Carisbrook Turnstile Building (Former)

18 Neville Street, Caversham, Dunedin

  • Carisbrook Turnstile Building (Former), Dunedin. Neville Street elevation.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 20/06/2017.
  • Carisbrook Turnstile Building (Former), Dunedin. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 21/01/2016.
  • Carisbrook Turnstile Building (Former), Dunedin. Turnstile building under the Neville Street Stand.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Jonathan Howard. Date: 26/09/2008.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7782 Date Entered 19th July 2017

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Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 2 DP 468725 (CT 629677), Otago Land District and Carisbrook Turnstile Building (Former) thereon. Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information.

City/District Council

Dunedin City

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 468725 (CT 629677), Otago Land District

Location description

The former Carisbrook site is located in the suburb of Caversham in South Dunedin. The Turnstile Building is located on the Council-owned ‘Pocket Park’, adjacent to 50 Burns Street, the former Carisbrook grounds.

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Carisbrook, Dunedin’s iconic sports ground, started life as a cricket ground for the Carisbrook Cricket Club in 1874 and, for over 130 years was the major rugby and cricket venue for Otago and one of the most significant rugby venues in New Zealand. In 2012-2013 the stands and the pitch were lost to demolition, but the history of the ground was commemorated in the protection of the Turnstile Building and a ‘Pocket Park’ (yet to be developed) which was to celebrate and interpret the history of this special place.

In 1874 the Carisbrook Cricket Club became the first user of the grounds that would become known as ‘Carisbrook’. Rugby historian Sean O’Hagan records that grounds, located on the western edge of South Dunedin and occupying almost a whole city block, were then owned by the Presbyterian Church and was leased out ‘to anyone who had need of a patch of swamp with a creek running through it.’ The Carisbrook Ground Company, formed in 1880, built a small pavilion and a ‘grandstand’ (a timber framed, corrugated iron shelter) on the site.

The first major sporting event at Carisbrook was a cricket match between Otago and Tasmania in 1884 (Otago won by eight wickets in heavy conditions). Cricket, however, did not have the ground to itself; Carisbrook was first used as a major rugby venue in 1886, when the visiting New South Wales team played Otago.

In 1906 the Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU) purchased the Carisbrook lease. The ORFU’s takeover of the ground roughly coincided with elevation of rugby to a ‘national ethos’, taking an ‘imported game’ and synthesising it into ‘an important component of New Zealand’s national identity’ in the wake of The Originals’ successful tour of Great Britain in 1905.

Like other significant grounds, Carisbrook was reshaped over time, reflecting the changing nature of sport in New Zealand. By 1914, the ORFU had replaced the original grandstand at Carisbrook. In the 1920s and the 1930s there were further developments, including the construction of the Turnstile Building in 1926, and the extension of the grandstand facilities. In the mid-1950s the ORFU built new stands and extended the Terraces, giving the ground a capacity of 45,000.

Around this period Carisbrook was being used for a range of community activities such as rugby, cricket, hockey, athletics, lawn tennis, baseball, soccer, marching, and band displays of championship standard. On Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s visit to Dunedin in January 1954 displays were held at Carisbrook, including long jumper Yvette Williams’ attempt on the world long jump record.

In the late 1970s, when Carisbrook’s facilities were developed further, there was debate about the future of both rugby and cricket and concern about dropping attendances and the ‘depressing’ conditions at the grounds. The debates about Carisbrook’s future drew on the symbolic importance of such an important venue to its local and national community.

During the 1990s, the new professionalism of rugby saw branding and commercialisation, where players and grounds took on a new image (with the associated ‘Highlanders’) and Carisbrook, as ‘The House of Pain’, became synonymous with rugby in Otago.

During this period the majority of the stands were replaced and the Terraces were redeveloped to provide the facilities required for international test cricket and first class matches. Maintained over time, the pitch was the focus of epic sporting battles. The small single-storey brick Turnstile Building is a remnant of earlier structures and is located on the Neville Street boundary of Carisbrook.

In the 2000s, Carisbrook remained a significant venue, with the State Championship game between Otago and Canterbury being played there in 2008.The last official test against a ‘Tier 1’ nation was played at Carisbrook when the All Blacks beat Wales 42-9 on 19 June 2010. The last major game was the All Blacks defeat of Fiji 60-14 on 22 July 2011, a game which also served as a fundraiser for the Canterbury earthquakes. In January 2012, work began dismantling the stadium, with demolition carrying on into 2013. With the opening of Forsyth Barr Stadium on 5 August 2011, Carisbrook’s reign as Otago’s premier sporting venue ended.

Carisbrook’s history as a venue for provincial, national and international sporting fixtures is of special significance. It was an iconic sports ground which saw countless high level games since 1880. The ground served as a base for cricket from 1874 and rugby from 1886.

Carisbrook was recognised as having its own social character and atmosphere and that history showed the ground’s outstanding social significance as the focus of countless thousands of fans and spectators, and both local and international visitors and sports teams. The former sporting venue of Carisbrook and its associated mythology have outstanding significance in the public imagination and contribute to New Zealand’s national identity.

