Bank of New Zealand (Former)

21 Ross Place And Lancaster Street, Lawrence

  • Bank of New Zealand (Former), Lawrence. CC Licence 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Mattinbgn - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Mattinbgn. Date: 22/11/2011.
  • Bank of New Zealand (Former), Lawrence. CC Licence 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Benchill - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Benchill. Date: 9/10/2011.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 5214 Date Entered 19th April 1990


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Secs 12-13 Blk II Town of Lawrence (CT OT4A/96), Otago Land District, and the building known as the Bank of New Zealand (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Clutha District


Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Secs 12-13 Blk II Town of Lawrence (CT OT4A/96), Otago Land District


Located on a prominent corner site on Lawrence’s main street, the Bank of New Zealand (Former), designed by Dunedin architect John Arthur Burnside, and opened in 1886, has historical, social, and architectural significance.

The first Bank of New Zealand building in Lawrence opened on Peel Street in 1865, servicing the thriving goldfields town. Lawrence became the centre for both the surrounding goldfields at Blue Spur, Waitahuna and Wetherstons, and the farming families who established themselves in the district. Brick replaced canvas and corrugated iron, with solidity and respectability in business reflected in the second generation of buildings such as the Bank of New Zealand.

Burnside invited tenders for the brick building in August 1885. Dunedin builder William King won the contract with a price of £1800. The Tuapeka Times reported that the ‘handsome and imposing structure’ was to be ‘quite an ornament to the town.’ Built of brick, on concrete foundations, it was ornamented with Oamaru stone and stucco. On the ground floor of the two storey building were the banking rooms, dining room, and kitchen, while on the first floor was bedrooms and other living spaces for the bank manager and his family. The entrance to the banking chamber was via a corner door on Ross Place and Lancaster Street. Outbuildings included a coal house, a wash-house, and a scullery. The new building was required to be ‘more in keeping with its surroundings and the importance of the business which this institution is transacting here.’

The new premises were completed in April 1886, at which time the reporter from the Tuapeka Times reflected that the building represented the high status and development of Lawrence – the first wave of timber structures replaced with solid, permanent premises, in keeping with the growing requirements of Lawrence as the centre of the agricultural district. As an amusing interlude, when Burnside was checking the strong room he became trapped when the door jammed shut. Just as helpers went in search of a block and tackle, the combined effort of onlookers saw the door opened ‘and the entombed architect restored to the light.’

The Bank of New Zealand closed in Lawrence in the 1970s. It lay empty until the mid-1990s when it reopened as a bar called the Diggers Arms. Its subsequent incarnations have been Gabriel’s Inn and the Sluice Bar and Grill, and Jafa’s. In 2018, it houses Gabriel’s Café and Bar.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Burnside, John Arthur

Burnside (1856-1920) was born in Dunedin and is believed to be one of the first professional architects who were born and trained in New Zealand.

He was articled to the architectural firm of Mason and Wales, remaining with them for two or three years. During this time he won important prizes for designs which he exhibited at international exhibitions.

In 1880 he established his own practice at Dunedin. His buildings include Transit House (1880s), Philips Hotel (now Gresham Hotel, 1882) and the Otago Early Settlers' Museum (1908).

William King

William King (c.1847-1935) was a Dunedin building contractor operating in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Born in Reading, England, he trained as a bricklayer. He came to New Zealand aboard the Waimate. He went into partnership with Richard Pope and George Albery erecting some significant buildings including the Terminus Hotel on Rattray Street, the original portion of Selwyn College, and Guthrie and Larnach’s building on Princes Street. After the dissolution of the partnership he carried on on his own account. He retired from the building trade around 1927.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Converted into a restaurant and bar

Original Construction
1886 -

Completion Date

6th March 2018

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

John Arthur Burnside: A Dunedin Architect

Imogen Stockwell, "John Arthur Burnside: A Dunedin Architect." BA(Hons), University of Otago, 2011

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand