Green Lane Hospital

202-214 Green Lane West, Epsom, Auckland

  • Green Lane Hospital, Auckland. Costley Home. Image courtesy of .
    Copyright: No Known Copyright Restrictions. Taken By: Uploader - Wikimedia Commons. Date: 1/09/2008.
  • Green Lane Hospital, Auckland. Infirmary Ward for Incurables (1906-7, with 1917 upper storey addition), looking southeast.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 23/01/2010.
  • Green Lane Hospital, Auckland. Costley Home. Image courtesy of ‘Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries Record ID 1-W1621.
    Copyright: No Known Copyright Restrictions. Taken By: Unknown. Date: 1/04/1918.
  • Green Lane Hospital, Auckland. Costley Home (right) and the Infirmary Ward for Incurables straight ahead. Image courtesy of ‘Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries Record ID 1-W1622.
    Copyright: No Known Copyright Restrictions. Taken By: Unknown. Date: 1/04/1918.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4536 Date Entered 25th June 2010 Date of Effect 25th June 2010


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 1 DP 204601, Lot 3 DP 372468 (RTs NA132C/27, 293119), North Auckland Land District, and the buildings known as Green Lane Hospital thereon, and their fittings and fixtures. It includes the land beneath the structure known as the Administration Block (Building 8) but excludes the structure itself. It includes commemorative trees on the land. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Auckland Council


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 204601, Lot 3 DP 372468 (RTs NA132C/27, 293119), North Auckland Land District


Green Lane Hospital demonstrates the evolution of institutions and institutional architecture linked with charitable aid and health care in New Zealand. Starting life as the Costley Home for the Poor in 1889-90, it encompassed the addition of an Infirmary Ward for the Incurables in 1907, and after evolving into a general hospital saw the completion of a Main Building (1943) of elegant, high-rise design.

The site lies in Epsom, at the foot of Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill). Extensive fortifications at Maungakiekie have been traditionally linked with several iwi including Ngati Awa, Te Waiohua and Ngati Whatua. After colonial arrival in 1840 the area was subdivided for farming, although a portion at Green Lane was reserved for hospital purposes. With a substantial increase in the number of ageing settlers by the 1880s, this site was chosen for the construction of the Costley Home for the Aged Poor, which soon became New Zealand's largest charitable institution.

Erected in 1889-90 from a bequest by an early Auckland colonist, Edward Costley (c.1796-1883), the Home comprised an imposing brick building with separate dining rooms for each sex and large dormitories for women. Men were accommodated in detached double-ward pavilions at the rear. Removed from the temptations of urban life, residents were expected to work for their keep. The structure was designed by Auckland architect Edward Bartley, according to prototypes from the 1850s and earlier. It was opened by the colonial governor, Lord Onslow (1853-1911) in April 1890, and was part of larger complex containing other buildings and extensive grounds.

Following mounting criticism of conditions, a separate Infirmary Ward for Incurables was constructed in 1906-7. This was one of the first such buildings to be erected in New Zealand, and probably the earliest built as part of an Old People's Home. Its creation marked an important step in the linking of old age with the treatment of illness, and utilised a detached pavilion ward plan that reflected approaches to medical care promoted in Britain after the Crimean War (1854-6). Opened by the Minister of Health, George Fowlds (1860-1934), the single-storey brick building was designed by G.W. Allsop using a distinctive Queen Anne Revival style. In 1917, Allsop added a second storey of similar design, creating separate wards for men and women. A notable inmate at this time was the artist, Louis Steele (1842-1918), who had collaborated in the well-known works, 'The Arrival of the Maori in New Zealand' (1898) and 'The Burning of the Boyd' (1889).

The institution was renamed the Auckland Infirmary in 1924, reducing some of the stigma attached to recipients of its charitable aid. In 1938, the first Labour Government introduced a progressive Social Security Act, intended to create free and universal access to health care. Converted to a general facility known as Green Lane Hospital in 1942, the complex soon saw the completion of a six-storey Main Building, opened by the Prime Minister Peter Fraser (1884-1950), who had also played an important role in the new reforms. The concrete structure incorporated cantilevered balconies, and held wards containing no more than six beds. Its Functionalist design by architect Raymond Farrell reflected the forward-looking nature of the reforms, notions of cleanness and efficiency, and an increasing reliance on new technology in medicine. It was built by Fletcher Construction Company on a non-profit basis due to shortages created by the Second World War (1939-45).

Important medical practitioners have been associated with the hospital, including James Newman (1903-1983), known as the father of geriatric medicine in New Zealand. The institution became internationally renowned for heart surgery under Douglas Robb (1899-1974) and Brian Barratt-Boyes (1924-2006), seeing the first open heart operation in the country in 1958, and only the second heart valve replacement in the world (1962). Subsequent expansion resulted in the demolition of buildings to the south of the main Costley Home structure, including its associated male dormitories. The Costley Home building and Infirmary Ward are currently (2010) empty, while the Main Building remains in use as part of the Greenlane Clinical Centre.

Green Lane Hospital has aesthetic value for aspects of its appearance, including its elegant 1943 Main Building. It is architecturally significant for encompassing the centrepiece of the largest Home for the Aged Poor in nineteenth-century New Zealand, the earliest surviving purpose-built Infirmary Ward for Incurables in the North Island, and a notable New Zealand hospital of Inter-War Functionalist style. The place has cultural and social value for demonstrating attitudes to old age, poverty and infirmity, and as a place where the elderly and others have been assisted over a period of 120 years. It has historical significance for its connections with the history of health and welfare in New Zealand, and scientific value for its close association with major medical breakthroughs, and changing medical beliefs about treatment and cure.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The place has considerable significance for its connections with the history of health and welfare in New Zealand, and in particular the effects of the Hospitals and Charitable Institutions Act (1885), scrutiny over the affairs of the Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board by Royal Commissions at the time of the first Liberal Government, and major welfare reforms introduced by the first Labour Government through the Social Security Act 1938. It clearly demonstrates the shift from charitable aid to state welfare during this period.

It has strong connections with the affairs of the Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, which set up the Costley Home soon after its formation and was responsible for administering services in the Auckland region for a lengthy period of time.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

The place has aesthetic value for aspects of its appearance, including its 1943 Main Building which was praised at its opening and subsequently for the beauty of its design. Both the Costley Home for the Aged Poor and the Infirmary Ward for Incurables contain decorative elements that provide them with some aesthetic significance.

Architectural Significance or Value

The place has high architectural value for demonstrating the development of institutional buildings for the care of the elderly and infirm from the late nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. It has particular significance for encompassing the centrepiece of what was the largest Home for the Aged Poor in nineteenth-century New Zealand, the earliest surviving purpose-built Infirmary Ward for Incurables in the North Island, and a notable New Zealand example of an Inter-War Functionalist style popular in Australia and elsewhere for hospital construction.

It has architectural value for incorporating significant early institutional works by the noted Auckland architect Edward Bartley, and his replacement as architect to the Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, G.W. Allsop. Both architects erected numerous works for the Board, many of which have since been demolished.

