Magazine (Former)

23 Story Place, Taupo Domain, Taupo

  • Magazine (Former), Taupo Domain.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Calum Maclean. Date: 6/05/2016.
  • Magazine (Former), Taupo Domain.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones.
  • Magazine (Former), Taupo Domain.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Elizabeth Cox. Date: 2/06/2008.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 942 Date Entered 2nd April 2004


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the building, its fixtures and fittings and land beneath its footprint on part Historic Reserve Gazette 1983 p.17.

City/District Council

Taupo District


Waikato Region

Legal description

Secs 5 and 8 Blk XXXVI Town of Taupo (Historic Reserve NZ Gazette 1983, p.19)


Built in 1873-1874, the former Magazine was part of the Armed Constabulary redoubt at Tapuaeharuru, later known as Taupo. The redoubt was established in early 1870 on high ground overlooking an important crossing of the Waikato River, about 180 m. below the river's outflow from Lake Taupo. The fortification lay at the northern end of a chain of Armed Constabulary posts that protected the 87 km. route between Taupo and Napier. Tapuaeharuru was of great strategic value as it controlled the convergence of Maori bridle tracks linking the Waikato and the Ureweras to the north and south, and Tauranga and Wanganui to the east and west. Control of this communications network became particularly important for the colonial government during its campaigns against Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki (?-1893), particularly after Te Kooti extended his operations from the Ureweras in 1869. The government feared an escalation of the revolt that might also encompass the Kingite movement of King Potatau in the King Country.

Located in the traditional territory of Ngati Tuwharetoa, the redoubt was established on the opposite side of the Waikato River to Tapuaeharuru pa, as well as Te Poihipi Tukairangi's settlement at nearby Nukuhau. Its establishment reinforced the support of local Maori leaders such as Te Poihipi, whose pa was reported in the mid 1860s as being one of only two around the lake not to support the Kingite movement. The Armed Constabulary force at Taupo was first based in Te Poihipi's pa, but was required to move to a purpose-built redoubt after a drunken constable set fire to a house, nearly engulfing the settlement. Created in 1867 to supplement British Imperial troops in government campaigns, the Armed Constabulary was made up mostly of single men of European birth, and primarily undertook garrison duties, construction projects and the maintenance of civil order.

The new fortification at Tapuaeharuru was designed to take 150 men in tents although its occupants generally numbered between 15 and 40 during the early 1870s. A number of buildings were erected both inside and outside its earth and pumice defences, including quarters for officers and men, mess rooms, stores, stables and other ancillary buildings. The surrounding area incorporated a vegetable garden and paddock, while a firing range was also established. Two boat houses were constructed beside the river to contain the whaleboats that the constabulary used to ferry men and supplies around the lake.

The magazine was erected inside the fortification by the middle of 1874 to house munitions used by the Tapuaeharuru force. The redoubt's occupants were armed, having been issued with medium-converted Snider rifles in November 1870, replacing the less accurate Enfield and Short Snider guns. Rifle practice formed an important part of the constabulary's drill, with an annual course in musketry and competitions such as the Colonial Prize Firing tournament. The rifle range at Tapuaeharuru was also levelled and improved in the same year that the magazine was built.

As a valuable and potentially dangerous commodity, the munitions required storage in a building that was both secure and visible. The magazine was positioned towards the rear, or western wall of the redoubt, facing the main entrance in the eastern line of defences. Needing to be fireproof it was also constructed of pumice stone, unlike most of the other buildings in and around the redoubt, which were made of timber or raupo.

The pumice is said to have been quarried at Aratiatia, some distance downstream along the Waikato River. Wood for the internal lining and roof frame of the structure was probably brought in from Opepe, along with most other timber building material at this time. The stonework was constructed by an unknown member of the Armed Constabulary force in the Taupo district, who was described in 1874 as having been kept 'constantly employed at his trade as a mason in the erection of chimneys (pumice), and magazines of the same material, at the various stations'. A slightly larger magazine was erected in the same year at Opepe - the headquarters of the Armed Constabulary in the Taupo district until 1877, when this function moved to Tapuaeharuru. The Opepe magazine was similarly built of pumice, but was further noted as being 'roofed with cement'.

The Tapuaeharuru magazine was presumably used until January 1885, when the Armed Constabulary was withdrawn from the redoubt. The constabulary was formally disbanded the following year in favour of a civil police force. While many of the buildings within the redoubt are assumed to have fallen into disrepair or have been removed, some evidently continued in use. A structure believed to have been the officers' mess was used as the Taupo Post and Telegraph Office in the late nineteenth century, before being occupied as a dwelling by a telegraph lineman in the early 1900s. The former Magazine may have functioned as an outbuilding associated with this or another building on the site until the middle of the century.

In 1940, the redoubt was incorporated into Taupo Domain at the request of the Town Board, while the former Post and Telegraph Office was moved and partly incorporated into the Town Board offices in Story Place in 1947. Renewed interest in the historic nature of the site in the 1960s led to the magazine being restored. Work included the replacement of most of the building's timber interior, which was assembled off-site and lifted into the magazine after the roof had been removed. Some of the stonework was also re-set using Portland cement. Having been set aside as a historic reserve in 1968, the redoubt and magazine were formally managed by Heritage New Zealand (formerly New Zealand Historic Places Trust) until March 2019, when the property was transferred to Tuwharetoa as part of the Treaty settlement.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

It is historically important for its close association with the role and deployment of the Armed Constabulary, the extension of government authority over the central North Island, and the origins of Taupo as a colonial township.

The former Magazine has high architectural significance as one of very few nineteenth-century Armed Constabulary magazines believed to survive in New Zealand.

It has technological value as an early example of local pumice stone construction in the Taupo area.

The former Magazine can be assigned Category II status. It reflects important and representative aspects of New Zealand history, including the role of the Armed Constabulary in the extension of government authority, and the contribution of munitions in this regard.

The place has considerable potential for public education, being a distinctive and well-preserved structure located in a public reserve.

The building is the earliest known European building in Taupo, and is one of the earliest in the region.

It also has rarity value as one of only very few Armed Constabulary magazines believed to survive in New Zealand.

The building forms an integral part of an important historical and cultural landscape. This includes the archaeological remains of Tapuaeharuru redoubt and an adjacent courthouse.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Armed Constabulary

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Armed Constabulary

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

The former Magazine lies within the well-preserved earthwork remains of the Armed Constabulary redoubt in Taupo Domain, Taupo (NZAA archaeological site U18/2). It is the only structure within the fortification to have survived, although other historic remnants are preserved in the form of banks and ditches, archaeological deposits and exotic trees. The building lies on flat ground, close to the top of a steep scarp which runs down to the Waikato River. Both the building and the redoubt lie in a historic reserve that was administered by Heritage New Zealand (formerly New Zealand Historic Places Trust) until its transfer to Tuwharetoa in 2019 as part of a Treaty settlement.

The former Magazine is a small stone structure, almost square in plan. It measures 3.35m. x 2.95 m., and is approximately 2.3. m high. The shorter western and eastern ends of the structure are gabled, supporting a shallow-angled roof. The building has a doorway in its eastern side, giving access to a single internal room. There are no windows or other apertures.

The walls of the building are made up of pumice stone fragments, most of which are carefully dressed and rectangular in shape. The largest of these measures approximately 0.57m. x 0.32m. The stonework incorporates at least one string course and appears to have been originally bonded with lime mortar, although cement has been used to re-point much of the structure. Cement has also been employed in the 1980s rebuilding of the upper part of the southern wall.

The building's timber-lined interior consists mostly of material inserted during restoration work in the 1960s, which replicated an earlier arrangement. The walls are made up of circular-sawn horizontal planks attached to vertical studs, while the floor has been renewed using totara boards. Some of the roof timbers pre-date the restoration work, as does much of the roof covering. The latter comprises tinned corrugated iron stamped 'Gospel Oak', with ridges that are centred 85mm. apart.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1873 - 1874
Original construction of Magazine

Major restoration of interior

1972 -
Shallow trench around footings filled with concrete

1983 -
Upper part of southern wall rebuilt

Construction Details

Pumice walls with timber lining, floor and roof structure. The roof is clad with corrugated iron.

Completion Date

8th September 2004

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Cooper, 1989

B. Cooper, The Remotest Interior: A history of Taupo' Moana Press, Tauranga, New Zealand, 1989.

Mitchell, 1983

John Mitchell, 'The History and Archaeology of the Armed Constabulary Archaeological Sites along the Napier-Taupo Road, 1869-1885', MA research essay, University of Auckland, 1983

Historic Places in New Zealand

Historic Places in New Zealand

Pat Adams, 'The Armed Constabulary and the Origins of Taupo', No.6, June 1985.

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this 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.