Lost Whangarei Heritage the old BNZ Building 1882 (demolished or extensively altered)

Bank of New Zealand Building circa 1920 cnr Rust Avenue & Banks Streets Whangarei

This beautiful building built in the neo-classical style (Greek Revival) was situated on the corner of Bank Street and Rust Avenue in Whangarei. It was designed by Auckland based architect Edward Mahoney (circa 1824-1895) in 1881 for the Bank of New Zealand to replace an earlier building sited on Walton Street. This image was taken by photographer George Radcliffe perhaps about 1920, going on the style of the car on the far left of the image. Tenders were advertised by Mahoney in November of 1881 for the construction of the new bank premises. The successful tenderer for the construction was a 'Mr Mathieson'

                            Tender Notice Auckland Star, Volume XII, Issue 3520, 17 November 1881, Page 3

The builder was a Mr Mathieson. The New Zealand Herald 8 June 1882 wrote the following

This building, situated in the most central part of the township, is now completed, and Mr. Matthieson is to be congratulated upon being the contractor for the finest building as yet in Whangarei. It commands a view of any part of the village, and cannot fail to attract the attention of visitors to Whangarei, as they walk up our main street. It consists of 11 rooms, all told.
The public office is a large airy room, measuring 22ft. 9in. x 20ft. Then comes the manager's room, 14ft. x 11ft.; strong room, 8ft. x 7ft.; sitting room, 20ft. x 14ft.; dining room,15ft, 6in. x 14ft.; two bedrooms, each 13ft. x 9ft.; one bedroom, 13ft. x lift.; servant's bedroom, 10ft. x 9ft.; kitchen, 17ft. 6in. x 12ft.; scullery, 7ft. x 9ft.; the hall is 7ft, 
All round the walls, and both sides of the partitions of the building, are fixed pieces of galvanized iron, to prevent rats and mice from getting access. All the rooms and passages of the main building are finished with 12ft. x l ft. sunk and moulded skirting, and those of the kitchen with 9in. moulded skirting, all neatly glass-papered. 
The front is 2 1/4 in. thick, with bolection mouldings, and raised panels outside, and flush mouldings inside, hung folding. It is fastened with an iron bar 2 1/2 in. x 1 1/2 in, drawback lock, and two strong tower bolts. The side doors are fastened with 10 in. drawback locks. Inside the sill of each door, is formed a tray, 3ft. long, and l ft. 6in. wide, to receive a mat so that the doors can open freely over it. 
The counter top in the public office is a single plank 2in. thick, and 4ft. wide. The counter front has raised panels, and bolection mouldings, is furnished with pilasters, and carved trusses, and is very neatly stained. The walls of all the rooms are scrimmed, and papered with costly paper.
In each fireplace is set a register grate, and in the kitchen fireplace a Leamington range.
The out-houses, stable, &c, are very substantially built, and are floored with concrete. The whole building is painted, and the doors and windows are painted in green and gold.
A substantial ornamental fence is erected around the building, keeping the premises private.
The best of workmanship and the best of timber are put into the building, and there should not be the slightest difficulty in getting it passed by the architects Messrs. Mahoney and Son.
New Zealand Herald, Volume XIX, Issue 6414, 8 June 1882, Page 5 

Sadly, the Bank of New Zealand at some point, decided the building was no longer what it required. I have no date or year for the demolition and/or extensive alteration of what was a beautiful, and now sadly lost heritage building. The building next to it however fortunately still survives.


ash said…
I remember this building and its unwelcome demolition, which I would guess was between 1981 and 1984. It was the prime viewing location for Christmas parades, which is one of my earliest memories. Interesting to see tram power lines in the photo. I didn't know that Whangarei had trams or trolley-buses.
Liz said…
Hi Ash

Thanks for the information. I had wondered if the building had been a victim of the 1980's out with old and in with the Dallas style bland policies the BNZ had during that period. What a shame it was such a beautiful piece of iconic architecture.
Unknown said…
This building was knocked down in late 1984 or early 1985. The replacement building was certainly newly completed by early 1986. I remember seeing it demolished as a child.

Out of interest I also remember seeing some type of Bonnie & Clyde style bank robbing scene being filmed there shortly before the demolition. 1930's era cars & costumes. were used. I love to know what the filming was for and have a chance to see the footage.

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