Historical Significance or Value
The Kaiapoi Railway Station (Former), built in 1904, is a tangible reminder of the pre-eminent role played by the railways throughout New Zealand. The essential transport system provided by railways was of national importance. It underpinned economic development as the country’s population increased and expanded activities into more remote areas. The Kaiapoi Railway Station (Former) is representative of the place the rail network had at this date in provincial centres throughout the country.
Architectural Significance or Value
The station building designs by architect George Troup have dominated the image of New Zealand Railways from when they were first constructed. The Kaiapoi Railway Station (Former) is a representative example of Troup’s work in railway architecture before World War One. Although the building comprises only part of the original building, it is still readable as a ‘vintage’ Troup design, a type of railway station, of which there are now relatively few left in New Zealand.
Social Significance or Value
Like other railway stations throughout New Zealand, the Kaiapoi Railway Station building has been the focus for many occasions of social significance at individual, family or community levels. With rail as the principal transport option, the station was the scene of greetings and farewells, each associated with specific emotions. The building has remained in the consciousness of the local community. This is demonstrated both through community fundraising for its initial shift to 65 Charles Street in 2002, and through newspaper reports following the significant earthquake of 4 September 2010 and the decision to again shift and restore in 2012-13.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
The Kaiapoi Railway Station (Former) reflects the era when railways were New Zealand’s dominating means of transport, a vital facility in the economy and general life of the country’s history.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
The distinguished architect and engineer, George Troup, is the key figure associated with the design of New Zealand’s railway stations. In his position as head of the New Zealand Railways Architectural Division he was responsible for designing the Kaiapoi Railway Station in 1904. It is a representative example of his work.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place
The Kaiapoi community has demonstrated its esteem for the station through their expressions of concern for the building’s future. It is considered to be not only an historic item that is increasingly rare in the district following damage and removal following the earthquakes, but, used as a visitors’ centre, it is also a valued public amenity.
Kaiapoi and the surrounding area have a long and distinguished history of Māori settlement and occupation. The town of Kaiapoi takes its name from Kaiapohia pā, a stronghold of the Ngāi Tahu iwi, which was established in that area around the year 1700 on the Rakahuri (Ashley) River. The area was a notable mahinga kai and thriving trading centre for a range of goods, including pounamu. In 1831, Kaiapohia pā was attacked and overrun by Te Rauparaha and his northern followers, using their newly acquired musketry. The extensive loss of lives and the razing of the pa to the ground was a significant moment in Ngai Tahu history in the area. There is still considerable archaeological evidence of Maori history of the area, including a fishing encampment at the south of the township, and numerous archaeological sites to the north including a series of reported firestones, shell middens, artifacts and burials on the bank of the Cam River.
From the mid nineteenth century, Pakeha missionaries and immigrants settled in Kaiapoi, many arriving as part of the Canterbury Association settlement programme. The town was first named Gladstone by the planners and by 1854 it had a wool store, general store and hotel.
The push for a railway line north from Christchurch began in the 1860s and in 1870 when, to promote settlement and stimulate economic growth, the Government adopted Colonial Treasurer Julius Vogel's (1835-1899) proposal to build a transport network throughout the country.
The railway line opened as far as Kaiapoi in 1872. The original station was built by Messrs Smith and Wright that year. To ensure that the maximum length of line was laid using the funds available, Vogel suggested that the least possible amount should be spent on lines and station buildings. Consequently, in the late nineteenth-century, station buildings in rural areas were purely utilitarian structures. Accordingly, the Public Works Department developed standard plans of station buildings that would reduce construction and design costs to a minimum. The stations were ranked into five classes and the class of station allocated to a settlement became an indication of its status and prospects. Despite an economic depression during the 1880s, which spelt the end of the 'Vogel era', New Zealand Rail continued to build stations according to the plans developed by the Public Works Department.
Kaiapoi’s first railway station was a rectangular gabled building, 50 feet (15.24 metres) long and 15 feet (4.57 metres) wide with a seven foot (2.13 metres) verandah on its eastern side. In keeping with Vogel’s approach, Kaiapoi’s first station reflects the low-cost, modest, and standardised design. It was smaller and much plainer than Troup’s station which replaced it, the later station demonstrating how the settlement had grown in both size and prosperity.
