BNZ Head Office

Bank of New Zealand
  • The  BNZ / Head Office Heritage Area incorporates several groups of heritage buildings that together form one of the most significant and highly regarded streetscapes in New Zealand. The area mainly occupies land reclaimed between 1857 and 1863, but it also includes a part of the city, a stretch of southern Lambton Quay, that has been permanently settled since 1840.

    The centre-piece is the block containing the former BNZ buildings – four buildings associated with the Bank of New Zealand, only one of which was built by the BNZ, plus the MLC Building. The area also includes a significant cluster of late Victorian / Edwardian commercial buildings around the Stewart Dawson’s Corner, a row of very fine 1930s’ head offices built for insurance companies and banks on Lambton Quay and one of the finest 20th century buildings in Wellington – the AMP building on Customhouse Quay.

    The oldest of the buildings is the former National Mutual Life building (1883), later incorporated into the BNZ complex, on the corner of Hunter St and Customhouse Quay. The most recent buildings are modern structures on Lambton Quay, although they are not considered contributors to the area. In between is a collection of buildings that offer a broad and interesting sweep through a range of architectural eras, incorporating a variety of styles and materials.

    The heritage area is nationally significant for its association with both the early physical development of Wellington, the establishment of the city’s financial centre and the development of Wellington as the country’s financial and corporate capital.


  • close Physical Description
    • Setting close

      This heritage area is located right in the middle of Wellington’s CBD and has mostly modern office buildings as its near neighbours. The main topographical element in the area is the steep slope of the cliff on its western side – today occupied at the top by The Terrace. For much of the 19th century it was a backdrop to the growing city and, before reclamation was undertaken, a considerable obstacle to expansion. Access to the cliff was via steps through land owned by John Plimmer, the bottom section of which is an integral part of the heritage area. Even today, there is room for little more than one building per site on the western side of Lambton Quay, even after material for reclamation was taken from the cliff. The rest of the immediate setting is dominated by the CBD and the mixture of old and new that is 21st century Wellington.

      An important part of the character of the area derives from the geometry established by the pattern of the streets, which reflects the early development of the city and illustrates the contribution of land reclamation to today’s urban form. The rectilinear street grid imposed on the Lambton Harbour reclamation intersects irregularly with the serpentine form of Lambton Quay (which marks the original shore-line); among the intersections are a number of dramatic triangular corner sites for buildings, chief among those the BNZ block and the MLC.


    • Streetscape or Landscape close

      Not available

    • Contents and Extent close

      The boundaries of the heritage area contain the most important buildings and streetscape elements in this part of Wellington. The boundaries follow the property lines of the most significant buildings – from the AMP Building on the corner of Customhouse Quay and Hunter Street to Featherston Street and over to the row of 1930s commercial buildings on the western edge of Lambton Quay, to Stewart Dawson’s Corner (and just into Willis Street for the Fletcher’s Building) and down the western edge of Customhouse Quay to incorporate the former BNZ group.

      The buildings are, in general, grouped by common purpose and / or location – the BNZ buildings, the financial and insurance institutions and the retail block associated with Stewart Dawson’s. Each group has an individual character associated with the main period of development of the group – from 1880s Victorian neo-Classical for the early commercial buildings through to Art Deco and Moderne for the 1930s financial and insurance buildings. Scale is also a significant feature, with the low-rise bank and retail buildings contrasting with the relatively high-rise buildings for the Willis Street group and the MLC and AMP buildings.


    • Buildings close

      Stewart Dawson’s Group

      The Stewart Dawson’s group is notable for its continuity of scale and elevation line around the corner from Willis Street to Lambton Quay, with the three buildings having very similar floor levels and highly compatible styles, a feature which gives this small surviving group of Edwardian commercial buildings special townscape value. The buildings originally shared a bullnosed verandah which wrapped around the corner supported by cast-iron posts.

