Otaki BNZ (Former)

49 Main Street, Otaki

  • Otaki BNZ (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.
  • .
    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 7534 Date Entered 2nd April 2004


City/District Council

Kapiti Coast District


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 91012 (CT 22996), Wellington Land District


The Otaki BNZ (former) is an historically significant building both for Otaki town and the wider region. It is associated with two different and very significant aspects of Otaki's history, firstly as a branch of the Bank of New Zealand, and then as the Otaki Borough Council.

It also served as a Service Centre for the Kapiti Coast District Council. The Bank of New Zealand had branches in many small New Zealand towns and Otaki is an increasingly rare and representative survivor, albeit modified, of a small town bank. The fortunes of the branch illustrate the changing fortunes of small communities in 20th century New Zealand.

The town's 20th century heyday coincided with the success of the branch building in Otaki, but once transportation improved, major cities grew in importance and small towns began to decline, so there were many branch closures.

The Otaki Borough Council acquired the building and from 1966-1989 the building was the council's administrative centre, where decisions were made on the future of the town and the surrounding borough. In 1989, Otaki became part of the Kapiti Coast District Council in the amalgamation of local authorities throughout New Zealand. The Council used the building as its Otaki Service Centre. It is still owned by the Kapiti Coast District Council who have leased the building to the Otaki Heritage Bank Preservation Trust who plan to convert to a museum and archive centre for the area.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Registration Proposal report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Brief Description:

The former Bank of New Zealand and former Otaki Borough Council building stands at the centre of Otaki's historic precinct. Otaki was laid out by Octavius Hadfield and Governor Grey in the late 1840s. The bank building provides a viewpoint over the region's history: Kapiti Island, Anglican and Catholic mission precincts, an early Maori school, Raukawa marae and meeting house, the modem Te Wananga (Maori University), the old coach route linked to the beach highway that served the region until 1886, and the town's original commercial centre.

In its own right it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in old Otaki, and dominates Otaki's Main Street. As a bank it was a focus for the town's financial services and economic development; as a council property it was the centre for town and district government. Leased now to the Otaki Heritage Bank Preservation Trust to develop as a museum and archive centre, it will display and preserve Otkai's rich bicultural history.

Although modified, it remains a handsome two-storeyed structure. Interior features include polished woodwork, a handsome staircase, pressed steel ceilings and decorative windows.

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 Registration Proposal report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Historical Significance:

This is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the commercial part of town and since its construction in 1918, it is one of the most significant buildings. Until 1965, it was not only the BNZ bank, but the home also for the town's bank manager. For over thirty years, from 1965 to 1998 it was the centre of the town's local government administration. Although this administration has moved to Paraparaumu, the building, still owned by the Council remains dominant on the Main Street.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Registration Proposal report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Architectural Significance:

Architecturally, this was until the late 1960s one of Otaki's finest buildings, with its ornate concrete street facing facade. The remaining unaltered facades are still aesthetically pleasing and many of the fine interior details, such as the staircase, architraves and doors, leadlights and pressed steel ceilings remain.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Registration Proposal report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Cultural/Social Significance:

This building has for most of its existence been at the centre of town life, at a time when Otaki was at a prosperous stage of development and was like many smaller centres, an independent local authority. The bank was essential to economic life and the council, when it took over the building was the focus of the town's administration. It is still a building widely recognized by local citizens and regarded with affection by many.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Registration Proposal report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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

Changing roles for government buildings is a characteristic of New Zealand. The former Bank of New Zealand and Otaki Council building has had a central place in the economic and political life of the town. Through its new tenants, the building will again become a focal point in the cultural and historical life of the town. It will be a significant museum and archival resource not only for Otaki residents, but for the wider Wellington region.

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

It is a very prominent building in central Otaki. It has a landmark quality and is associated with the town's period of independent local government up to 1989. It is also respected as being the home to the development of the Bank of New Zealand's financial services to the town. There is already wide spread support for the building continuing to provide a community service as a museum and archival resource centre as currently being developed.

