Gluepot Tavern

340 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland

  • Gluepot Tavern. Image courtesy of -
    Copyright: geoff-inOz. Taken By: geoff-inOz. Date: 11/01/2010.
  • Gluepot Tavern. Image courtesy of -
    Copyright: geoff-inOz. Taken By: geoff-inOz. Date: 11/01/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7218 Date Entered 16th December 1994


City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

part allot 21, section 8, DP 4749, City of Auckland

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The first hotel was built on this site in around 1875. The present building is the second on the site, continuing the tradition of hotel use. It has historical significance in terms of its association with the New Zealand music industry.


The Gluepot Tavern stands on a prominent corner site in Ponsonby. The building is in harmony with other historic buildings in the area because of its scale, size proportions and design. It is part of an attractive street-scape and defines the Three Lamps intersection with the Ponsonby Post Office diagonally opposite.


The tavern is built on the site of the former Ponsonby Club Hotel, which was built in 1875. It is probable that remains of this first structure still exist on site, including a well in the basement.


The tavern was built in 1937; designed by Frederick Browne who also designed several commercial buildings in Auckland in the inter war years. It can be loosely described as Inter-War free classical in style with some Art Deco decoration. It demonstrates a traditional symmetry of form, with a classical style of window, characterised on the upper floor with a slightly curved window-head. The building is considered interesting in architectural terms, but not a notable example of its style, lacking the features and detailing found on some free classical buildings. There have been significant interior alterations since its construction.


The Gluepot Tavern has significance to the local community and to the New Zealand music industry. It has been a community meeting place and events venue for a number of years, and the clientele represents the diverse racial and social community of Ponsonby. It has been a notable and nationally recognised venue for live music, supporting New Zealand performers.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand's history:

The original Ponsonby Club Hotel was built on this site in 1875 and was described as a handsome two-storey wooden building erected for John Carroll Seccombe. Seccombe's father, Richard, had founded a brewery in Khyber Pass, Auckland in 1856 which became known as the "Lion" brewery from the insignia used as a brewery emblem.

At the time of John Seccombe's death in 1892 the Ponsonby Club Hotel was one of 13 establishments owned by the Seccombes which included the Queen's Head and Edinburgh Castle in Auckland and the Flagstaff (now Esplanade) Hotel in Devonport. An advertisement for the Ponsonby Club Hotel of 1897 emphasised the splendid accommodation for the travelling public, with buses and trams passing the door every five minutes. The Ponsonby suburb had developed both transport and community facilities in the 22 years since the hotel was built, including a public hall, a post office and a fire brigade station. The post office operation relocated to its new building on the prominent corner site diagonally opposite from the Gluepot Tavern in 1912. The Seccombe family brewing and hotel interests became the Great Northern Brewing Company which in 1923 joined with New Zealand Breweries.

The present hotel building was erected in 1936-37 from designs by Frederick A. Browne F.N.Z.I.A. and featured in the Home and Building magazine in November 1937. It was described at that time as a modern suburban hotel, the lower portion of the facade featuring black and primrose vitrolite with chrome moulding surrounds and the interior featuring primrose and green vitrolite again with chrome edging.

The hotel is a well-known landmark on the intersection of Ponsonby Road, Jervois Road and College Road. The immediate area is known as the Three Lamps, named for the street illumination which was placed in the middle of the intersection of the three roads. The tram power poles in the centre of the road were removed around 1939 and the street lamp stand is believed to have been replaced by conventional street lighting at that time. The Three Lamps symbol survives on the verandah of the "Gluepot ". Although of some antiquity these are more recent than the original gas lamps from which the shopping centre takes its name.

The origin of the name "The Gluepot" is not clear. Both the present hotel and its predecessor were commonly known by this name. Speculation as to how the name came to apply to the hotels on this site includes the view that it came from a glue factory in the vicinity of the first hotel because the factory workers used to drink at the hotel. Local historical research to date can find no evidence of the existence of a factory to substantiate this explanation. It has further been suggested that the name originates from a slang or possibly a "cockney" term for a pub. Other versions suggest the Three Lamps had the appearance of gluepots or simply it was a location that clientele were likely to get stuck in!

A small brick well presumed to be from the earlier hotel survives under a concrete floor in the cellar of the present building. Little if any of the original 1937 fittings or wall cladding remains.