      Fletcher’s Building

      Fletcher’s Building bookends Stewart Dawson’s building on Willis Street. Completed in 1900, it is a small three-storied rendered masonry building executed in an Edwardian Free Classical style. The principal façade emphasises the centre of the building with symmetrical shop-fronts at the ground floor, deeply-recessed paired windows on the upper two floors and is surmounted by a simple cornice and pediment arrangement. The roof is concealed behind the pediment. The windows to the first floor are gently arrissed at the heads while those at the upper storey have round heads augmented with large decorative keystones. Small balustrades placed in front of the windows enliven the composition of the façade, as do the detailed flourishes of the blocked and rusticated pilasters, carved spandrels, and the Composite-order pilasters supporting the central mock balcony. A more recent suspended verandah visually divides the street level from the upper parts of the façade.

      Although the exterior retains a high degree of authenticity and the layout of the original shopfronts is readily recognisable, little remains of the original building behind the façade today.

      Stewart Dawson’s Building

      A simple Edwardian Classical building completed in 1900 to a design by architect William Chatfield, Stewart Dawson’s building forms a major Wellington landmark on its key intersection site. Three stories tall, it is notable for its cranked elevations that negotiate the major corner of Lambton Quay and Willis Street and the subtle and carefully arranged composition of the elevations. The building has an innovative structural system of concrete-encased steel girders and stanchions supporting the rendered masonry façade, a system later used in many Wellington buildings for its fire- and earthquake-resistant properties.

      At street level much of the form and some of the fabric of the original shopfronts can still be discerned. A cantilevered bullnose verandah separates the street level from the upper façade, which is ornately embellished; a commonality of key elevation lines and a visual rhythm and style compatible with the adjoining Poy’s and Fletcher’s buildings creates the streetscape value of the building and the group. The general pattern of the upper façade is of regularly spaced and deeply-recessed windows divided and structured by minor and major pilasters, which gives the building a highly-modelled appearance. At the first floor, the windows have segmental arched heads with small keystones flanked by square Ionic pilasters; there is a strong rhythm established with the major pilasters rising to corbels supporting the boldly projecting inter-floor cornice. At the second floor, the windows are square-headed and the pilasters, aligned with those below, are Corinthian. These support the entablature including the strong upper cornice, with supporting console brackets and a balustraded upper parapet, which conceals the roof line. Little of the original building remains behind the façade.

      Poy’s Building (Equitable Building and Investment Co. Building)

      Poy’s is the oldest surviving commercial building on Lambton Quay and one of the city’s oldest masonry buildings. It was completed for the Equitable Building and Investment Co. in 1887. A carefully designed and detailed three storey building, its rendered façade has a simple but elegant Classical composition that is divided into three vertical bays, each with round-headed windows, with the emphasis on the central bay where the windows are paired. The first floor features Corinthian motifs in the pilasters and mouldings, and is notable for the scallop infill panels to the heads of the deeply-recessed arched windows. The second floor is more plainly dressed in a Tuscan order. Prominent string course lines delineate the principal floor levels and the building is capped with a simple Doric entablature springing off a small but prominent cornice supported on consoles and which has a simple arched pediment in the centre, topped with an acanthus-motif acroterion and backed up by a simple horizontal parapet. The roof-line is concealed behind the parapet.

      Beneath the modern suspended flat verandah, some of the original building fabric remains at street level but little remains behind the façade.

      Former BNZ buildings and MLC

      BNZ1 – Former BNZ Head Office and Bank

      The main building of the former BNZ group was designed by Thomas Turnbull and completed in 1891, replacing the previous bank building on the site. It is an accomplished and elegantly proportioned and finished neo-Classical design that sits harmoniously with the other neo-Classical buildings in the group. The building is three full floors above ground level with a fourth basement floor that is set mostly below the street level and is constructed in load-bearing masonry with the façades and detailing executed in rendered plaster.

      The main architectural features respond to the dramatic corner site. The composition has pronounced Renaissance influences in its overall form and in the arrangement and detail of the principal features of the façades. The building is centred on the longitudinal axis of the block on a strong rusticated base, which turns the intersection corner with an elegant curve, surmounted with two further stories set on a flat face and capped with an entablature incorporating a complex regular array of pediments and chimneys.

      The principal facades to Lambton Quay and Customhouse Quay are essentially identical and symmetrical and illustrate a harmonious use of the Classical orders to articulate the elevations. The façades have a distinct vertical emphasis that is enhanced by the oblique principal views of the building. On either side of the rounded corner, the building is symmetrically composed between prominent end bays, each consisting of arched entrance-ways supported on Doric pilasters and flanked by square pilasters on either side which rise to support balconies with massive corbels, surmounted with giant-order Corinthian capitals rising the next two storeys and capped above the top cornice with triangular parapets.

      The base of the building is divided in two horizontal sections with a square string course – the lower section is gently moulded and extends to the basement level below the street, the upper section is heavily rusticated and features square-headed windows set between the end bays. The base is separated from the upper façade with a strong horizontal cornice on console brackets. The first floor has square-headed windows flanked by Corinthian pilasters supporting entablatures made of triangular pediments to the corner bays and segmental arched pediments between. The next floor has arched windows surmounted by horizontal pediments on brackets rising to meet the heavily detailed entablature that trims the top of the building. This element is notable for its generous scale and rich pattern of brackets and consoles; between the major pediment elements of the corner bays and the principal street corner, it features the regular pattern of the restored chimneys with open balustrading between. The roof is concealed at this level.

      The conversion of the bank building to retail centre in 1997, by developers Ipoh Garden, resulted in the loss of a great amount of original heritage fabric, particularly to the interior, which was modelled on the arrangement of the Queen Victoria building in Sydney (an earlier project by the same developers). It has boutiques set either side of a central promenade with large openings to the equivalent space in the basement floor below, an arrangement which has very little to do with the original configuration of the bank building. This loss of heritage value to the interior is somewhat ameliorated by the recreation of the exterior form and detail of the top of the building which completes and balances the building, enabling the original composition to be properly understood, and gives it its definitive townscape character. The poorly designed and cumbersome additions of the verandahs detract somewhat from the quality of the building.

      Even though there is no direct continuity of elevation line with the adjoining No.2 and No.3 buildings, there is a high level of compatibility between the three in general proportion and rhythm and the high level of modelling of the façades.

      A portion of the bow of the Inconstant or Plimmer’s Ark, is located at the northern end of Building 1 on the basement floor created during the 1997-99 refurbishment.  The timbers sit in a special cavity beneath the floor and are being conserved in situ.

      BNZ2 – Former Wellington Building and Investment Company

      The second building of the former BNZ group is located on the Lambton Quay side of the block. Completed in 1904 for the Wellington Building and Investment Company it was also designed by Turnbull and is of equivalent construction and a similar design style to the BNZ building.

      The building is four full stories above ground level and is distinguished from the BNZ by its differing floor heights and ordering of the façade and the distinctive cornice at between the top two floors. It shares a common Renaissance influence with the bank building in its general composition and detailing.

      The façade is symmetrical about the centre and is divided into three principal sections, two end bays and a central section, separated by narrow flanking bays. Vertically, it is divided into four parts. The building stands on a base with solid piers and attached columns with prominent arches and is divided from the upper façade by a shallow cornice. It has two middle floors visually connected with giant-order Composite pilasters and square headed windows – the first floor windows have Ionic pilasters flanking the windows which support small entablatures (which alternate between segmental-arch, flat and triangular pediments which reflect the details on the main bank building), the second floor windows have strong architraving enhanced with Corinthian details. The giant columns support a strong cornice with prominent consoles. Above the cornice is the top floor, essentially an attic storey, which features arched windows with round and square Tuscan pilasters and architraving supporting the entablature. The entablature consists of a projecting cornice on large consoles, with triangular pediments to the three principal bays connected with an open balustrade. The central pediment is given additional prominence with a segmental-arched cap.

      The roof is concealed behind the entablature. A modern verandah detracts somewhat from views of the building at street level.

