Airedale Street Cottages

30 Airedale Street, Auckland

  • Airedale Street Cottages.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Robin Byron. Date: 17/08/2009.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Robin Byron. Date: 17/08/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7089 Date Entered 26th August 1993


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 2 DP 93721 (CT NA50A/371), North Auckland Land District, and the buildings and structures known as Airedale Street Cottages thereon.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 93721 (CT NA50A/371), North Auckland Land District



The uniform design of the building disguises the fact that the cottages were built in three stages. Thomas Rusden, a stone mason by trade, bought the site in June 1856 and is assumed to have been the builder/designer. An advertisement for an auction held ten months earlier suggests that the site was vacant at the time. Cottage one appears as a long narrow building on a photo dating from 1857.

Little is known of Thomas Rusden. A person by that name was the master mason for construction of St. Mary's Church, New Plymouth (begun in 1845) and was also involved in construction of the "Dead House" (1846), a building used in conjunction with the Colonial Hospital New Plymouth. The earliest reference in the Auckland area appears to be a Thomas Rusden travelling from Great Barrier Island in 1853, however, it is not known whether these are one and the same person.

By 1865 the front portion of cottage two (one room up and one room down) had been constructed, however, in the same year Rusden defaulted on his mortgage repayments. The property was bought at auction by Samuel Viall a miner from Great Barrier Island. It was not until 1882 that the rear two rooms of the second cottage were built giving the building the form recognised today. If not used as two cottages prior to 1882, the building was recorded as two houses by 1886, the year John Slatter, "a gentleman", purchased the property.

Between 1894 and 1931 the property changed hands frequently although for most of their existence the cottages appear to have been let rather than occupied by the various owners. Between 1931 and 1966 the owners were the Pezaro family who's cigar factory occupied an adjoining property to the rear, on Wakefield Street. Over time occupiers of the cottages have included artisans of various kinds, a labourer, a painter, a carter and a plasterer. The cottages continued to serve as residential accommodation until late in the 1940s when commercial development caught up with what had been an inner city residential area. Thereafter they were put to a number of uses; in the 1970s as a gallery and for a short time in the early 80s as "The Corporal's Restaurant".

In 1980 the cottages were threatened by demolition. Although protected as historic buildings under the District Scheme, the owners sought a Scheme Change which would have enabled the site to be used for parking and loading purposes in conjunction with a property to the rear on Wakefield Street. As a result of the then-owner's unsuccessful appeal to the Planning Tribunal, the cottages were subdivided from the remainder of the site and purchased by the council who subsequently re-sold them.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The cottages area a rare example of mid-nineteenth century workers' housing in central Auckland which have survived from the first twenty years of the city's foundation. Their best known contemporary is Old Government House on the University grounds. Also built in 1856, its grand rooms and elegant detailing at the time of its construction would have been a stark contrast to these dwellings.


Structurally and in its layout the building has been little altered. It is a rare example of mid-nineteenth century workers' cottages based on British terrace housing. Its semi-detached form and rubble construction contribute to the building's rarity.


The cottages are of a modest nature. The expansion of the central business district has left this domestic scale building isolated in an area of commercial development. The material used in the cottages' construction contrasts to surrounding buildings, however, adding texture and interest to an otherwise uninspiring streetscape.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


Not known


The building comprises two semi-detached, two storeyed cottages of the "two up - two down" style. The front doors open off a narrow verandah at street level directly into the front room, there being no hallway. Both the cottages originally had centrally located, "ladder-like" stairs which provided access to the upstairs rooms although latterly these stairs have been replaced.

The facade is unadorned and has a double-hung, two-light, sash window on the ground floor. with two similar windows on the storey above.

Cottage One has stone walls approximately half a metre thick which have been roughly plastered on the inside. The front and rear rooms on the ground floor have scoria fireplaces, the larger one in the rear room presumably used for cooking purposes. The southeastern and rear walls and the fireplaces in the Cottage two, are of brick.

The building has a low hipped roof with centre gutter draining to the rear. The roof, although now corrugated steel, was originally shingled.


c.1857 - 1865

- front portion of Cottage 2 built


- rear portion of Cottage 2 built c.1898 - 1909

- facade plastered and verandah added along front of building


- steep stairways to upper storey replaced in both cottages

Dates Unknown:-

- various double hung sash windows replaced by windows with fewer panes

- shingle roof replaced with corrugated steel (c.1882?)

Cottage 1:-

- bathroom facilities added to rear at ground level

Cottage 2:-

- freestanding shower unit installed in upstairs, rear room

- "balcony" added at rear, upper storey

- removal of internal wall between front and rear rooms and timber frame partition wall built. (Exterior southeastern wall shows where stone quoins have been replaced by brick)

- brick chimneys removed from southeastern wall above roof level

- sandblasting of interior and external walls also, brick fireplaces

Notable Features

- rubble construction

- stone fireplaces (Cottage 1)

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1857 -
1857 (Cottage 1) & prior to 1865 (front half of Cottage 2)

Construction Details

Cottage 1: -

- northwestern and northeastern walls, also party wall are random rubble brought to course

- front wall (southwestern) coursed square rubble, later plastered

- lime mortar

- corrugated iron roof

Cottage 2:-

- southwestern and party walls as above

- southeastern and northeastern wall, brick laid in common bond, lime mortar

- corrugated steel roof

Information Sources

Auckland Public Libraries

Auckland Public Libraries

Auckland Scrapbook, Feb 1980- pp77 & 297, Dec 1980- pp2,17 & 81, Nov 1981- pp97-8 & 271

Auckland Star

Auckland Star


Auckland Street Directories

Auckland Street Directories

1866/7 - 1991

Stone, 1991

R. C. J. Stone, The Making of Russell McVeigh: The First 125 Years of the Practice of Russell McVeigh McKenzie Bartleet & Co. 1863-1988, Auckland, 1991

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

Land Information New Zealand

Deed 7D 41:Conveyance to T. Rusden, 24/6/1856, Deed 19D 456:Conveyance to S. Viall, 18/9/1865, Deed R36 895:Last Will and Testament of J. Slatter, 22/3/1886; CT 757/96

New Zealander

New Zealander

21/9/1853:2(3) (Shipping)

22/10/1853:2(2) '

8/9/1855:1(4) 'Auctions'

9/7/1862:2(3) (Marriages)

6/9/1862:2(1) 'Auctions'

Porter, 1979

Frances Porter (ed.), Historic Buildings of New Zealand: North Island, Auckland, 1979

pp.177 & 180

University of Auckland

University of Auckland

Newspaper Clippings File, Fine Arts Library, University of Auckland: 76 - 174, Thursday:12/7/1976

Auckland City Council

Auckland City Council

File 2I/56 (previous ref. B5/199). Dept. of Conservation & Urban Design; Valuation Rolls, East Ward Book II, 1881-1884, Auckland City Council Archives

Alington, 1988

M H Alington, Goodly Stones and Timbers, New Plymouth, 1988


New Zealand Property

New Zealand Property

April 1991 : 11

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Proposal for Classification 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.