Post Office (Former)

16 Tasman Street, Collingwood

  • Post Office (Former), Collingwood.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien. Date: 3/02/2003.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien. Date: 3/02/2003.
  • 'The opening of the Collingwood Post Office, 1904.'.
    Copyright: Tyree Studio Collection, Nelson Provincial Museum, 177639/3.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 5111 Date Entered 13th December 1990

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Tasman District

Region

Tasman Region

Legal description

Sec 311 Takaka District (CT NL8A/1245), Nelson Land District

Summaryopen/close

The following text was prepared as part of an upgrade project and was completed 28 February 2003.

Completed in 1904, the Collingwood Post Office is a fine example of the Government post offices erected throughout New Zealand in the early twentieth century.

The earliest post office in Golden Bay was one of the first to be established under the Local Posts Act 1856, which gave provinces power to establish post offices and mail services for the first time. Despite the Act, post offices were sentinels of government authority in New Zealand's frontier communities and the general government reserved the right to authorise the establishment of new post offices, appoint postmasters, and manage major mail routes.

In 1904 the small town of Collingwood was devastated by fire. Twenty buildings, including the post office, were destroyed in the blaze. By August the following year, all business and public buildings had been reinstated with the sole exception of the post office, which was the responsibility of the Public Works Department. Post offices were crucial to small communities and the delay provoked considerable protest. One newspaper reported that if the Government would only supply the necessary funds, the local County Council would be 'only too glad to give the Department a lesson in expediency'. The Department invited tenders for the building in October that year, and by mid 1906 the Collingwood Post Office had been erected by Messrs McNabb and Johnston for £1106.

The Collingwood Post Office was built to a design created by John Campbell [1857-1942], the Public Works Department's 'Draughtsman in Charge of Public Buildings'. Campbell had trained in Glasgow and had joined the Department seven years after his arrival in New Zealand in 1882. Due to a heavy workload, Campbell created standardised post office plans that used the same range of forms repeatedly, although in differing combinations rather like, as one Member of Parliament commented, 'a cook with one gravy'.

The Collingwood Post Office is a simple example of Imperial Baroque, a style favoured by the Department, and is typical of post offices Campbell designed for New Zealand's smaller towns and suburban areas. The substantial, two-storey structure was built using native timbers. In keeping with nineteenth and early twentieth-century business practice, it consists of both a public office and a private residence. Post office facilities were located on the ground floor at the front of the building and included private boxes, a mail room, a public office and a money order counter. A small lean-to on the rear of the ground floor accommodated the postmaster's kitchen and dining room, and the upper floor contained four bedrooms and a sitting room. When the Acting Postmaster-General and Attorney General Albert Pitt officially opened the building in 1906, it was described as 'one of the best fitted up sub offices in the colony'.

Despite two serious fires, in which the building was severely scorched, the Collingwood Post Office served the town until 1988. In that year the government relinquished its traditional control over postal services and privatised the New Zealand Post Office. It has since served a variety of purposes and is currently used as an art gallery.

The Collingwood Post Office is nationally significant as an important, representative, and relatively unmodified example of the small post offices created at the turn of the twentieth century by Government Architect John Campbell. The building is historically significant as an illustration of the control the government traditionally maintained over mail services and facilities. The building has potential as an educational resource as the relatively unaltered arrangement of space in the building provides insight into the relationship between public and private life in early twentieth century New Zealand. Highly valued by the local community, the Collingwood Post Office has aesthetic value and serves as an important landmark in the main street of Collingwood.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

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

The Collingwood Post Office, now an agency for New Zealand Post Ltd, has served the Collingwood community for 84 years and has been closely associated with the development of the town and surrounding area.

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

ARCHITECTURAL QUALITY:

Campbell and the Public Works Department were responsible for the design of many post office buildings between the turn of the century and World War I. For this reason, the Collingwood Post Office cannot be considered in isolation.

Under John Campbell a standardised post office style emerged although there was a transition from Queen Anne to Edwardian Baroque styles. The exuberant designs of the early 1900s matured to a more restrained Baroque in the second decade of the century.

While the grandeur of the post offices varied with scale, the Collingwood Post Office is representative of those which appeared in many small towns and suburban areas throughout New Zealand. These buildings are not identical but they incorporate standardised elements. The exterior of this building is largely unmodified and well maintained and the interior retains many of its original fittings and finishes. The Collingwood Post Office is a good example of Campbell's two-storeyed timber post office buildings.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK VALUE:

This building attains some prominence in the main street of Collingwood.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Campbell, John

John Campbell (1857-1942) served his articles under John Gordon (c1835-1912) in Glasgow. He arrived in Dunedin in 1882 and after a brief period as a draughtsman with Mason and Wales joined the Dunedin branch of the Public Works Department in 1883. His first known work, an unbuilt design for the Dunedin Railway Station, reveals an early interest in Baroque architecture.

In November 1888 Campbell was transferred to Wellington where in 1889 he took up the position of draughtsman in charge of the Public Buildings Division of the Public Works Department.