      This building also has lost a significant amount of heritage fabric in conjunction with the retail centre conversion, but as with the bank its restored entablature completes the form of the building and allows appreciation of its interesting arrangement and proportions. Even though there is no direct continuity of line to the street elevation, the form, proportion and rhythm of the façade is very compatible with the adjoining bank building.

      BNZ3 – Former National Mutual Life Building

      This building is the oldest surviving member of the BNZ group, completed in 1885. The building was designed by Thomas Turnbull in a richly detailed neo-Classical style replete with moulded plaster flourishes. The other buildings in the group share common themes but this is the most intricately detailed.

      The building rises three stories above ground, with half of the basement level visible above the pavement. This is now a full retail floor which links through to the basement level of the main bank building.

      The building has two principal facades, one to Hunter Street and one to Customhouse Quay with each façade composed symmetrically about the centreline. The design has a strongly rusticated base and two further stories, each divided with prominent cornices. These give the building a strong horizontal emphasis, in contrast with the rather more vertical arrangement of the bank building. The entablature, recreated in 1997, features a complex arrangement of balustrading, pediments and chimneys which enriches and balances the composition of the building.

      The base sets the rusticated pilasters, which flank the windows and are each capped with moulded wreathings and festoons, above a plainer plinth that descends to the basement floor level. The openings to the base level are arched with simple Doric pilasters supporting a heavy architrave and trimmed with keystones, embellished with a variety of faces (including, unusually, some Chinamen) and grotesques. Above the windows, a strong cornice line supported on consoles visually separates the first floor. This level has Composite-order pilasters rising to an Ionic cornice with prominent dentils and lotus-leaf infill panels. Between the pilasters, the windows are square-headed and have a sequence of round and triangular pediments supported on brackets. The top storey has heavily-ornamented square pilasters separating the windows, which are arched with prominent architraves supported on Tuscan pilasters. At the central bay of each façade these are extended into the top cornice to support the pediments above. The top cornice is strongly moulded and is supported on large consoles. Above this rises the forest of the re-created entablature, which includes triangular pediments centred on each façade and a regularly-spaced array of posts and chimneys, between which spans an open balustrade. The roof is concealed at this level

      The floor levels differ to the adjoining bank buildings but even though there is no direct continuity of the line to the street elevations the three buildings have sufficiently similar form and pattern that they form a very harmonious group..

      BNZ4 – Former NZ Accident Insurance Company

      The last building in the BNZ group is the only one not designed by Turnbull. Situated on Hunter Street next to the No. 3 building on a narrow site, it is a relatively small commercial building with four floors.

      It was completed in 1903 to the design of Hislop and Walden in an Edwardian Free Classical style, a rather more pared-back version of the neo-Classical style of the other buildings in the group. The street façade is symmetrically composed in three vertical bays, with the principal entrance set in the right-hand bay and the central bay given the most emphasis in the design. It is divided horizontally by prominent cornice lines, the first of which aligns with the cornice of the adjoining No.3 building. Its tall proportions and relatively minimal detailing hint at Art Nouveau influences although the detailed finish is substantially drawn from Georgian pattern-books and precedents.

      The main floor is set above ground level, its position emphasised by the quoined base. It features a large gently-rounded central window flanked by decorated arches in the side bays and has prominent stylised Ionic pilasters which rise to a matching cornice. The next floor has a pair of square-headed windows in the central bay, flanked by arched windows in the side bay, divided by wreathed pilasters and a simple cornice. Above this, the top-storey windows are all square-headed and feature dentils at the heads supporting the entablature. The entablature conceals the roof-line and consists of two stylised triangular pediments, each capped with an acroterion, to the side bays and a heavy balustrade spanning between. This building sits harmoniously with the No. 3 building in the streetscape. Despite the differing floor levels it has a similarity of proportion, rhythm and detail that makes a strong contribution to the streetscape in conjunction with the other building.

      MLC (Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co.)

      Set apart from the BNZ buildings on the same block by its scale, materials and style, the MLC building was completed in 1940 to the design of Mitchell & Mitchell. This building illustrates a unique blend of Moderne and Art Deco influences in its design and makes striking use of its corner site with its elegant vertical proportions and signature clock tower.