Carisbrook is a place where the provincial identity of Otago was expressed (including the tough reputation of the ground and the often inclement conditions) and it had an important history as one of New Zealand’s most significant provincial sporting venues.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Carisbrook, as represented through the remaining Turnstile Building, has special historical significance. In the history of New Zealand sport, it ranks as one of the most significant provincial venues, along with the other main centre grounds like Lancaster Park ( established 1880, now AMI Stadium), and Eden Park (1914). Of these historic grounds the oldest is the Basin Reserve (1866). Carisbrook served as a base for cricket since 1880, and rugby since 1886. Carisbrook was also a multipurpose venue, and the centre of many significant community events.

The special significance of Carisbrook lies with the years of sporting history and culture that took place on the pitch, and in the memories of the thousands of sports fans who have passed through the turnstile building into the grounds.

Cultural Significance or Value

The remaining Turnstile Building at Carisbrook has outstanding cultural significance, representing a sporting arena which provides insight into the importance of sport to New Zealand’s identity. Much has been written about the special place rugby (and more generally, sport) holds in the development of national identity. Carisbrook is one of the significant places where the provincial identity of Otago was expressed (including the tough reputation of the ground and the often inclement conditions).

Social Significance or Value

The surviving Carisbrook Turnstile Building is of special social significance. As a large venue, Carisbrook was the focus of countless thousands of fans, spectators and commentators, and both local and international visitors and sports teams. The ground is recognised as having had its own social character and atmosphere, one heightened by the influence of university students. Commentators have celebrated, lamented and cursed the ground and its facilities and what remains today holds a special place in those who have played or spectated there.

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

The history of Carisbrook, as represented through the remaining Turnstile Building, reflects the development of organised sport in provincial Otago, and the associated sporting infrastructure which has been built up alongside. The history of sport featured much in popular history, particularly in relation to national identity, but there has been comparatively little written on the significance of sports grounds themselves. Carisbrook is significant as an early cricket venue in Dunedin which became from 1907 the home for Otago rugby and the venue for many significant community and sporting events.

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

Carisbrook has associations with both events and individuals significant in New Zealand’s history. It was the base for Otago rugby for 100 years, and therefore has a strong association with the sports administrators and players who have participated in matches there.

Carisbrook also saw a number of significant events, including international cricket from 1886, and provincial and international rugby from 1908. It was a ground renowned by visiting players in local and international countless matches, particularly in cricket and rugby. It was also a renowned home venue for New Zealand rugby against international sides.

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

Carisbrook has special community associations. For spectators, players and commentators the ground had a particular resonance. The ground was described as being central to Dunedin’s identity, and it had an international reputation as a significant sporting venue with its own atmosphere. Retention of the Turnstile Building and the development of the associated ‘Pocket Park’ will provide a place for people to continue their association with this special place.

f) The potential of the place for public education

The surviving Turnstile Building and associated ‘Pocket Park’ development will provide the opportunity for the public to learn about the outstanding historical and cultural significance of Carisbrook, and its important role in Otago and New Zealand’s sporting history.

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Historical Narrative

Origins of Carisbrook

In 1874 the Carisbrook Cricket Club was the first user of the ground that would become known as Carisbrook. Cricket had been played in Dunedin through the 1860s, but gained momentum with the industrialisation of the 1870s and 1880s built on the wealth of the goldfields, and by the 1880s there were 60 teams. The rapid urban expansion brought with it the problem of suitable flat ground for cricket pitches.

A survey dated November 1876 shows the proposed layout of what was called the Township of Caversham East. There are houses indicated on the lower slopes of the surrounding hills, and the railway alignment sweeps around the base of the hills. The flat land is marked by a close knit grid of residential sections, although no houses are recorded in these sections. The most notable built feature on the survey is the presence of the 'government workshops' on Hillside Road, the railway workshops which are a defining industry for Caversham and South Dunedin. Rugby historian Sean O'Hagan records that Carisbrook was originally part of the Presbyterian Church's holdings purchased in 1848. The Presbyterian Church Board of Property leased out the area 'to anyone who had need of a patch of swamp with a creek running through it.'

As the major urban areas developed, so too did the need for venues for organised sporting occasions. The Oval and the Caledonian Ground were early sports venues in Dunedin. Wellington's Basin Reserve was established in 1866 (registered as Basin Reserve Historic Area record number 7441, including the separately registered Basin Reserve Pavilion, Category II record number 1339), and provided a venue for most of Wellington's significant sporting fixtures. In Christchurch Lancaster Park (now AMI Stadium) was established by the Canterbury Cricket and Athletics Sports Co Ltd. in 1880, providing a multipurpose venue which saw cricket, football, athletics, trotting and swimming events take place in its first twenty years, setting a pattern of diverse use which has continued into the twenty-first century. Athletic Park was home of Wellington rugby from 1896 until its closure in 1999. New Zealand's largest stadium, Auckland's Eden Park, was founded in 1914. Like Carisbrook, it started as a swamp, but by 1914 the ground was drained and turned into two ovals. The Auckland Rugby Union leased the Park in 1914, officially making Eden Park its home in 1925.

