Donovan's Store

17 The Strand And Albert Street, Okarito

  • Donovan's Store, Okarito. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans . Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 27/07/2016.
  • Donovan's Store, Okarito. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans. Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 13/06/2016.
  • Donovan's Store, Okarito. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans. Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 13/06/2016.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 5008 Date Entered 28th June 1990

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Sec 12 Town of Okarito, (CT WS3A/13, NZ Gazette 1990 p. 3432), Westland Land District and the building known as Donovan’s Store thereon.

City/District Council

Westland District

Region

West Coast Region

Legal description

Sec 12 Town of Okarito, (CT WS3A/13, NZ Gazette 1990 p. 3432), Westland Land District

Summaryopen/close

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.

Formerly the site of a major Maori pa, Okarito became South Westland's principal port following the West Coast gold rushes of 1865-6. In its heyday, when the nearby Five Mile Beach was the richest gold-yielding black sand beach in all of Westland, as many as 25 hotels served the local population. One of them, the Club Hotel, was later bought by Jimmy Donovan and converted into the store which still bears his name.

James Donovan was born in Hokitika in 1867 and spent much of his childhood accompanying his parents as they moved from one gold rush to another. After turning his hand to roadwork, gold mining, stable-minding and pit-sawing Donovan opened a store at the now extinct Lake Mapourika settlement with his wife, Eva. The Donovans lived in Mapourika until c1889 when they moved to Okarito to open the store which they ran for over fifty years.

Between 1912 and 1932 Jimmy Donovan also farmed at the nearby settlement of Whataroa, but it is for his work on the Westland County Council that he is best remembered. Donovan served as the representative of the Okarito Riding on the Council between 1893 and 1896, and again after 1925. In 1940, at the age of seventy-three, he served a term as council Chairman. By 1950 his store had become the last remaining shop in Okarito. In recent years it was run by Mr Keith Robertson, who bequeathed it to the Department of Conservation in 1987.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

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 old store is a visible reminder of the days when it was a hotel at a time when Okarito was a thriving gold rush town and the main port on the West Coast. It is associated with Jimmy Donovan, a local character who ran the store for over fifty years and was a prominent figure in Westland local body politics.

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:

Donovan's Store is a rare extant example of colonial corrugated iron construction. Using the most readily available materials and showing more concern with expediency than architectural pretension, the builder of Donovan's Store created a modest structure which has stood in Okarito for well over one hundred years. It is the oldest surviving building in the village and also one of the oldest surviving structures on the West Coast.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK VALUE:

Donovan's Store is one of the very few public buildings left in a settlement which once boasted a population of over five thousand people, and as such it attains a certain prominence within the sparse streetscape.

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Additional informationopen/close

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:

Donovan's Store is a typical colonial building with its simple box shape, gabled roof and lean-to addition at the rear. Standing only a few metres from the road, the building presents a gable end to the street. This wall is lined with flush weatherboards and bears the inscription "Jas DONOVAN STOREKEEPER" in peeling paint above the door. Two large windows, each divided into four panes, flank the centrally-placed entrance. The door opens directly into the shop which is lined with tongue and groove panelling and has built-in shelves and two large counters running along the north and east walls. A tiny stair hall just off the shop provides access to the bedrooms and to the loft which is lit by a window set into the apex of the rear gable. At the rear of the shop a doorway opens into a narrow hall which terminates at the back door. A kitchen, sitting room and two other rooms are contained within the lean-to behind the shop which is almost as long as the gabled section of the building.

NB: ARCHITECT/ENGINEER/DESIGNER:

It is not known who erected the building which was subsequently converted into a store by Jimmy Donovan, although judging from its 'style' and construction it was probably built by its original owner.

Notable Features

The external chimney of corrugated iron.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1866 -

Modification
1890 -
Converted by James Donovan from a hotel into a store. Exact nature of modifications undertaken by Donovan unknown. In addition to installation of shop fittings, the living quarters may have been extended at this time.

Modification
1888 - 1889
Windows on north and south walls covered with sheets of corrugated iron.

Construction Details

Timber framing throughout. Front elevation of weatherboards. Corrugated iron roof, rear and side walls. External chimney corrugated iron. Concrete foundation.

Public NZAA Number

H34/15

Completion Date

24th January 1990

Information Sources

Bishop, 1977

J Bishop & M Walker [comp], Westland County - a centennial album 1876-1976, Westland County Council, Hokitika, 1977

Doran, 1979

J S Doran, Whataroa, South Westland - a centennial report, 1879-1979, [2nd edition] Whataroa District Schools' Centennial Committee, Whataroa, 1979

Other Information

A copy of this report is available 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.