      A distinctive central Wellington landmark, the MLC building is located on a prominent corner site abutted by the No.2 and No.4 BNZ buildings. Nine original stories tall, with modern roof-top additions, it is particularly notable for its high design quality and beautiful finishing materials, including the graded ochre colours of the faience cladding and rich grey of the Kanimbla marble base set over a structural concrete frame with load-bearing perimeter walls.

      The composition of the elevations is centred about the Lambton Quay corner, each principal façade pivoting about the clock tower, which marks the retail entrance to the building. The Lambton Quay façade is divided into three principal bays, the Hunter Street façade into eight, set back from the façade line of the adjoining No. 4 BNZ building. The building is carefully composed with a strong vertical emphasis, which connects it visually with the nearby Prudential building.

      The ground floor façades are essentially monolithic, broken by the square granite arches at the two principal entrances and the regular pattern of the shop windows which follows the line of the bays above, and are capped with a gently overhanging cornice. Above this the facades rise seven stories in vertical bays to an organically patterned projecting cornice; each bay has a pair of windows, set nearly flush with the façade, separated with a narrow mullion and is divided from the next bay with a wider pilaster which rises above the cornice as a stylised pinnacle. The windows and spandrel panels are set out to an absolutely regular grid. The top windows in each bay are gently arched as a pair. Above this cornice is the original top storey which is set back slightly from the face line of the building. It features large windows in gently recessed surrounds and a horizontal roofline. Above this is an untidy series of modern additions, mechanical plant and the like, all set back from the face of the building and of low visibility from the street. The centrepiece of the building is the clock tower, a carefully sculpted rectangular prism that rises a further two stories above the original building with a clock face on each side.

      Much original heritage fabric was lost when the interior was converted to serviced apartments in 1996, including the clock mechanism. The clock hands are now only operated by the whim of the occupants of the apartment in the clock tower. However the exterior substantially retains its authentic form and materials (save for the windows and street corner entrance, which are modern replacements). The MLC makes a significant contribution to the quality of the streetscape value along both streets.

      1930s Commercial Row

      South British Insurance

      Built in 1936 to the design of M.K. Draffin, the South British Insurance building is a simple but elegant composition in a Stripped Classical style, clearly intended to reflect the insurance company’s status, responsibility and stability. The six-storey high building is faced in imported Darleydale sandstone (from Derbyshire) over the structure. The principal elevation has a simple but dignified palazzo-type composition with a rusticated base of piers with wide openings and a piano nobile first floor that differs in arrangement to the other levels and is the most richly detailed with carved bas-relief panels at the windows heads. The windows, all square headed and slightly recessed, are carefully proportioned but simply cut out of the façade and this minimal detailing gives the façade a spare elegance. A simple horizontal moulded cornice caps the building and conceals the roof line beyond. There is a modern six-storey annexe at the rear of the site.

      A modern sloped glass verandah detracts somewhat from appearance of the ground level of the building, as does the indelicate neon signage in the entablature of the ground floor. While parts of the original entrance remain, the shop-fronts below the verandah are modern.

      This building has very high townscape value in conjunction with the adjoining CBA, Prudential and MLC buildings and contributes positively to this elegant and rare group of 1930s office buildings.

      Former Commercial Bank of Australia

      The former CBA building, completed in 1936 to the design of Clere and Clere is of similar scale to the adjoining Prudential building but is distinctly less adventurous in its design, which harks back to the earlier and more conservative Chicago-influenced period of tall building design. It is finished in a Stripped Classical idiom with some Art Deco flourishes in the detail. Its eight stories reflect a traditional division into base, column and capital and the vertical nature of the composition is not emphasised to the same extent as its neighbour.

      The main façade is divided into three vertical bays, a central section three windows wide and flanking bays each two windows wide. The flanking bays are slightly recessed from the central section. The windows are all square headed and are separated horizontally in each bay with a thin mullion and vertically with a moulded spandrel panel; the bays are divided by the projection of the columns of the base. The building has a two-storeyed base, capped with a shallow but high “entablature” which divides base from shaft and is trimmed with a lightly detailed cornice with dentil mouldings. The four columns of the base end in simplified Ionic capitals that support the entablature. Above this rise six stories, each identically detailed. The whole is capped by a neo-Classical cornice with large dentils that conceals the roof-line beyond. A modern angled glass verandah detracts somewhat from views of the building from the street.