He remained in charge of the design of government buildings throughout New Zealand until his retirement in 1922, becoming in 1909 the first person to hold the position of Government Architect. Government architecture designed under his aegis evidences a change in style from Queen Anne to Edwardian Baroque. His best-known Queen Anne design is the Dunedin Police Station (1895-8), modelled on Richard Norman Shaw's New Scotland Yard (1887-90). Among his most exuberant Edwardian Baroque buildings is the Public Trust Office, Wellington (1905-09). Although Campbell designed the Dunedin Law Courts (1899-1902) in the Gothic style with a Scottish Baronial inflection, he established Edwardian Baroque as the government style for police stations, courthouses and post offices throughout New Zealand. In 1911 Campbell won the nation-wide architectural competition for the design of Parliament Buildings, Wellington. Although only partially completed, Parliament House is the crowning achievement of Campbell's career.

Mr. McNabb

Builder, Collingwood

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

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

DESCRIPTION:

Collingwood was the main town of the Aorere goldfield. The first post office there was opened in 1856. In 1904 a fire destroyed almost the entire town of Collingwood, including the Post Office. Government Architect John Campbell and the Public Works Department were responsible for the new building, designed in 1905. The building was opened in 1906 by the Hon Albert Pitt (1841-1906), Attorney General and Acting Postmaster General. The Collingwood Post Office served the area for 84 years. Following its sale in 1988 the new owners have continued to operate an agency of New Zealand Post from the building.

Physical Description

The following text was prepared as part of an upgrade project and was completed 28 February 2003:

The Collingwood Post Office is a two-storey, timber building with a hipped roof and a central gable. A posting recess was originally located at the main entrance. Just inside the entrance was a small room where the private boxes were located. The walls dividing this room from the main mailroom have since been removed to create a single room. The mail room originally included newspaper and letter cases, sorting and stamping tables and a rack that could hold up to 24 mail bags. The public office, now used as a working area, was located to the right of the mailroom and was originally fitted with desks. The original kauri counter used for money orders and letter deliveries remains and divides the two areas. A small room at the rear of the working area/public office was originally used as the postmasters' room. Attached to the rear of the building is a single storey, lean-to that was originally used by the postmaster and his family as a kitchen, scullery and dining room. The second floor includes four bedrooms and a sitting room, formally arranged on either side of a central corridor in the manner typical of Victorian and Edwardian villas.

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

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

The Collingwood Post Office is a simple example of the genre of Edwardian Baroque architecture developed by John Campbell during his period as Government architect (1890-1922). It is two storeyed with a hipped roof and central gable to the street facade with rusticated weatherboard cladding. The building has the three bays across this facade which characterise Campbell's designs. The central bay which projects slightly has a square headed double-hung sash window at the first floor level, while at the ground floor there is a small entry foyer and posting recess. On either side of this central section, at both floors, there is a single double-hung sash window. The windows of the street facade all have aprons, but other windows of the building do not have this adornment. All windows are divided into two lights by a mullion.

The public spaces, which occupy most of the ground floor, have tongue-and-groove lining. The kitchen and dining room of the manager's quarters are located at the rear of the ground floor under the single storey lean-to portion, but the bedrooms and the sitting room are located on the first floor. Here the rooms are formally arranged on each side of a central hall. Original wardrobes, doors, skirtings and matai flooring are still intact as is the wood panelled and balustraded internal staircase.

Notable Features

Original kauri post office counter

Remaining original joinery including doors, skirting boards, staircase, tongue and groove lining on the walls in public areas

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1905 - 1906

Modification
1989 -
Kitchen altered, wall between kitchen and dining room removed

Modification
1996 -
Doors in shop / office area altered, double doors shifted to the left of the lobby, two walls removed

Maintenance/repairs
1928 -
Building repaired following fire damage

Maintenance/repairs
1967 -
Building repaired following fire damage

Construction Details

Concrete foundation walls and piles; timber framed superstructure clad with rusticated weatherboards. Brick chimneys. Corrugated galvanised iron roof.

Completion Date

28th February 2003

Report Written By

Rebecca O'Brien

Information Sources

Archives New Zealand (Wgtn)

Archives New Zealand (Wellington)

PWD Index to General Register 1905-1906, PWD Record Book 1905-1906, PWD Plan Index Volume 7, PWD 21476 (Architectural plans signed by John Campbell 11 September 1905), PO 21/6 and 21/33

Golden Bay Times and Argus

Golden Bay Times and Argus

13 April 1905

- 6 July 1905

- 5 October 1905

- 21 December 1905

- 1 February 1906

- 21 June 1906

- 19 July 1906

- 26 July 1906

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

Land Information New Zealand

CT 8A/1245, Deeds Index 8/428

Newport, 1971

J. Newport, Collingwood; A History of the Area from the Earliest Days to 1912, Christchurch, 1971

Richardson, 1988

Peter Richardson, 'An Architecture of Empire: The Government Buildings of John Campbell in New Zealand', MA Thesis, University of Canterbury, 1988

Robinson, 1964

Howard Robinson, A History of the Post Office in New Zealand, RE Owen, Government Printer, Wellington, 1964

Startup, 1975

R. Startup, Through Gorge and Valley: A History of the Postal District of Nelson from 1842, Masterton, 1975

Colonist

The Colonist

25 July 1906

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Central Region office

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.