The Carisbrook Ground Company (1880-1889)

The Carisbrook Ground Company was formed in 1880 by the Carisbrook Cricket Club, as the body to administer the ground. With the agreement of the Presbyterian Church, they had laid off part of the area for cricket. The new Company intended to drain and fence a suitable area and then build a pavilion. The swamp was duly drained, with a windmill pump erected, and as the water subsided, logs appeared and had to be removed. There was fairly constant wrangling between the Otago Cricket Association and the Carisbrook Ground Company over gate returns and terms of the lease, made worse by the conflict of interest of members on both bodies. A 'small pavilion was built on the curve of the ground' where later the Rose Stand would be constructed, and a ‘grandstand' (a timber framed, corrugated iron shelter) was also built on what was later the terrace side.

The cricket club, however, did not have the ground to itself; rugby would also become a prominent user. Rugby in Dunedin had its origins in the enthusiasm of men like University of Otago Professor of Classics George Sale (educated at Rugby School in the mid-nineteenth century when the game that came to be known as rugby originated) and George Thomson (a rugby enthusiast). Rugby's English identity was based in an upper middle class English ethos based on ‘gentlemanliness, leisure, loyalty and decency' with a strong amateur code. Sale and Thomson were based in Dunedin by the 1870s and were involved in organising early games, like that between Otago Boys' High School and Otago University in September 1871. The Dunedin Football Club was formed in 1872, with Thomson prominent among the members, and Sale elected president, the first of the Dunedin clubs. By the close of the 1870s rugby was established as a significant New Zealand sporting code, with the provincial nature of the sport an important element of its character. O'Hagan writes: New Zealand has no Twickenham, each province has its own central arena and none would dare claim to be the New Zealand ground. These grounds are the scene of the great inter-provincial rugby battles.

The Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU) was formed in 1881 (the third provincial union to be formed), at a meeting at Wains Hotel where 96 exponents of the game, representing a number of clubs, elected officers of the Union, with J.P. Maitland the first president. The new organisation facilitated the development of rugby, and by 1886 there were 24 clubs with 1,500 members. The Union was based at Tahuna Park, which was the Agricultural and Pastoral Society's ground, and also used the Caledonian Society's Caledonian Ground. The Union desired a ground of its own that it could develop along with the Otago Cricket Association.

The Carisbrook Ground Company found the 200 guinea lease a bit steep and in 1886 invited the Pirates Football Club to use the ground and pay a share of the rent.

The first major sporting event at Carisbrook, preceded by the fire brigade pumping water from the ground before the game, was a cricket match between Otago and Tasmania in 1884 (Otago won by eight wickets in heavy conditions). Eventually, the ground saw some of the world's top cricketers and became a venue of some renown.

The ORFU was apparently against playing big games at Carisbrook, as the return at the gate at the Caledonian Ground was greater as it had a proper grandstand. Carisbrook was first used as a major rugby venue in 1886, when the visiting New South Wales team played Otago. The benefits of the rising hills surrounding the ground immediately evident: The day was not a very suitable one either for players or spectators, but nevertheless a good crowd watched the game from the terraces around the field of play, while nearly 1000 of those, who from motives of economy - or, as footballers term it, meanness - did not choose to pay for admission, watched the proceedings from the hill overlooking the ground. It is, we believe, the intention of the Carisbrook Ground Company to erect a screen which will eventually shut out the view from this point of vantage.

In 1886 men paid 6d to get into the ground, an extra 6d for a grandstand seat, while ladies were admitted free, with the hope that they would keep the male spectators on their best behaviour : Everywhere ladies were admitted free to both grounds and stands, and, while this is a nice compliment to pay to the sex, it is from the business point of view of the Union [New Zealand Rugby Football Union] very much more than a compliment. It is one of those seemingly trifling details that are really important factors in establishing the success of the football of a country....It may not always be realized how powerful is the influence of womankind in a game like this. If the ladies are encouraged to take a keen interest in the game, to understand it thoroughly and to follow the doings of the clubs and players with enthusiasm, their favourable attitude affects the game in several ways. Women were not charged admission until 1928.

Even with the additional income the lease was too much of a burden, and in 1889 the Carisbrook Ground Company was liquidated, and the lease passed onto the newly formed Dunedin Amateur Ground Company in 1889.

Dunedin Amateur Ground Company (1889-1907)

Money remained a problem for the new owners, and fundraising continued with benefit matches, tugs of war, pony races and the like. In desperation the Dunedin Amateur Ground Company installed a totalizator at the ground in conjunction with trotting races, only to be called to task by the Presbyterian Church, who lowered the rent on the condition that the totalizator be removed.

In 1900 the Dunedin Amateur Ground Company approached the ORFU with a request for assistance with the £200 required to draining the ground. Carisbrook showed its swamp origins regularly, and the ground was known as ‘Lake Carisbrook', and encouraged the development of Otago's ability to play ‘aquatic rugby.' At a special meeting the ORFU agreed ‘to take up shares in the company, on the condition that the ORFU have the option of leasing the ground year by year for a term of five years at a rental not exceeding 75 pounds.'

