5 Alten Road, Auckland

  • House. Education Department March 1986.
    Copyright: University of Auckland.
  • Photo taken by the University Photography Section ref B2031 some time in the early 1960s.
    Copyright: University of Auckland.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7398 Date Entered 29th August 1997


City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 89603

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.


The 5 Alten Rd land was acquired in 1849 by Presbyterian minister G.A. Panton for the construction of a manse. It served as such until 1851 when Panton left and morgators, who included Sir George Grey, sought to realise. The church did not have the money to buy the manse, which went to W,S, Graham and Robert Mitchell in October 1850. They sold it a year later to customs officer John Guilding. In 1863 it was acquired by Lt. Colonel Henry Balneavis, an officer who had won renown during

the northern wars and who served as a public servant after his retirement from the armed forces in 1865, Balneavis died in 1876, Auckland merchant John Reid lived in the house from 1873, first as a tenant, and after 1905 as owner. After the house passed from the Reid family in 1938, it was used first as a rooming house and then for university purposes. The present building is believed to incorporated an original structure built in 1849/50 and a large wooden wing constructed by Reid in 1905.

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.


The House at 5 Alten Road, Auckland, was originally designed as a simple rectangular brick and plaster structure with hipped roof and symmetrical facade. Around 1905 this earlier structure was added to with an Edwardian Queen Anne styled house in timber which doubled the size of the place. Style indicators are:

Colonial portion (visible at the rear).

- Symmetrical facade.

- Exposed brick walling.

- Medium pitched hipped roof.

- Boxed eaves.

- Sash windows with small panes (barring some modern replacements).

Queen Anne portion (main part on the street frontage).

- Prominent bracketed projecting or 'flying' gable facing the street.

- Timber gable screen with wall hung shingles.

- Varied roof shapes (gable and hipped).

- Verandah with decorated timber posts.

- Eastlake style mouldings to architraves with door sidelights, fanlights and bolection mouldings.

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.

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


No events of significance are known to have been associated with this place apart from the usual ones of construction, alteration and change of ownership.


5 Alten Rd has associations with at least two people of significance, Henry Balneavis and John Reid, Balneavis was a soldier, civil servant and linguist of some distinction, a fact attributed to by his inclusion in both the 1940 and the 1990 dictionaries of biography. His connection to the place was recognised by a later owner, who named the accommodation house 'Balneavis'. John Reid, first a tenant and later the owner of the place, was the principal of an Auckland liquor retailing business, John Reid & Co., which celebrated its centenary in 1969, a few years before being absorbed by the L. D. Nathan group. The people associated with its institutional history are not recorded.


5 Alten Rd typifies the history of early inner-city housing stock. After passing through several hands as a private residence, it became first a rooming house and more recently has served as a base for the University of Auc1dand's Education and Classics departments.

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

DATE: 1849-50: 1905


STYLE CODE: 1 (Colonial Georgian 1821-1880): 52 (Edwardian Queen Anne 1901-1915).


The claim for architectural significance made in conversations held with the nominator, Mrs. Hilary Reid, rests essentially on the claim that the house at Alten Road is one of Auckland's earlier buildings dating from 1849 or 1850. The surviving brick portion at the rear of the present house certainly conforms to a Colonial Georgian style found in New Zealand in the period 1821-1880. The major addition made to this earlier brick part was in timber and conforms to an Edwardian Queen

Anne style of the period 1901-1915. This latter addition was eclectic in the sense that very little cross referencing with the earlier structure was done, and it is not a notable architectural feature since it lacks any detailing which stands out beyond the ordinary and conventional for the time.

The church minutes of St Andrews Presbyterian Church, as recorded in The History of St Andrews by Linley Wood, show that the earlier portion of the house was built in 1849-50 as a manse for the Rev. G.A. Panton, first Minister of St Andrews, in its present position at Alten Road next to the church. This property was conveyed to W.S. Grahame by the Rev. Panton in 1850.

Lands and Deeds references indicate that John Reid bought the property on 3 May 1905.

The 1849-50 portion of 5 Alten Road is relatively intact - the Edwardian part of the house being architecturally quite distinct from the old part. Early Georgian styling of the period is still evident on both the exterior and interior of the old manse portion - the interior features being visible in terms of the early door and architrave patterns visible in the photographs supplied. However, consideration must be given to the fact that the manse was physically incorporated into an Edwardian Queen Anne styled house which is not special or outstanding in any architectural sense. In this respect the relative architectural integrity of the old manse, as a free standing structure originally, has suffered somewhat in comparison with other registered examples of free standing vicarages and Bishop's courts although the historical significance of the place has not been diminished by its later additions.

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

In Auckland there are 26 registered historic places built between 1840 and 1860. The question arises is there another example of a Regency/Georgian house built in brick particularly from that period in Auckland, and is the old portion of the house at 5 Alten Road one of the oldest buildings remaining in the Auckland Central Business District.

The answers are that there appear to be two brick-built Georgian style houses left in the Auckland C.B.D. from the same period. These are: (1) the Cottage at 1 Bankside Street (Category II) dating from c.1841-47. The date of this cottage cannot be verified, but the architectural research material held in the University of Auckland Architectural Library indicates that the dates are probably correct; (2) the Airedale

Street Cottages (Cat I) which are two cottages designed in the form of Georgian style English Terrace Housing dating from 1857 and 1865.

The 1850 portion of 5 Alten Road is one of three of the oldest houses left in the Auckland C.BD. (the other two are mentioned above). The place is also one of six of the oldest buildings left in the Auckland C.B.D. (of which five are registered) and one of twenty-seven buildings left in Auckland built in the two decades 1840-1860 (of which twenty six are registered).

Set against this background, the old portion of the house at Alten Road must be considered to be relatively rare both as an example of a house from the earliest period of Auckland' s settlement, and as an example of an Auckland pioneer church manse.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1849 -

Completion Date

1st June 1997

Report Written By

G.McLean, W.Nelson

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.