Courthouse (Former)

143 Percival Street, Rangiora

  • Courthouse (Former).
    Copyright: David Ayers. Taken By: David Ayers. Date: 22/01/2010.
  • Courthouse (Former). Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Francis Vallance. Taken By: Francis Vallance. Date: 2/04/2011.
  • Courthouse (Former) c.1980 prior to modification to eastern facade in 2003. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: Unknown.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3770 Date Entered 6th September 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Sec 2 SO 17511 (CT CB36B/626; NZ Gazette 1992, p. 2786), Canterbury Land District and the building known as Courthouse (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Waimakariri District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Sec 2 SO 17511 (CT CB36B/626; NZ Gazette 1992, p. 2786), Canterbury Land District


Until 2011 a functioning courthouse, the former Courthouse at Rangiora is of national interest for its architectural value as a well-preserved judicial building of the late nineteenth century. Built in 1893, the Courthouse is historically important as a regional courthouse erected during the early years of the first Liberal Government (1891-1912) when the Public Works programme was exclusively conducted by private contract. The Courthouse has local and regional significance as a landmark building in Rangiora. It has contextual significance as a remaining building in a former complex of government and civic buildings. It was near identical to the brick Courthouse at Kaiapoi, erected in 1890. Since the demolition of that building following the September 2010 earthquake, Rangiora Courthouse has rarity value as the only example of this design. The building has additional significance in the Waimakariri District due to the recent losses of heritage buildings following the Canterbury earthquakes.

A magistrate’s court was established in Rangiora in 1865, accommodated in the Rangiora and Mandeville Road Board Office. From 1886 the Rangiora Borough Council petitioned the Minister of Public Works for the erection of a complex of government buildings including a new post and telegraph office, resident magistrate’s court and police station. In 1886 the Crown also acquired land on Percival Street for future development. Funds for a new courthouse were eventually voted by the government in October 1892. Plans were developed and tenders for a courthouse in brick were invited in January 1893. The contract was let to Rangiora builder George Thompson in February 1893 for £717. Plans for the Kaiapoi Courthouse, completed in 1890, were used for the Rangiora Courthouse, adapted on the advice of the Council with a larger public gallery. The design for the Kaiapoi Courthouse was attributed to architect William Crichton, who was employed by the Public Works Department until 1891.

The Courthouse is a brick building in a stripped Georgian style. It is constructed on brick piles, with load bearing brick walls and a corrugated iron hipped roof. The building features white stone facings on the window keystones and sills, with two horizontal courses of white stone on the northern, eastern and southern façades. The prominent frontage is the eastern (street) façade that features a gabled entrance section which bears the name and date of the building: ‘Court House 1893’.

The building has been modified through maintenance and remodelling for changing courthouse needs. It was extended with an additional wing to the west, probably in the 1970s or 1980s, and an extension and covered wheelchair entrance were added to the eastern façade in 2003. The interior of the building retains some original fabric (notably the timber panelled ceiling in the courtroom), but much fabric, particularly timberwork, has been removed or modified through maintenance and major upgrades in the 1960s and 2003. Internal modification has included rearrangement of some spaces, necessitating changes to fenestration on the northern side of the building.

In recognition of the importance of the Courthouse, the building was assigned a ‘Landmarks’ plaque in 2003. Immediately following the Canterbury earthquake of February 2011 the Courthouse accommodated trials for the Christchurch District and High Courts. The building was temporarily closed due to earthquake risk in November 2011 and permanently closed by the Ministry of Justice in December 2013, with court sittings now heard in Christchurch.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Public Works Department

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Thompson, George

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1893 -


2003 -
Extension and modification

Completion Date

21st October 2014

Report Written By

Christine Whybrew

Information Sources

Noonan, 1975

Rosslyn J. Noonan, By Design: A Brief History of the Public Works Department Ministry of Works 1870-1970, Wellington, 1975

Hawkins, 2010

Hawkins, D. N., Rangiora: The Passing Years and People in a Canterbury Country Town, rev. ed., Christchurch: Cadsonbury Publications, 2010

Other Information

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

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.