Union Bank of Australia (Former)

12 Tyne Street, OAMARU

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The former Union Bank of Australia was designed by Oamaru architectural partnership Forrester and Lemon and opened in 1879. It has historical, architectural and townscape significance as ‘an early example of the Venetian palazzo style’ and one of the partnership’s finest bank buildings. It is a symbol of Oamaru’s growing prosperity. The Union Bank was one of the earliest banks to open in New Zealand, its first branch established in Petone, shifting to Wellington when the city was surveyed. Its Dunedin branch opened in 1857, one of many throughout the country. The Union Bank of Australia opened in Oamaru in 1873, with its first premises on Tyne Street. By 1877, there were plans for ‘new and handsome premises.’ Forrester designed the new premises in Venetian style, a style, art historian Conal McCarthy writes, was ‘entirely appropriate for a building of that function because of the role Venice had played as a financial centre.’ The Union Bank of Australia has two storeys and is built of Oamaru stone. McCarthy writes that it is one of the earliest examples of the Venetian Palazzo style. The ornate detailing includes balustrades and flanking colonettes added to the first floor windows, and a balustrade and scroll on the parapet (now removed). The decorative detailing results in a strong play of light and shade, and the elaborate façade reflects the prosperity of Oamaru in the 1870s. The building was in strong contrast to its then neighbour, the Bank of New Zealand built in 1865 (and since demolished), illustrating the commercial rivalry and the town’s wealth. The Union Bank was to influence subsequent bank designs. The bank looks to have closed in the 1920s. John Moore of Oamaru bought the land in 1927. In the 1930s, after Moore’s death the building was owned by Raymond Gibb and Robert Milligan. They sold the land to the Oamaru Squash and Badminton Club in 1957. The Union Bank of Australia merged with the Bank of Australasia to form the ANZ Bank in 1951. In 2015, the building remains home to the Oamaru Squash and Badminton Club.

Union Bank of Australia (Former), Oamaru. CC BY Licence | Tracy Griffith | 28/09/2023 | Tracy Griffith
Union Bank of Australia (Former), Oamaru. CC BY 2.0 Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org | Tim Parkinson | 19/09/2006 | Tim Parkinson - Wikimedia Commons
Union Bank of Australia (Former), Oamaru. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite | 24/01/2017 | Phil Braithwaite



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

7th July 1987

Date of Effect

7th July 1987

City/District Council

Waitaki District


Otago Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Secs 7-8 Blk III Town of Oamaru (RT OT5A/805), Otago Land District, and the building associated with the Union Bank of Australia (Former) thereon.

Legal description

Secs 7-8 Blk III Town of Oamaru (RT OT5A/805), Otago Land District

Location Description

CT 5A/805 as per Heritage Covenant 1999.

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