Friday, June 19, 2009


[EYE] ON AUCKLAND would like to take you on a little tour of the new Deloitte Centre & Tower site located between Jean Batten Place, Queen, Shortland and Fort Streets in downtown Auckland.
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 will become the site for the [DELOITTE CENTRE & TOWER].

By 1867 more permanent structures appear due to booming export business and population growth. 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.

1868 [SHORTLAND STREET POST OFFICE & CUSTOM HOUSE] 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.

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. This is why we will never bank with the [BANK OF NEW ZEALAND]. The above photograph was taken in 1904.

Built between 1937 and 1942 the [JEAN BATTEN POST OFFICE] was designed in the Moderne Style which was all the rage. Completed during the wartime years the building first housed the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps and the United States Red Cross.

1978 the [BANK OF NEW ZEALAND] demolishes [VICTORIA ARCADE] and build their hideous office block adjoining the [JEAN BATTEN BUILDING] which forever scars Queen Street and is prophetic of things to come for heritage buildings in downtown Auckland. SHAME on you [BANK OF NEW ZEALAND].

2008 [BANK OF NEW ZEALAND] demolish their 1970's monstrosity and begin construction on a 21 level office tower and restore the [JEAN BATTEN BUILDING] which will retain original features such as brass lights, crests and Art Deco cornices. The building has been given a 5 star Green Star rating. By November 2009 elite-brand stores such as Speedo, Reebok, Lacoste, Northface, Rockport and Ben Sherman will open their doors to the passing trade.

[EYE] ON AUCKLAND is relieved that the former building is gone but that will never replace [VICTORIA ARCADE] and for that we will never forgive the Auckland City Council and/or the [BANK OF NEW ZEALAND].


  1. Actually, while the developer and city council was proclaiming in the papers that they were restoring the Jean Batten Building, they were in fact gutting all the historic interiors so all that is left is the (restored) facade. So, by building the new 21-level building, even more cultural vandalism was inflicted on Auckland.

  2. The old Victoria Arcade was an irreplacable building and I will never forget the few hours I spent removing hire equipment from it just prior to demolition in '78. All the tenants had reluctantly moved out and I was able to go into the many empty rooms and see the full length of Queen St through the bay windows. It had such character and atmosphere. I never spoke to anyone who didn't love this old building. What a crime to be replaced by an architectural monstrosity that looked like the bastard love child of a power station and an abattoir! That was the thin edge of the wedge.
    During the 80s and 90s the government acted like debt collecting heavies for foreign bankers selling off most of our assets and allowing many heritage sites to be totally destroyed. Bean counters and bankers don't see the real value of such precious places. Sure we need progress but not at the expense of perfectly sound buildings that are a vital part of our city. Generations remember Anne's Pantry, Hugh Wrights, Worrall Jewllers and many more, all started in the Vic Arcade. Just photos now ...... and so is the concrete monstrosity.


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