Scientific Significance or Value

The place has high scientific significance for its close association with major medical breakthroughs, notably the first open heart surgery in New Zealand (1958) and the second operation internationally to replace a heart valve (1962). It also demonstrates changes in beliefs about treatment and cure over the past 120 years, for example regarding the benefits of ventilation.

Social Significance or Value

Green Lane Hospital has high social significance as a place of assistance and care for the elderly and others over a period of 120 years. In the late nineteenth century, it was the largest benevolent institution in the country. It has catered for individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including the destitute, single mothers and the incurably ill. As a public hospital, it has continued to provide an important social service across the Auckland region, treating a large number of people from different social classes and cultural origins.

Green Lane Hospital also has high social significance as a rare example of an institution in the Auckland region that can demonstrate social attitudes to old age, poverty and infirmity from the late nineteenth century onwards. Its location and configuration indicate views about the 'corrupting' influences of town, the desirability of segregating the sexes, and other moral requirements demanded of the 'deserving poor' in the late colonial period. In conjunction with Carrington Hospital and Mt Eden Prison, the place is one of an important group of surviving colonial complexes that collectively reflect colonial attitudes to ‘the mad, the bad and the sad' in the most populous part of the North Island.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

The place has outstanding significance for its ability to demonstrate the development of institutionalised care for the elderly and the infirm from the late nineteenth to the mid twentieth centuries, itself indicative of broader changes in society. The Costley Home reflects an early stage in the growth of institutionalised care for the elderly poor; the Infirmary Ward for Incurables marks an important step in connections being made between old age and illness; and the Main Building demonstrates the emergence of a welfare system that promoted free and universal health care. The structures also reflect significant shifts from charitable aid to state-funded assistance during this period.

The place reflects responses to the generational ageing of early colonial settlers in New Zealand, and Auckland's situation as having the largest number of over 65's in the country during the late nineteenth century. It can be seen to represent a major development in the growth of care for the elderly in Auckland and beyond during the late colonial period.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

The place has special significance for the range of people and events of importance with which it is associated. The place has strong connections with institutions that are of importance to the Auckland region. These include the Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, the Costley Home for the Aged, the Auckland Infirmary and the Green Lane Hospital. It has links with a number of prominent politicians, including the reforming Premiers and ministers Richard Seddon, Peter Fraser and George Fowlds. It is also connected with the colonial governor Lord Onslow, whose maiden speech in New Zealand is said to have occurred at the ceremony marking the laying of the foundation stone for the Costley Home.

Major benefactors have included the early settler and businessman, Edward Costley, and Captain David Rough, an important early colonial official who had been Auckland's first harbourmaster, had raised the British flag at the foundation of Auckland, and had also been a witness to a signing of the Treaty of Waitangi at Tamaki in July 1840. Inmates have included the late colonial artist, Louis Steele (1842-1918), who collaborated with C.F. Goldie and Kennett Watkins in the well-known works, 'The Arrival of the Maori in New Zealand' (1898) and 'The Burning of the Boyd' (1889).

The place has particularly strong connections with important medical practitioners including the father of geriatric medicine in New Zealand, James Newman, and the notable heart surgeons, Sir Douglas Robb and Sir Brian Baratt-Boyes. Barratt-Boyes performed the first open heart surgery in New Zealand in 1958 at Green Lane, and four years later became only the second surgeon in the world to replace a heart valve. Newman was medical superintendent at Green Lane from 1959 for several years.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

The place can be considered to have strong community association, having enhanced the wellbeing of a large number of people through the provision of health care in the Auckland region since the 1940s. These associations are ongoing.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place

The place has outstanding significance for demonstrating the development of institutional architecture linked with charitable aid and health care from the late nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century. It reflects major shifts in the design of buildings of this type: from mixed-use buildings with large dormitories seen in eighteenth-century prototypes, to a pavilion of classic Nightingale Ward type linked with theories about miasma and cross-ventilation, to a large high-rise structure of Functionalist design reflecting the greater value placed on hygiene, technology and efficiency.

The place has special design significance for incorporating what was the largest Home for the Aged Poor in nineteenth-century New Zealand, the earliest surviving purpose-built ward for incurables in the North Island and probably New Zealand, and what was recognised in international literature in 1950 as ‘a fine specimen of a modern architectural conception of a hospital'. The latter building can also be regarded as a notable New Zealand example of a hospital designed in Inter-War Functionalist style.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

The place has commemorative value for reflecting the large bequest of Edward Costley, a noted early colonial settler and businessman, in its previous institutional title and in one of its surviving buildings. It also has significance for incorporating commemorative trees, such as a kauri that marks the first open heart surgery undertaken in New Zealand.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

The place can be considered to be of special significance for incorporating a rare known example of a nineteenth-century refuge or Home for the Aged Poor. Of those that have been previously identified, it appears to be the best-preserved purpose-built example.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

The place forms an important part of a significant historical and cultural landscape surrounding Maungakiekie. This landscape demonstrates the development of the Auckland Isthmus from an area of notable Maori occupation, to the site of colonial farming and other low-density activity, followed by increasing urbanisation through extensive residential development and related settlement. The place is important for demonstrating connections in the late nineteenth-century and later landscape between health, open space and recreation. Located next to Cornwall Park, it is part of a larger landscape shaped by colonial charity and civic munificence. Its significance as part of the broader landscape is enhanced by being a local landmark.


It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place because of its ability to demonstrate the development of institutionalised care for the elderly and the infirm from the late nineteenth to the mid twentieth centuries; for the range of people and events of importance with which it is associated; for demonstrating the development of institutional architecture linked with charity and health care from the late nineteenth to the mid twentieth centuries (including the largest Home for the Aged Poor in nineteenth-century New Zealand, the earliest surviving purpose-built ward for incurables in the North Island and probably New Zealand, and a notable New Zealand example of a hospital designed in Inter-War Functionalist style); and for incorporating a rare known example of a nineteenth-century refuge or Home for the Aged Poor.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Bartley, Edward

Edward Bartley was born in Jersey in 1839, and educated in the Channel Islands where he learned techniques of the building trade from his father, an architect and builder.

Bartley immigrated to New Zealand with his elder brother Robert, also an architect, while still in his teens. They eventually settled in Devonport, Auckland. Initially Edward was in the building trade but later he practised solely as an architect. He was at one time vice-president of the Auckland Institute of Architects and was also Diocesan Architect for the Church of England.

Amongst Bartley's most notable works were his ecclesiastical buildings including St John's Church, Ponsonby (1881), St David's Church, Symonds Street (1880), Holy Trinity Church, Devonport, and the Synagogue (1884). He was also responsible for the Opera House (1884) and Auckland Savings Bank, Queen Street (1884).

Fletcher Construction Company

Fletcher Construction Company was founded by Scottish-born James Fletcher (1886 - 1974), the son of a builder. Six months after his arrival in Dunedin in 1908, Fletcher formed a house-building partnership with Bert Morris. They soon moved into larger-scale construction work, building the St Kilda Town Hall (1911), and the main dormitory block and Ross Chapel at Knox College (1912). Fletcher's brothers, William, Andrew and John joined the business in 1911, which then became known as Fletcher Brothers. A branch was opened in Invercargill.

While holidaying in Auckland in 1916, James tendered for the construction of the the Auckland City Markets. By 1919 the company, then known as Fletcher Construction, was firmly established in Auckland and Wellington. Notable landmarks constructed by the company during the Depression included the Auckland University College Arts Building (completed 1926); Landmark House (the former Auckland Electric Power Board Building, 1927); Auckland Civic Theatre (1929); the Chateau Tongariro (1929); and the Dominion Museum, Wellington (1934).

Prior to the election of the first Labour Government, Fletcher (a Reform supporter) had advised the Labour Party on housing policy as hbe believed in large-scale planning and in the inter-dependence of government and business. However, he declined an approach by Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage in December 1935 to sell the company to the government, when the latter wanted to ensure the large-scale production of rental state housing. Although Fletchers ultimately went on to build many of New Zealand's state houses, for several years Residential Construction Ltd (the subsidiary established to undertake their construction) sustained heavy financial losses.

Fletcher Construction became a public company, Fletcher Holdings, in 1940. Already Fletchers' interests were wide ranging: brickyards, engineering shops, joinery factories, marble quarries, structural steel plants and other enterprises had been added the original construction firm. Further expansion could only be undertaken with outside capital.

During the Second World War James Fletcher, having retired as chairman of Fletcher Holdings, was seconded to the newly created position of Commissioner of State Construction which he held during 1942 and 1943. Directly responsible to Prime Minister Peter Fraser, Fletcher had almost complete control over the deployment of workers and resources. He also became the Commissioner of the Ministry of Works, set up in 1943, a position he held until December 1945.

In 1981 Fletcher Holdings; Tasman Pulp and Paper; and Challenge Corporation amalgamated to form Fletcher Challenge Ltd, at that time New Zealand's largest company.

Williamson Construction Company - main contract

Hutchison, W.E.

William E. Hutchison (1858-?). Builder of the Bath House at the Rotorua Government Gardens. Had a large Auckland construction firm, they built large contracts in the Auckland area. Possible builder of Auckland Grammar School Janitor’s House (Record no. 4532).

Farrell, Raymond Leslie

Raymond Leslie Farrell was born in Auckland in 1894, and educated at Auckland Grammar School. After qualifying as an architect from Auckland University College, he went into partnership with his father John Farrell as part of the firm J. Farrell and Son, which later became Farrell, Son and Glover.

By 1923, Ray Farrell was assisting his father in work for the Auckland Education Board, to which Farrell senior had been appointed architect in 1907. From 1925, John Farrell and Son were also associated with the Auckland Hospital Board. As well as designing institutional buildings, the firm and its successor were responsible for several commercial premises in Auckland. These included a factory for J. Bell and Company in Ponsonby Road (1926) and an addition to the nineteenth-century Queens Head Hotel in Queen Street (1929). New structures to the firm's design included the Astor Hotel in Upper Symonds Street (circa 1930).

Ray Farrell was appointed architect to the Auckland Hospital Board in 1938, and was subsequently responsible for the construction of the Main Building at Green Lane Hospital (1941-3), which adopted a striking Functionalist design. Farrell resigned his post in 1948 due to ill-health, but continued to be a consultant to the Board. He died in 1955.

Facer and Co.

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Matthews, E. A.

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Holland, James (J. J.)

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early history of the site

Green Lane Hospital lies at the foot of Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill), the site of a large pa occupied for several centuries prior to colonial arrival. According to one perspective, a community was established on the hill at some time between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries by Ngati Awa chief Titahi and his people, who had migrated to the area from Northland. By the early eighteenth century Maungakiekie was the domain of Te Waiohua, whose leader Kiwi Tamaki increased its defensive capabilities. The Auckland isthmus was subsequently conquered by Ngati Whatua, after which Te Taou chief Tuperiri is said to have built a new pa on the site which he renamed Hikurangi. Tuperiri is stated to have still been in residence in the 1790s.

Following the founding of Auckland as colonial capital in 1840, the British Crown obtained land around Maungakiekie in 1841. Although much of the surrounding area was subdivided and sold for private farms, approximately three hectares (seven and a quarter acres) at Green Lane was set aside by the Crown in 1850-1 for hospital purposes. Auckland's first public hospital had been founded a few years previously in the Auckland Domain as part of the earliest wave of state-financed institutions of this type. In the absence of other facilities, such hospitals cared for the elderly poor and others in need of assistance, as well as strictly medical cases.

In 1885, pressure on these institutions provided impetus to the passing of the Hospitals and Charitable Institutions Act, which established a colonial version of the British Poor Law administered by a network of local Hospital and Charitable Aid Boards. This consolidated patchy arrangements for poor relief into a national system. In 1886, the land at Green Lane was transferred to the new Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, and subsequently used for the construction of a Home for the Aged Poor. The number of destitute elderly had grown significantly as a result of the generational ageing of early Pakeha pioneers without family to support them, and was exacerbated by the onset of a national economic depression that affected Auckland from the mid 1880s. Until the end of the century Auckland Province had the largest number of over 65s in the country, and was obliged to make provisions at an early stage.

Construction of the Costley Home for the Aged Poor (1889-90)

Prior to the construction of the new Home in 1889-90, few refuges for the elderly existed in New Zealand, and most of those that did were adapted from earlier structures or housed a variety of destitute or homeless inmates. Statistics in 1885 record refuges in only five settlements in the colony, although the list excludes at least one casual shelter. In Auckland, elderly individuals had continued to be accommodated in rundown buildings in the Auckland Hospital grounds. Created at an early stage in the expansion of an institutional approach to welfare during the 1890s and 1900s, the Board's new Home can be seen to represent a major development in the growth of care for the elderly in Auckland and beyond.

Occupying land next to John Logan Campbell's farm at Epsom, the site had previously been used as a market garden and lay close to the main road between Auckland and Onehunga, the two main settlements in the Auckland Isthmus. The use of rural or semi-rural locations for institutions for the elderly was encouraged by government officials, who believed that inmates should be away from the 'corrupting' influences of town and in a place where moral character could be built through physical work such as cultivation. In this respect, approaches to caring for the elderly poor were similar to those for other groups perceived as problematic, with reformatories, industrial schools and psychiatric institutions often being erected on comparable sites. When the Board announced the winner of a design competition for a new Home in 1886, its choice was criticised by some for looking too much like a prison.

The Board subsequently requested Edward Bartley, a notable Auckland architect, to undertake a new design. Bartley had previously worked on a variety of commissions, including ecclesiastical buildings, factories and residences. In 1886-7 he was responsible for the construction of a new charitable structure in central Auckland, the Sailors' Home. In early 1889, he produced a design for the Home at Green Lane which contributed to his appointment as architect to the Board, a position he retained until 1906. Along with his work on the Sailors' Home, the Green Lane project was the first of many hospital- and welfare-related commissions that he undertook in the region. These included the Costley Children's Hospital (1898), hospitals at Whangarei and Waihi (1900 and 1902), the Infectious Diseases Hospital (1906) and the Jubilee Home for the Blind (1906).

