Bank of New Zealand (Former)

200 Main Road And Kildare Street, Waikouaiti

  • Bank of New Zealand Building (Former).
    Copyright: Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Ben Hill. 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 7390 Date Entered 27th June 1997 Date of Effect 27th June 1997


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Blk VIII Town of Hawksbury (RT OT8B/10), Otago Land District, and the building known as Bank of New Zealand (Former) thereon and its extensions constructed in or prior to 1927 and its fittings and fixtures including the 1869 banking counter, and the associated outbuilding relocated onto the property. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Blk VIII Town of Hawksbury (RT OT8B/10), Otago Land District.

Location description

Located on the south west corner of Kildare Street and Main Road, Waikouaiti.


Waikouaiti’s former Bank of New Zealand, an early work by pre-eminent Dunedin architect Robert Arthur Lawson, was built in 1869 and is of special significance as a rare survivor from an early period in New Zealand’s banking history. The bank retains its 1869 banking counter and its largely intact 1927 interior. The building provides special insight into the workings of a nineteenth century bank and the life of its staff and manager.

The Bank of New Zealand was established in 1861. The Waikouaiti Bank of New Zealand was built in 1869 and as such is an early surviving branch building. Its architectural style which references the Italian Renaissance is typical of that found in banking architecture here and in England. The detailing, like many other provincial banks, is more modest than that found in Dunedin. It makes a statement of modest dependability rather than the grand self-promotion of later buildings. The bank held branch status until 1899 and agency status from 1899-1927. In 1927 it was restored to branch status, which it held until its closure. The bank was gifted to the Waikouaiti Early Settlers Association in 1964, and has been home to the museum since 1966.

The Waikouaiti Bank of New Zealand is two storeys at the street front (banking chamber and offices with manager’s accommodation above), and two later single storey additions to the rear (housing what was the kitchen and wash house, dining room and sitting room). To the north of the kitchen and washhouse, along the roadside boundary, stands a detached outbuilding. This was divided into a garage (carriage house) and a dairy. The principal elevation to Main Road has a central entrance through double panelled doors, set within an enclosed porch. The 1869 banking counter is still in situ. Many features of the nineteenth century interior remain. This gives the interior special significance. The main interior spaces on the ground floor are the banking chamber, strong room and manager’s office, sitting room, dining room (now a store) kitchen and wash house (laundry). The main rooms (with the exception of the kitchen) have timber floors and lathe and plaster on the walls, lined with wallpaper.

In 2013 the former Bank of New Zealand building is home to the Waikouaiti Coast Heritage Centre.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Bank of New Zealand (Former) has historical significance. It was associated with a prominent banking institution for nearly one hundred years. The building predates the flurry of bank building which occurred in the 1870s as both the country and its financial institutions gained firmer footing. Despite its modest scale, it projected a solidity and respectability favoured by the architects of nineteenth century banks.

Archaeological Significance or Value

The Bank of New Zealand (Former) has special archaeological significance for buildings archaeology. The interior in particular, has the potential to tell the story of its materials, decoration and occupation dating from 1869 and 1927. As a museum the building already displays its construction and the layers of change as an illustration of the building’s physical history.

Architectural Significance or Value

Designed by pre-eminent Dunedin architect Robert Arthur Lawson, the Bank of New Zealand (Former) has significance as one of his early bank buildings. This modest bank predates the grand edifices built in the 1870s and 1880s and represents the first tentative steps of the banking industry establishing its network of branches in Otago’s hinterland. Architecturally this building has special significance as it represents the establishment of the early banking industry. Architect and historian Norman Ledgerwood writes that ‘Waikouaiti is likely to be the one that is closest to the original’ and ‘would most certainly be the best surviving of Lawson's smaller bank buildings, equalling in quality, albeit on a smaller scale, Lawson's large bank buildings in Oamaru and the former Union bank building in Dunedin.’

Social Significance or Value

The Bank of New Zealand (Former) has social significance. It stood as a physical reorientation of the dependability and solidity of the province and its future. The bank was a symbol of reassurance for the local population. It provided a place of safety for an individual’s cash reserves and as means of borrowing to launch an individual’s future plans. In this way the bank and banker were integral to the development and growth of society. As a museum the building is still a community gathering place but the function it fills for the community is now historical rather than financial.

