ASB Bank

100 Hastings Street, Napier

  • ASB Bank, Napier. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Paul Le Roy . Taken By: Paul Le Roy – Minicooperd. Date: 18/04/2016.
  • ASB Bank, Napier. CC BY-ND 2.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: denisbin. Taken By: denisbin. Date: 21/10/2018.
  • ASB Bank, Napier ceiling detail. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Paul Le Roy. Taken By: Paul Le Roy – Minicooperd. Date: 18/04/2016.
  • ASB Bank, Napier. Interior features CC BY-ND 2.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Allan Harris. Taken By: Allan Harris. Date: 10/04/2008.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1112 Date Entered 12th December 1991 Date of Effect 12th December 1991


City/District Council

Napier City


Hawke's Bay Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 24894

Location description

Included in the Napier City Centre Historic Area, Napier (Register no. 7022).



The Bank of New Zealand opened its Napier branch on 2 March 1862 in temporary premises in Emerson street. Later it was located in a permanent building on the corner of Hastings and Browning Streets. It did well from the outset, securing the important government contract which resulted in its supplying funds to the army commissariat during the New Zealand wars of the 1860s. Much later, in 1950-51, it was instrumental in financing the establishment by former shareholders of the important East Coast Fertilizer Company.

When the Hawkes Bay earthquake hit in 1931 the Bank's wooden premises were burnt down but in record time a "community bank" was built in a park and here six banks, including the Bank of New Zealand, operated under one roof until each acquired a new building. The BNZ's was opened on 5 November 1934 after more than a year's work. The contractor W M Angus Ltd and the subcontractors. Its apple green exterior was 'a mild sensation not only in Napier but in other places' according to the Daily Telegraph which praised its 'most pleasing colour scheme, which harmonises perfectly with the clean, free-lined type of architecture and adopted'.

The bank occupied the building until December 1989, extending it twice to gain more space. Since then it has been unoccupied and on the market. A plan for multiple uses centred round tourism is being canvassed.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Bank of New Zealand building is significant as an element of a rebuilding programme which, due to the Hawkes Bay earthquake, was initiated by government at a time when financial constraints ensured very little building was being done elsewhere. As a contemporary newspaper claimed, it was proof of the bank's confidence in the prosperity and success of the new Napier.


A graceful building in the New Zealand Art Deco idiom with many typical Art Deco features on its exterior. The designer has given it a place in New Zealand architecture which is almost unique by exploiting the similarity between Art Deco decorative patterns and traditional Maori Art. (Though it is not certain who was responsible for the Maori motifs, it was possibly Bill Couch, a draughtsman in the firm of Crichton, McKay and Haughton, who was an artist and stamp designer and may have acquired knowledge of Maori patterns through the Maori borders commonly seen on stamps of the period.)


The building is an important component of the Art Deco character of Napier, harmoniously complementing the T & G Building which stands beside it on the Emerson Street/Marine Parade corner.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Crichton, McKay & Haughton

(William Crichton (1862-1928), James Hector McKay (d. 1944), Vivian Haughton (1891-1956))

William Crichton was born in England in 1862. He trained as an architect before immigrating to New Zealand in 1879. Upon his arrival he joined the Colonial Architects Office. In 1891 he established his own architectural firm and later, in 1901, joined with James Hector McKay to form the firm Crichton and McKay. (McKay had previously been in partnership with Robert Roy MacGregor from 1898-1901.) With the addition of Vivian Haughton in the 1920s the firm became Crichton, McKay & Haughton. In 1935 Haughton went into partnership with William McKeon (1896-1973). In 1952 Haughton established Haughton and Sons, which was later joined by Lindsay Mair, the son of the former government architect John Mair. Following Haughton's death in 1956, the firm became Haughton and Mair. Eventually, by the 1980s, it became Bulleyment Fortune architects.

Crichton, McKay and Haughton were a prominent architectural firm in the 1920s and were responsible for a number of Wellington's commercial buildings such as the Huddart Parker Building (1923), the Dominion Building (1926-1927), as well as a number of domestic residences.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


An Art Deco building, this is Napier's - and possibly New Zealand's - tour de force in the use of Maori decoration on a European style building.