Bartley's design was for an imposing two-storey polychrome brick building with a central projection, flanking wings and double-height verandahs. Its main entrance incorporated a portico with Corinthian columns surmounted by ornamental balustrading. The design combined eighteenth-century institutional architecture with more recent hospital forms. Like early institutional approaches, its main structure incorporated a central lobby and large flanking rooms. At the rear, however, it contained several double-ward pavilions of single-storey height, connected to the main building by a covered passageway. Developed to improve ventilation or to alleviate the pressure of patient numbers, double-wards had become popular in British hospitals by the 1850s and have been seen as a transitional form between corridor and full pavilion plans.

In April 1889, a foundation stone for the new structure was laid by the incoming colonial governor, Lord Onslow (1853-1911), in what was claimed to be his maiden speech in the colony. A year later, he formally opened the building. Construction was funded from a large bequest by an early Auckland resident and businessman, Edward Costley (c.1796-1883), who had specified that his fortune should also be used to benefit other charitable institutions in Auckland, including the Auckland Hospital, the Parnell Orphan Home, the Auckland Free Public Library and the Sailors' Home. Costley's actions were extensively praised by Lord Onslow and others at the opening, reflecting the prevailing view in governing circles that individual charity should supplement state assistance. His benevolence was also physically enshrined in the institution, with the words 'Costley Home for the Aged Poor' being carved above its main door. The builders included E.A. Matthews, who had submitted a tender of £7,297 for its construction, and J.J. (James) Holland, a future mayor of Auckland, who was subsequently credited as its contractor.

The Home was evidently intended to house up to 142 men and 100 women, greater than the largest previous charitable institution in New Zealand - the Otago Benevolent Institution. The ratio of male and female beds reflected the composition of the elderly population, which was approximately 60 percent male. In the main building the sexes were segregated, with a central vestibule in the downstairs area separating a men's dining room and office to the east from a women's dining room, female dormitory and reception room to the west. Both dining areas were serviced by a kitchen, store room and fenced yard at the rear. Upstairs, there were three more female dormitories, several bathrooms, and rooms for the manager and matron. The male dormitories and facilities were in three sets of double-wards at the rear.

The main structure formed part of a larger complex, which incorporated a washhouse and laundry, morgue, straw room, small cancer ward and refractory ‘for the accommodation of inmates who are insubordinate, as well as those who are accustomed to ramble out in the highways in quest of treble XXX'. An open courtyard to the north of the main building contained a circular carriageway, a stone boundary wall and timber gates, presenting a formal entrance from Green Lane. Other features included a carriageway to the rear and a large vegetable garden. Extensive grounds were planted with grass and ornamental trees.

Although the institution was primarily for elderly residents, at least one young patient with brain disease was accepted. Lying-in rooms were also soon added in the main structure for single or poor married women, who were occasionally admitted for childbirth. Inmates were expected to work, with men growing produce for the home and women carrying out sewing and other duties. Washing for the home and other institutions was also carried out in the laundry. A piggery close to the main building raised proceeds to subsidise the Home.

Residents appear to have come from a variety of backgrounds. One early inmate, Sir Charles Burdett (1835-1892), is said to have been a member of the British aristocracy who had served as a captain in the third New Zealand - or Waikato - War (1863-4). In 1888, Burdett had become a cause celebre in the national and international press after being sentenced to fourteen days hard labour for taking two roses from Albert Park. Later residents are reported to have included several members of the 65th Regiment or ‘Royal Bengal Tigers', which operated in New Zealand between 1846 and 1865. At least two individuals held campaign medals for service during the New Zealand Wars. Women whose stories were highlighted in local newspapers included Alice Kay, believed to have been about 100 years old.

During the 1890s the site was enlarged through land acquisition, and further structures were erected including a brick church in 1898 (later demolished). An average number of 190 residents were cared for by just five staff, which included the manager and matron. Although the famous English contralto Madame Patey (1842-1894) sang for inmates in 1891, accusations of ill-treatment began in the same year. By 1902, conditions were sufficiently bad to draw criticism from one of Onslow's successors, colonial governor Lord Ranfurly (1856-1933), who stated that workhouses in Britain were better in many respects.

In 1903, a Royal Commission into the Home's affairs blamed the Board for unhygienic conditions, the presence of mentally deranged inmates and drunkenness among staff, and recommended a complete reorganisation of the institution's system of control and management. Further criticism came from the Premier, Richard Seddon (1845-1906), who subsequently visited the home in December 1905. As leader of the ruling Liberal Government, Seddon had introduced the first non-contributory state pension for civilians in 1898, reflecting a mood for greater social justice for the elderly and other disadvantaged groups during the 1890s and early 1900s.

Construction of the Infirmary Ward for Incurables (1906-7)

The Board responded to this criticism, and to more extensive concern expressed by a Royal Commission into its running of the Auckland Hospital, by improving facilities at the Home. In 1904, a new kitchen block designed by Bartley was erected. More significantly, the Board also commissioned designs for an Infirmary Ward for Incurables at the site. Such a structure was apparently intended to improve conditions at both the Costley Home and the hospital by facilitating access to medical attention for the aged infirm at the former and separating terminally ill patients from acute cases at the latter. It would also relieve overcrowding at both institutions.

Plans were initially produced by Edward Bartley although the final design was by G.W. Allsop, who had replaced Bartley as the Board's architect as part of a fresh approach. The building was to be a single-storey brick structure of detached pavilion type, with a central entrance, cupola and short towers at each corner. Separate pavilion wards had become standard in British hospitals from the 1860s after observations during the Crimean War (1854-6) by Florence Nightingale and others emphasised the importance of ventilation in the treatment of the infirm. Separate pavilion or ‘Nightingale' wards consisted of long, narrow structures with rows of beds and windows along each extended wall to capitalise on the perceived benefits of cross-ventilation.

Initially promoted as more medically effective, pavilions are considered to have remained a dominant architectural form for hospitals and related structures until the early twentieth century partly because they reinforced the emerging professionalisation of both medical employees and architects. Shortly after construction work had started, Allsop embarked on a tour to study the construction and equipment of hospitals in Australia and New Zealand, and was to specialise in the design of such structures during his subsequent career. His design for the Infirmary Ward employed a Queen Anne Revival style, which fused the building's institutional form with visual features used more commonly in contemporary domestic architecture, such as ‘half-timbering'. In Britain, Queen Anne Revival had been used for at least one Home for Incurables (Jaffray Suburban Hospital, Birmingham, 1885) and was sometimes employed to produce hospitals with a less institutional appearance.