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

The structure demonstrates early 20th century craftsmanship, especially its interior woodwork and pressed steel ceilings of varied design. The inferior quality of the radical facade alteration of the late 1960s when the road was widened however carries it own message.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Registration Proposal report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

History of the Place:

Otaki is one of New Zealand's oldest towns, planned on the authority of Governor Grey as a community in which Maori and Pakeha would work in partnership. To a great degree, it has retained this quality, best summed up in the success of Te Wananga o Raukawa, a near neighbour to the former bank building. The two Otaki missions, Anglican and Catholic are justly reverenced.

The bank building represents the economic and government roles of the town's development although the bank has moved elsewhere, the bank building remains dominant in the main street.

The first branch of the Bank of New Zealand in Otaki was opened on 1 October 1909. On 24 October 1911, it was reduced to agency status and serviced from a branch near the Otaki railway station. This was reversed in 1918 when the new main street Bank of New Zealand building was constructed at a contract price of 5258 pounds (Otaki journal 4.76).

This building was used as a bank and manager's spacious residence until the office portion became too small and it was decided to rebuild on the adjoining site, opening on 1 December 1965. A new home was provided for the manager elsewhere in the town.

After the building was vacated by the bank, it was bought by the Otaki Borough Council to be used as Council Chambers and offices. It served as the council offices until the amalgamation of the Borough into the Kapiti Coast District Council in 1989 and was then used as a council service centre. The first citizen's advice bureau in Otaki began here in two rooms at the back of the building, opening on 29 September 1980. The bureau moved out in December 1996.

The former bank and council building has always been one of the most imposing structures in the town offering wide views from the upper floor. It is also one of the few two storeyed buildings in the area. It was used as a bank in an era when bank managers had high status. Its use as a Council office and Council chambers for the Otaki Borough Council added to its importance. However, when the council vacated the building in 1998, Otaki had been part of the Kapiti Coast District council for nearly ten years, and with the construction of a new library, Council business was served by a desk in that building.

The Council had difficulty finding a use for the building and could not sell it. In 2002, a group of concerned Otaki residents decided to form a charitable trust to lease the Building, to renovate it, and to establish a museum in it. The Otaki Heritage Bank Preservation Trust has already carried out excellent work to prepare the building for its new role, revealing the architectural qualities and greatly extending its potential life.

Physical Description

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Registration Proposal report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


Bank of New Zealand 1918-1965

Otago Borough Council building 1965-1989

Kapiti Coast District Council Service Centre 1989-1998

The 1950s kitchen and dining room were used as a Citizens Advice Bureau 1980-1996

Physical Description:

The building was a two-storeyed cube with a single storeyed addition at the back (south). The front, north facade, was neo-classical, with three bays. The manager's entrance was from a porch added to the west of the cube; the eastern side also had a door (the staff entrance), with a canopy above, and the south, which had a lean- to extension including a veranda, had two outer doors, one leading to into the dining room - into a bay with sash windows - and one into the scullery.

Floor plan: plans are only available for the ground floor. The main doors opened into the public space, which was at various times partitioned or sub-divided into areas for tellers, ledgers etc. On the north-west corner was the manager's office, with fireplace, now completely removed. Along the back wall of the public space was a door leading into the staff cloak room, with its triangular wash hand basin (the toilets were in a separate building outside) and beyond that the' stationary' room. In the main office was a fireplace, with brown hearth tiles including a few nouveau ones (the tiles still exist), then the strong room, another cube with thick walls and a fine 1914 Chubb door. At the western end of the wall, a door led into the manager's flat.

Manager's flat: on the ground floor, this comprised the entrance porch noted above, with leadlight windows surrounding the door, and a fine staircase of rimy ply with kauri rails, and a cupboard beneath. Doors led from the hall into the large dining room (which was in the 'lean-to' and extended to the width of the porch) and into the kitchen. The Dining room and kitchen had back to back fireplaces and a hatch. It is assumed that the kitchen one originally contained a coal range. This was altered in 1950 to house a 'chip' type heater, which is still there. From the kitchen there was a door to the scullery, with a sink on the southern wall and a large pantry on the northern end. An outside safe extends from the eastern corner of the pantry.