The Ground Company gave into financial realities in 1906 and offered their interest in Carisbrook to the ORFU for £750. In 1907 the Dunedin Amateur Ground Company was voluntarily wound up and its interests and assets were transferred to the ORFU. The Annual General Meeting of the ORFU reported that although there had been ‘considerable expense in order to make the ground a really good one' that the funds had been well applied, and that the ground ‘will in a few years be an ideal one from every point of view.'

Otago Rugby Football Union (1907-early 1950s)

Immediately upon acquiring Carisbrook the ORFU set about developing the ground: £756 was spent on acquiring the lease; £634 on buildings and fencing; £495 on filling in and fertilising the ground, and £90 on a groundsman's salary. Close to £2,200 was spent, over half the ORFU's total expenditure for the year. After the purchase of the lease by the ORFU, the Carisbrook Cricket Club was gradually pushed out the ground, and slowly declined in importance, although Carisbrook continued to be used for first class and test cricket throughout the twentieth century.

The ORFU's takeover of the ground roughly coincided with elevation of rugby to a ‘national ethos', taking an ‘imported game' and synthesising it into ‘an important component of New Zealand's national identity' in the wake of The Original's successful tour of Great Britain in 1905.

The first major rugby game after the purchase of the lease by the ORFU was the Anglo-Welsh Game against Otago in 1908. There was concern about the condition of the grounds and the grandstand, but repairs were limited by financial realities. After an acrimonious debate with the national union about appropriate gate fees for the test match (and some local initiative from carpenters from the Hillside workshops who removed a portion of the perimeter fence), the game took place.

By 1914, the ORFU had demolished the original grandstand at Carisbrook and commenced construction on a replacement grandstand. The new grandstand was partly financed through the issue of debentures, but when it was completed later that year, ORFU was left with a debt. Despite these difficulties, at the close of World War I the ORFU offered free entry to games for returning soldiers.

In the 1920s there were further developments to Carisbrook. In 1921 additions were made to the grandstand. In 1926 a Turnstile Building was erected on Neville Street, probably designed by Dunedin architects Miller and White, who completed other work for the ORFU. The Main Grandstand was extended in 1927 to a design by Miller and White.

In 1937 the Henry Rose Stand was built next to the 1914 grandstand to increase seating capacity at Carisbrook and it was funded from the money made in the pre-war, Ranfurly Shield days.

The grounds, however, remained relatively undeveloped in the early years of the ORFU's ownership, with groundsman Alex Ross recalling that ‘had the weeds been removed there would have been nothing left', and the very real problem of how to manage drainage at the ground remained unresolved. The weeds took Ross 12 years to eradicate, but the problems with water on the pitch were to continue for much longer. It was not until the closing years of the 1940s that the turf would be lifted and relaid and new drainage work put in place. In addition to the drainage issues, Dunedin's weather added to the infamy of the ground. At a December club cricket game the stumps were still standing in a pool on the following day; a big snowfall in 1939 saw the ground buried beneath 9 inches of snow, with drifts 6 feet deep behind the grandstand; and during one north-easterly rain storm sheets of water were blown into the stand, with part of the stand collapsing under the load. Instead of repairing the grandstand, the ORFU built a new wing (sections A, B, and C). Carisbrook showed its swamp origins regularly, and the ground was known as ‘Lake Carisbrook', and encouraged the development of Otago's ability to play ‘aquatic rugby.'

Otago Rugby Football Union (Early 1950s-Late 1960s)

Carisbrook was used for a range of community activities such as rugby, cricket, hockey, athletics, lawn tennis, soccer, marching and band displays of championship standard. On Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's visit to Dunedin in January 1954 displays were held at Carisbrook, including long jumper Yvette Williams' attempt on the world long jump record. The association with rugby was well established. The ORFU had adopted a scheme of using subscription money to improve the grounds, and had big plans for the future.

There was a difficult balance to maintain the ground as a venue suitable for both cricket and rugby, but the ground drew praise from those who played there: Australian Hugh Trumble said that ‘the Carisbrook ground and wicket were fit for any cricketer in the world to step on' and sent groundsman Alex Ross a congratulatory letter. During one tour by an English side the New Zealand Cricket Council judged Carisbrook as the best kept ground on which the English team had played.

In the mid 1950s the ORFU embarked on a programme of development. The work was designed to keep Carisbrook at the standard required for it to continue as a regular test match ground. While cricket still had a base there, the ground was becoming more and more rugby focused. Plans were made to replace the rail fence around the ground with a concrete wall, to join the Henry Rose Stand with the main grandstand, and to shift the main grandstand back to the Burns Street level. Accommodation for players, officials and spectators was also to be improved and there were also ideas of extending and covering the Terraces. However, the plans for altering the stands were estimated to cost some £20,000 and shortage of materials delayed developments for several years.

In 1959 a 4,000 seat open stand, known as the Neville Street Stand, was built on the south side of the grounds. In 1964 the Terraces were extended, and in 1965 a further 4,000 seat covered stand was opened, giving the ground a capacity of 45,000. Temporary seating was still to be expanded, and ramps to be installed to make it easier for spectators to access the stands.