The ground floor as originally laid out contained manager's office and a public space in rooms on either side of the entrance, two strong-rooms and stationery room at the back, and cloak rooms and toilets in an irregular section extending from the south-west corner. Most of the space, however, was taken up by the banking chamber, twenty-three metres long by thirteen metres wide with a lofty height of six metres. The roof is supported by four columns matching the pilasters around the perimeter, all having ornate, bench-cast fibrous plaster capitals. The coffered ceiling, with its two bays of bay-lights in both square and octagonal shapes, were plastered in situ. Each of the twelve ceiling bays is bordered by a plastered kowhaiwhai pattern painted in the traditional red, black and white. A matching frieze runs round the tops of the walls.

The mezzanine floor at the upper rear of the building is divided into a number of rooms which originally contained a two bedroomed flat in which two of the bachelor staff members lived plus a lunch room and old book room.

Little has changed over the years except for the introduction of modern aluminium entrance doors, the opening up of the panels of the south wall into a two-level extension which has not destroyed the quality of the space, and several re-arrangements of the interior facilities, one of which involved demolition of a strong-room.

Outside a sadly inappropriate verandah, added in 1983 to meet City Council requirements, mars the two street facades and obscures the fine entrance. The opening is flanked by two corbels which echo the design of the column capitals, but with the addition of symbols representing the wealth of the tribe. Otherwise the carving patterns on the exterior are all above verandah level and easily 'readable' from the street. Above each window are panels in which zig zags, which symbolise waves, and patterns representing Ruamano, the whale, combine in a design which, like the ancient aukati (barring the way) border on the parapet, could be mistaken for pure Art Deco embellishment. The entrance can be closed by heavy sliding gates of wrought iron incorporating the whale motif again, which is also seen on the bronze grille over the window above the entrance doors. The opening is flanked by the original wall lamps.


- 1956 Extension to the rear ground floor to enlarge staff facilities; Haughton, Son and Mair, Wellington, Architects.

-1965 Removal of outer wall on south side and construction of two-storey (plus basement) addition. E A and L J Williams, Napier, Architects.

-1983 Addition of awning to exterior on Emerson and Hastings Streets.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1933 - 1934

1956 -
Extension to the rear ground floor to enlarge staff facilities; Haughton, Son and Mair, Wellington, Architects.

1965 -
Removal of outer wall on south side and construction of two-storey (plus basement) addition. E A and L J Williams, Napier, Architects.

1983 -
Addition of awning to exterior on Emerson and Hastings Streets.

Construction Details

Reinforced concrete with some brick, stone (Coromandel granite) and metal work. Interior plasterwork and timber (Queensland maple). Flat Callender's roofing.

Information Sources

Cable, 2004

Nicolas Cable, 'An appraisal of Archaeological values within the Queen Mary Hospital Site, Hanmer Springs', Prepared for Hurunui District Council by Opus International, June 2004

Campbell, 1975

M. D. N. Campbell, Story of Napier, 1874-1974; Footprints Along the Shore

p9, 147, 182

Chappell, 1961

N.M. Chappell, New Zealand Banker's Hundred: Bank of New Zealand 1861-1961, Wellington, 1961

p40, 79-81, 311-3

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1908

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 6, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, 1908


Daily Telegraph

Daily Telegraph

'A Work of Art', 5 November 1934.

Fearnley, 1977

Charles Fearnley, Early Wellington Churches, Wellington, 1977


Ives, 1982

Heather Ives, The Art Deco Architecture of Napier, Napier, 1982


New Zealand Historic Places

New Zealand Historic Places

December 1990 Indigenous Art Deco in New Zealand by Robert McGregor, p 4-8.


Architectural Drawings/Plans

'New Branch Premises at Napier for the Bank of New Zealand' Crichton, McKay and Haughton, June 1933.

Original held by Bulleyment-Fortune, Architects, Wellington, copy NZHPT.

'New Staff Rooms Branch Premises - Napier for the Bank of New Zealand', Haughton, Son and Mair, July 1955, original held by Bulleyment-Fortune, Architects, Wellington, copy NZHPT.

'Site Plan of Proposed Additions to BNZ Napier' n.d. E.A. and L.C. Williams, Registered Architects, Napier. Blueprint in BNZ Archives, Wellington.

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.