      The former CBA building is harmoniously proportioned and together with the other buildings in the group makes a significant contribution to the streetscape of Lambton Quay and to the values of the heritage area.

      Prudential Building

      Completed in 1935 to the design of Melbourne architects Hennessy & Hennessy (in association with the well-known local firm of Gray Young Morton & Young), the Prudential building, although not notably tall, is in many senses Wellington’s first true skyscraper – the first tall building designed to look tall rather than merely substantial – and one of the city’s finest buildings. It is a striking Art Deco building with strong New York influences (evident among them the then recently completed Empire State and Chrysler buildings), which are particularly evident in the heavily emphasised verticality and symmetry of the composition. The net effect of the proportions of the design is to make the building look rather taller than its physical eight stories and significantly larger than it actually is.

      The building has a reinforced concrete structure and is sheathed in “Benedict Stone”, a composite material, at the base and coloured plaster render to the upper levels (now painted over) and is lightly but strongly decorated with a variety of Deco motifs which even include raptor gargoyles. The four façades are to an identical design and are characterised by the strong rhythm and vertical proportion created by the alternating pattern of paired narrow piers and narrow windows and spandrels. The piers carry above the principal roof line as stylised pinnacles to create a crenelated Deco parapet line. The composition is tripartite, with a strong central emphasis – the middle part of the façade, which has windows in groups of three, rises full-height to the parapet while the two side parts are interrupted at the penultimate floor by a horizontal band before continuing to the parapet.

      Although the full symmetry of the building was only ever briefly visible (the construction of the adjacent CBA building masked one of the principal views in the following year), enough of it remains seen in the round to give a clear impression of the intent of the design.

      Most of the original interior has been lost to years of alterations including the recent conversion to apartment use. This conversion has resulted in an unfortunate litany of significant changes to the building, principally a substantial modern roof-top addition of apartments that detracts from the elegant lines and proportions of the original building and detracts strongly from its architectural qualities. A modern, mainly glass, addition spans the space to the CBA building. While this is handled more carefully than the apartments, in closing the former lane it blocks views of the base of the building (partly preventing it from being seen properly in the round) and cuts unsympathetically across important original detail on the base. The original front entrance has been heavily modified.

      The Prudential building has extremely high group value with the neighbouring CBA and South British Insurance buildings and is the most important building in the group for its architectural qualities and contribution to the streetscape of Lambton Quay.

      AMP Buildings

      The principal AMP building is one of the most dignified in the city. Completed in 1928 to the design of Clere & Clere, it stands an imposing eight stories tall on its corner site with major elevations to both Hunter Street and Customhouse Quay; the main entrance is on the latter. It is as notable for the very fine materials and craftsmanship employed in its construction, including the distinctive rusticated ashlar sandstone to the façades (laid over a steel primary structure) and the marbles in the entrance, as it is for its quality of design.

      The building is composed as an Italian palazzo with a double-height base (which is made up of a half-basement above the footpath with a generous double-height first storey set above that), trimmed with a stylised Doric entablature with a cornice supported on triglyphs, and a five-storey trunk which is divided from the top floor with a heavy Corinthian cornice with prominent consoles. Above this, the top floor is finished with a simple parapet line. With the exception of the vaulted main entrance, the openings to the building are all square headed. They are enlivened on the trunk of the building by a variety of pediments and ornamentation – flat pediments on brackets to the first floor, triangular pediments to the second, semi-circular pediments to the third and flat pediments to the fourth, bas-relief panels between the windows at the fifth and with recessed architraves at the top floor.

      The main façades are articulated about a bevelled corner which rises to the carved pediment sculpture group on top of the parapet featuring the motto of the AMP “Amicus Certus in Re Dicerta” (“a certain friend in uncertain times”) and the legend “Established 1849”. This group features three adult figures, a child and an owl.

      The main entrance, on Customhouse Quay, is the finest remaining in the city. It is a double-height barrel vault with deep coffering which rises over marble walls and steps and ornamental bronze work. Recent alterations have replaced a poorly detailed 1960s aluminium glazed weather-screen across the entrance with a modern frameless glass screen and most of the original fabric in this area remains in place and visible to the public.

      While internal alterations, including the mezzanine division of the first floor, have somewhat reduced the overall heritage value of the building, the exterior remains highly authentic and the impressive entry is almost intact. This building is a major contributor to the streetscape on both of the adjoining streets and in the longer view north from the intersection of Lambton Quay and Willis Street.

      The later AMP building, built in 1952 on the corner of Hunter Street and Featherston Street, is not of particular heritage significance although it has an important association with this building. It shows a carefully balanced composition, with an interesting concave bevel in the facades at the street corner drawing attention to a retail entrance.

      The building is drawn to line with the earlier AMP from the top down. The upper floors align visually but become progressively de-synchronised as the building nears the street, a consequence of the disparity in inter-floor heights between the buildings. A strong projecting cornice, line divides the roof-top floor, presumably a later addition, from the top floor of the building itself. The top floor is heavily glazed and the base of the glazing forms another strong horizontal line that aligns with the principal cornice on the older building. The two façades are arranged with a central symmetry and focus with a large panel, subdivided horizontally by a beam line, of windows separated horizontally by mullions in two widths and vertically by bronze spandrel panels. This bay is flanked either side by a plain wall panel with regularly spaced small windows. The bottom part of the façade has a clumsy modern verandah.

      The building is given additional feature with very cleverly executed trompe l’oeil stone and brick-work and carefully rendered shadowing which enhances its otherwise plain modernist form with ersatz three-dimensional masonry detail compatible with the earlier building.

      Other buildings

      The AA Centre stands at the northern edge of this group, interrupting the flow of the heritage streetscape. A tower and podium arrangement, this sets a large modern office building above and back from a glass-fronted podium that overhangs the street and interrupts the otherwise continuous street wall line along this side of Lambton Quay. This building has no relationship, beyond its location, with either this group or the 1930s commercial buildings to the north and has a negative effect on the qualities of the streetscape of the area. The adjoining Real Estate Institute of New Zealand building is a dull modern building, which although it has some similarity of elevation line with Poy’s, is principally decorated with air-conditioning units and does not contribute to the area.


    • Structures and Features close

      Not available

    • Other Features close

      This area has a number of other features that are part of its wider historic fabric or help impart character to the area.  They are:

      • The lamppost commemorating the arrival of electrical street lighting in Wellington in 1888 (near the MLC building).
      • Plimmer's Steps, between the AA Centre and the Prudential – a narrow but important central city accessway. The steps are named for John Plimmer, self-styled ‘Father of Wellington’ and the man responsible for Plimmer’s Ark, the wreck of the Inconstant that he turned into a wharf. The steps originally provided a means to avoid Clay Point when the weather made it impassable.  It also offered a direct link from Boulcott Street and the Terrace to the former location of the Ark on Lambton Quay. Note also the statue of Plimmer and his dog near the intersection of the steps and Lambton Quay.
      • Various historical plaques on the Prudential Building, including one that commemorates the Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute, which had occupied the site from 1844 and, in 1877, built a celebrated timber building, designed by Thomas Turnbull, that stood until 1933.