The building's foundation stone was laid by the Minister for Education and Public Health, George Fowlds (1860-1934), in November 1906. The recently appointed Fowlds was a noted overseer of health and other social reforms. Funds came both from the Board and a £500 bequest by Captain David Rough (d.1899), an important early colonial official who had been Auckland's first harbourmaster, had raised the British flag at the foundation of Auckland, and had also been a witness to a signing of the Treaty of Waitangi at Tamaki in July 1840. At an eventual cost of £5,000, the building was a substantial financial outlay, being at least twice that of contemporary cottage hospitals. The Board may have raised money by selling land elsewhere in Epsom for subdivision, contributing to the area's increasing suburbanisation.

The building was one of the earliest purpose-built institutions for incurables erected in New Zealand, and probably the first to have been erected as part of an old people's home. The only previous purpose-built Home for Incurables, the Victoria Hospital for Chronic Invalids in Wellington, was opened in April 1905 but formed part of Wellington Hospital rather than the adjacent Home for the Aged Poor. By December 1906, a small annexe for incurable cases was also operating in Invercargill. Both Fowlds and senior health officials considered the creation of such facilities in each hospital district to be essential, and preferably as part of old people's homes. Their establishment in these locations has since been seen as doing much to positively alter the nature of benevolent institutions, as well as advancing the links between illness and old age.

Fowlds opened the new building in December 1907, at a large ceremony attended by numerous dignitaries. Members of the Board were proud of the structure, emphasising its pioneering nature and declaring it to be the finest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Said to have been designed and built on the most up-to-date principles, the building contained beds for 30 patients in a large open ward with two single-bed rooms and a sunroom at one end of the structure, and a two-bed room, dispensary and scullery at the other. The sunroom was reported to be ‘where the old men may sit and smoke or read in winter time,' and the single-bed rooms were for cases requiring quietness or for patients who were dying. A newspaper report of the opening stated that ‘it has been a great fault in the hospital up to the present that there was no provision for dying cases, these patients simply being placed in a corner of the ward and screened off.'

The building's north-south orientation corresponded with that encouraged for pavilion plans in Britain, and its north-facing sunroom indicates an adaption to Southern Hemisphere conditions. The number of patients accommodated also coincided with the ideal, which was generally between 28 and 32 for a main ward. Contemporary changes to the broader complex included altering the drive in the open courtyard to accommodate the new building, which now framed its eastern side.

Greater medicalisation of care was soon underlined by the recommendation that the manager and visiting medical officer of the Home be replaced with a medical superintendent and matron. Enhanced concern about hygiene led to the earlier piggeries being removed. Separate accommodation for staff was added in the grounds, including a Nurses' Home (later demolished) to the west of the main Costley Home building in circa 1912. The Infirmary was also soon enlarged to accommodate separate wards for men and women.

This involved raising the building's roof and adding an extra storey, two flights of steps and a lift-well, as well as a two-storey verandah. The new upper floor (for men) duplicated the plan of the lower level (subsequently allocated for women). Designed by Allsop, the additions followed the Queen Anne Revival style of the original structure and were erected by Facer and Co. They were opened in November 1917 by the then chairman of the Board, M.J. Coyle, with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr C.E. Maguire, and other dignitaries attending. By 1919, the enlarged infirmary held space for 70 inmates.

Inmates during this period included the notable artist and engraver Louis Steele (1842-1918), who had painted portraits of many famous New Zealanders. Steele had also collaborated with C.F. Goldie and Kennett Watkins respectively in the well-known works, ‘The Arrival of the Maori in New Zealand' (1898) and ‘The Burning of the Boyd' (1889).

Further alterations to the complex included the construction of a separate Female Infirmary on the western side of an extended quadrangle in 1923-4 (since demolished), which mirrored the size and orientation of the earlier Infirmary Ward (subsequently known as the Male Infirmary). Larger nursing facilities (still surviving) were also erected at the rear of the complex in 1925. These changes accompanied a renaming of the institution as the Auckland Infirmary in 1924, reducing the stigma of its associations with colonial charity. The incised name ‘Costley Home for the Aged Poor' was symbolically removed from the main building and replaced with ‘Costley Wards', possibly at the same time that some alterations were made to the interior.

Containing an increasing proportion of chronically ill patients, the complex is said to have subsequently functioned more like a geriatric hospital.

Construction of the Main Building (1941-3)

More substantial changes occurred following the privations of the Great Depression and the election of the first Labour Government under Michael Joseph Savage (1872-1940). Savage had been a member of the Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board for much of the period from 1919 to 1935, maintaining an active role in its work until just before being elected to power. In 1938 he oversaw the Social Security Act, which introduced the concept of free and universal health care covering general practitioners, hospitals, and pharmaceutical and maternity services, pre-dating British moves for a National Health Service by a decade. Access to hospital care was vastly expanded with the number of hospital beds increasing nationally from 9,234 in 1938-9 to 13,780 in 1946. By the end of the Second World War (1939-45) it was claimed that New Zealand had more hospital beds per 1,000 head of population than any other country.

Although expansion had been contemplated at Auckland Hospital since at least 1930, Green Lane was preferred for growth immediately after the reforms. The foundation stone of a large new structure, the Main Building, was laid by the Governor-General Sir Cyril Newall (1886-1963) in May 1941, at which time the Board's desire to expand facilities into suburban communities was highlighted. While construction was underway, the broader complex was converted to a general hospital, renamed Green Lane Hospital in 1942. Geriatric services were eventually transferred to Cornwall Hospital in nearby Cornwall Park. The new work was intended to be part of a long-term improvement of services on the site and elsewhere in the region.

The Main Building was erected between the main Costley Home structure and the Female Infirmary, reinforcing the quadrangular arrangement of the earlier wards. The project involved the demolition of the 1898 brick chapel. Costing £175,000, the new structure was opened in February 1943 by the Prime Minister, Peter Fraser (1884-1950), who succeeded Savage. Fraser had been Minister of Health during the 1938 reforms, playing an important role in encouraging doctors to form part of the scheme.

At the time of its opening, the structure was described as the finest in New Zealand and a handsome building of imposing design. Fraser called it ‘a beautiful building' and is said to have referred to ‘the promise of the beauty of its exterior being fulfilled by the interior.' Of elongated high-rise design, the building adopted a Modern or Functionalist appearance that reflected the progressiveness of the social reforms that underpinned its existence. Six storeys high and of reinforced concrete construction, its main facades incorporated sweeping and elegant cantilevered balconies designed to allow maximum air and sunshine into the wards.

The form of the new facility reflected moves away from pavilion buildings towards more cost-effective structures incorporating numerous wards. This was due in part to a shift from theories about the importance of ventilation to those that stressed hygiene. In Australia, Inter-War Functionalism was seen as ideal for hospitals due to its emphasis on cleanness and efficiency. The building's up-to-date appearance can also be seen to have reflected an increasing emphasis on new technology in health care.

