Wharf Police Building

102 Quay Street, Britomart Place And Tyler Street, Auckland

  • Wharf Police Building (aka Brew on Quay), 102 Quay St, Auckland. Image courtesy of ‘Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries Record ID 1477-2511.
    Copyright: Auckland Libraries . Taken By: Brian Cairns. Date: 9/12/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4575 Date Entered 27th July 1988 Date of Effect 27th July 1988


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 366067 (RT 485302), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as the Wharf Police Building thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.

City/District Council

Auckland Council


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 366067 (RT 485302), North Auckland Land District


This building is an important remnant of Auckland's industrial and commercial history, and of the town's role as the only producer of refined sugar in New Zealand. Surviving in a remarkably intact condition, the single-storey structure was erected as the head office of the New Zealand branch of the Colonial Sugar Refining (CSR) Company in 1903, on newly reclaimed land between the docks and railway line. The Australian-based company had established their only industrial works in the country, now known as the Chelsea Sugar Refinery, on the other side of the Waitemata Harbour in 1884. The refinery processed cane sugar from Fiji and elsewhere, producing finished products such as refined sugar, treacle and molasses. Many of these goods were transported across the harbour to Auckland, and stored in the CSR Company Building for further distribution.

The building was designed by the architect Charles Arnold in conjunction with the CSR Company headquarters in Sydney, and was constructed largely of brick. The Australian origins of the parent company are reflected in the use of Sydney sandstone for ornamental detail. The layout initially included rooms for a manager and accountant at the front, while a sugar store and enclosed yard were located to the rear. Sugar was brought across from the refinery three times a day in lighters for temporary safekeeping in the compound, before being distributed via a cart entrance in its eastern wall. Virtually all of its original internal features still survive, including unusual elements such as an ornately carved front counter. The building's function became redundant with the construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in the late 1950s, when road distribution was carried out directly from the refinery. Vacated by the CSR Company in 1960, the office was subsequently occupied by the wharf police, who installed cells. The police vacated the building in the 1990s, and it has since been in occasional use as a commercial office.

The Wharf Police, or CSR Company, building is significant for its links with the colonial sugar industry, and is the only known early twentieth-century office with such connections in New Zealand. The sugar industry had a major impact on nineteenth-century settlement in the Pacific, and formed an important part of colonial trade. The building reflects New Zealand's developing role as a processor of raw materials from other countries, and its connection with Australian industries. The structure is important as part of a wider historic land- and waterscape, with the CSR Company refinery and grounds surviving as industrial sites across the Waitemata Harbour. The building interior is extremely significant for its well-preserved nature, offering insights into the organisation and appearance of the early twentieth century workplace. Its use as a wharf police station is of value to the history of law and order, reflecting the continuing use and importance of Auckland as a commercial port.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Arnold, Charles

Charles Le Neve Arnold

The Campbell Free Kindergarten is the work of a noted Auckland architect, Charles Le Neve Arnold, who was involved in the development of the Arts and Crafts movement in New Zealand. He had joined the Auckland Institute of Architects in 1885. In 1886, Arnold supervised the erection of St Mary's Church in Parnell. He designed a number of important works over the coming years including the Mackelvie annexe to the Auckland City Council building (1892), the Admiralty House (1901), Great Northern Brewery, Colonial Sugar Refining Company Office (1903), Auckland Chamber of Commerce (1903) and the Ante-park at Cornwall Park (1903). He later formed a partnership with Mr Atkinson Abbott and this partnership was responsible for such notable designs as the Dilworth Ulster Institute (1916), the Auckland Grammar School (1913) and the Kings College Memorial Chapel (1922). Arnold died in 1955 at the age of 100.

Arnold established a relationship with John Logan Campbell in the early years of the twentieth century when he was appointed architect to the Cornwall Park Trust Board. In 1903 he designed the Ante-park at Cornwall Park which was completed in 1906. He also designed the Arts and Crafts-style Huia Lodge in Cornwall Park, which originally housed the caretaker and his wife. Campbell had a strong interest in architectural design and proved himself to be a competent amateur architect. In 1869, Campbell had personally drawn up plans for extensive alterations to his home, Logan Bank, to be built in poured concrete using a special patent process. In 1878, he designed a new home to be known as Kilbryde and sent his plans to the architectural firm of Edward Mahoney & Son where they were revised and working drawings prepared. Arnold, in his design of the Cornwall Park Ante-park, was said to have 'to a great extent carried out the desires' of Campbell. However, it is unlikely that Campbell had such a significant role in the design of the Campbell Free Kindergarten. The building was designed late in Campbell's life and at a time that his eyesight and health were failing. In June 1906 his eyesight suddenly deteriorated and he was unable to read thereafter or write anything more than his signature.

Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

Registration covers the building, its fixtures and finishes. It also includes recent modifications. The building lies on nineteenth-century reclaimed land in Commercial Bay, next to the original Britomart Point.

Construction Dates

1879 - 1885
Reclamation of land

Original Construction
1903 -
Construction of the Colonial Sugar Refinery Head Office (later known as the Wharf Police building)

1921 -
Conversion of yard to office space, and other modifications

1960 -
Installation of cells

Completion Date

12th December 2001

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Barnes, 1995

Tony Barnes, 'Wharf Police Station: Heritage Inventory', Auckland, 1995 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

Clough, 1996

Rod Clough, 'Britomart Transport Terminal Project: Archaeological Assessment, Site R11/1379', Auckland, 1996 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

Cooper, 1988 (4)

Mary Cooper and Noni Boyd, 'The Wharf Police Building, formerly the Colonial Sugar Company Refining Co. Building, 2 Quay Street, Auckland', NZHPT Buildings Classification Committee Report, Wellington, 1988 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

Salmond Architects, 1995

Salmond Architects, 'Britomart Heritage Assessment: An Analysis of Heritage Values Relating to Existing Buildings in the Britomart Development Project', Auckland, 1995 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

Other Information

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.