Upstairs: A large leadlight window lights the staircase, which leads to a spacious landing. Plans are not available for this area; however the walls of the bedroom (and a wardrobe) on the south eastern corner, the toilet and the bathroom (now a kitchen) are intact. It is believed that the current upper hall was double the width it is now and that there was a drawing room on the north western corner, with a fireplace above that in the manager's office, and two bedrooms, one with a fireplace above the one in the main office. This area was modified to provide a council chamber and the pressed ceilings were removed, though one wardrobe still remains, with its pressed steel ceiling intact. Apart from the provision of electric lighting at a cost of 56 pounds in 1924, when the Mangahao Power Station at Shannon was commissioned, the building seems to have been largely unaltered for over thirty years, apart from a toilet outside, at the rear of the building. This was provided for the first female employee who started in 1942, when most of the male employees were serving in WWII.

Around 1950, alterations were made to the manager's flat, the dining room became the living room, the kitchen the dining room and the scullery and pantry (both unusually spacious) became the kitchen. It seems to have been intended that an electric fire be put in place of the coal range and a hot water cylinder in the new kitchen. However, there is a 'chip' type heater in the old range space with a hot water cylinder beside it. An 'Esse' heater was put in the fireplace in the main office; this is no longer there as electric heating was provided in the 1960s. These alterations also provided for four bedrooms upstairs.

The northern facade was cut back by approximately 2 metres to allow for road widening around 1966-67. It is possible that modifications to the upper floor as noted above were made at this time. About 1990, the steel reinforcing inside the pebble-finish panels on this facade were found to be rusting and additional panels were put over the top.

Interior details: the public space has rimu and matai tongue and grooved dado, the manager's office is panelled. All timber was stained and varnished; the stain the manager's office being quite dark. Walls were plastered and painted, mostly in shades of green; the eastern porch and stationary room, and the upstairs toilet and bathroom were blue. Most rooms had pressed metal ceilings, that in the main chamber being particularly fine. These ceilings have been removed from the manager's office and as noted, from the northern half of the upper floor. In the 1980s the walls of the former banking chamber were covered with grass cloth, painted peach, and the timber dado, doors and architraves painted grey. The grass cloth and paint have been removed.

Current Physical condition:

The building is currently in reasonable condition now that leaks and drains have been repaired. However, the upstairs windows in the north facade leak and there has been some difficulty in repairing them, largely because of the poor design of this present facade. Some electrical repairs have been carried out and the staircase has been conserved. The Kapiti Coast District Council has scheduled exterior painting within the next two years and re roofing some years further out.

Construction Dates

1950 -
Former scullery and Pantry modified to a kitchen; former kitchen to a dining room; dining room to a living room; new chip heaters instead of fireplaces in main banking chamber and new dining room.

1966 - 1967
North and front façade cut back by approx 2 metres for street widening and replaced with current façade.

1970 -
Alterations to upper floor on front of the building t provide for Council Chamber; removal of the pressed metal ceilings - replaced with plaster; removal of the fireplaces upstairs and in the manager's office.

1980 -
Former dining room window replaced with ranch sliders when part of the rear of the building was used by Citizens Advice Bureau.

Original Construction
1918 -

1942 -
Toilet added at the rear for the first female staff member (Otaki Journal 4.76)

Construction Details

Constructed in concrete, originally detailed to resemble stone blocks, with a corrugated iron hipped roof. The flooring is matai. Some internal walls are plastered brick.

Completion Date

30th August 2004

Report Written By


Information Sources

BNZ Archives

Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) Archives

Plans of building.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Citizens Advice Bureau

Otaki Archives

Historical Society

Historical Society

Anthony Dreaver, Historian and member of the Otaki Historical Society and Wellington Branch Committee of NZHPT. Photos from the OHS archives

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Jan Harris, NZHPT Nomination Form.

Oral Histories

Oral Histories

Otaki citizens who worked in or on the building - Jan Harris interviewer.

Otaki Historical Society Journal

Otaki Historical Society Journal

Daphne Meyer, 'The Mayors of Otaki', Vol 14, pp. 28-30; Daphne Meyer, 'Otaki Banking History', Vol 4

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.