Post Office

Tokirima

  • Post Office, Tokirima.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Greg Mason. Date: 8/06/2001.
  • Post Office, Tokirima.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Greg Mason. Date: 8/06/2001.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7394 Date Entered 27th June 1997

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Ruapehu District

Region

Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

part of pt Sec 17 Blk XIV Ohura SD

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Historical:

Tokirima had a post office from 16.1.1909 until 5.2.1988. It was served by river steamer and horse deliveries until a bus service took over in 1917. The present building dates from 1937 when local settlers paid for its construction on land purchased for the purpose. The building remains community-owned and, although closed as a post office early in 1988, fulfils a postal function as the community mail box depot and is also used by couriers and the milk delivery service.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Architectural:

The Tokirima Post Office was designed and built by local people in 1937 as a single room Post Office with mail and money order banking facilities. The building was, and is, purely functional in design being basically a shed with a covered in verandah added later. It cannot therefore claim to have any pretensions to architectural styling although in a purely functional sense the form of the place was admirably suited to its original purpose.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

DATE: 1937

ARCHITECT: Builders O. Old, J. Penny, E. French and H. Johnson.

STYLE CODE: New Zealand Shed.

DESIGN: New Zealand Shed. Period 1870-1945.

The Tokirima Post Office can hardly be said to have a true architectural style in the accepted sense of the word "style". Its design on the other hand (a small rectangular box with a pitched roof; door, and window) is that of a standard type of shed found throughout New Zealand in people's back yards and in farmer's paddocks. Indeed the design may be said to have been ubiquitous at least up until the 1970s when the ready built aluminium garden shed with a flat roof supplanted the earlier timber type with a pitched roof.

The wooden Garden Shed genre, if it can be called that, was most successfully exploited by the Public Works Department between the First and Second World Wars. The department built a lot of sheds like this for single men and called them roadmen's or workmen's huts. Rows of them appeared on just about every major PWD project from 1920 until 1945. The design was portable, and when built the huts could easily be transported around by trucks if necessary. They were in use around Ohura and North Taranaki in the 1920s when roads were being built in these two districts. In a sense the Tokirima Post Office nearby to Ohura might therefore be said to be a typical example of the genre except that it wasn't built by the PWD and would therefore not have been built according to a standard departmental design. In any case the function of the place was different insofar as it was explicitly intended to be that of a Post Office. In this sense any design quality the place may have needs to be placed within the context of a purpose-built post office erected, nevertheless, by locals. It would be interesting to know if the resemblance between the Tokirima Post Office and PWD huts was purely accidental.

A covered in verandah with a sliding door was not part of the original design of the place, but its addition at some unspecified point in time has lent a certain degree of sophistication to the place apart from its intended function of keeping the rain off people. It is not known if the verandah came first and was then subsequently covered in, or if the addition was built as a covered in unit. The placement of the post boxes

inside this addition in 1990 appears to have been a pragmatic decision made some time after the covered in verandah was built.

INTERIOR:

No information or photographs have been supplied concerning the

interior of the Tokirima Post Office, apart from the statement that the covered in verandah now contains the Post Boxes that were previously located outside.

The acronym M.O.S.B. means Money Order Savings Bank signifying, in the case of this post office, that it was authorised to act as a Post Office Savings Bank facility with the power to issue and bank postal money orders, as well as preparing the collected mail for dispatch, and sorting mail ready for local families to collect. This possibly makes the history of the place more interesting for, apart from the social significance or otherwise of having a savings bank function in a small remote rural community, it would have also meant that the inside of the building would have been equipped with a counter and a safe. These fittings may still be inside since the place is apparently not used as a Civil Defence centre. However without further information it is impossible to comment on any representative significance which such items may possess, assuming that they still exist.

Such additional criteria not inconsistent with those in paragraphs (a) to (k):

A survey of all registered post offices was undertaken. Although there are 68 registered post offices in the national register, there are none in the Ruapehu District where Tokirima is located.

In purely architectural terms the Tokirima Post Office is not, and never was, the smallest Post Office in New Zealand. Two other earlier Post Offices, and a possible unlisted third Post Office, share the distinction of being the smallest Post Offices in New Zealand. These are the Former Post Office Depot at Charlton, Banks Peninsular, built in 1919, Category II; and the Former Bainham Post Office, Takaka, c.1896, Cat II. The possible third place is the Post Office at Robinson's Bay, Banks Peninsular, for which, however, there is no information. Both of the listed buildings are original unmodified sheds of the type described above under Design significance. They are the only two like it in the register, and therefore can justly claim, as indeed can the Tokirima Post Office, to have a relative degree of rarity as a single-room Post Office building type.

It should be noted that neither of the two registered buildings possessed a money order banking facility. The claim that the Tokirima Post Office was the smallest Post Office in New Zealand providing money orders and banking facilities may therefore be true, and indeed may be an argument for special and outstanding significance, but without further historical research it is not a claim that can be considered here. As indicated above, the place is not unique in an architectural sense, but it does have a relative degree of rarity.

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

The community association with the former post office is strong and enduring. The extract from the local history records that when the Blanchards moved their old house to higher ground in 1937, locals funded construction of the present building and contributed to the maintenance costs. Although the building closed as a post office in

1988, it has been retained as a community post box, courier depot, milk delivery depot and civil defence station.

RECOMMENDATION:

The significance of this place to the people of Tokirima has been demonstrated by the construction, use and re-use of the building over a period of nearly 60 years.

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Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1937 -

Completion Date

1st July 1996

Report Written By

W.Nelson, G.McLean

Other Information

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