29 Princes Street, AUCKLAND

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Hamurana is one of the best-preserved examples of an elite urban residence erected in colonial Auckland, and is one of a significant group of adjoining houses linked with the creation of a well-to-do neighbourhood in the 1870s and early 1880s. Located on the Symonds Street ridge, the two-storey timber residence was constructed in 1876 on top of the remains of the Albert Barracks. The Barracks had formed the largest military installation in colonial New Zealand, capable of housing approximately 1000 soldiers in the 1840s and 1850s. Possibly itself erected on the site of an earlier Maori settlement known as Horotiu, the fortification was decommissioned following the final withdrawal of British troops in 1870, after which much of the land was subdivided for private lease. The choicest allotments lay on the western side of Princes Street, next to the planned location of Albert Park. The redevelopment was consciously planned as an elite neighbourhood, being located next to places of high social status such as the Colonial Governor's Auckland residence (Old Government House), the Supreme Court (now the High Court) and one of the main cultural venues in the city (Old Choral Hall). Conditions were placed on the construction of all new residences, requiring that they should be of at least two storeys and cost a minimum of £700. Lots 10, 11 and 12 were purchased in 1875 by a brewer and provincial politician, George Johnstone (1839-1886). Johnstone had a commercial background, his father having founded the Scottish newspaper, the Stirling Observer. Following his marriage to Elizabeth Whitson, he became a partner in the brewery business of Whitson and Sons after 1869. Whitson and Sons commercial premises included the Albert Brewery in Queen Street, considered to be the largest brewery in Auckland province. By April 1876, Johnstone was constructing a large family residence on the site, overlooking the Queen Street gully. This was designed in an ornate Italianate style that was often used for mercantile premises and residences in Auckland during the late Victorian period. Modelled on the designs of Italian Renaissance buildings erected from the proceeds of commercial wealth, Italianate architecture reflected the town's emerging role as a major Pacific entrepot and the prominent social position of merchants in the settlement during the economic boom of the 1870s. The new timber residence incorporated a striking double-storey balcony on its main frontage. Its interior contained several large public rooms, service quarters including a servant's room, bedrooms and a dedicated billiard room. The rooms were ornately decorated, some with marble fireplaces, friezes and windows with decorative glass. The building was designed by James Wrigley (1837?-1882), who had set up practice in Auckland in 1856 after training in New York. His previous buildings included the original portion of Carrington Hospital (1865) and additions to the elite Northern Club (1870) at 19 Princes Street. The residence's rear garden incorporated outbuildings, including a possible corrugated iron stables accessed from a service lane. Johnstone and his family occupied the house until the early 1880s. Its subsequent leaseholder, William Vines, had been an extensive landowner in Whangarei and is said to have been a prominent member of the Plymouth Brethren. After a brief spell as a boarding house, it was again occupied as an elite residence by another brewer, Moss Davis and his family, who named it Hamurana. The Davis' were part of a significant Jewish community that lived in the neighbourhood during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Auckland's main synagogue had been built a few doors away in 1884-85. During the 1930s, the house was divided into flats, but retained much of its early fabric as well as gaining new decorative elements. Since the 1950s, Hamurana has been used as medical rooms and then offices. In the 1970s, awareness of the heritage significance of the place helped to save it from demolition. Part of the building is currently (2007) used as a language school. Hamurana has considerable aesthetic significance for its street and park setting, its striking external appearance and ornate detailing. It is considered to have archaeological value, incorporating evidence for remains connected with the Albert Barracks and other deposits linked to residential urban occupation. The main residence is architecturally significant as one of Auckland's best-preserved elite urban dwellings and as an impressive example of an Italianate timber residence designed by the architect James Wrigley. It is of historical value for demonstrating the transformation of a major urban area into an exclusive residential neighbourhood for Auckland's commercial and professional elite in the late nineteenth century, and for reflecting the wealth and lifestyle of such groups and their prominent position in Auckland society. It is a significant part of an outstandingly important cultural and historical landscape on the Symonds Street ridge that retains numerous archaeological sites, historic buildings and other places linked to its role as the epicentre of early British colonial power in New Zealand, and as a subsequent residential neighbourhood of note.

Hamurana, 29 Princes St, Auckland. East and north elevations | Martin Jones | 09/04/2007 | Heritage New Zealand
Hamurana, Auckland. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite | 02/08/2014 | Phil Braithwaite



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

2nd February 2008

Date of Effect

2nd February 2008

City/District Council

Auckland Council


Auckland Council

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 2 DP 114585 (RT NA65B/8) North Auckland Land District and the building and structures thereon, and their fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information). The registration encompasses all archaeological material within the extent described above.

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 114585 (RT NA65B/8), North Auckland Land District

Location Description

On the western side of Princes Street, to the south of its junction with Bowen Avenue

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