In the mid 1960s the ORFU also reduced the size of the wicket area, leaving enough only to accommodate representative games, and by the late 1960s the Carisbrook Cricket Club relocated to Andersons Bay. Throughout the 1990s International test cricket and first class matches were played on Carisbrook, and it remains a significant venue. In 2008 the State Championship game between Otago and Canterbury was played at Carisbrook.

Otago Rugby Football Union (Late 1960s-1980s)

In 1969 the ORFU purchased the freehold of the Carisbrook Ground. By this period, Carisbrook was considered a significant venue, recalling memories of important events and sporting moments, these included cricketing records (including a world record 445 runs in 1936-37), exhibition tennis matches featuring world ranked players, and the 1936 national track and field championships). The Otago Daily Times recorded that: Carisbrook is steeped in tradition now, and practically every amateur sport has been featured on the ground at some time or other.

In 1976 engineers E.R. Garden and Partners released the plans for a stand designed to replace the existing main grandstand. A condition of the tender was that construction be completed prior to May the following year in time for the touring British Lions. While shorter than the existing stand, the new grandstand structure added 1,400 seats. Facilities for players and officials, and provision for a press box under the roof, and a television camera stand on the roof were also included.

In the late 1970s there were further developments. The Terraces were reshaped to allow seating (rather than standing space only), and a new entrance was built.

Although other changes were proposed, funding remained dependent on whether Otago Cricket planned to develop its Carisbrook facilities or relocate to Logan Park, with facilities developed at the University Oval to provide a focal area for the development of Otago Cricket.

Around this period there was debate about the future of both rugby and cricket with a concern about dropping attendances. Sports broadcaster Iain Gallaway told a meeting of sports administrators that: Carisbrook at the moment is a depressing and moribund ground, and a coat of paint will not change that. People seem to come to the ground with an apologetic look about them. In the past, when three or more cricket games were played on the ground a week, people became familiar with the ground and its atmosphere.

John Henderson, chair of the Otago Cricket Association indicated that the trend in cricket was towards smaller, more intimate grounds, like Logan Park and Molyneux Park in Alexandra. He also believed that television had reduced the attendance at games, and that the pressure for more games was difficult to meet in a world where sport competed with work demands.

The debate about the future of the ground spread to the newspapers, linking the Ground with the fortunes of the Otago rugby team. The editor of the Otago Daily Times reported: Irrational it may be, but the fact is that a province's morale is, to some degree, bound up with the success of its representatives, and rugby will long remain a major criterion in this country. It can be equally held that the grounds where these major sports are played also become a symbol for their communities. Eden Park, the Basin Reserve and Athletic Park, Lancaster Park, Western Springs... these names have become household words and people are acutely conscious of their reputation. Our own Carisbrook has shared in that reputation for many decades, a fitting tribute to the one man, Henry Rose, whose vision it initially was. There was a period in recent years when Carisbrook's standing began to slip. Facilities remained backward, the ground became rather shabby, club cricket vanished from it, and even representative cricket began to follow suit. We were no longer able to drive past with a sense of pride and reminiscences of great days there.

He praised the ORFU's efforts in improving the Ground, and continued ‘Carisbrook means so much to Dunedin that it is important the rugby union be backed up by the community....One wonders, too, whether a touch of architectural elegance might not do Carisbrook a great deal of good....Carisbrook's role deserves it.'

Much has been made about rugby's role in New Zealand's national identity. Internationally there is considerable commentary on the role of rugby's centrality to nationhood in a number of countries. John Harris has argued that players become ‘symbols - metonyms of cultural ideas - particularly in a sport deemed so important to the nation.' In New Zealand writing around rugby and identity has centred on the making of nationhood, rural identity, and ideas of masculinity.

Recent scholarship, while recognising ‘the vital importance of rugby to New Zealand society' and recognising the need to include sport in discussions of New Zealand history, have revealed the discontinuities of rugby history and the ‘frequent instances of marginalisation in the realms of class, gender, race and religion.' In a similar way it could be argued that venues could also be symbols of the culture associated with rugby, with the matches played, the historic losses and victories, becoming part of the fabric of the place, becoming part of its identity. A postmodern analysis would have it that any meaning is ‘negotiated or contested' and that there are a number of narratives associated with the place, which reflect changing identities and the globalisation of sport. In common with Wales, ‘promoting national identity through sport is generally regarded as especially important to nations that are subservient to a dominant nation', for international fixtures played at Carisbrook, New Zealand's rugby ability is out of scale to its size and population. On a national basis, the representation of Carisbrook as the face of Otago rugby up against the larger more populace provinces also rings true. The ORFU records that Carisbrook: is as much a part of Dunedin and Otago's past and present - and its future - as the statue of Robbie Burns in the Octagon or of Larnach's Castle on the Peninsula. It is central to the atmosphere and ambience of the city of Dunedin and holds a place that takes its status beyond that of just a sportsground, however famous in sporting history....It is the place where hopes are realised and where the dreams of opponents go to die, it is a stage on which has been enacted all the elements of drama, and a stage for the big matches that envelop all of the city and province.

Otago Rugby Football Union (1990s)

Like other significant grounds, Carisbrook has been reshaped and altered reflecting the changing nature of sport in New Zealand. During the 1990s, Carisbrook was substantially redeveloped into a ‘multi-functional entertainment stadium' and most of the stands were replaced.

In 1991 Mayor Richard Walls, launched an appeal for $2.75 million to redevelop Carisbrook. When the appeal was announced the Mayor recalled the importance of the ground: Our province's proud rugby and cricket history is linked to Carisbrook and from a regional perspective it has long been Otago's premier venue for these sporting codes....[F]or many New Zealanders Carisbrook was the window through which the camera let them look in on Dunedin and Otago.

The redevelopment of Carisbrook took place over the next seven years. In 1991-1992 over $2.5 million was spent on the main stand. In the following two years nearly $4.5 million was spent on the development of corporate suites behind the Terrace. The new stand, located on the Murrayfield Street side of the grounds, was named the ‘Railway Stand' and was officially opened in June 1998. It included associated modern facilities for spectators and officials. In addition to the new stand, work was also completed on the perimeter fence, turnstile and entry.

A 1994 report by consultants MWH recommended further upgrading at Carisbrook. In that year a $4 million hospitality and sporting complex was built on the terraces, with 20 hospitality suites, lounge and bar facilities, indoor cricket wickets, a gymnasium, as well as food and toilet facilities. In addition, that same year a $750,000 open stand, known as the Hillside Stand', was built at the Hillside Workshop end of the Carisbrook Terrace.

Shortly after this stage of the redevelopment was completed, the playing field of provincial and international rugby changed. In June 1995, a ‘southern hemisphere consortium' (made up of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand) signed a commercial deal with News Limited, requiring the parties to provide two products: the Super 12 (five regional teams in New Zealand, four from South Africa and three from Australia), and the Tri Nations series, which opened the doors for professionalism in rugby union, and where the game was marketed as a ‘spectacular experience that combined brute force with finesse and athleticism.'

Part of the professionalism was the branding and commercialisation of rugby, where now players and grounds took on a new image (with the associated ‘Highlanders') and Carisbrook, as ‘The House of Pain', became synonymous with rugby in the province. In October 1997, a part of the redevelopment project, the remains of the existing Terrace was demolished. It was rebuilt as a modern terrace, raising it and improving associated facilities.

The Terraces had had a special part in the history of Carisbrook. In 1997 Colin Weatherall, an official from the ORFU commented that ‘[t]here's no question they give the feel, the smell and the touch to the Terrace...The whole environment, from my point of view, comes from the students.' Weatherall explained the importance of the Terraces to the Ground: The Terrace [sic] are an important part of the Carisbrook heritage and we were very careful with the re-development plan to maintain that heritage.' The Otago Daily Times writer continued the theme: ‘Call it the Terrace, the embankment, student city or scarfie-land - but whatever name it goes by, it is the place that students call ‘home'.

The loss of the old Terrace was therefore mourned. Bill Milburn, for instance, lamented ‘it will always be the rough concrete ledges, covered with gravely cinders and Jimmy Speights bottle tops that I remember with affection....I will never forget the days when the Terrace would erupt in unbiased applause for each and every exhibition of skill and courage - those were the days when Terrace pride was only exceeded by true sportsmanship.'

In 1998 $7 million was spent completing the redevelopment of the Ground. The announcement of the completion referred to the history of the Carisbrook: ‘the people of Dunedin and Otago can look forward to the future of Carisbrook with the same proud confidence with which they view its past.'

Otago Rugby Football Union (2000s)

As an international site there is recognition of Carisbrook's importance, even if in a backhanded kind of way. In 2000 the Sydney Morning Herald included Carisbrook along with the Beehive and Auckland Harbour Bridge as one of 11 spots in Australia, Asia and New Zealand that ‘straddle the line between eyesore and landmark.' Author of the list Alex Buzo indicated the inclusion was ‘something to do with the pain Australian rugby teams had felt there at the hands of the All Blacks', but that the stadium was ‘not very nice at all' and was called the ‘House of Pain' because ‘visiting teams lost often and horribly there.' In fact, the name derives from Otago players ruefully reflecting on the ‘pain' they underwent at training.

The last vestige of the ‘free to view' ‘Scotsmans Stand' (the good view of the game from the railway embankment behind the ground) was filled in in 2001. Although largely blocked by the construction of the Railway Stand, the construction of corporate suites finally denied the ‘hundreds of fans' the long-standing tradition of perusing the game from outside the ground.

In 2003 concerns about the future of Carisbrook emerged once again. ORFU chief executive John Hornbrook saw further development of the Ground as vital if Carisbrook was to hold its position as one of the top four test venues in New Zealand. He felt that that position was threatened by smaller grounds such as those in Waikato and at North Harbour. New Zealand Rugby Union deputy chief executive Steve Tew considered that it was falling behind the ‘minimum standards' for spectator, player and media facilities.' The unique atmosphere of Carisbrook had its defenders however. Former Wales captain and prominent British rugby writer Eddie Butler argued for its survival: Should I really be promoting the survival of Carisbrook? There is nothing the outside world should like to see more than its closure. Everyone knows that this is where the All Blacks lose only when the sun glows green. But, hell, we need these special places, where opponents tread with trepidation. Carisbrook fits the bill: the New Zealand stadium with the most vibrant atmosphere, and the best bounce of sound from crowd to field via roof - develop it by all means but please don't make it look like any other refurbished ground. Hopefully the new architecture will reflect its old position, both in Dunedin and the folklore of the New Zealand game.

