New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Company Warehouse (Former)

14 Harbour Street and Wansbeck Street, OAMARU


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This massive and handsomely detailed grain store built in 1882 for the country’s then largest stock and station agency, the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company Ltd (NZLMA), is a landmark building in the Oamaru’s Whitestone heritage precinct. Located on the corner of Harbour and Wansbeck Streets, when it was opened it was touted as the country’s largest grain store. Its prominent site and proportions show the scale and wealth of the nineteenth century grain industry. The first buildings on this site were the concrete stores of the New Zealand and Australian Land Investment Company built in 1875. The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Company, incorporated in 1865 as produce, financial and general commercial agents, took over this site but found the existing buildings too small. The new building was designed in a ‘Florentine Renaissance style’ by civil engineers and architects Dennison and Grant, and built by John McCombe. The new ‘monster store’, as it was described in the North Otago Times on 10 January 1882, was capable of holding 100,000 sacks of grain. The store is three storeys high (over 40 ft (12m)) with a 164 ft (50m) frontage to Harbour Street, and a 176 ft (53m) frontage to the railway siding. At the south it is 116 ft (35m) wide, and at the north, terminating at the Neill Bros Store it is 70 ft (21m) wide. The first floor is supported by bluestone and ‘iron bark’ pillars with cast iron shoes and caps. The upper floor pillars are of ‘red pine’, as are the joists and beams. Four grain elevators carried bags of grain from the ground floor to the top storey on an endless link chain worked by four water engines. The interior detailing is of a high standard, illustrated by the elaborate kauri staircases and rope moulding details in the window joinery. The building remained in use as a store for many years, used by the various companies which assumed the mantle of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Company (including Dalgetys and Wrightsons). The Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust took over ownership of the building in the 1980s and has leased it to various tenants. By the 1980s it had been taken over by local manufacturer Willett’s Furniture. Since 2005 it has been home to a number of businesses including the New Zealand Malt Whisky Company, which has run a general store, restaurant, gallery, and whisky ageing facility from the building, and renowned Otago restaurateur Fleur Sullivan’s Loan and Merc Restaurant. The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, and this, its grain store, have special historical significance. The Company was the largest stock station agency in the country in the 20th century. The massive proportions of this industrial building are symbolic of this pre-eminence. The NZMLA’s store has outstanding architectural significance. It is a large, imposing building with a superbly proportioned main façade and interesting interior. This building is a prominent feature of the Harbour/Tyne Street Historic Area (Register No. 7064) which, by virtue of its homogeneous streetscape and substantial Oamaru Stone commercial and industrial buildings, is unique in New Zealand. In 2013 the store remains a historic attraction in Oamaru’s Whitestone Precinct.

New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Company Warehouse | Heather Bauchop | 03/04/2008 | NZ Historic Places Trust
New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Company Warehouse (Former). Image courtesy of | PhilBee NZ (Phil Braithwaite) | 03/04/2008 | PhilBee NZ (Phil Braithwaite)
New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Company Warehouse (Former). Image courtesy of | Francis Vallance | 31/12/2007 | Francis Vallance



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

11th November 1984

Date of Effect

11th November 1984

City/District Council

Waitaki District


Otago Region

Extent of List Entry

Lots 7-8 DP 88 (RT OT294/243 and 800104), Otago Land District

Legal description

Lots 7-8 DP 88 (RT OT294/243 and 800104), Otago Land District

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