Responsibility for the building's design lay with Raymond Farrell, who had been appointed architect to the Hospital Board in 1938. It may also reflect the input or influence of the Australian firm of Stephenson and Turner, which had been taken on with Farrell to provide specialist advice on plans for the Auckland Hospital in early 1939. Stephenson and Turner had pioneered the use of functionalist modernism in Australia, particularly for hospital construction, and are considered to have revolutionised Australian hospital design. The building was erected by Fletcher Construction Company Ltd which, along with other contractors, offered its services on a non-profit basis due to the war effort. Shortages evidently caused plans to extend the balconies around the western side of the building and finish corridors in tile and net plaster to be dropped. In 1950, the international Everyman's Encyclopaedia is reported to have described the structure as ‘a fine specimen of a modern architectural conception of a hospital'.

The building made provision for 264 beds, which were divided among rooms containing no more than six beds each. Individual floors were treated as separate units, containing not only accommodation but also auxiliary rooms for staff work and patient activities. Auxiliary rooms on each floor included a sister's room and nurses' changing room, a kitchen, patients' day room, sink and steriliser rooms, bathroom and lavatory accommodation and a recess for patients' chairs, as well as rooms for linen, flowers and patients' clothes. According to one account, Ward 1 on the ground floor was for children, Ward 2 accommodated thoracic surgery, Ward 3 housed medicine (including cardiology), Wards 4 and 5 were for general surgery, and the top floor held quarters for resident medical officers.

The rest of the complex was reorganised, and by October 1943 the hospital held surgical patients, those with tuberculosis, and individuals with chronic disorders. The Costley Wards contained the Casualty Department and the earliest operating theatres, with the first cardiac surgery being performed there in 1944. Its upper floor still catered for female geriatrics, the only part of the complex devoted to this activity. The former Infirmary Ward was also converted to male and female wards for acute cases, a purpose it retained for thirty years.

Subsequent use and modifications

Notable medical practitioners in the general hospital included James Lister Newman (1903-1983), regarded as the father of geriatric medicine in New Zealand, who became medical superintendent at Green Lane in 1959. Under the surgeon Sir Douglas Robb (1899-1974), the cardiothoracic surgical centre gained an international reputation, subsequently advanced by Sir Brian Barratt-Boyes (1924-2006). Barratt-Boyes performed the first open heart surgery in New Zealand at Green Lane in 1958, and four years later became only the second heart surgeon in the world to replace a heart valve. Trees were planted in the quadrangle to mark the first open heart surgery and other events. In 1950, operating facilities moved from the Costley Wards to the ground floor of the Main Building.

Further expansion and reorganisation in the 1960s and 1970s involved the demolition of the early twentieth-century Nurses Home in 1964 to make way for a new Administration Block within the previous quadrangle. As well as containing the offices of the medical superintendent and matron, the purpose-built block also housed a library and the Accident and Emergency Department. Extensive redevelopment, including the creation of the National Women's Hospital, took up much of the earlier grounds to the south. In 1970, the pavilions at the rear of the Costley Wards were removed. The remainder of the Costley Wards contained cafeterias, and banking and postal services. With the demise of Cornwall Hospital, geriatric wards were created in the former Infirmary once again, incorporating an added ablution and toilet block in 1972.

In 1989, the hospital became a specialist facility. Services in the Costley Wards (now known as Building 6) and former Infirmary Ward (Building 5) have since closed, and the 1923-4 Women's Infirmary has been demolished. In 2009, a public campaign against demolition of the former Infirmary Ward resulted in it being retained. The Main Building (Building 7) remains in use as part of the Greenlane Clinical Centre and is supplemented by other multi-storey structures to the south.

Physical Description


Green Lane Hospital is located in the suburb of Epsom, to the south of Auckland city centre. It lies immediately to the northwest of Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill), and the major recreational spaces formed by Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill Domain. The latter contain extensive grassland and trees, and provide the hospital with elements of a rural or semi-rural setting. The hospital also adjoins Green Lane West, a main arterial route connecting inner suburbs to the south of Auckland with the Southern Motorway. On the opposite side of the road are the Alexandra Park racecourse and Auckland Showgrounds - a large sporting and entertainment venue respectively.

The area around the complex contains notable remnants of past activity, including the extensive remains of Maori occupation at Maungakiekie, considered to be one of the largest pa sites in the country. Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill Domain also retain elements of the early colonial landscape, including drystone walls linked with farming (such as possibly Record no. 526, Cornwall Park Stone Wall, Category II historic place) and an olive grove planted by John Logan Campbell (1817-1912). Sometimes known as the 'Father of Auckland', Campbell's early residence - and Auckland's oldest surviving building - Acacia Cottage (Record no. 525, Category I historic place), has sat in the park since the 1920s. The parkland contains several other notable historic places including the One Tree Hill Obelisk (Record no. 4601, Category I historic place), and is itself an important late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century recreational landscape. It also contains the site of Cornwall Hospital (1942-75), initially used as the US Army 39th Hospital before conversion for geriatric and other care. Alexandra Park was the home of Auckland rugby by 1900, and since then has been the base for the Auckland Trotting Club, retaining historic structures linked with this activity.

Notable houses connected with the development of Epsom as a wealthy residential suburb lie to the south of the complex. These include Marire in Claude Road, the Ker House (Former) in Emerald Street (Record no. 4534, Category II historic place) and the former Whittome House in Gardner Road.

General description and layout

Green Lane Hospital is part of a wider hospital complex lying immediately to the south of Green Lane West and a short distance to the east of Manukau Road. The broader complex encompasses the National Women's Hospital and an extensive range of other buildings. Most of the latter appear to be of comparatively recent date, although they include nursing facilities erected of brick in 1925, which were considerably expanded in the 1940s. There are several high-rise structures, including the main Greenlane Clinical Centre Building (Building 4), erected immediately to the south of the Main Building in 2003.

The site assessed for registration lies in the northeast part of the complex and occupies an approximately rectangular area. It is bounded by Green Lane West to the north, Cornwall Park to the east, the Greenlane Clinical Centre Building (Building 4) to the south, and an access road into the complex to the west. It encompasses the quadrangular area fronting Green Lane West that constituted the formal public focus of the hospital until the later part of the twentieth century.

The main structures within this area are the former Costley Home for the Aged Poor building (Building 6); the former Infirmary Ward for Incurables (Building 5); the Main Building (Building 7); and the Administration Building (Building 8). The latter reflects the ongoing development of facilities for the complex as a general hospital during the 1960s, but is excluded from the registration because insufficient information was accessed during the assessment process to recommend its inclusion at this stage. The land beneath it, however, which formed part of the earlier quadrangle, is encompassed. Lying next to Green Lane West, the buildings are visible from the road and can be considered to constitute a landmark in Auckland's modern suburban landscape.

The former Infirmary Ward is situated in the eastern part of the site with its main axis running north-south, the Costley Home structure has an east-west axis and occupies the southeast part of the area, and the Main Building is situated immediately to its west with the same axis. The area also contains the site of a former Nurses Home (circa 1912) and the demolished Female Infirmary (1922-23) in its western half, archaeological remnants of which may remain. Deposits relating to other nineteenth- and earlier twentieth-century activity may also survive, such as that linked with formal courtyard arrangements and a former water tank to the south of the Costley Home building. It is currently unclear from archaeological knowledge whether remains linked with Maori occupation of Maungakiekie extend this far northwest.