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

The Bank of New Zealand (Former) represents the development of banking as an institution in New Zealand. The role of the bank was pivotal in the colonial economy both nationally and provincially. In Waikouaiti, the BNZ played a role in the commercial progress and economic development of the town and the surrounding district. The building was among the early BNZ banks established in Otago, and is a representation of the style of noted architect Robert Arthur Lawson. Its solid, Classical facade is relatively simple in style and represents the period of history where financial institutions emphasised their status, function, and upstanding nature through their buildings.

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

The Bank of New Zealand (Former) is associated with noted pre-eminent and nationally significant Dunedin architect Robert Arthur Lawson. Lawson is one of the most significant architects of the nineteenth century in Dunedin, known for his church architecture as well as his domestic and commercial work. The bank is one of his early designs.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history

Through buildings archaeology the Bank of New Zealand (Former) has the potential to reveal and to display information about the construction techniques and physical fabric of a nineteenth century bank building. Already the museum displays part of the rubble wall, and the paint layers showing the changes to the décor over time.

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

The Bank of New Zealand (Former) has been home to the Waikouaiti Museum (now the Waikouaiti Coast Heritage Centre) for close to forty years. As such it is a repository for community memory and is important to the residents and to people with family links to Waikouaiti.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

The Bank of New Zealand (Former) is open to the public and is used for educational purposes so it already provides a place for public education.

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

The architectural design of the former Bank of New Zealand (Former) is significant. It shows the modest but authoritative structures constructed in the early years of the establishment of the banking sector. It contrasts with the imposing structures erected elsewhere by financial institutions during the prosperous years of the 1870s and 1880s. The building is a modest example of Victorian Classicism and is an early bank design for Lawson.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

As a museum the Bank of New Zealand (Former) commemorates the early history of the Waikouaiti district. As a building (and part of the collection itself) it tells the story of the life in Waikouaiti in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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

As one of only four banks on the NZHPT Register in 2013 that date from 1870 or earlier, the Bank of New Zealand (Former) has special significance, particularly given the largely intact 1927 interior.

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

Standing on the main street of Waikouaiti, the Bank of New Zealand (Former) is one of the important surviving nineteenth century buildings which form part of the early streetscape of the town. It is therefore, an important part of the historical landscape of Waikouaiti.

Summary of Significance or Values

Waikouaiti’s 1869 Bank of New Zealand (Former), an early work by pre-eminent Dunedin architect Robert Arthur Lawson, is a special survivor. The building is one of only four banks on the NZHPT Register in 2013 dating prior to 1870. The bank retains its largely intact 1927 interior and its 1869 banking counter. As part of the Waikouaiti Coast Heritage Centre (and as a collection item itself) the building provides insight into the work of a nineteenth century bank and the life of its staff and manager.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Lawson, Robert Arthur

Born in Scotland, Lawson (1833-1902) began his professional career in Perth. At the age of 25 he moved to Melbourne and was engaged in goldmining and journalism before resuming architectural practice. In 1862 Lawson sailed for Dunedin, where his sketch plans had won the competition for the design of First Church. This was built 1867-73. Lawson went on to become one of the most important architects in New Zealand. First Church is regarded as his masterpiece and one of the finest nineteenth century churches in New Zealand.

He was also responsible for the design of the Trinity Church (now Fortune Theatre), Dunedin (1869-70), the East Taieri Presbyterian Church (1870), and Knox Church, Dunedin (1874). He designed Park's School (1864) and the ANZ Bank (originally Union Bank, 1874). In Oamaru he designed the Bank of Otago (later National Bank building, 1870) and the adjoining Bank of New South Wales (now Forrester Gallery, 1881).

See also: Ledgerwood, Norman, 2013. 'R.A. Lawson: Victorian Architect of Dunedin'. Historic Cemeteries Conservation NZ.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early History

The coastal area to the north of Dunedin, around what is now known as Waikouaiti, was a resource rich area for iwi. The Matainaka Lagoon (now known as Hawksbury Lagoon) was a major whitebait spawning area (as indicated by its Maori name), and the Waikouaiti River was a rich source of food. In the nineteenth century the centre of the takiwa (tribal area) was at Puketeraki overlooking Waikouaiti Bay. There are several very early sites in this immediate area.

There were scattered small camps of people associated with Huriawa and Puketeraki for collecting shellfish, eels, and other sites at places like Matanaka and Brinns Point where there was a good view of the rest of the coast line. Herries Beattie records that a waka was known to have been built at Matainaka; Beattie writes that the waka ‘Kura-matakitaki, was made at Matainaka (near Waikouaiti) by Rimurapa and Horuwai sometime before the whalers came. Pahi was anxious to secure it and this he did by giving greenstone in exchange’.

The Waikouaiti landscape quickly changed from its Maori roots following the arrival of the Magnet immigrant ship from Sydney, Australia, in 1840 to accommodate the needs of the new settlers. Prebble and Mules write: ‘Waikouaiti in many ways was a formative place for the development of Southern New Zealand society. Sealing camps, whaling stations, missions and farms are all facets of the colonial south, but nowhere was the induction of these characteristic ventures of Takata Bola (Pakeha) culture as prominent as in Waikouaiti.’


The catalyst for Pakeha settlement to the area was provided by John (Johnny) Jones (1808/1809? - 1869), who had interests in whaling vessels working in New Zealand waters. Waikouaiti grew up around Jones’ settlement. It was given a further boost with the 1862 Dunstan gold rush, with Waikouaiti a landing place and a stopping point on the main northern inland route to Central Otago. The township was initially known as West Hawksbury, with Waikouaiti the name of the port at the river mouth.

The land on which the Waikouaiti BNZ stands is situated at the highest point of the main street. It was originally granted to Johnny Jones in 1861. Title to the land was issued to the Bank of New Zealand in 1872.

Early settlers saw the establishment of banking institutions as integral to the ‘welfare of the community.’ The lack of a bank drew many a lament: ‘The community are daily sustaining irreparable losses in consequence of not having the ordinary means of transacting business; money becomes scarce, and every individual is compelled to avoid entering into many highly profitable schemes for the benefit of the settlement. Newly arrived immigrants are inconvenienced from having no place of safety to deposit their cash. It is an invariable question, Where is the Bank? They are told there is not one. They express their disgust, and blame the colonists as destitute of energy.’

Banks provided a safe place to leave money and operated as a reputable money lender. These roles were not only essential at the national economic level but in the daily dealings of every colonist.

The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) opened for business on 16 October 1861 in Auckland, with the main Auckland branch built between 1866 and 1868. Its founders quickly turned their attention to the south, as without co-operation from these provinces there was little prospect of long-term success for the institution.

Banks were designed to symbolise wealth, position, strength and trustworthiness. The BNZ embodied these characteristics and gained additional substance from its home grown origins as a ‘colonial institution.’ A bank’s premises were designed to portray an image of trustworthiness and wealth. The BNZ was not alone in this philosophy. Over the course of the next few years, the various banking institutions tried to surpass each other with the edifices they built, to promote their success.

Architect Robert Arthur Lawson’s first tender notice for the erection of the Bank of New Zealand in Waikouaiti was advertised in September 1867, six months after the tender for Milton.

Scottish-born Lawson trained in Perth and Edinburgh before emigrating to Australia in 1854. He moved to Dunedin in 1862 after winning the competition for the design of First Church (Register No. 60, Category 1). In the 1860s Lawson was establishing his career. He designed many buildings for the Presbyterian Church (at least 13 before 1870), and by the end of that decade designed commercial premises, including banks. A catalogue of Lawson’s work indicates that in 1869 he designed premises for the Bank of New Zealand in Timaru, Milton, Waikouaiti and Port Chalmers. His other early commercial work included warehouses and offices in for Dunedin’s Sargood, King and Company (Manse Street, 1863), and the neighbouring building for Ironmongers Oliver and Ulph. He also designed Oamaru’s Star and Garter Hotel (Category 1, Register no.3219), and premises for merchants A & T Inglis on George Street, Dunedin.

Through the late 1860s and into the 1870s the BNZ was establishing branches through Otago. Amongst these Robert Lawson designed bank buildings for Milton (1867, since demolished), Palmerston (1869), Mataura (1873), Clinton (1875) and Balclutha (1875). Lawson's design for the Waikouaiti BNZ is a more modest and scaled down version of his earlier larger and more 'palatial' design for the now-demolished Milton bank building which was completed in 1867. His Balclutha BNZ was built in 1875 of concrete to a similar scale and layout to the Waikouaiti bank. In Canterbury Lawson designed a building for the Timaru BNZ (since demolished), with tenders advertised in October 1869.

The design of the Waikouaiti BNZ is representative of the character of many of the rural bank buildings of this period. Similar to the Waikouaiti Bank of New Zealand are the following registered buildings: Eltham (1916, Register no. 826); BNZ in Hamilton, (1878, Register no. 768); Feilding (1901; Register no. 1225); Greytown (1879 Register no. 1302). The Bank of New Zealand at Waikouaiti is, however, the earliest of these buildings. The more modest scale and decoration of many of these rural bank buildings contrasts with the magnificence of those built during the 1870-80s in cities like Dunedin and Invercargill and larger rural centres such as Oamaru. The BNZ in Waikouaiti, therefore, fits into the period of tentative development of banking architecture, and as such it makes a statement of modest dependability rather than grand self-promotion.

At Waikouaiti the townspeople were pleased with the development of the bank in their town, noting ‘with pleasure several improvements which have of late been prosecuted in the district by our farmers and settlers that speaks of stability and permanency.’ Since its construction it has remained a landmark for the town, being the first notable building in the town when approached from the south.

Construction seems to have been delayed as the BNZ’s foundation stone was not laid until 17 April 1869 by BNZ agent H. Pizey. The townspeople turned out in force for the ceremony. A time capsule with coins, a copy of the Wailkouaiti Herald and a scroll commemorating the event was concealed in the stone. Construction was expected to be completed within three months. The Southland Times reported ‘We may remark that the site selected for the Bank is at the junction of Kildare-street with the Main North Road, fronting the latter, and will be built with the beautiful light-brown Pleasant Valley stone.’ The plans show a ‘substantial building…without much pretension to architectural effect, but it will have boldly rusticated coignes, and there will be a projecting porch, 10 ft. [3m] square, to cover the principal doorway. The building will have a frontage of 31ft. and a depth of 50ft [9.4 by 15.2m], and the banking room will occupy the front part to the full width, and to a depth of 18ft [5.4m]. There will be a communication with the manager’s room on one side, and with the residence portion of the building on the other. A strong-room will be built at a distance from any external wall.’ At the rear of the two storey section was a single storey masonry section.

During the 1870s in New Zealand more bank buildings were constructed or re-constructed than at any other period during the nineteenth century. The number of BNZ buildings almost tripled. During this decade capital from abroad was invested freely in New Zealand. Properties rose to high values and money was freely lent upon mortgage. Early designs were relatively restrained. Banking historian Robin Griffin notes with regard to the architecture that ‘the New Zealand bank architects of the 1870s were feeling their way with reasonably economic, bland buildings in young townships so as not to offend either local citizenry with unaccustomed ostentatious displays of wealth or the directors and shareholders with wasteful expenditure’.

In 1885 the building was extended. Lawson advertised for the tenders in May of that year. It is unclear what this tender related to. It may have related to the comparatively utilitarian single storey weatherboard addition beyond the original section single storey masonry portion. The single storey weatherboard addition does not exist in the earliest photograph of the bank, c. 1880s, but is in existence by 1906. It is possible the kitchen was added at this time.

The history of the bank reflected the economic slowdown of the later nineteenth century. Banks consolidated their agencies - the BNZ in Waikouaiti was reduced to an agency of the Palmerston branch (whose own premises were constructed in 1871). The building (minus the banking chamber which still housed the agency) was leased to various tenants.

The bank remained an agency from 1899-1927. The see-saw nature of its status illustrates the rivalry between Waikouaiti and its nearby neighbour Palmerston. Small towns were in competition for scarce resources and the history of the bank, swinging between agency and branch, illustrates this rivalry.

When the bank returned to branch status in 1927, alterations were made to bring it up to standard. The alterations to the building at this time appear to have been limited to the addition of the balcony to the first floor of the front elevation, the addition of a side porch and some minor additions to the rear single storey additions. The internal alterations to the building appear to have been superficial, with insertion of panel ceilings being laid under the earlier lath and plaster ceilings. Thus much of the original features and spatial qualities of the original building remain. This 1927 interior fit out is still largely intact in 2013. The bank returned to agency status again in 1937. An outbuilding was added on the Kildare Street front which housed a garage and cow byre or dairy. It has been suggested that this building was relocated to here from another property, perhaps from Matanaka Farm (Category 1 historic place, Register no, 7787), though this is has not yet been established.

The BNZ finally closed in the 1960s. Extensive repairs and maintenance work were required, beyond what the bank was prepared to undertake. The building was taken over by the Waikouaiti Early Settlers’ Association. Title was transferred to farmer Charles McCallum, runholder Arthur Heckler and solicitor Edwin Laing in 1964 and to the Waikouaiti Early Settlers’ Association Incorporated in 1981.

The Waikouaiti Early Settlers’ Association was founded in 1890. They established the Waikouaiti Museum in 1966 following the gifting of the BNZ building to the association in 1964. The association’s name was changed to Waikouaiti District Museum Society in 1991.

Repairs were made in the passage and the hall in 2002 with rotten boards, joists, bearers and piles replaced. In 2006 further works were carried out to make the building watertight – work on the spouting and drainage. The work was supported by funding from the Community Trust of Otago and the Bendigo Trust.

In 2013 the Bank of New Zealand (Former) remains a historical attraction on the main street of Waikouaiti.

Physical Description


The former Bank of New Zealand occupies a prominent site on the corner of Main Road (State Highway One) and Kildare Street in Waikouaiti. Main Road is characterised by a number of commercial buildings spread out along its length, interspersed with pasture land, and residences. Approaching from the south, the building is located on a rise, and is the first commercial building of the township, giving it streetscape value.

The section on which the former Bank of New Zealand sits is 1000 square metres, with the bank building and the outbuilding making up a footprint of some 225 square metres. The building is set within a wooden picket fence with an established garden. The rear part of the section is vacant.

Early photographs indicate that the building is constructed of Ashlar masonry – quarry-faced random ashlar, with vermiculated quoins. The building has since been rendered with a stucco finish and painted. The hipped roof is clad in slate. The building is designed in Classical style with a formal façade emphasising solidity, as was common with commercial architecture of the Victorian period.


Art historian Peter Entwisle describes the Waikouaiti BNZ as a ‘modest two storey building with a central portico between arched windows, simple quoining, soft balustering and a pronounced cornice or corbel table, with decorative, volute faux corbels.....A simple Palladian villa.’

The principal elevation to Main Road has a central entrance through double panelled doors, set within a portico. The building is two storeys at the street front (banking chamber and offices with manager’s accommodation above), and single storey, stone and timber extensions to the rear (housing what was the kitchen and wash house, dining room and sitting room).

Originally the exterior walls were built in exposed Goodwood stone laid in random rubble brought to course. Stucco was used to form quoining with vermiculation and the architraves to the doors and windows. The projecting porch was treated far more robustly than the rest of the building and finished entirely in stucco. The softness of the Goodwood stone may have prompted it being covered with stucco by c.1906 to give an ashlar affect. The vermiculation to the quoining was also filled in at this time.

Possibly in 1885 (and before 1906) a weatherboard single storey addition had been made to the rear of the masonry single storey section of the bank. This addition was weatherboard clad with a corrugated iron roof. It housed the kitchen and wash house.

The south wall of the original bank building had suffered from settlement and it was this that prompted the construction of four masonry buttresses sometime after 1906.

Before 1927 a rough cast finish was applied to the front and rear elevations of the original bank building and the porch. The plastering of the porch was to cover many of the original stucco details of the porch. The quoins were not covered in rough cast. The windows on the ground floor are round-headed double hung sash, with keystones. The first floor windows are rectangular double hung sashes. There are dentils at the eaves level.

The first floor of the elevation to Main Road has an enclosed balcony which dates from 1927 when the manager’s accommodation was upgraded. The enclosed balcony is built of weatherboard with casement windows. At this time they may have also made further small additions and alterations to the weatherboard kitchen addition at the rear of the bank.

There is what appears to be a nineteenth century timber outbuilding - used as a carriage house/garage and as a cow byre or dairy for the house cow. The building is rectangular in plan with a hipped corrugated iron roof. This building is thought to have been relocated from another site, perhaps from nearby Matanaka Farm. However this is unsubstantiated and the building may have been built on site. Further research is required to investigate this claim.


The nineteenth century interior with superficial 1920s improvements is largely intact. This gives the interior special significance. The banking chamber still contains the counter from 1869 illustrating banking in the mid-nineteenth century, and is, therefore, a rare survivor from this period, giving it special significance. The physical integrity of the building reinforces the significance.

The main interior spaces on the ground floor are the banking chamber, strong room and manager’s office, sitting room, dining room (now a store) kitchen and wash house (laundry). The main rooms (with the exception of the kitchen) have timber floors and lathe and plaster on the walls, lined with wallpaper. The ceilings were relined in 1927, although it is likely that the original ceilings remain.

The strong room is in the centre of the building, behind the banking chamber – the furthest distance from the exterior walls in view of security.

The kitchen is painted match-lining. The fittings and fixtures in the kitchen and the washhouse relate to the 1920s period.

Comparative Examples

Other Lawson banks from the same period

The former Waikouaiti Bank of New Zealand is one of four similar BNZ branches that Lawson designed. All were two-storey and follow the same plan with the banking chamber on the ground floor and the Manager's apartment on part of the ground floor and the first floor. They were at Milton (1867 - since demolished), Timaru (1869 - since demolished), Waikouaiti (1869) and Clutha Ferry (Balclutha - 1874-75 survives). Timaru and Waikouaiti were built with local stone, the others of brick rendered with stucco.

Both of the two surviving Lawson banks of this period have been somewhat compromised, Balclutha by additions to the front and Waikouaiti with the addition of the first floor closed-in verandah which, architect and Lawson historian Norman Ledgerwood’s view ‘badly compromises the front elevation.’ The Balclutha building has been a retail outlet for many years and the interior likely to have undergone considerable change.

Of the two surviving branches, Ledgerwood writes, ‘Waikouaiti is likely to be the one that is closest to the original’ and ‘would most certainly be the best surviving of Lawson's smaller bank buildings, equalling in quality, albeit on a smaller scale, Lawson's large bank buildings in Oamaru and the former Union bank building in Dunedin.’

Early Banks

The Bank of New Zealand in Waikouaiti is one of only four banks dating from 1870 or before on the NZHPT Register in 2013. Two are Category 1: the simple, timber St Bathans Gold Office (Register no. 331) built in 1870, which is representative of the early goldfield architecture and reflects the role of banking during the gold rushes, and the earliest purpose-built BNZ building in New Zealand, being the former Auckland Bank of New Zealand (Register no. 95) built 1866-1867 of which only the façade remains.

The other early bank on the NZHPT Register is a Category 2 historic place; the single storey Bank of Otago (Register no. 2353) at Outram, which was also designed by Robert Arthur Lawson, and dates from 1869. The Bank of Otago has since been converted to a private residence. The original layout is still evident and many features, such as fireplaces, remain.

The former Bank of Otago at Outram and the former Bank of New Zealand at Waikouaiti are Lawson’s two earliest bank buildings – both built on a modest scale for small rural settlements.

Banks in Otago

In Otago there are twenty five registered buildings which have an association with the banking sector. These include the grand institutions in the larger centres – Oamaru, Invercargill and Dunedin have notable nineteenth century bank buildings. Six of these urban centre banks are Category 1 registrations, identified for their obvious architectural and historical significance. The Bank of New South Wales Gold Office in St Bathans, mentioned above, is the only Category 1 bank outside these main centres.

Most of these other banks have been altered for new purposes, such as the 1869 Bank of Otago which is now a residence, or the former Bank of New South Wales (Former) now the Forrester Gallery in Oamaru. The layout of the Bank of New Zealand (Former) at Waikouaiti is much as it was in 1869. Where there are additions they are easily readable and date from the 1927 alterations when the building reopened as a branch – and provide insight into the domestic life of the building’s inhabitants. Because the form and fit-out of the building and its decoration relates to its use as a bank with manager’s accommodation the bank has special significance.

The Waikouaiti Museum and its collection have inhabited the banking space without making significant alterations to the building fabric. The museum has recognised the significance of the building as an artefact itself, displaying, for example, part of the rubble wall, and the paint layers which show the changes to the interior over time.

Other banks recognised for the significance of their interiors, such as the Bank of New Zealand in Dannevirke (Category 1, Register no. 4416), represent grand architectural visions. The building speaks of the prosperity of the small town in a rich pastoral and agricultural district.

The Bank of New Zealand (Former) at Waikouaiti does not represent the grand and imposing architecture of the banking industry. Rather it represents an early bank in a small rural town. The building is relatively modest, but for Waikouaiti, it stands on the main street along with the former Post Office (built in 1907, Register no. 2358) representing authority – whether government or financial. The building represents the tentative establishment of the banking industry at the beginnings of its history and as such is an important survivor.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1869 -
Foundation stone laid and construction completed.

1885 -
Perhaps this was the single storey weatherboard addition to the rear of the bank. The application of stucco to the exterior masonry of the bank building may have occurred at this time.

1906 -
The single storey weatherboard kitchen and wash house addition existed by this time.

1927 -
Enclosed balcony added to front of building as part of a number of alterations to upgrade manager’s accommodation. At some time four buttresses were added to the south wall of the original bank building to counter settlement in foundations.

1964 -
Bank of New Zealand transferred to the Waikouaiti Early Settlers for a museum.

Outbuilding relocated onto site.

2002 -
Repairs to hallway and ‘Hallum Room’.

Construction Details

Original BNZ Building: Pleasant Valley stone, brick, slate, timber joinery.

Extension: cement, concrete, weatherboard, panel product (possibly asbestos or cement sheeting).

Completion Date

3rd April 2013

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop; Jonathan Howard

Information Sources

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Jonathan Mane-Wheoki. 'Lawson, Robert Arthur - Biography', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 1-Sep-10


Dixon, 1978

Roger Dixon & Stefan Muthesius, 'Victorian Architecture', London, 1978

Otago Daily Times

Otago Daily Times

28 Sep 1867, p.3.; Otago Daily Times, 22 May 1885, p.4.

Otago Witness

Otago Witness

10 Jul 1852, p. 2.

Southland Times

Southland Times

28 Apr 1869, p.2.

Moore, 1978

C.W.S. Moore, Northern approaches : a history of Waitati, Waikouaiti, Palmerston, Dunback, Moeraki, Hampden and surrounding districts, Capper Press, Christchurch, 1978.

Griffin 2002

Robin H. Griffin, Victorian Bank Architecture in New Zealand, Auckland, 2002

Bruce Herald

Bruce Herald

23 Oct 1867, p.4.

Coster, 2011

John Coster, ‘Waikouaiti District Museum Society Museum Feasibility Study 2011’, Report No. 71, June 2011

Gray, 1998

John Gray and Philip Gilchrist, ‘Bethel New Life Church Invercargill (ex BNZ Bank): conservation report’, -- Invercargill: Oakley Gray Architects, for; Bethel New Life Centre Trust, 1998

Griffin, 1987

Robin Griffin, Introduction to the History of Banking, Wellington, Bank of New Zealand Archives Museum, 1987

Prebble, 2005

Matiu Prebble and David Mules for Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki, To Hikoia mai Hikaroroa ki Waikouaiti – kua te ra, ka te ahi (A journey from Hikaroroa to Waikouaiti – The sun has set, the fire is now alight): A contribution to the cultural history of the Waikouaiti River and surrounding environs, A Matauranga Kura Taiao/Nga Whenua Rahui Collaboration, November 2005

Other Information

A copy of the original registration report (1997) and the review report (2013) 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.