New Zealand Guardian Trust Building

101-107 Queen Street, Auckland

  • New Zealand Guardian Trust Building.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 31/10/2001.
  • .
  • Clock.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 623 Date Entered 19th April 1990 Date of Effect 19th April 1990


City/District Council

Auckland Council


Auckland Council

Legal description

Pt Allots 5 6 & 7 Sec 17 City of Auckland


This steel-framed structure was one of Auckland's first 'high-rise' office blocks and marks an important transition between Victorian commercial structures and modern office buildings. It was built during the First World War as the headquarters of the New Zealand Insurance Company (NZI), which had been founded by local businessmen in 1859. The NZI specialised in marine and fire insurance, and had branches throughout the British Empire, America and the Far East. By the early 1900s most of the firm's profits came from its overseas operations, and it began to rebuild many of its offices from 1909, initially in Australia and then in New Zealand.

The eight-storey structure housed head and branch office accommodation, as well a further 137 offices for let to other firms. It replaced a three-storey NZI building on the site, which had itself been considered an imposing Queen Street landmark. Designed by William Gummer, the new structure was modelled on turn-of-the-century commercial buildings in America and elsewhere, and was of Stripped Classical style. Stripped Classical adapted nineteenth-century classical architecture to the requirements of twentieth-century office blocks, which included a need for height and a large amount of natural light. The size of the new headquarters dramatically exceeded most other office structures in the city, enabling the company to project an image of solidity and wealth while generating a long-term income from rent. The building, which incorporates a clock from the earlier NZI structure on the site, was refurbished in the 1960s. After the NZI merged with the South British Insurance Company in 1982, it was renamed the New Zealand Guardian Trust Building and extended with an additional storey.

The New Zealand Guardian Trust Building is significant as the earliest remaining high-rise office block in Auckland, reflecting important changes in commercial design and the organisation of business in early twentieth-century New Zealand. It is important for its associations with the NZI, which was one of the first public companies in the country to be floated using local finance. The structure is an early example of a Stripped Classical design, and the earliest major building by William Gummer, one of the most influential architects in early twentieth-century New Zealand. It has important landmark qualities and makes a significant contribution to the Queen Street streetscape. It is valuable as one of a group of historic buildings in the Queen Street and Shortland Street area that show successive changes in commercial design and organisation from the nineteenth to the early twentieth century.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Gummer, William Henry

Gummer (1884-1966) was articled to W.A. Holman, an Auckland architect, and qualified as an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1910. From 1908 to 1913 he travelled in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. During this time he worked for Edwin Lutyens, a leading English architect of the time, and for Daniel Burnham in Chicago. Burnham was a major American architect and one of the founders of the influential Chicago School of Architecture.

Gummer joined the firm of Hoggard and Prouse of Auckland and Wellington in 1913. Significant commissions undertaken during this period included the New Zealand Insurance (later known as the Guardian Trust) Building, Auckland (1914-18).

In 1923 Gummer, one of the most outstanding architects working in New Zealand in the first half of the twentieth century, joined with Charles Reginald Ford (1880-1972) to create an architectural partnership of national significance. The practice was responsible for the design of the Dilworth Building (1926), Auckland, the Dominion Museum (1936) and the State Insurance Building (1940), both Wellington. Gummer and Ford were awarded Gold Medals by the New Zealand Institute of Architects for their designs of the Auckland Railway Station and Remuera Library.

Gummer was also responsible for the Bridge of Remembrance, Christchurch and the Cenotaph in Dunedin (1927), and the stylistically and structurally advanced Tauroa (1916), Craggy Range (1919), Arden (1926) and Te Mata (1935) homesteads at Havelock North. Elected a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Architects in 1914, he was president of the Institute from 1933-4 and was later elected a life member.

Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

Registration covers the building, its fixtures and finishes. It also includes recent modifications and extensions. The building lies on the site of nineteenth-century commercial buildings.

Construction Dates

Site of first NZI building

Original Construction
1914 - 1918
Construction of second New Zealand Insurance building

Internal alterations

1990 -
Addition of ninth storey

Completion Date

15th August 2001

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Cooper, 1988

Mary Cooper and Noni Boyd, 'NZ Guardian Trust (Formerly NZI), 103-107 Queen Street', NZHPT Buildings Classification Committee Report, Wellington, 1988 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

New Zealand Building Progress

New Zealand Building Progress

August 1918, p.271-289

New Zealand Insurance Company, 1959

New Zealand Insurance Company, Bold Century: 1859-1959, Auckland, 1959

Vennell, 1972

C. W. Vennell, Risks and Rewards, A Policy of Enterprise 1872-1972: A Centennial History of the South British Insurance Company Limited, Auckland, 1972

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.