Superlatives aside there is a certain accuracy in Butler's perception of the ground and its place in popular culture. Butler goes on: It is a primeval rugby ground, an untidy pile of girders and concrete blocks on the edge of town, surrounded by a highway, railway tracks, coal yards, car repair shops and second-hand dealerships. It is cold and old, cramped and damp. They do not serve prawn sandwiches here; they sell meat pies, low on temperature, high on gristle. It is the perfect place to launch an All Black revival. To know how difficult it is to play rugby in New Zealand, you have to come here. You can watch from afar and wonder why it is that the All Blacks rarely lose here - only three out of 33 Tests and just once in the past 30 years - but to find the answer you have to breathe Dunedin. You have to be uncomfortable in Carisbrook. You have to be cold in Otago. This is the end of the world. This is where New Zealand rugby has its soul.

The editor of the Otago Daily Times continued the theme: Carisbrook shines as a symbol of Dunedin. Next to the university, it is hard to imagine any other Dunedin place or institution as widely identified around the world. Should it stagnate as an ageing relic, a Dunedin beacon will be dulled and a regional emblem tarnished. A source of pride will be devalued and a great community gathering place diminished. While an English cricket writer in the 1980s, who must have been gazing at the iron sheds of Hillside in a bleak and bitter southerly, was unfair to liken the ground to industrial Poland, Carisbrook is hardly shiny and slick. That, however, in moderation can be part of the charm because the place oozes the very character missing in mod-con, purpose-built stadiums. The terraces are indispensable and even the weary-looking Neville St and Rose stands will do for now.

He goes onto discuss appropriate future development options which retain the atmosphere of the place, and finishes by calling for a province-wide effort to find a way to ‘secure Carisbrook's place as one of the world's leading rugby grounds.'

In August 2006 The Carisbrook Stadium Trust was formed with a mandate to ‘investigate options of re-developing the existing Carisbrook Stadium and feasibility of a new Stadium.’ In 2006 the Trust recommended a new multi-purpose stadium in association with the University located adjacent to Logan Park.

The passionate debate about the future of Carisbrook continued, reflecting not only the modern economics of professional sport, but the pivotal role Carisbrook had played in the history of sport in Dunedin, Otago and New Zealand as a whole.

In March 2008 the Dunedin City Council decided to proceed with plans to develop plans for new purpose-built covered stadium on a new site. Carisbrook was to be demolished. The last official test against a ‘Tier 1’ nation was played at Carisbrook when the All Blacks beat Wales 42-9 on 19 June 2010. The last major game was the All Blacks defeat of Fiji 60-14 on 22 July 2011, a game which also served as a fundraiser for the Canterbury earthquakes. In January 2012, work began dismantling the stadium, with demolition carrying on into 2013. With the opening of Forsyth Barr Stadium at Logan Park on 5 August 2011, Carisbrook’s reign as Otago’s premier sporting venue ended.

Physical Description

General Location

Carisbrook ground itself stood on the western edge of South Dunedin between the suburbs of Clyde Hill to the north, Kensington to the north east, Caversham to the south west and South Dunedin to the south. It almost occupied a whole city block, apart from the corner of Neville and Murrayfield Streets.

Description of Site

Carisbrook lay on the edge of the flat that makes up South Dunedin, nestled into the mouth of a valley running north between the steep slopes of Clyde Hill and the Kensington promontory. To the west stands Carlton Hill. The influence that these steep hills had on the ground was further accentuated by its close proximity to an elevated railway causeway just on its northern boundary which bridges the gap between the Kensington promontory and the Caversham Valley. The earth causeway rose sharply from the northern edge of Carisbrook to a height equivalent to that of the roofs of the grandstands that backed onto it. The sense of enclosure was furthered by the neighbouring industrial area on the opposite side of Neville Street, especially the huge Hillside Railway Workshops buildings.

Carisbrook’s main structures were: the main stand (1992) on the western side of Carisbrook, then (moving clockwise from the main stand) the Rose Stand (1965) on the corner of Burns and Murrayfield Streets, the Railway Stand (1998) on the northern side near Murrayfield Street and the railway line, then the Terraces (1997) on the eastern side, the Hillside Stand on the south east and finally the Neville Street Stand (1959) on the south side.

What remains today of Carisbrook is the Turnstile Building (1926) and an associated area of land referred to as ‘Pocket Park’ (yet to be developed).

The Turnstile Building (1926)

The small single-storey brick Turnstile Building is located on the Neville Street boundary of the former Carisbrook site. It is the only remaining Carisbrook structure. This unpainted double red brick building has parapets and a very shallow mono pitch roof constructed of concrete. The length of the building, which has seven ticket turnstiles doorways, runs along Neville Street. The Neville Street elevation has the sign ‘Adults’ painted black on white over six of the ticket turnstile doorways and one painted ‘Children’. This elevation is characterised by the very narrow doorways to allow the admittance of one person at a time - thereby controlling spectator flow. The door lintels are formed by seven vertical bricks and the parapet is constructed of poured concrete. There is a painted sign – black on white – ‘Terrace’ which applied to the brickwork and concrete parapet over the central three turnstile doorways. The turnstile doors on this elevation are constructed of T&G painted powder blue and each door is sliding, with a rail mounted on the inside of the doorway. The interior of each turnstile kiosk is unlined with the brickwork painted white.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
2001 -
Corporate suites constructed

Original Construction
1914 -
First major Grandstand constructed (replaces original grandstand).

Modification
1921 -
Grandstand extended

Original Construction
1926 -
Turnstile Building erected

Modification
1927 -
Main Grandstand extended

Modification
1930 -
Grandstand further extended

Original Construction
1937 -
First Henry Rose Stand built

Modification
-
Drainage work completed on turf

Original Construction
1959 -
Neville Street Stand completed. Neville Street end later roofed

Modification
1964 -
Terraces extended. 4,000 seat covered stand opened

Original Construction
1965 -
Henry Rose Stand replaced with a larger stand (Rose Stand)

Modification
1983 -
Reconstruction of the playing surface

Other
1991 - 1992
Main Stand replaced; new turnstile system installed. Railway Stand constructed.

Addition
1992 - 1994
Modern complex, including corporate suites, built behind the Terraces

Original Construction
1994 -
Hillside Stand constructed

Modification
1997 -
Redevelopment of Terraces

Modification
1998 -
Lighting improvements

Original Construction
1998 -
Railway Stand opened

Demolished - Redevelopment
2012 - 2013
Demolition of stands and associated loss of pitch

Construction Details

Construction Professionals: Turnstile Building - Miller and White

Construction Materials: Turnstile Building is brick.

Completion Date

20th June 2017

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Dunedin Public Library

Dunedin Public Library

'Carisbrook' Dunedin Public Library (DPL) Newspaper Clippings Files (2 Volumes 1950-2007)

Hocken Library

Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin

'Carisbrook', Reader Access File, Photograph Collection

Olssen, 1995

Olssen, Erik, Building the New World: Work, Politics and Society - Caversham 1880s-1920s, Auckland, 1995

Crawford, 1984

Scott Crawford, 'A history of recreation and sport in nineteenth century colonial Otago', A thesis submitted to the Department of Human Movement Studies for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of Queensland, September 1984

Crawford, 1988

Scott Crawford, 'Rugby in Contemporary New Zealand' in Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 1988.

12(2) 108-121

O'Hagan, 1981

Sean O'Hagan, The Pride of Southern Rebels: The History of Otago Rugby on the occasion of the Otago Rugby Football Centenary 1881-1981, Pilgrims South Press, Dunedin, 1981

Ryan, 2004

Greg Ryan, The Making of New Zealand Cricket 1832-1914, Frank Cass, London, 2004

Ryan, 2005

Greg Ryan, Tackling Rugby Myths: Rugby and New Zealand Society: 1854-2004, University of Otago Press, Dunedin, 2005

Tait, 1974

G. Tait, 'The History of the Otago Cricket Association in the Nineteenth Century' MA Thesis, University of Otago, 1974

Other Information

A fully referenced List Entry Report is available from the Heritage New Zealand Otago/Southland Area Office

Associated HNZPT List Entries:

As the major urban areas developed, so too did the need for venues for organised sporting occasions. The Oval and the Caledonian Ground were early sports venues in Dunedin (the Caledonian Ground/Pitch has been torn up and is now a car park for The Warehouse and Pak n Save, with the facilities rebuilt at Logan Park), the Oval remains a sports ground.

Wellington's Basin Reserve was established in 1866 (listed as Basin Reserve Historic Area record number 7441, including the separately listed Basin Reserve Pavilion, Category 2 record number 1339), and provided a venue for most of Wellington's significant sporting fixtures.

None of the other provincial or international grounds (to which Carisbrook can be compared) are listed by Heritage New Zealand. In Christchurch Lancaster Park (now AMI Stadium) was established by the Canterbury Cricket and Athletics Sports Co Ltd. in 1880, providing a multipurpose venue which saw cricket, football, athletics, trotting and swimming events take place in its first twenty years, setting a pattern of diverse use which has continued into the twenty-first century. Athletic Park was home of Wellington rugby from 1896 until its closure in 1999. New Zealand's largest stadium, Auckland's Eden Park, was founded in 1914.

There are other sports grounds listed by Heritage New Zealand: The Marton Park Historic Area (record number 7587) does include both sports grounds, clubrooms and other associated historic structures, recognising the open space and the buildings are significant. Other sporting arenas which recall outstanding events in New Zealand, like Cooks Gardens (founded 1896) in Wanganui where Peter Snell ran his world record sub four minute mile, remain unrecognised for their significance to sport.

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.