  • close Historic Context
    • Not available

  • close Cultural Value
    • Significance Summary close

      Not assessed

    • Aesthetic Valueclose
      The BNZ / Head Office Heritage Area can be regarded as one of the key heritage streetscapes in New Zealand. It is significant for its very high townscape values, high quality of heritage buildings and architectural interest, all of which exemplify its important contribution to Wellington’s social and economic history. The area has very high townscape value as a very well established and recognised part of Wellington. Nearly all the buildings retain their original external form, scale and relationship to one another and the immediate streetscape of the area remains much as it was by 1940, albeit with some modern intrusions on Lambton Quay and beyond the area boundary. Views to and through the area retain much of their old character and importance, particularly the long vistas down Willis Street to the BNZ complex and along Featherston Street to the 1930s buildings. Each cluster of buildings in the BNZ / Head Office Heritage Area incorporates a range of ages, styles and forms, but one of the special qualities of the area is the high level of homogeneity of design within each group. The buildings embody a rare collection of high-quality architecture and construction, with many designed by prominent architects. The buildings showcase a range of styles and periods, with many notable for their especially high quality of design, materials and construction, consistent with the status of their original purposes of banking, insurance, finance and retail. The majority of the buildings in the area have high architectural significance and make important contributions to the quality of the streetscape The BNZ buildings are the prime focus of this area and, on their triangular site in the heart of the city, are of critical historic and streetscape importance. The other key buildings in the area include the AMP building, the MLC Centre, the row of office buildings on Lambton Quay including the Prudential, and the distinctive Edwardian commercial buildings around Stewart Dawson’s Corner.
    • Historic Valueclose
      This area can be regarded as a place of great historic importance to Wellington and one of the key heritage streetscapes in New Zealand. Following reclamation and the establishment of the BNZ, the area developed as Wellington’s, and later New Zealand’s, financial centre with banks and financial and insurance institutions clustering around the area. While this role is now mostly conducted elsewhere and most of the buildings in the heritage area no longer have their original uses, the buildings are strongly linked by their shared commercial history. They all reflect significant elements of Wellington’s economic and social history for the important part they played in the development of the city. As befits the status of some of these companies, the quality of design and materials used in their buildings is particularly high. Evidence of the oldest known construction in the CBD can be found in the heritage area. Plimmer’s Ark, a portion of which remains conserved in the BNZ buildings, and Plimmer’s Steps, are historically significant links to the earliest days of the city’s settlement and to one important settler, John Plimmer. Plimmer’s Steps is also a physical reminder of what a significant impediment Clay Point’s narrow beach once was, and the important role the steps played in allowing movement around it in poor weather. A significant heritage feature in the streetscape is the lamppost erected in 1888 to commemorate the arrival of electric lighting in Wellington. Many of the individual buildings are historically and socially important for their present or past uses. The former banks and insurance companies played a significant role in both the city’s and nation’s economy as well as the lives of its citizens. Stewart Dawson’s Corner has been a significant meeting point for Wellingtonians since it was built in 1900. It remains the only building in the area that retains one of its original uses. Many of the buildings are familiar landmarks with strong public recognition.
    • Scientific Valueclose
      The heritage area is located on land with known pre-1900 human activity, and pre-1900 reclamations and is likely to have high archaeological value.
    • Social Valueclose
      The area is likely to be held in high public esteem and this can be seen from the public campaigns to prevent the demolition of several of its key buildings including the BNZ and Prudential. The area contributes to the sense of place and continuity of Wellington as New Zealand’s capital city and was chosen as a site for the head offices of banks, investment and insurance companies for its proximity to Parliament, Post Office Square and Queen’s Wharf. These commercial buildings have been part of Wellington’s inner-city streetscape from the late 19th to mid-20th century and contribute to the sense of place and continuity of Wellington’s CBD.
    • Level Of Cultural Heritage Significanceclose
      This group of CBD buildings represent some of the highest quality architecture, in terms of initial construction cost, design, materials and workmanship, in the highest concentration in Wellington. Although such groups of high-quality buildings were once relatively common, for example on Auckland’s Queen Street and in central Christchurch, groups of buildings of this type, quality and scale are now increasingly rare. The group is unique in New Zealand, as a set of head-office buildings built as a response to Wellington as New Zealand’s capital city. The area also enjoys a very high degree of integrity in its streetscape appearance, with few non-contributing buildings. Is the area important for any of the above characteristics at a local, regional, national, or international level? National
    • New Zealand Heritage Listclose
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Last updated: 1/14/2020 1:02:41 AM