By 1900 the economy had improved and New Zealand Railways (NZR) was able to design and construct more elaborate station buildings in rural areas. In 1902 George Troup (1863-1941) was promoted to the position of NZR Designing Engineer and was responsible for a number of district stations of great architectural merit. Troup's promotion ushered in a new 'age of elegance' in station buildings. Nick-named ‘Gingerbread George’ because of the decorative detailing he gave to his designs, George Troup worked for NZR from 1886 to 1925. Between 1898 and 1914, sixteen Troup railway stations were built in New Zealand featuring detailing similar to that on the Kaiapoi Railway Station building. These 16 ‘vintage’ Troup designs, noted for their lavish decoration and impressive street aspect, were considered the ultimate development of timber railway station refinement and elegance. Examples include railway stations in Thames (1898), Oamaru (1900), Gisborne (1902), Lower Hutt (1905), Blenheim (1906), Picton (1914), Ashburton (1917), and Mataura (1921). Troup’s Dunedin Railway Station built 1904-07 in stone, is an outstanding monument of Edwardian architecture and is considered to be his masterpiece.
With the expansion of the town, the Kaiapoi Borough Council petitioned the Government for new station buildings and the proposal to build the Kaiapoi Railway Station was approved. The new building was designed for Kaiapoi by Troup and was constructed in late 1903 and early 1904, at a cost of £1250. It was officially opened on 3 February 1904 by Sir Joseph Ward, who suggested it was ‘probably the finest in the South Island’.
Troup’s design for the Kaiapoi Railway Station was a timber structure in the Edwardian style. The contemporary description of the building at the time of the official opening details the features of the building. It included a ladies waiting room, luggage room, lamp room, all being much larger than those rooms of the previous railway station building, and there was also a porters’ room in the new station building. It was half-timbered and was roofed with Marseilles tiles. The windows were lattices and there was an attractive turret on the northern end of the building that formed part of the ladies’ waiting room. The verandah on the platform side had a decorative iron lace border. The newspaper description at the time of the opening states that while the front elevation is in good taste, it is lost to general view because it does not abut any formed street.
Minimal alterations were made to the building over the years until it was damaged in a storm in 1975. Almost two-thirds of the building had to be removed. Passenger services from Kaiapoi ceased in 1976, although railway service tickets continued to be sold at the station until 1986, when it closed for good. Despite the loss of a large part of the building in the mid 1970s, in 1984 it was considered sufficiently significant to warrant classification by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) as a building of architectural and historical significance. The NZHPT Building Record Form indicates that, despite retaining only a shadow of its original glory, the station building remained an important representative example of George Troup’s railway architecture.
After ceasing to function as the railway station, the building was under real threat of loss through demolition or vandalism. It suffered three fires, one of which was the result of a lightning strike. Then, in October 2000, the Kaiapoi Railway Station Trust was formed to shift the building and restore it as a Visitor Information Centre. The Trust purchased the station building from its then owner, Robert Cooke, and he promptly gave the money back as a donation. Money was raised through grants and community donations, and in 2002 construction began of foundations for its new location on the bank of the Kaiapoi River at 65 Charles Street. The building was shifted to its new site on 3 April 2002. Some rotting exterior boards were replaced, a new Marseilles tile roof was put on, many of the ceiling and floorboards were replaced and the whole building was repainted. The work was overseen by retired builders Mel Dalzell and Murray Elder and much of the work was carried out by Taskforce Green crews. The building was reopened on 1 June 2003 by MP Clayton Cosgrove and it became the Kaiapoi Visitor Information Centre.
On 4 September 2010 the land upon which the building sat was affected by the Canterbury earthquake but, despite significant liquefaction and settlement, the building itself survived. Due to land damage, in August-September 2012 the building was shifted a short distance, less than about 150 metres north-west along Charles Street, restored and in April 2013 again reopened for use as the Waimakariri Visitor I-Site building.
In its relocated position, the Kaiapoi Railway Station (Former) sits on a parcel of land on the east bank of the Kaiapoi River, with the building’s north-east elevation fronting close to the footpath of Charles Street. The building is aligned more or less in a north-south direction, such that the shorter elevations front Charles Street and the River. Open grassy areas in the land parcel mean that the longer elevations are easily viewed from the street.
The Kaiapoi Railway Station (Former) is a single storeyed building, largely rectangular in plan, comprising a weatherboard exterior with a half-timbered appearance, a turret, and a pitched roof of Marseilles tiles. The original railway canopy has not been retained as part of the recent relocation.
Partial loss in a storm
Relocation to river side site at 65 Charles Street
Second relocation on Charles Street to nearby Lot 11 DP 42864
Timber, glass, clay tile, cast iron
9th October 2013
Report Written By
Pauline Wood, Kaiapoi: A Search for Identity, Rangiora, 1993
J. D. Mahoney, Down at the Station: A Study of the New Zealand Railway Station, Palmerston North, 1987
Heritage New Zealand
Heritage New Zealand
Carroll, Penelope, ‘Stations on the Move’, Heritage New Zealand, Winter 2003.
A fully referenced copy of the registration report is available on request from the NZHPT Southern Region 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.