Braves Softball Club Rooms (Former)

29 Puriri Street, 17 Kauri Street And Rimu Street, Gonville, Whanganui

  • Braves Softball Club Rooms (Former), Wanganui.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 5305 Date Entered 13th December 1990


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Lot 1 DP 20819 (CT WND4/974; NZ Gazette 2008 p.2169), Lot 2 DP 57235 (CT WN26D/386), Lot 2 DP 52861 (CT WN22C/156), Lot 1 DP 52366 (CT WN23C/627), Lot 2 DP 53493 (CT WN22C/393), Lot 1 DP 79339 (CT WN45D/702), Lot 2 DP 79339 (CT WN45D/703), Lot 1 DP 50916 (CT WN20C/855), Wellington Land District, and the building known as Braves Softball Club Rooms thereon.

City/District Council

Whanganui District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 1 DP 20819 (CT WND4/974; NZ Gazette 2008 p.2169), Lot 2 DP 57235 (CT WN26D/386), Lot 2 DP 52861 (CT WN22C/156), Lot 1 DP 52366 (CT WN23C/627), Lot 2 DP 53493 (CT WN22C/393), Lot 1 DP 79339 (CT WN45D/702), Lot 2 DP 79339 (CT WN45D/703), Lot 1 DP 50916 (CT WN20C/855), Wellington Land District


The building most recently known as the club rooms of Whanganui’s Braves Softball Club has heritage value for its long and varied usage since its construction in 1912. For two decades as the beachside Tea Kiosk it was an icon of the development of Castlecliff as a popular seaside destination. Its adaptive reuse for the children’s health camp in Gonville, then as a military camp, sanatorium, YMCA and softball clubrooms lends it further historical and social significance. It has architectural significance as the work of notable Whanganui architect Thomas H. Battle, who designed many of the city’s commercial and residential buildings.

Whanganui, the ancestral home of Ngāti Tūpoho, Ngāti Tūmango and Ngā Paerangi, became the site of the New Zealand Company’s second settlement in 1840. While the township was centred just upstream from the mouth of the Whanganui River, the satellite settlements of Castlecliff and Gonville developed at the coast, and were absorbed into the city proper in 1924. Castlecliff beach was a popular seaside destination. In December 1908, the Wanganui Chronicle published calls for an improvement of the beach amenities. By 1910 the Gonville-Castlecliff Tramway Board was developing a tram line connecting the town to the seashore. The plans included a tea kiosk to be built at the beachside terminus.

The kiosk was initially budgeted at £1000, however the final cost came in at £1841 due to the Board’s decision to ‘provide a larger and more commodious tea kiosk, fitted up with all conveniences’. Notable Whanganui architect Thomas H. Battle designed the building, and Messrs Oliver and Rathbone won the construction tender. The large, rectangular timber building had a shallow-pitched hipped roof, with a smaller second storey distinguished by clipped-gable dormer windows. Surrounding a central rectangular ballroom were seven bedrooms, an office, sitting room, tea room, kitchen, bathroom and staff quarters. The trams began service in October 1912, and the tea kiosk was opened in December. Inaugural leaseholders the Westbourne Seaside Co ran a guesthouse, dance hall, function venue and tea rooms from the premises. This use continued for the next two decades under various managers and business names. Wanganui City Council had taken ownership by 1929.

By 1934 the Great Depression had taken its toll, and the building, needing repairs, became untenanted. The Council was considering demolition when the idea of moving the kiosk for use at the new Children’s Health Camp in Gonville was proposed. The sale to the camp’s trustees was accepted for £230 and in July 1936 a large portion of the building was relocated to a four-acre site on Rimu and Puriri Streets. It was reroofed and some alterations made, and on 28 February 1939 the first intake of forty children arrived.

The health camp was underfunded and closed a few years later, then the building was used as a military camp during World War Two. In 1946 it became an annexe of the Otaki Sanatorium, initially for female patients and then for children. By 1965 the property was a recreation reserve vested in Wanganui District Council, although the building was leased to the YMCA until 1976, when the Braves Softball Club moved in.

The Braves Softball Club was founded by former New Zealand representative player Don ‘Mr Softball’ Brewer (QSM) in 1956. While baseball had been played in New Zealand since the 1880s, softball became popular in the 1930s; Whanganui was an early adopter of the game. Don Brewer instigated the building of the surrounding ballpark and added showers, a bar and redeveloped lounge to the club rooms. The early 1980s was softball’s ‘golden era’, and Don’s work with the Braves was credited with leading a revitalisation of the sport in Whanganui. The Whanganui Softball Association took over the building in 2011.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Battle, T.H

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Messrs Rathbone and Oliver

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1912 -

1932 -
Chimney stacks removed

1936 -
Relocation; re-roofing, alterations

1976 -
Alterations to interior

Completion Date

13th July 2018

Report Written By

Blyss Wagstaff

Information Sources

Wanganui Chronicle

Wanganui Chronicle

‘Whanganui Says Goodbye to Mr Softball’, Wanganui Chronicle, 23 March 2017

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Tony Smith and David Green, 'Softball and baseball', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 3 July 2018)

Sole, Laraine 2008

Sole, Laraine, Castlecliff: the community on the coast, self-published, Whanganui, 2008

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 Central Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand.