Salvation Army Barracks (Former)

13 King Street And Service Lane, Opotiki

  • Salvation Army Barracks (Former). The recently refurbished and painted Barracks with its new signage.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Krzys Pfeiffer. Date: 7/12/2007.
  • The front (south) and west elevations.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Krzys Pfeiffer. Date: 7/12/2007.
  • Blood and Fire Salvation Army logo painted on interior wall.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Krzys Pfeiffer. Date: 7/12/2007.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 7740 Date Entered 4th April 2008 Date of Effect 4th April 2008


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lots 2 and 3 DP 5913, Gisborne Land District, and the building known as the Salvation Army Barracks (Former) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the Registration Report for further information.)

City/District Council

Opotiki District


Bay of Plenty Region

Legal description

Lot 2-3 DP 5913 (RT GS4A/443), Gisborne Land District

Location description

The Barracks is located on the north side of King Street on the block to the west of Church Street (no number).


Built in 1898 the Salvation Army Barracks (Former) in King Street, Opotiki, was constructed at the height of the Salvation Army's popularity in New Zealand and at a time when Opotiki had consolidated as the principal service centre for the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

The Salvation Army Barracks (Former) was designed by Melbourne architect Major Edward Saunders who played a prominent role in the establishment of the Salvation Army in Australia and New Zealand. The Barracks' architectural value lies in its association with this pioneering member of the Salvation Army. The building retains much of its original significant fabric and has not been greatly modified. The building is a simple barracks consisting of timber weatherboards on a timber frame construction, with a corrugated iron gabled roof. The frontage is symmetrical about the door with plain features. The main Barracks with its high stud was built with a smaller room in a lean-to at the rear for the Junior Salvationists.

The building was used for its original purpose as a meeting place for Salvation Army followers for more than 70 years before declining numbers saw the Opotiki Corps become an outpost of the Whakatane Corps in 1972. Since then it has only had one owner, the Opotiki Arts Society. The ongoing use of the Barracks as a centre for art has enabled public access and enjoyment of the Barracks, a use which has required very little modification of original fabric, and the retention of a function in keeping with the original use which fostered cultural and community life in Opotiki.

The Opotiki Art Society is underway with a staged programme of maintenance, conservation and redevelopment works to ensure the long-term care and enjoyment of the Barracks. In 2006 a conservation plan was written for the building and upgrading of the exterior has been undertaken.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Opotiki Salvation Army Barracks (Former) provides evidence of the consolidation of Opotiki in the late 19th century when it had become an important service centre for the district with its busy port, well-established commercial and retail centre and numerous business associations, sporting and cultural clubs and churches.

The Barracks was built at the height of the popularity and rapid expansion of the Salvation Army in New Zealand. The Opotiki corps had been established at the request of local adherents keen to set residents onto a better lifestyle.

Aesthetic Significance or Value:

The Salvation Army Barracks (Former) is one of the remaining buildings from the late 19th century in central Opotiki that gives the town its particular character and together with other heritage buildings within the same street create a streetscape that is an important contributor to the community's sense of place.

Architectural Significance or Value:

The Barracks was designed and built for the Salvation Army in Opotiki and is the only building of its specific type in the town. The building is a simple but neatly designed and well-built Barracks which retains much of its original significant fabric. Its architectural value lies in its design by Melbourne architect Major Edward Saunders, its simple but well designed and constructed form, and intact survival. It makes an important contribution to the historic pattern of urban development in Opotiki, which is characterized by a number of small early churches, halls or commercial buildings in side streets. The survival of this range of building types provides evidence of the early patterns of use and development.

Research may reveal if Major Saunders designed any other Salvation Army Barracks in New Zealand. The building remains in largely original condition and has a high level of integrity.

The building demonstrates typical methods of timber construction for its period as well as contemporary tastes in design.

Cultural Significance or Value:

The Salvation Army has been a familiar aspect of New Zealand culture since its establishment here in 1883. The Salvation Army Barracks (Former) remains as evidence of this in Opotiki. The Barracks also provides evidence of the worldwide expansion of the Salvation Army.

Social Significance or Value:

The Opotiki Salvation Army Barracks (Former) was the meeting place for a close-knit section of the Opotiki community as well as the venue for hosting visitors from other Corps and as such was of very high importance. The Salvationists participated in events at other Bay of Plenty centres, thereby consolidating relationships in the region. As the Arts Centre it continues in this role.

Spiritual Significance or Value:

To local Salvationists the Salvation Army Barracks (Former) has a strong significance as being their gathering place for worship. The town centre retains many of its early churches and church halls, a reflection of the importance of the Christian religion in the town and its role in providing spiritual facilities to the wider rural community.

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

The Salvation Army Barracks (Former) reflects important and representative aspects of New Zealand history to a marked degree, as the Salvation Army has been a well-supported denomination in the country for over 120 years.

The Salvation Army Barracks (Former) provides evidence of the expansion of the Salvation Army, established in London in 1865 by Methodist Minister William Booth, its spread to New Zealand in 1883 and to the Eastern Bay of Plenty by the 1890s.

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

In its humanitarian role the Salvation Army is a very well-known aspect of New Zealand culture. The Salvation Army philosophy included temperance, equality for women and democratic leadership, all ideas of strong importance in New Zealand.

The Barracks is associated with pioneering members of the organisation in Australia, and New Zealand demonstrating a close relationship at the time. It is associated with the founder of the Salvation Army in London William Booth, in whose name the title was made.

The Barracks has associations with individual members of the Salvation Army in Opotiki, such as the first commanding officer George Moore, Jim Thompson, Teddy Webb, Elizabeth Smith and long-term resident Harold Bridge.

Members of the Opotiki Salvation Army played active roles in the local community such as Sergt. Major Thompson who was elected Mayor of Opotiki. Member Charles Rogers was well-known for his experimentation with sugar production from sorghum in the 1880s. Former residents Hannah Grayson Rogers and Tereita Pedersen became major contributors to Salvation Army welfare projects in other parts of New Zealand.

The Barracks represents the on-going consolidation of cultural and community life in Opotiki. It has on-going associations with later cultural organizations in Opotiki with its purchase and use by the Opotiki Art Society since the mid 1970s.

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

The public esteem for the Barracks has been expressed through the community and national support given to the Opotiki Arts Society in their refurbishment and restoration of the building and in support for their programmes held in the Barracks.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

With suitable interpretative information the Salvation Army Barracks (Former) has the potential to expand understanding of the historic development of Opotiki, linking the building to other heritage buildings and sites within Opotiki.

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

The Salvation Army Barracks (Former) makes an important contribution to the historic pattern of urban development in Opotiki, which is characterised by a number of small early halls or commercial buildings in side streets.

Summary of Significance or Values:

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, e, f and k.


It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Saunders, E.J

Architect: Major Saunders, 69 Bourke Street, Melbourne

The Salvation Army Barracks (Former) was designed by architect Major Edward Saunders of Melbourne. Major Saunders is credited with John Gore of pioneering the Salvation Army in Australia. Born in Stratfordshire in England he trained as a stone mason and worked in the building industry. He designed a number of buildings for the Salvation Army in Australia. Edward Saunders became an Officer in 1883 and the Salvation Army capitalized on his experience as a builder and sent him to Sydney to build a new Barracks for the increasing number of converts there. Other buildings being erected at that time were also supervised by him. He was appointed Property Secretary at territorial headquarters in Melbourne in 1889, a position that he retained until 1912, when as a Lieutenant-Colonel he retired from the Army.

From around 1889 until 1912, Edward Saunders was responsible for the designs and location of the Army's buildings. His most notable architectural success is the now redundant Training Garrison in Victoria Street, East Melbourne. The Opotiki Barracks is identical to timber Salvation Army barracks buildings thought to be located in Melbourne, designed by Major Saunders. Very similar timber barracks were also built in other New Zealand centres including Winton (built in 1897), Eltham (built in 1894) and Stratford (built in 1896).

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The Opotiki Salvation Army Barracks (Former) was built in 1898, two years after the establishment the local branch, named Corps No. 96, of the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army was established in 1865 by Methodist Minister William Booth in East London. Initially known as the Christian Revival Society the name was changed to the Salvation Army in 1878. William's wife Catherine Booth played a leading role in the development of the organisation; equality for women was an essential part of its ministry. A simple form of uniform was gradually adopted by members. Ministers were known as officers and took on military rank titles depending on seniority, part-time ordinary members were known as soldiers and mission stations or churches with their parishes became known as corps. The Salvation Army expanded to parts of Europe, North America, India and Australia, and now works in 106 countries.

The Salvation Army was officially established in New Zealand in 1883 when the first officers arrived in the country; however there is evidence of Salvation Army converts arriving in New Zealand and arranging local evangelical meetings prior to this date. One such after 1872 was Jane Short, who had become a follower of the Salvation Army in England in the late 1860s. The efforts of Short and other Salvation Army members in New Zealand no doubt eased the way for its official establishment. The Salvation Army officially came to New Zealand at the request of Miss Arabella Valpy of Dunedin and John Brame, an Auckland printer who also ran a temperance boarding house with his wife. He had written to Booth urging that Salvation Army officers be sent to New Zealand. In August 1882 Captain George Arthur Pollard and Lieutenant Edward Wright were sent to New Zealand via Australia. With three further Salvationists recruited in Australia they arrived at Bluff in March 1883 and meetings were soon underway in Dunedin, Auckland and Wellington. The movement grew quickly so that by the close of 1884 there were some thirty Salvation Army Corps established in New Zealand.

The rapid growth during the early years of the Salvation Army is closely linked to the social needs of the public. The Salvation Army was progressive and innovative in its early approach to spreading the Gospel. The use of brass bands which was the pop-music medium of the time is a good example. The Salvation Army was involved in providing practical assistance to people in need for example through provision of homes and refuges. Their emphasis on equality and democracy also fitted with values in New Zealand at this time. By 1896 the movement had reached a peak in popularity when 1.5% of the New Zealand population was Salvationists; Opotiki was part of this wave of popularity.

By 1896 Opotiki had become the most populous town of the central-eastern Bay of Plenty. The site and location of Opotiki close to rivers, sea and productive alluvial plains was significant in Maori and later European settlement, with abundant resources and easy access. Descendants of the waka Nukutere, Mataatua and others who settled in the Opotiki district and who now identify as the iwi Whakatohea had by the early 19th century established a large village called Pakowhai [Pa Kowhai] in what is now Opotiki township. The property on which the Salvation Army Barracks (Former) was built is within the general rohe of the people of Pakowhai but as the property was swampy with a small creek running through it; it is unlikely to have been lived on. The creek may have been used for fishing or trapping of eels. Whakatohea's Pakowhai settlement was the key reason for the establishment of Anglican and Catholic missions in the early 1840s. Opotiki's surviving early Anglican mission church, Hiona St Stephen's, became pivotal in the development of Opotiki. The killing of its minister, Rev. Carl Volkner, by Hauhau in 1865, the subsequent alienation of the Whakatohea people and the confiscation of their land and property led to the settlement of Opotiki by militia settlers and their families. Opotiki was surveyed and laid out to enable allocation of land to militiamen in return for service. Each militiaman received a one-acre town section as well as a rural plot of a size relative to his rank.

The establishment of the military settlement provided the impetus for the establishment of a resident European population and growth of the commercial town centre. The development of the town has followed broadly similar patterns in other towns and cities throughout New Zealand that grew as service centres for rural areas engaged in primary production. Increases in the local economy led to the steady consolidation of the town centre, replacement of simple early buildings with more substantial ones in permanent materials, and the growth of cultural and social institutions to provide for the local community. The Opotiki Town District was gazetted in 1882, and by the late 1890s the central shopping and commercial precinct was well established.

The remote location of Opotiki with access primarily by sea in its early development also created the need for self-sufficiency and provision of a strong service base. At the height of its development in the 1890s to 1930s the town centre with its busy port provided practically all of the supply, service, social and entertainment needs of the community and surrounding area. The number of separate denominations established in Opotiki by 1900 is evidence of the size of the local community and role of the centre in providing for the spiritual needs of people in the town and district.

Prior to the formal establishment of the Opotiki Corps, Opotiki had been visited by soldier Bro. Ernshaw and another soldier from Thames, and later by Captain Foster Kells from Tauranga. Some Opotiki people must have joined the Army as it was reported that at a Whakatane Harvest Festival in 1893, 'Special officers from Opotiki [would be] leading on'. Local farmer George Young evidently requested officers to be sent to Opotiki, as on 20 March 1896 Staff Captain Alf V. Harries replied to his letter saying:

I appreciate fully your interest in the Army, also your desire to get the people of your town saved... I shall be glad if you will send me answers to the questions contained on attached slip ... this information will help me considerably in laying the claims of Opotiki and District before our head office...

The Opotiki Salvation Army Corps was established as Corps No. 96 on 8 May 1896, with Captain George Moore as Corps Officer and Captain Alex Armstrong as Assistant. Moore and Armstrong had joined the Salvation Army together in the South Island mining town of Brunnerton in 1890 and after six months training in Christchurch began long careers as Salvation Army officers. After working among the Maori of the Whanganui River they were sent to the Bay of Plenty where another Maori mission was planned. According to Moore's biographer, 'Because of the poverty and unemployment among Maori people, Salvation Army assistance was welcome and converts more easily gained.' George Moore, his wife Kate (nee Gillies), Alex Armstrong and his wife Margaret (nee Wells) 'formed a dedicated and competent team who did splendid work amongst the Maoris in the Tauranga, Opotiki and Whakatane districts'. George Moore spent much of his remaining career in the Bay of Plenty area where he became a trusted friend of local Maori, particularly around Tauranga and Matakana. Moore and Armstrong established a successful fish processing company with Salvation Army funds to provide an income for local Maori. While Armstrong assisted Moore for periods in the region he went on to command Salvation Army corps in other parts of the country. Moore became a health inspector during the small pox epidemic and served as a justice of the peace, a licensed interpreter and court translator; he was involved in local Tauranga societies and was a member of the Opotiki Masonic Lodge. Promoted to Major in 1922, George Moore retired from active service in the Salvation Army in 1929 and died in Tauranga in June 1947.

With Moore and Armstrong's presence in Opotiki, the Opotiki corps quickly met with success. Within the first six months there were 120 professed conversions, including Maori and Pakeha soldiers. Meetings were held in private homes, streets and the town hall until a purpose-built hall was erected on a small piece of land very close to the main street of Opotiki. An 1866 survey map shows the site of the Salvation Army Barracks as Lot 30 Section 2, which was in the Military part of the town. The site was initially allocated to Fred Whitaker by Crown grant on 9 November 1869. It is shown as having a small creek running across part of the site. On 19 May 1886 Allotment 30 was acquired by Kenneth McKellan and George Sandeman. On 7 March 1893 it was purchased by Peter Oliphant, and changed hands again on 15 May 1895 when Edward Earle Vaile bought it. Just over a year later on 1 December 1896 the whole of Allotment 30 (measuring about an acre) was purchased by Charles Bawden Rogers, a local farmer, for the sum of £35. He then subdivided the allotment into two parts and sold part of it four months later, on 11 April 1897, to Herbert Henry Booth and George Alfred Kilby, Melbourne officers of the Salvation Army, for the sum of £30. In the late 1890s the New Zealand branch of the Salvation Army was administered from Australia.

Funds were raised by the soldiers for the construction of the building, ₤100 having been raised during Captain Moore's term as Corps Officer. Many of these were farmers who set aside a percentage of income from crops for this purpose. Three prominent local men, Teddy Webb, James Thompson and Charles Rogers, donated a portion of their crops to buy materials and donated their labour to build the Barracks. Teddy (Samuel Edward; Ted) Webb (1886-1965) was a local carrier who represented Opotiki in rugby from 1905 until 1930, remaining in the sport as referee, selector and member of the management committee. Webb also represented Opotiki in rowing. He served on the Opotiki Agricultural and Pastoral Association and was on the Opotiki Borough Council for several terms between the mid-1920s and the late 1930s. James (‘Piggy' Jim) Thompson was a prominent local figure who served on the Borough Council as mayor and councillor. He was also chief Justice of the Peace. During the 1880s he became known in regard to his experimentation with growing sugar beet, sugar cane and sorghum for sugar, at his farm at Stoney Creek. Charles Bawden Rogers, who farmed sheep and maize in the Waioeka district from c.1882, was a founding member of Opotiki Lodge (No. 1930) in 1881 and remained a prominent member of the Masonic Lodge and also the Oddfellows Lodge for over 50 years. A memorial service for him was held in the Salvation Army Barracks after his death in the 1930s.

The original plans for the Barracks show that the drawings were prepared in 1897 by Major Saunders of Melbourne, who pioneered the Salvation Army in Australia together with John Gore. The foundation stone for the Barracks was laid eight weeks before the building was officially opened in early September 1898. The opening was reported in the Salvation Army's magazine the War Cry where the building was described as ‘without a doubt the best building in Opotiki'. A local paper reported: ‘The Salvation Army have just completed a large and roomy hall in which to hold their meetings. The building is well finished throughout and an ornament to the town.'

The celebrations around the opening continued over several days, partly because the Barracks was not completed on time. On the Sunday ‘a splendid lot of soldiers and others attended the inside meeting... Everybody seemed to be quite pleased ... the Treasurer was jubilant.' The opening ceremony on the Tuesday evening was conducted by Adjutant Williams, who dedicated two children, Arthur Charles Rogers and Jessie Ellen Thompson, to ‘God and the war'...The open-air was well attended, lively, brisk and free, the Juniors joining in the march.' Officers from Whakatane also attended. The War Cry also reprinted the account from ‘the local paper' which added details such as the banquet on the following night, other marches and meetings and the address given by Adjutant Williams. The newspaper also noted ‘A special feature is the ventilation, which has been arranged on the most-approved plans. The main Barracks is lighted with two ... Lamps... Up the aisle is a beautiful carpet, kindly presented by Mrs T. Addis. Needless to say, the flagstaff has not been forgotten, and from this now proudly floats the S.A. banner.'

Attitudes to the Salvation Army were not always sympathetic as shown by a comment in another local newspaper at the time of the opening of the Barracks: ‘If room goes for anything we may anticipate not, I should say, a large number of converts, but a great deal more of air-beating, and if they do not succeed in raising the roof it will not be for want of enthusiasm on behalf of the devotees.'

In 1900 H.H. Booth and G.A. Kilby agreed to transfer the land to William Booth of London, General of the Salvation Army, and for the land to be brought under the Land Transfer Act (to allow the issue of a Certificate of Title). The whole of Allotment 30 was valued at £375 at the time the application was lodged at the end of 1900. A certificate of title was issued in the name of William Booth of 101 Queen Victoria Street, London, General in the Salvation Army, on 1 December 1903.

A list of officers beginning 8 May, 1896, for No.96 Opotiki shows that both men and women held ranks of importance in the Army. The appointments to ranks were generally only for six-month, one year or two year terms.

Records retrieved from a fire-damaged Opotiki Corps History book (salvaged from a fire in the Whakatane hall in 1982) show the range of activities the corps was associated with: enrolling new members, fundraising, forming the Opotiki Salvation Army band which regularly played in the town as well as at the Regent Theatre, in Whakatane, and at the hospital. An Annual Self Denial appeal was collected over many months from the Opotiki town and country district by the officers and soldiers. This included money given from the soldiers and friends of the Corps which was then forwarded to Territorial Headquarters in Wellington to support the social institutions run by the Salvation Army throughout New Zealand.

Members of the Opotiki Salvation Army played active roles locally, regionally and nationally. The band participated in events at Rotorua, Taneatua and Whakatane, thereby consolidating relationships in the wider Bay of Plenty. Hannah Grayson Rogers, who was born and brought up in Opotiki, was commissioned as a Salvation Army officer in 1930 after training in Wellington. She later became Brigadier and worked in Auckland as Probationary Officer, the Salvation Army's representative for Court Work, and as Matron of Salem House. In 1962 she was named by the Queen in the New Year's honours list. She was described in the Opotiki Corps history book as being a very faithful, sincere and successful social officer.

Another Salvation Army worker with strong local associations was Tereita (Terrecia) Elizabeth Pedersen. Mrs Pedersen's father was W.A. Batt, once a member of the Fourth Waikato Regiment, and her mother was Tereita Ngakatuku, Ngaitama iwi of Whakatohea. Tereita Pedersen's grandfather Nikorima gifted to the Church of England the land on which Hiona St Stephen's Church stands. Tereita died in Hastings in 1947 after more than 50 years' work for the Salvation Army.

Opotiki resident Harold Bridge was a member of the Salvation Army and first remembers going to the Barracks when he was aged around four years old, c.1925. His family would drive in for a meeting at 7 o'clock, followed by an 11 o'clock service. The Salvation Army band would play in the Oaks Arcade in town on Saturday nights, which was the late shopping night, recruiting for further converts. The women members would call at the local pubs with their wooden donation boxes. A well-loved feature of the end of the band's performances was when Johnny Mush, a very dark-skinned man, would call: ‘Join the Army and pray for Salvation. Look at me - I'm as white as snow'. Johnny Mush was believed to be from Maraleva in the Tuvalu group; by his account he had been taken by ‘blackbirders' to work in the Fijian sugar cane plantations. He came to Opotiki in the early 1890s and lived in the Otara district for over 50 years, working as a farm labourer and doing odd jobs. He was a familiar figure in the district and especially well-known for the gusto with which he beat his large drum at street meetings of the Army.

Around 1930 during renovation and burning off of old paint, the Barracks caught fire and was damaged ‘to a fair extent'. Sanitation was improved with the building of a convenience (the date for this is unknown but the application to Council was written on the back of a 1949 newsletter), to be built in O.B. rimu and using recycled corrugated iron for the roof; expected cost ₤50 using voluntary labour. The toilets lean-to was built at the eastern end of the north (rear) wall and could be accessed via a door from the back room (Junior Barracks). Outflow from the septic tank utilised a filter drain of shingle and field tiles to the swamp at the rear of the property. On 6 June 1951 Dan B. Knight, Captain, applied for a permit to build another lean-to type extension measuring 12 by 13 feet (3.6 x 4 metres) with concrete block foundations, rimu framing, tongue and groove flooring and fibrolite exterior cladding. The work was expected to cost ₤90 and be built by voluntary labour. Knight stated: ‘owing to limited space for carrying out our present programme and with the progress of our Youth Work we desire to extend by adding one room to our present building'. This extension was at the western end of the rear wall. In 1958, drainage from the toilets was changed by connecting a drain to the east boundary to flow into the town's new sewerage system.

In 1964 Opotiki suffered a major flood which took the lives of two people in the town. Salvationist Elizabeth Smith recalled seeing a wall of water surging up the street. The next day after the floodwaters receded the damage to the Barracks could be inspected. Inside, the floor was covered in mud and offal swept from the bacon factory; the furniture and equipment had been thrown around and was extensively damaged. The Barracks itself had been pushed sideways requiring the replacement of the original puriri blocks. In 1967 another extension at the rear embraced the toilet lean-to and closed in the space made by the 1958 extension. The 1958 rear wall was replaced as part of the rear wall of the new extension; the Barracks became a rectangular building again. The pitch of the roof over the Youth Barracks and the extensions was lowered to nearly horizontal. The building permit application was made on 12 January 1967, with the specification stating concrete block foundations, pine bearers and tongue and groove flooring, for an estimated cost of ₤278.

The Opotiki Corps was officially closed on 27 October 1972, but continued as an outpost of the Whakatane Corps until around 1975. The list of officers concludes ‘Closed April 1971. Now outpost of Whakatane' and in another hand ‘Outpost officially from 24-7-85' [sic]. Subsequently the Opotiki Art Society rented the Barracks for a nominal fee, buying it on 9 February 1977. The Barracks was valued at $10,000 and members of the Arts Society contributed up to $1000 each to purchase the building, with help from the Opotiki Lions Club. The Barracks and rooms at the rear of the main space have been used since then for exhibitions, workshops and art classes. Half the roof was lost during Cyclone Bola in 1988. In 2004 plans for alterations were drawn up by local architectural draughtsman Peder Hansen but altered in 2005. In September 2005 the Opotiki Arts Society launched a fundraising scheme, a silent art auction, to assist with financing the restoration. In 2006 a conservation plan was prepared by Matthews & Matthews, conservation architects of Auckland. With the assistance of a New Zealand Lottery and Heritage Fund grant the Society was able to raise the Barracks, re-pile, undertake drainage improvements, and refurbish and paint the exterior of the building. During internal refurbishment in 2006 a large painted Salvation Army crest was uncovered on the back wall. The crest bears the motto ‘Blood and Fire' and has been preserved and left uncovered.

In 2007 the Salvation Army Barracks (Former) continues to be used by the Opotiki Arts Society for exhibitions, workshops, meetings and community events. It has been re-named as the Opotiki Heritage Art Centre.

Registered buildings with Salvation Army connections or use, some purpose built, include the Salvation Army Fortress, Dunedin (Register No.2215), and the Salvation Army buildings in Cambridge (Register No.4189), Dargaville (Register No.3941), Invercargill (Register No.2510) and Temuka (Register No.2030).

Physical Description

The building is a late-Victorian timber gabled Barracks, which originally incorporated and adapted elements from both the classical and gothic traditions. The façade was symmetrically arranged with pointed windows either side of the entrance which also had a pointed toplight. Originally the gable was decorated with a scalloped barge board, with tie beam and braces. This detail to the gable end was removed at some stage but was replaced during renovations in 2007. Timber plaques with scalloped corners were located above the doors, and beneath each window. Rusticated weatherboards were neatly finished at the corners with timber cover boards. The circular louvered timber grill remains at the apex.

While some changes have occurred to the façade over time the building remains in generally original condition, and retains some original interior detail including a small podium. Modifications include linking the main Barracks with the Junior Barracks at the rear (date unknown but thought to be an early change), modifying the stage from its original tiered configuration to a flat stage (date unknown) adding onto the rear of the Barracks. Modifications have been made at some stage, possibly in the 1950s, to the front windows and door, but in general the Barracks remains largely intact.

The War Cry noted at the opening that the materials used were 'first- class' kauri with an iron roof. The Barracks is clad with rusticated weatherboards, with plain timber barge boards, and a corrugated iron roof. Soffits are lined with tongue and groove (t&g) boards.

Originally, a lean-to structure at the rear of the main Barracks housed the Junior Barracks. This space remains but has had some modifications. Additions at the rear were made in the 1950s and in 1967 the existing low gabled roof structure was constructed over the whole extent, including the original lean-to. The original t&g ceiling is intact.

Other details such as the flag pole have gone. An attempt to modernize the facade has been made by installing horizontal mullions to windows and a small horizontal canopy above the doors. The date of these changes is not known but is possibly from the 1960s.The original doors were vertical t&g timber.

The east elevation remains in largely original condition (with access ramps added in 2007). It is not clear from early photographs whether the ridge ventilators were ever built. The windows at the rear of the Barracks on the north end are double-hung sash windows but are different in detail to the original Barracks windows. An addition was added to the rear of the original lean-to in the 1950s and then a further addition to the north east corner in 1967. At this time a shallow gabled roof was built over the entire rear part of the Barracks. The Junior Barracks retains its original t&g ceiling and walls, door and window. The beam is thought to be part of the structure for the gabled roof which built over this space in 1967.

The Barracks originally contained two separate halls. The one at the rear was for the Junior Salvationists. There is a passage and doorway through to the room at the back of the Barracks. This appears to have been a fairly early modification. It incorporates a glazed top light above a four-panelled timber door.

Each Barracks had a freestanding screen just inside the doors, and a raised platform at the end. In the main Barracks the platform was tiered and was partially enclosed at the front with timber balustrades. The War Cry reported at the opening of the building that together both halls were expected to seat about 300 people.

The interior was originally lined with vertical t&g boards at the base of the walls forming a dado, with horizontal t&g boards above this. The t&g dado remains but above this the walls have been lined with hard board and the lower part of the windows along the side walls have been boarded over to enable extra display space for artwork.

A platform remains at the north end, however it is not tiered. Evidence remains along the rear and side walls showing where the tiers used to be. It is also possible to see how the structure was modified underneath the stage. Harold Bridge, who came here from a child in the 1920s, noted that it did have a timber penitent rail across the front. People knelt there to be blessed during conversions. He also remembers an organ and a lectern.

The small wind lobby inside the doors is a later modification.

The later addition at the rear is constructed of pine framing, with a strip timber floor. It is gib-lined and partially unpainted. It houses store areas, a toilet and a pottery room.

In 2006 the building was considered to be generally in a reasonable condition, but required maintenance and conservation work to address problems with water ponding on the site, reinstate missing elements and repair deteriorated materials and finishes. This work was undertaken in May 2006.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1898 -
Building constructed (July - September)

1930 -
Fire damage to Barracks

1949 - 1951
Adding of Sanitary conveniences, septic tank and filter drain to swamp

1951 -
Fibrolite-clad extension to north-west corner of Barracks

1958 -
Drainage from toilets at rear to eastern boundary

1967 -
New addition on north-east corner; new roof at rear change from slope to horizontal with new rear wall

1975 -
Installation of stainless steel tub

2006 -
Renovations and conservation work

Construction Details

Timber (including Kauri), corrugated iron.

Completion Date

24th March 2008

Report Written By

Lynette Williams

Information Sources

Alexander Turnbull Library

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

New Zealand Biographical Clippings, 1958, Vol 1. and 'Country and Town Lots Opotiki', 18 February 1868, A47 and A52.

Bradwell, 1982

Cyril R Bradwell, Fight the Good Fight: The Story of the Salvation Army in New Zealand 1883-1983, Auckland, 1982.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

Land Information New Zealand

Survey plans and titles.

New Zealand Gazette

New Zealand Gazette


Opotiki County Council, 1977

Opotiki County Council, Opotiki 100 Years: 1877-1977, Whakatane, [1977]

Special edition newspaper.

Opotiki Corps History Book

Transcript of book salvaged from Fire in the Whakatane hall in 1982 (Original fire-damaged book possibly at Salvation Army Headquarters in Wellington.

Opotiki News

Opotiki News

23 May 2005, 6 September 2006.

Sampson, 1993

Barbara Sampson, Women of Spirit: Life Stories of New Zealand Salvation Army Women from the last 100 Years, Salvation Army, Wellington, 1993.

War Cry

War Cry

17 September 1898

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Lower Northern Area 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.