Fairbrother. Ownership of the building was transferred to Temuka Trust/Temuka Holdings Ltd, administered by Guardian Trust, in 1958. The company was set up for the Scrimshaw family.

A photograph taken in 1962 shows the original weatherboard false-front still in place. A woman who was reportedly a young apprentice about this time remembers there still being dirt floors out the back.

By the 1960s many of the older people in the New Zealand Chinese Association Waikato Branch had died and the younger people of Chinese ancestry were not as interested in the Association, so it went into an unofficial recess -unofficial so that they could still receive news from the national Association. The Chinese Association vacated Kaiapoi House (Former) after almost 30 years of tenancy, in c1965.

Soon after the Chinese Association left, the shop was modernised and repaired to designs drawn up by Angus and Flood in 1966, with the florist shop taking over the entire ground floor. It is unclear whether the clients were the Fairbrothers, or Mrs Katie Jacobson, who had worked for them, and bought the business when they retired, the shop continuing in the same premises under the same name.

The 1966 renovations of Kaiapoi House (Former) included a revamp of the frontage: the original large wooden front façade with its curved top was removed, and the remaining front upper storey weatherboard was covered with mesh and plastered over. The joinery in the upper storey front windows was also replaced with shutters added and the upper storey was lined with fibrous plaster. The single front door on the left plus the large window to its right was removed and replaced with a symmetrical arrangement of central front doors flanked by limestone piers that mimicked the limestone walls, flanked by windows. The plastered corners were retained. The lower floor was concreted, the ground floor internal walls layout changed and an outside toilet was added. The front roofline was also altered at this time: in early photographs 'the gable roof extends right to the front, behind the façade. It is now a hip roof sloping down to the front, same as at the back. The chimney pots were removed by 1981, perhaps as part of the Angus and Flood renovation. Hill noted in 1976 that 'the original loading dock opening adjacent to the stairs and served from the intermediate landing has been filled in with 8' [20 cm] concrete blocks.' He thought that at these alterations might have been carried out in 1966, which would fit with the placement of the stairs in Angus and Flood's plans.

In c1980 it was noted that the upstairs interior wall towards the front appeared as if it could date from the original building. Around this time Petals Florist occupied the entire building, using the upper floor as for storage and as a packing area. At this time that: 'the building...can only be regarded as extremely unstable, (ie high earthquake risk) and only capable of being strengthened at a high cost. It is hard to see how any strengthening could be accomplished without detracting from that aspect of the building which makes it worth considering as a building of historical interest.' 'With this in mind the City Council decided not to register the building on the City Planning Scheme.' George Pellow, husband of Margaret (nee Scrimshaw) a beneficiary of the Temuka Trust, at this time was considering selling the property, envisaging demolition and redevelopment.

In 1984 the property was transferred to Alexander H.P. Tucker and Douglas W. Forsyth of Hamilton, followed by part shares being transferred in 1985 to Russell J. Watson and Susan E.A. Wrigley of Cambridge. The Petals Flowers business was taken over from Katie Jacobson by the flamboyant Chris Barnes, exact date unknown.

In 1993 Russell Watson transferred his shares to Graham D. Wrigley, an accountant in Cambridge. Several years later, in 1997 the property was transferred to Greenlight Development Ltd, a Hamilton based company whose only shareholder was Joseph D. Wright. The company was formed in 1985 and continues to trade.

Petals Florist ceased trading c2000. It is unclear who used the building between Petals Florists and Bettle Advertising, who started business there in 2002. Bettle Advertising is a company directed by George Richard Bettle. Bettle's clients included the Waikato Museum of Art and History and Hamilton City Libraries. Veranda lace may have been added at this time. The advertising business was relocated to another Hamilton premises in c2005 and still continues.

Zephyr (2005-2008), a café, was established in Kaiapoi House (Former) by Debbie and Troy Cleaver (mother and son). Troy had gained experience as a barista and cook around various Hamilton cafes. According to an article about the business 'They love the historic value of the building, rated a Class A historic building by the historic places trust, and the second oldest [remaining] commercial building in the city.' They redesigned the staircase, using the upstairs space to exhibit works by Waikato artists.

In 2006 the property ownership transferred from Greenlight Development Ltd. to Joseph D. Wright, Lesley A. Wright and Ewan R. Price. Ewan R. Price was a former director of Greenlight, and Joseph Wright was (and is) the director of Greenlight.

Singer Bar (2008- ), named for Singer sewing machines in a nod to Hatrick's drapery business, is managed by Ray Webber, who employed Hamilton based MSM architects to redesign the interior layout. The bar also sells a range of food and coffee, occasionally hosting live music. Part of Singer Bar's marketing mix is a poster that draws (with some artistic license) on the history of the Kaiapoi House (Former) building.

Physical Description

Kaiapoi House (Former) is situated at the southern end of Hamilton's commercial centre in an area recognised for the number of buildings dating from the late 19th and early 20th century (see Appendix 1 of the registration report), a mixture of one and two storey structures. The majority of buildings along Hood and Victoria Streets from this period were false-fronted pioneer (boomtown) retail buildings. Today the remaining buildings are used principally for cafes, restaurants, galleries, live music venues, and bars in an area seen by the Council as the cultural hub of the city. There is a set of two storied apartments to the rear of the building.

