Makaraka Racecourse Totalisator Building (Former)

76A Main Road, Makaraka, Gisborne

  • Makaraka Racecourse Totalisator Building.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Date: 23/06/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 3522 Date Entered 5th April 1984 Date of Effect 5th April 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Lot 1 DP 1329 (RT 113531), Gisborne Land District and the structure known as Makaraka Racecourse Totalisator Building (Former) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.

City/District Council

Gisborne District


Gisborne Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 1 DP 1329 (RT 113531), Gisborne Land District


Built by the Poverty Bay Turf Club, the region's earliest such club; the Makaraka Racecourse Totalisator Building (Former) represents the rich history of horse racing in the region. It is located on the grounds of the Makaraka Racecourse (Roseland) on the outskirts of Gisborne. The proliferation of turf clubs in the sparsely settled Poverty Bay Region, was quite remarkable, and no fewer than five survived well into the twentieth Century'. The Club held its first meeting in 1870, and for the first few years it held its race days on privately owned paddocks. By 1875 the Turf Club began looking for a more permanent course, and land was purchased at Makaraka in the late 1880s. The Course, including the Old Grandstand building, was completed by 1891.

Along with the track and grandstand, the Poverty Bay Herald spoke of 'several outside erections', notably a, '..totalisator building, so arranged that the exciting business can be rapidly dispatched without confusion'. Totalisator machines had been used at the Poverty Bay Turf Club since the early days, with Mackay writing that..

‘A 'tote,' borrowed from an Auckland resident named Adams, was used at one of the early Turf Club meetings. It was 5 feet long and 3 feet high, and was manipulated by a handle. The club was prepared to buy it, but a letter to the owner was returned marked 'Addressee Unknown.' Eventually the machine was sold, and the proceeds handed to the Hospital Fund. W. Stock, of Napier, operated a portable 'tote' at the meeting in February, 1882, and the investments totalled £349.'

The wooden totalisator building was replaced with a brick structure in 1920, around the time that a number of improvements were made to the course facilities. Nearly three times the size of the original building it was constructed of brick and incorporated a design departure with the machine house which was built 11 feet above the ground, and 10 feet out from the main building. This innovation was to better manage investor queues, as was the installation of a new system of queue rails.

The building was designed by the local architectural partnership of Burr & Mirfield, and the contractor was Mr. J. Colley. It took approximately nine months to build, and the Poverty Bay Turf Club spent £3000 on the totalisator building and other improvements.

On the front (north) elevation of the Makaraka Racecourse Totalisator Building two pent dormer windows with six lights each are built into the roof. Between them, and projecting beyond the facade, is a small timber structure supported by timber posts on short concrete plinths. This has a gable roof with a lean-to on the west side, weatherboard cladding and a narrow wood-slat verandah along the front. The apex of the gable is filled with vertical boards with rows of shingles below them. There are two six-light double hung windows on the east side of this, but any windows in the front have been covered over. The teller windows do not run the full length of the back (south) side of the building. In the gap are seven windows of various kinds and a vertical-board door with a six-light fanlight. Several skylights are set into the roof. The building is no longer used, and the new Totalisator is now located in the back section of the old grandstand.

The Makaraka Racecourse Totalisator Building (Former) has architectural importance as an example of the work of Burr & Mirfield, prominent local architects with a number of buildings designed by them on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) Register. It also contributes to the built environment at Makaraka Racecourse, where several heritage buildings survive, creating a rich picture of the activities and behaviours of people who attended the races in the first half of the twentieth century. It is technologically significant as a building connected to early twentieth century totalisator technology.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Burr & Mirfield

J H Burr became an Associate of the New Zealand Institute of Architects in 1905. Mirfield began his career as a clerk of works before entering into partnership with Burr in 1912.

Burr and Mirfield were responsible for many buildings in the Gisborne district including the Masonic Hotel (with Rene Natusch), the New Zealand Insurance Building, the Kaiti Memorial Church (with Clere and Williams, 1925), the Public Trust Office and some large residences in Gisborne.

Buildings designed by the Gisborne architectural practice of Burr and Mirfield - other than the Rangatira Hotel - include the New Zealand Insurance Building (1915), 50 Childers Road, Gisborne (NZHPT Registration # 3553, Category II historic place); the Public Trust Building (1922), 40 Childers Road, Gisborne (NZHPT Registration # 3552, Category II historic place); a house (1925) at 233 Harris Street, Gisborne (NZHPT Registration # 3512, Category II historic place); the Kerridge House (1935), 75 The Esplanade, Gisborne (NZHPT Registration # 4421, Category I historic place); and the M. Zemba Ltd Building (1937), 63 Peel Street, Gisborne (NZHPT Registration # 3542, Category II historic place).

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1920 -

Completion Date

21st June 2010

Report Written By

Damian Skinner, Gail Henry, Linda Pattison

Information Sources

Mackay, 1949

J A Mackay, Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z, Gisborne, 1949.

Poverty Bay Herald

Poverty Bay Herald

6 Oct 1891, 21 Oct 1920

Costello and Finnegan, 1988

John Costello and Pat Finnegan, Tapestry of Turf: The History of New Zealand Racing, Auckland, Moa Publications, 1988

Other Information

A fully referenced report is available from the NZHPT Lower Northern Area 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.