Oamaru Public Gardens, 39 Chelmer Street, Oamaru
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Able to Visit
24th February 1994
Date of Effect
24th February 1994
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 2 DP 317966 (RT 70398), Otago Land District, and the structure known as the Band Rotunda thereon. (Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage List/ Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 11 February 2016).
Lot 2 DP 317966 (RT 70398), Otago Land District
This band rotunda, built 1912-13 in Arts and Crafts style, has been the venue for public performances and celebrations in the Oamaru Public Gardens for one hundred years and has historical and architectural significance.
In 1876 the Oamaru Public Gardens opened on a 34 acre reserve set aside in the 1858 town survey. With their mix of native and exotic plantings, formal lawns and garden beds set alongside the meandering Oamaru Creek, the gardens were a popular gathering and walking place. As with many parks, a public meeting place and a focus for concerts was a logical next step. A local musician wrote in 1909 that listening to a concert from the Garrison Band in the gardens they noted that the band is ‘very much handicapped in that they have no rotunda on which to perform. In the portion of the Gardens they played in last night the trees must have made it very difficult for the conductor to get the full value of his work. A rotunda is, I consider a necessity for a town of our dimensions, and I trust some movement will shortly be made to acquire one, which will add to the ornamentation of the town as well as to the beauty of such performances.’
In November 1910, Councillor Frith remarked upon the need for a band rotunda, and thought that through community efforts such as open air concerts, funds could be raised for such a project. His moved that the Council approve a committee to take steps to secure funds for ‘the erection of gates and a band rotunda.’
By January 1911, the committee had looked into the details and estimated that the cost of erecting a rotunda, erecting suitable gates, and improving seating would cost some £650. The committee recommended, ‘having regard to the popularity of the gardens as a public resort and as the chief attraction for visitors’, that an effort be made to raise the funds ‘feeling confident that the public would cheerfully respond to an appeal on behalf of works designed to add materially to the attractive properties of this pleasure-giving resort.’ The committee looked to similar projects for ideas of design and costing – with the Waimate town clerk reporting that their band rotunda cost £440. There was some discussion whether a band rotunda would be an appropriate Coronation memorial, though in the end the council rejected this idea.
The project faltered. It was revived in February 1912, after the death of James Craig. Craig, a prominent Oamaru businessman, had, shortly before his death, expressed interest in erecting a band rotunda in the gardens and presenting the structure to the citizens of Oamaru, though in the end Craig bequeathed a fountain instead (List Entry No. 7151), but the project was resurrected. The band rotunda seems to have been built without ceremony sometime in 1912. A report from January 1913, mentions a programme of music played by the 10th Regimental Band being interrupted by rain and retreating to the ‘new band rotunda for the first time.’ The rotunda may have still needed some finishing, as a report in March 1913 states that funds from a floral fete in 1912 were being put towards the ‘main cost of the band rotunda’ and the 1913 fete proceeds would be used to complete the rotunda. The band rotunda took its place as a centre piece for public events, such as the welcome for the Governor on his visit to Oamaru in 1914. The band rotunda was refurbished in 2005.
The band rotunda was designed as an octagon, and is a light timber structure clad in shingles. Its base is a shingled skirt with eight strutted posts supported an octagonal shingled roof that terminates in a finial. It has considerable visual appeal and is the focus for its immediate setting. In 2005, the band rotunda was refurbished.
Throughout the twentieth century, and into the twenty first century, the band rotunda has provided a focus for public performances in the Oamaru Public Gardens, including events such as Oamaru’s annual Victorian Heritage Celebrations.
Octagonal band rotunda
11th January 2016
Report Written By
Williams and Middleton, 2012
Hamish Williams & Angela Middleton, ‘Oamaru Public Gardens Archaeological Assessment for GHD/Waitaki District Council’, Arch Hill Heritage Report No. 105 February 2012
Hamish Williams & Angela Middleton, ‘Oamaru Public Gardens Archaeological Assessment for GHD/Waitaki District Council’, Arch Hill Heritage Report No. 105 February 2012.
A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Southern 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.
A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand