Old Stone Wharf

Ferry Landing, Whitianga

  • Old Stone Wharf.
    Copyright: Dr Ann McEwan. Taken By: Dr Ann McEwan. Date: 26/07/2009.
  • .
    Copyright: Dr Ann McEwan. Taken By: Dr Ann McEwan. Date: 26/07/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 4675 Date Entered 19th July 1990

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City/District Council

Thames-Coromandel District

Region

Waikato Region

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Historical Significance or Value

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.

The Whitianga stone wharf is the oldest wharf in New Zealand, and it is still being used for this purpose. It facilitated the exploitation of the timber resources of the Whitianga area which gave rise to one of the earliest European settlements in New Zealand outside of the far north.

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.

ARCHITECTURAL QUALITY:

This wharf is an important example of early stone wall construction in New Zealand using substantial shaped stone blocks. It was a significant engineering undertaking for the period, which has stood the test of time in an environmentally adverse situation.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK VALUE

A significant feature of the east side of the entrance of the Whitianga estuary.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Browne, Gordon Davis

Gordon Davies Browne was a Sydney timber merchant who in 1836 established a timber milling and ship building enterprise at Mercury Bay. He is credited with the design and construction of the stone wharf at Whitianga. He died in the Bay of Islands in 1842.

Gordon Davies Browne was a Sydney timber merchant who was involved in the early shipbuilding industry at Horeke. In the 1930s in partnership with other entrepreneurs he made land purchases in Mahurangi, Tamaki and Mercury Bay. He was active in the kauri timber trade, particularly the supply of spars to the Admiralty. About 1836 he established a timber mill and shipbuilding yard at Whitianga. It was as part of this venture that the stone wharf, for the construction of which Browne is credited, was built. For the last seven years of his life Browne was in poor physical and mental health. He died in the Bay of Islands in 1842.

Browne, Gordon Davis

Gordon Davies Browne was a Sydney timber merchant who in 1836 established a timber milling and ship building enterprise at Mercury Bay. He is credited with the design and construction of the stone wharf at Whitianga. He died in the Bay of Islands in 1842.

Gordon Davies Browne was a Sydney timber merchant who was involved in the early shipbuilding industry at Horeke. In the 1930s in partnership with other entrepreneurs he made land purchases in Mahurangi, Tamaki and Mercury Bay. He was active in the kauri timber trade, particularly the supply of spars to the Admiralty. About 1836 he established a timber mill and shipbuilding yard at Whitianga. It was as part of this venture that the stone wharf, for the construction of which Browne is credited, was built. For the last seven years of his life Browne was in poor physical and mental health. He died in the Bay of Islands in 1842.

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Physical Description

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.

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

The wharf consists generally of a perimeter wall built of large blocks of stone which have been hewn to fit one another in five main courses. The space behind the walls has been back-filled with roughly graded rubble. The whole is topped off with paving stones of the same material as the walls. The wharf is basically L-shaped with one side running parallel to the main channel and the other at right angles to the beach. In the centre of the wall facing the channel the shaped stone courses protrude and form a set of landing steps.

MODIFICATIONS

From time to time the interstices between the stone blocks have been filled with mortar. Rocks, particularly in the upper course have been relaid or replaced, or gaps filled with concrete. Concrete has been used to maintain the upper surface of the walls and platform. In the 1950s a major loading platform about one metre high was built on the north portion of the wharf.

Notable Features

Earliest wharf in New Zealand.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1838 -

Information Sources

Birthell, 1980

J Birthell, 'Guide to the History of Whitianga', Thames, 1980

Grayland, 1965

E and V Grayland, Coromandel Coast, Reed, Wellington, 1965

Other Information

A copy of this report is available from the NZHPT Northern 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.