Stamps, Bean Counter’s + An Aviatrix

On April 27, 2011 by Eye on Auckland

The Deloitte’s Centre is full of history.

Eye on Auckland would like to take you on a tour of the Deloitte Centre site which is located between Jean Batten Place, Queen, Shortland and Fort Streets in downtown Auckland. The site is full of history, some good and some not-so-good. We need to go back to the latter half of 1840:

1. It is late 1840 and on the shore of Commercial Bay the first permanent timber structure in the newly established city of Auckland is built – Government Store. By 1844 the store is used as a market and 165 years later it will become the site for a tall glass skyscraper.

2. By 1867 more permanent structures appear due to booming export business and population growth. The Wharf Stores hosted from left to right: New Zealand Insurance Co, PA Philips (Iron Monger), M Bruce (Jeweller), T Boylan (Glass Importer), W Miller (Boot Maker), HP Hayward, The Bank of Australasia and Shortland Street Post Office.

3. 1868 – Shortland Street Post Office & Custom’s House is built in the Gothic Style. By the 1930′s the building was demolished to make way for a road (Jean Batten Place) connecting Shortland Street (Auckland’s oldest Street) and Fort Street, as well as, for the construction of the [Jean Batten Post Office]. The above photograph was taken in 1905.

4. In 1885 the Victoria Arcade was built and featured Street level shops and four floors of office space. Many artists such as Henry Winkelmann kept studios here. Unfortunately the building was sold and subsequently demolished in 1978 by the Bank of New Zealand for their new building. A disaster and big loss for Auckland, The Bank of New Zealand owes us a huge apology. The above photograph was taken in 1904.
5. Built between 1937 and 1942, the Jean Batten Post Office Building was designed in the Moderne Style which was all the rage at the time. Completed during the wartime years the building first housed the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps and the United States Red Cross. The building was named after Jean Batten who became the best-known New Zealander of the 1930s, internationally, by taking a number of record-breaking solo flights across the world.
6. 1978 could be considered as one of the low points in Auckland’s architectural history, the Bank of New Zealand demolishes the Victoria Arcade building and construct their monstrous, bunker-like office block adjoining the Jean Batten Post Office building  which scars the Queen Street landscape for many decades. Shame on you Bank of new Zealand.
7. By 2008, the Bank of New Zealand thankfully demolish their 1970′s monstrosity and begin construction on a 21 level office tower and restore the Jean Batten Post Office building which retains original features such as brass lights, crests and Art Deco cornices. The building has been given a 5 star Green Star rating and by November 2009 elite-brand stores such as Reebok, Lacoste, Northface, Rockport and Ben Sherman opened their doors to the passing trade.
We are relieved that the former building is gone but that will never replace the Victoria Arcade building and for that we will never forgive the old  Auckland City Council and/or the Bank of New Zealand. We hope that you spare a thought for stamps, bean counter’s and an aviatrix when ever you walk by the Deloitte’s Centre. We hope that you enjoyed the tour.

9 Responses to “Stamps, Bean Counter’s + An Aviatrix”

  • BusFan

    I had no idea that this area was so full of history. How could they demolish the Victoria Arcade ? Unbelievable. I have tow passions, buses and heritage buildings. Thanks for all the information, now I will view the area with different eyes :) LOL excuse the pun.

  • Matt

    What a waste. Just imagine of they had left the Neo-Gothic architecture in place, that block would have been amazing. I must admit that I also like the Deloitte’s Centre and how they incorporated the Jean Batten Building. Thanks for all the info :)

  • The Eye

    Looking at those photographs makes me very sad – what were they thinking ? The Deloitte’s Centre is way better than the Stalinist bunker that was there before but the Victoria Arcade and Shortland Street Post Office would have been much better :)

  • Gotham

    Shit I will never feel the same again. I had no idea that such beautiful buildings existed there. Have you got any photographs of the interior of the Victoria Building ?

  • The Eye

    It is shocking, now when we are serious about protecting our heritage most of the good stuff is already gone :( Let’s hope that history never repeats itself. Unfortunately I don’t have any interior shots but I will try to hunt some down :)

  • little_miss_muffet

    So sad to see such fantastic architecture lost :(

  • Michael L

    The people responsible for the loss of The Victoria Arcade should all be in jail. F**king disgusting if you ask me.

  • peter

    i remember the victoria arcade back in the sixties ,and many other sites like it ,,the heart has ripped out of auckland in the seventies and beyond by visionless money pepole , i remember thew public out cry which came to nothing , still going on today look around you eg the appartment craze etc

  • Geoff Houtman

    Good to see someone keen on saving our remaining heritage.

    Imagine if we still had the large beautiful Victorian buildings there, with the newer skyscrapers sensitively placed behind them. The CBD would be a free tourist attraction in its’ own right…

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