The side and back elevations of Kaiapoi House (Former) were built using limestone and the coursed random rubble construction technique where rough stones are used as they are found, or only roughly shaped, and laid with wide joints. This form of construction in New Zealand was more common in the South Island and no other surviving examples are known to exist in the North Island. By c1908 the building was a simple false-fronted pioneer, two storey retail building with very little external ornamentation. The semi-circular false-front was sign-written, joining and obscuring the gable end of the roof. The building is 7.66 metres (22 feet) wide by 13.57 metres (39 feet) deep, with walls 7.31 metres (21 feet) high. It has a corrugated iron hipped roof. The ground floor front of Kaiapoi House (Former) is timber framed plaster with central double doors flanked by coursed random rubble piers (matching walling) and bi-fold windows: only the side plaster sections are original. The corrugated iron covered verandah is supported in part by a triangular tongue-and-groove section which appears original to the second veranda. The iron lacework does not date from when the second verandah was erected sometime between 1901-c1908, but has been added post-1989. The second storey frontage has two symmetrically placed windows. Their placement is original, but the window joinery and shutters are not. The large wooden false front seen in c1908 has been removed.

The side and rear load bearing walls are constructed of Te Kuiti Group limestone, a layered (flaggy) limestone. The Te Kuiti Group stretches from Taranaki to the Bombay Hills. This limestone is harder than that found around Oamaru, for example, and is not cut, but rather usually used either as a facing stone or stacked. The coursed random rubble walls are approximately 0.4 metres thick. Hill considered the workmanship to be 'reasonably good. The masonry walls are, in the main, as originally constructed and are well built with true arrises.' 'At one stage the top of the exposed side wall appears to have collapsed and been rebuilt and the standard of workmanship is not as good as originally.' The rear ground floor openings have brick arches supported by steel arch bars, including a single centrally placed door. The two rear windows appear to be the original double hung sash joinery with four-over-four lights. They were both working in late 2008 but the ground floor (ladies toilet) window appears to have been painted shut. The upstairs rear window still works. The original loading dock filled in with concrete blocks is still visible in the back wall.

The stone is exposed on the outside walls, apart from the front plastered corners, and is also exposed on the inside walls of the front section of the ground floor. The rest of the inside walls are plastered or plaster-boarded. None of the internal partition walls on the ground floor are original. Part of one partition wall upstairs appears to partially follow the lines of the original internal wall, the rest of the upstairs walls are recently constructed. The upstairs area is primarily staff only, with the kitchen to the rear, the staff toilet, and the front area dominated boardroom-style by a large table and chairs. The skirting board depth on the upper floor is 158 mm. Some skirting boards were reused on the ground floor in the last renovation.

The ground floor is concrete at footpath level with wooden flooring laid over. The first floor has timber framed main beams running crossways, joists running long ways, and tongue and groove flooring of boards125 millimetres wide, probably of kauri, patched here and there with copper sheeting. Some rectangular nail heads suggest the use of hand made nails to affix the floorboards in some places. There has been some borer in the floor but it does not appear to be active. The ground floor ceiling dates from the renovations in late 2008. The upper storey's ceiling appears for the most part to be the original kauri board and batten, although the chamfering may have been sympathetically done in 1966 when the roof line was altered.

To the best of the current owner's knowledge no earthquake strengthening has been done. A photocopy of a photograph of the western side of the building taken in 1989 appears to show metal building ties, but these are no longer apparent.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1896 -

1901 -
Verandah removed

1904 -
Wide verandah added

1966 -
New shop front windows (ground and first floors), shutters installed, new front entrance with double doors, construction of front coursed random rubble piers, hip roof, change of internal walls, concrete ground floor.

2005 -
Staircase altered

Construction Details

Limestone, kauri, corrugated iron.

Completion Date

11th May 2009

Report Written By

Kathryn Mercer

Information Sources

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1902

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

Gibbons, 1977

P.J. Gibbons, Astride the River: A History of Hamilton, Christchurch, 1977

Wises Post Office Directories

Wises Post Office Directories

Leighton's Auckland Provincial Directory

Leighton's Auckland Provincial Directory

Norris, 1964

H.C.M. Norris, Settlers in Depression: A History of Hamilton, New Zealand 1875-1894, Auckland, 1964

Salmond, 1986

Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen

Devliotis, 2005

Dancing With Delight: Footprints of the Past; Dance and Dancers in Early Twentieth Century Auckland. Polygraphia, Auckland N.Z., 2005.

Robinson, 1999 (2)

Robinson, Footprints of History: Student Record of Historical Orienteering in the South End of Hamilton, Waikato Museum of Art and History, Hamilton, N.Z., 1999.

Steve, 1952

Hamish Steve, Architrek: a Walk through Hamilton's Historic Southend. NZHPT/Heritage Group of the Central Business District Association/Hamilton City Council, Hamilton N.Z., [1994].

Other Information

A fully referenced Registration Report is available from NZHPT Lower Northern 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.