The area contains commemorative trees in its northwest corner, including a kauri planted to commemorate the first open heart surgery conducted on the site (1958). A row of pohutukawa trees line the road forming the western boundary. The eastern boundary encompasses a stone wall adjoining Cornwall Park, which appears to be of some antiquity. Much of the remainder of the land within the registration (other than that covered by the Administration Building) is under asphalt and used for car parking.

Costley Home for the Aged Poor (Building 6)

The Costley Home building consists of a main two-storey brick structure with an attached single-storey brick element to its east. The two-storey element is broadly rectangular in plan, with a central projection on its northern side. The smaller element is also rectangular in outline, although its main axis runs north-south rather than east-west. It has a short connecting section to the western wall of the main block. Both the two- and one-storey elements employ similar stylistic approaches, having gabled slate roofs, polychromatic brickwork and bands of skewed bricks at eaves level. Early external arrangements are generally well-preserved, although some changes have occurred to the main building at its east and west ends at ground floor level. A short, two-storey service extension has also been removed at the rear.


The main building draws on eighteenth-century Georgian architecture, combining this with Italianate elements popular in the late nineteenth century. The two-storey element has a strongly symmetrical main (north) facade, incorporating a projecting central bay and flanking wings with double-height return verandahs. The brickwork is predominantly yellow in colour, with bands of red brick extending horizontally across the elevation and over window openings. The windows themselves are of large double hung sash type.

The central bay is gabled and contains the main entrance to the building. The entrance shelters beneath an open portico incorporating Corinthian columns, a heavy cornice and ornamental balustrading. A band of Oamaru stone above the windows at first floor level bears the words 'Costley Wards'. The upper part of the gable incorporates an oculus, which ventilates the roof space. The flanking verandahs are broad and are supported by simple diagonal-braced posts with - possibly secondary - cast iron balustrades at first floor level. For the most part, the verandahs sheltered dining rooms and the manager and matron's night quarters rather than the inmates' dormitories in the original, late nineteenth-century arrangement.

Both the east and west facades are double-gabled at first floor level, reflecting internal divisions into front and back rooms. The rear elevation is plainer than the front, and encompasses a small projecting service block in its eastern part. A small service block to the west has been removed.

The single-storey element to the east of the main building is gabled to the north and south. Each gable has an oculus. A small, brick lean-to is attached to the south wall of the structure. The connecting element between the structure and the main building is also of brick.


Information from heritage assessments undertaken in 1999 and 2000 suggests that the early internal layout is comparatively well-preserved. The 1999 assessment states that ‘the primary composition of spaces remains generally legible and core elements such as the main entry and staircase have survived with relatively little significant loss to historic heritage fabric or meaning.' The conversion of the ground floor of the eastern wing into a large room for a men's dining area probably dates to the 1920s. Most other divisions, with the exception of the nineteenth-century kitchen area and manager and matron's day quarters, appear to survive. It has been noted that ‘the building retains much of the character of a Victorian institutional building in its simplicity and robustness of design...' Features pictured in the assessments include a large central staircase, and light fittings and radiators (some marked ‘The Hospital', as also noted in the 1926 Wallace Block at Auckland Hospital). The latter mark the layout of beds in earlier phases of the building's use.

Infirmary Ward for Incurables (Building 5)

The Infirmary Ward for Incurables is a two-storey brick structure with a slate roof. It is long and narrow in plan, with square towers at each corner. It incorporates a central projection with a main entrance and porch midway along its long western side, and a recent two-storey addition extending eastwards midway along its corresponding east elevation. Much of the building's 1917 appearance is retained.

Apart from recent additions, the building is of Queen Anne Revival style with exposed timber framing or ‘half-timbering' in the upper parts of its porch, central projection and each tower. The slate roof incorporates other ornamental elements that are linked with Queen Anne style, including terracotta ridge tiles. Further embellishments include a central cupola, and belled hipped roofs to each tower. Some of the tower roofs retain cast iron cresting.


The main (west) façade retains much of its 1917 appearance, with a gabled central projection incorporating an attached porch capped by ornamental terracotta cresting. Rows of tall, narrow windows pierce the main wall of the elevation at both levels, reflecting theories about the medical benefits of cross-ventilation. A double height verandah extends between the projection and the northwest tower, and has been partly enclosed. Other alterations include a narrow concrete lift tower against the south wall of the projection. The north elevation includes a shallow bay with large windows for sunrooms at both levels. The main roof at this end terminates in a gable above the bay.

The east elevation is similar to the west elevation in its window and verandah details. Part of the verandah has been enclosed. A 1917 projecting element has been demolished and replaced by a recent addition of plain rectangular design. The south elevation incorporates a narrow projecting bay containing a stairwell. A small lean-to has been added in the angle between this bay and the southeast tower.


A report on the structure prepared in 2008 indicates that most of the basic layout elements created in 1907 and 1917 remain. At ground floor level, partitions have been added on either side of the central entrance and against the east wall of the southern part of the building to create small rooms. Other partitions have been added in rooms at the base of each tower at the south end. However, the general arrangement of a large main ward with small rooms at either end remains in the surviving fabric. The 1972, east wing is divided into small rooms accessed from a central corridor.

The upper storey is reached from staircases in the central projection and a stairwell at the south end of the building. Like the ground floor, the first floor interior has been partly partitioned into smaller rooms but the fabric of an identical arrangement of that on the lower storey remains. Arrangements on the first floor of the 1972 addition are similar to those on the ground floor.

Main Building (Building 7)

The Main Building is a large six-storey structure of reinforced concrete construction with a sleek, smooth-rendered finish and a flat roof. It is of Modern or Functionalist design, incorporating strong horizontal lines reinforced by cantilevered balconies and rows of metal-framed windows. The building is broadly rectangular in plan, but asymmetrical massing is provided by a slight forward projection at the eastern end of its north facade. Comparisons with images taken at the time of construction suggest that the main facades are well-preserved. Connections to adjoining buildings have been added at ground floor level on some elevations.


The main (north) façade incorporates visually distinctive cantilevered balconies at each level, which terminate in rounded corners at both ends of the elevation. Large windows pierce the facade, with differences in design providing variety to the composition. The forward projection at its east end incorporates the main entrance. The east and west elevations have moderately sized steel-framed windows, with those in the east wall giving way to smaller apertures towards the southern end.


No internal inspection has been carried out and no plans have been accessed other than a floor plan dating to the late 1940s or 1950s which shows part of the entrance lobby flanked by offices on its eastern side.


Homes for the Aged Poor

Few public refuges for the elderly poor existed prior to the late 1880s. Of the examples that were associated with hospitals, one at New Plymouth survives (The Gables, Record no.29, Category I historic place). Erected in 1848, this building was converted for use as a home for old men in 1880. Shortly after this use ceased in 1903, it was relocated away from its original site. Pre-1885 refuges in Auckland were removed soon after the Costley Home was built.

A greater number of homes were built after the introduction of the Hospitals and Charitable Institutions Act in 1885, although totals were still not large: twenty were in existence in 1920. Part of an early example survives at Woolston in Christchurch (Jubilee Hospital Complex - formerly the Queen Victoria Jubilee Memorial Home - Record no.7337, Category I historic place). Erected just before the Costley Home in 1888, this was of Arts and Crafts design and contained an octagonal accommodation block. Most of the associated buildings, including the accommodation block, have been dismantled or demolished. The largest benevolent institution in New Zealand prior to the 1890s - the Otago Benevolent Institution - also no longer survives. Dating to 1900-1, a slightly later Home for the Aged remains in Carterton (Carter Home, Record no.7663, Category I historic place). This is a well-preserved example of a smaller home, catering for between seven and ten inmates during its early years.

The Costley Home represents the centrepiece of the largest Home for the Aged Poor in nineteenth-century New Zealand, and is one of very few to survive more generally from this period. It is the only Home of this type in Auckland, and along with the Carrington Hospital (Record no.96, Category I historic place) and Mt Eden Prison (Record no.88, Category I historic place) forms one of an important trio of colonial institutions demonstrating attitudes to ‘the mad, the bad and the sad' in the most populous part of the North Island.

Infirmary Wards for Incurables

The only earlier Ward for Incurables in the North Island was located in Wellington, and has since been demolished. Only one other structure, an annexe in Invercargill (1906), is known to have been in use as a home for incurables before the ward at the Costley Home was completed. The example at Green Lane Hospital is the oldest surviving purpose-built Infirmary Ward for Incurables in the North Island and probably also in New Zealand. It is believed to have been the earliest such facility erected as part of an old people's institution, an arrangement promoted as the ideal situation by early twentieth-century Government health officials.

Functionalism and high-rise hospital blocks

Early or notable examples of large high-rise hospital blocks that emerged in Europe include the Beaujon Hospital at Clichy, France (1935) and Westminster Hospital in London (1939). Following the realisation that cross-ventilation would not kill germs, Modernism or Functionalism was seen as a vehicle for expressing the change from pavilion to multi-storey hospital architecture in Europe and elsewhere. In a British context, the Royal Masonic Hospital in London (1931) is said to have been pivotal in the adoption of Modernist design for hospitals in the Inter-War years, and was built with large windows, balconies and a streamlined style. In Finland, the innovative Paimio Sanatorium (1930-33), designed by Alvar Aalto, combined a striking Functionalist design incorporating prominent balconies with the concept of a high-rise medical building.

In Australia, a strong association between Inter-war Functionalism or Modernism and hospital construction has been identified. Functionalist designs were adopted for such notable structures as the Mercy Hospital in East Melbourne (circa 1934), the General Hospital at Townsville, Queensland (circa 1935) and the King George V Hospital at Camperdown, NSW (1939-41). Like the Main Building at Green Lane these buildings were at least five or six storeys in height and incorporated long, horizontal and round-ended balconies.

The link between Functionalism and hospitals was particularly close as a result of the activities of the Melbourne-based architectural firm of Stephenson and Meldrum, known as Stephenson and Turner from 1937. Strongly defined horizontal balconies with curves at particular points have been described as the defining element in Stephenson and Turner's shift to modernism during the 1930s. It has been stated that ‘characterised by long curved balconies ribboned across the facades, their hospital designs of the 1930s brought modernism and medicine to the people.' When the firm built the Royal Melbourne Hospital (1936-42), however, a more simple approach was taken with the trademark balconies only appearing on parts of the north façade. In the post-war period, a declining emphasis was placed on balcony construction as the medical community lost its faith in the healing abilities of fresh air and sunlight.

In New Zealand, Georgian Revival rather than Functionalism was adopted for the 1930s hospital buildings at Southland Hospital in Invercargill (Record no. 7747, Category I historic place). Plans for structures of more modern design at Auckland and Wellington Hospitals in the 1930s, including some prepared by Stephenson and Turner, were never built. In 1952-9, a building designed in 1946 was erected at Princess Margaret Hospital, Christchurch. This incorporated short lengths of balcony within the main body of the structure, reflecting a more constrained use of such features. It seems likely that the Main Building at Green Lane Hospital can be considered a notable New Zealand example of an Inter-War Functionalist style that was popular in Australia and elsewhere for hospital construction.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1889 - 1890
Costley Home for the Aged Poor - Bartley

Original Construction
1898 -
Chapel erected

Original Construction
1904 -
Kitchen block - Bartley

Original Construction
1906 - 1907
Infirmary Ward for Incurables - Allsop

Original Construction
1912 -
Nurses Home erected

1917 -
A further storey to the Infirmary Ward for Incurables - Allsop

Original Construction
1923 - 1924
Female Infirmary erected

Alterations to the Costley Home, including addition of some partitions and connection of main building to 1904 kitchen block - Allsop

Demolished - Other
1941 -
Chapel demolished

Original Construction
1941 - 1943
Main Building - Farrell

1949 -
Concrete lift well erected against south wall of central projection of Infirmary Ward.

1964 -
Nurses Home demolished

Demolished - Other
1970 -
Double-wards to the south of the Costley Home for the Aged Poor removed

1972 -
East extension added to the Infirmary Ward for Incurables

Demolished - Other
2005 -
Female Infirmary demolished

Construction Details

Brick, with slate roof (Costley Home for the Aged Poor)

Brick, with slate roof (Infirmary Ward for the Incurables)

Reinforced concrete (Main Building)

Completion Date

13th June 2010

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Hodgson, 1992

T. Hodgson, The Heart of Colonial Auckland 1865-1910, Random Century NZ Ltd, Auckland 1992

Tennant, 1989

Margaret Tennant, Paupers and Providers: Charitable Aid in New Zealand, Wellington, 1989

Brown, 1994

Margaret Brown, Diana Masters and Barbara Smith, Nurses of Auckland: The History of the General Nursing Programme in the Auckland School of Nursing, Auckland, 1994

Dow, 1995

D. Dow, Safeguarding the Public Health: A History of the New Zealand Health Department, Wellington, 1995

Dow, 2005

D. Dow, Auckland's Hospitals: A Pictorial History 1847-2004, Auckland, [2005]

Hutchinson, 1990

B R Hutchinson (ed.), Green Lane Hospital: The First Hundred Years, Auckland, 1990

Roche, 1983

E H Roche and A H G Roche, Green Lane Saga: A Record of Green Lane Hospital, Auckland in the Development of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Auckland, 1983

Sommerville, 1919

Harold A Sommerville, Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board: A History of its Buildings and Endowments, Auckland, 1919

Taylor, 1991 (2)

J Taylor, Hospital and Asylum Architecture in England 1840-1914: Building for Health Care, London, 1991

Tennant, 2007

Margaret Tennant, The Fabric of Social Welfare: Voluntary Organisations, Government and Welfare in New Zealand, 1840-2005, Wellington, 2007

Bartley, 2006

M W Bartley, Colonial Architect, The Career of Edward Bartley 1839-1919, Wellington, 2006

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region 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.