Kensington Park Grandstand [relocated]

36-50 Kensington Avenue [Now Park Avenue], Whangarei

  • Kensington Park Grandstand [relocated].
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Stuart Park.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3829 Date Entered 28th June 1990


City/District Council

Whangarei District


Northland Region

Legal description

Pt lot 2 DP 91326



In February 1903 the Whangarei Agricultural and Pastoral Society purchased Kensington Park from Robert Thompson, the mortgagee of the land at that time. The park cost £1018 19/- and was paid for in part by a government subsidy granted on the condition that it should be available at all times, free of charge, for the use of the Defence Forces of New Zealand. A special bank loan for £1,200 from the Bank of New Zealand allowed the A. & P. Society to build the grandstand in the same year.

The park was first leased to the Whangarei Racing Club in 1911, and it continued to be used by both the racing club and the A. & P. Society after it was sold to the Whangarei Borough Council in 1919. More recently, the racing club has moved out to Ruakaka and there is some doubt as to whether the A. & P. Society will continue to use the park for its annual show.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The grandstand at Kensington Park has served the Northland community of Whangarei for nearly ninety years. Its presence in the park is a reminder of the important role played by the Agricultural and Pastoral Society in the township and also of the crucial part played by sport in the lives of many New Zealanders.


The roof structure of the Kensington Park grandstand is a most unusual one for grandstands in this country. With the exception of the Derby Stand built for the Auckland Racing Club in 1882, which also had a barrel-vaulted roof, most grandstands erected in New Zealand have gabled or hipped roofs. In all other respects, however, the grandstand is typical of the structures built before the Luttrell brothers revolutionised the design of grandstands in this country.

Still on its original site the Kensington Park Grandstand is a highly distinctive and picturesque public building.


Once a major landmark within Kensington Park, the grandstand has been overshadowed by the erection of larger buildings in recent years. It nevertheless remains a prominent structure within the park.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description



A barrel-vaulted roof with a concave verandah shelters the grandstand's single tier of seating accommodation. Access to the latter is by way of four stairways positioned at regular intervals along the front of the stand. Eight braced timber columns support the roof and a diminishing series of three wooden arches infills both side elevations. Flagpoles at both ends of the grandstand, stop-chamfered columns, a turned balustrade and supporting arches, introduce decorative elements to this functional structure. The interior of the stand is lined with timber and the vaulted roof is concealed by a flat ceiling.

On the ground floor two single storey annexes, of an apsidal shape, provide additional floor space at either side of the grandstand. These appendages to the main structure have iron-covered roofs with bracketed eaves. The right annex is a storeroom and the left

contains toilet facilities. For the most part double-hung sash windows light the rooms beneath the stand.


Date unknown: The two smaller arches within both side elevations have been filled with perspex and two windows in the right annex have been removed.

Notable Features

The curved roof is an unusual feature of the Kensington Park Grandstand which is rarely seen in New Zealand grandstands.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1903 -

Construction Details

Timber frame construction, concrete foundations. Weatherboard cladding, corrugated iron roof.

Information Sources

McEwen, 1988

A. McEwan, From cottages to 'skyscrapers': the architecture of A.E. and E.S. Luttrell in Tasmania and New Zealand. M.A. Thesis, University of Canterbury. 1988

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Mark Clark research notes

Northern Advocate

Northern Advocate

Kensington Park, Whangarei: Its History to 1933 as it affects Whangarei A. & P. Society, Northern Advocate, 20 March, 1933

Mackie, 1974

W. Mackie, A Noble Breed - The Auckland Racing Club 1874-1974, Wilson and Horton Limited, Auckland, 1974

Redwood, 1979

M.M. Redwood, Proud Silk - A New Zealand Racing History, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1979

Shepherd, 2012

Sue Shepherd, Whangarei's Round Roofed Grandstand 1903 - 2009, Photoincnz, Whangarei, 2012.

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.