University of Otago School of Mines

Union Street, Dunedin

  • University of Otago School of Mines, Dunedin. CC BY-SA 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Benchill - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Benchill. Date: 19/09/2009.
  • University of Otago School of Mines, Dunedin. CC BY-SA 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Benchill - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Benchill. Date: 19/09/2009.
  • University of Otago School of Mines, Dunedin. CC BY-SA 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Benchill - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Benchill. Date: 19/09/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4771 Date Entered 27th July 1988 Date of Effect 27th July 1988


City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Lot1 DP8790 & Lot4 DP9986 & secs 11/20 pts 1/2 10 DP1649 etc

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Otago University was opened in 1871 and is the oldest of the New Zealand universities. One of the first professors, Professor J G Black, taught metallurgy as part of his Natural Sciences courses, but in 1878 a School of Mines was established with Professor G H F Ulrich as its first director. This was the only institution in NZ which ran a university degree in mining and metallurgy. The Otago School of Mines has shown a steady progression in its reputation and influence on the world scene of mining. It began on gold mining work, but Professor Ulrich widened its scope by becoming the first serious mineralogist in Australasia. Professor Park, director until the 1930s, was a man of great personality and confidence. He attracted good students who were accepted world-wide as sound mining men. Professor G J Williams in the mid twentieth century was more scholarly and began with work on tin mineralisation in Stewart Island. He worked overseas in Spain and advised several of the big mining companies of the world. On his retirement he worked for UNESCO in Teheran.

The School of Mines was transferred to Auckland in 1960 leaving the smaller Department of Mineral Technology in the building. This department was transferred north in 1986 and the building now houses the Department of Marketing (though a rock crushing machine remains immovable in the basement).

Architectural Significance:

A part of the Gothic complex of University buildings built between 1878 and the 1920s, which constitutes a major example of nineteenth and early twentieth century gothic in New Zealand, impressive in its size and completeness.

Townscape/Landmark Significance:

An important street frontage building for the University complex.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Anscombe, Edmund

Anscombe (1874-1948) was born in Sussex and came to New Zealand as a child. He began work as a builder's apprentice in Dunedin and in 1901 went to America to study architecture. He returned to Dunedin in 1907 and designed the School of Mines building for the University of Otago. The success of this design gained him the position of architect to the University. Five of the main University buildings were designed by Anscombe, as well as Otago Girls' High School and several of Dunedin's finest commercial buildings including the Lindo Ferguson Building (1927) and the Haynes building.

Anscombe moved to Wellington about 1928 and was known for his work as the designer of the Centennial Exhibition (1939-1940). Anscombe had travelled extensively and had visited major exhibitions in Australia, Germany and America. The practice of Edmund Anscombe and Associates, Architects, had offices in the Dunedin, Wellington and Hawkes Bay districts, and Anscombe's buildings include the Vocational Centre for Disabled Servicemen, Wellington (1943), Sargent Art Gallery, Wanganui, and several blocks of flats including Anscombe Flats, 212 Oriental Parade (1937) and Franconia, 136 The Terrace (1938), both in Wellington. As well as being interested in the housing problem, Anscombe held strong views concerning the industrial advancement of New Zealand.

(See also )

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

Architectural Description (Style):

Anscombe faithfully followed the style set by Bury, which has been described as Domestic Gothic but Bury was influenced by Sir George Gilbert Scott's design for Glasgow University built in 1870. Bury improved on Scott's design with more lively gothic details.


Exterior unmodified but interior now modified for various teaching roles and more recently for the Department of Marketing.

Notable Features

The strongly designed stonework in contrasting dark grey and white stone, its association with New Zealand's only university courses in mining until 1960.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1909 -

Construction Details

Constructed of Leith Valley andesite with Oamaru stone facings and a slate roof.

Information Sources

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

J Strauchan, NZHPT Assessment Report, 1973

Stacpoole, 1976

John Stacpoole, Colonial Architecture in New Zealand, Wellington, 1976

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.