The tavern as a live music venue has a place in the history of contemporary New Zealand music.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

The Gluepot has a particular association with the New Zealand music industry. It is has been a live music venue since the 1970's and is well known nationally for this. Several famous international acts have performed there. However, its greatest association is with the national music world. It was a starting point for many performers and bands who went on to become influential figures in shaping the New Zealand music industry. It has had a remarkable longevity as a music venue with many nightly live performances. Performers and people in the music industry regard the hotel with obvious nostalgia and affection.

(c) The potential for the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand's history:

As the current building was erected on the site of the original Ponsonby Club Hotel built in 1875 the place has archaeological potential. A well in the basement is likely to be part of the original hotel and there is probably other archaeological evidence on the site dating from the first hotel. As a tavern the building shows the place of an hotel in a local community.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem, for the place:

The Gluepot Tavern, standing on its prominent corner site, has always been a distinctive landmark and very well-known geographic reference point.

The tavern has been a meeting place for the local community and is a place where people meet and mix irrespective of age, race, sex or background. The social mix of the clientele represents the changing social and economic status of Ponsonby as a suburb. The hotel was a meeting place for the Polynesian community in the 1960s who came to New Zealand to work in the developing manufacturing industry. As Ponsonby moved from a lower class area of housing to an area of refurbished inner-city villas, the social and racial make-up of the community and hotel clientele changed. It now represents the diversity of the community and contributes to Ponsonby's sense of identity and place.

The Operation Gluepot group regards the tavern as a community and family venue. Particular groups, such as the King Cobra Gang, have regarded it as their local meeting place for the last forty or so years. Traditionally the Tongan, Samoan, Niuean and Rarotongan communities all had their own areas of the hotel's Vista Bar. It has been described as a licensed marae (John Dix interview).

An assessment of the public esteem in which it is held can be demonstrated by a petition signed by more than 4,000 people and patrons asking that the building and its function be protected. Individual letters of support from sporting, cultural, social and community groups have been submitted with the nomination. The Tavern has been the venue for a number of charity concerts.

(k) The extent to which a place forms part of a wider historical complex or historical landscape:

The Gluepot Tavern forms part of a commercial centre on the busy intersection of Ponsonby, Jervois and St.Mary's Bay Roads at the top of College Hill known as the Three Lamps area. The historic Post Office (registered as a Category I historic place) is across the intersection. Other nearby historic buildings are the Leys Institute and Gymnasium and the Fire Brigade Building in St. Marys' Street.


The Gluepot Hotel does not have an association with a single major or notable event in New Zealand history. It does have particular significance for the New Zealand music industry as an important and long lasting live performance venue.

It represents the ordinary aspects of New Zealand's history, in the development of a community, socially, racially and economically. Through the diversity of its clientele it represents the changing and maturing of the local community. It demonstrates the continuity of communities, through the generations of the same families and social groups who have frequented the hotel. It also shows the social and economic changes Ponsonby has undergone in the last fifteen or so years, represented in the changing clientele over this time.

The Gluepot Tavern, Ponsonby, is recommended for registration as a Category II as a place of historical and cultural heritage significance and value.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1937 -

Information Sources

Auckland Public Libraries

Auckland Public Libraries

Auckland Scrapbook, 1933-37 pp93-94 (Auckland Star 19/2/1936)

Auckland University

Auckland University

Sheppard Collection, File B882f (Browne FA), Architecture Library

Daily Southern Cross

Daily Southern Cross

2/6/1875 p3(7)

8/12/1875 p3 (6-7)

Electoral Roll

New Zealand Electoral Roll

Auckland Provincial Electoral Roll 1874-1875 (entry 11282 Sheehan, David)

Evening Star

Evening Star

7/12/1878 p2(5)

Wises Post Office Directories

Wises Post Office Directories

1872-73 to 1937

Home and Building

Home and Building

November 1937 p21

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

Land Information New Zealand

CT 162/159; 169/49; DP 4749, 5029

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1932, p. 6; 28 September 1933, p. 6.

2/6/1875 Supp p1?(1)

8/12/1875 Supp p1(2)

26/2/1892 Monthly summary

(obit JC Seccombe)

Weekly News

Weekly News

5/6/1875 p9(2)

11/12/1875 p16

9/12/1876 p14(2)

Auckland City Council

Auckland City Council

Auckland City Plan 1908: Sheets D8 and D9

Alderton, 1898

G E Alderton, Resources of New Zealand, Whangarei, 1898.

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Northern 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.