BNZ - Timaru 1862 - 2011

The Bank of New Zealand opened a branch in Timaru on 19 March 1862. The  first premises were a small wooden building was on the corner of Stafford and Church Streets hence the name of Old Bank Hotel. In 1863 the bank purchased a site on the corner of Stafford and George Street and erected a two story building. In 1864 the Timaru Herald began and conducted banking transactions with the BNZ so became one of the first local customers and was still operating an account with the bank a hundred years later. In December 1868, forty two buildings were destroyed when a fire raged on the main street including the BNZ and the Timaru Herald buildings which were down Stafford St. south.  Mrs Chisholm and her family had little time to escape, but some of the private property was rescued by daring volunteers. The attention of volunteers was also directed to saving the books and documents of value in the bank, and that nothing of value in that respect was lost. On 1st June 1870 a replacement structure was completed "undoubtedly the finest public building erected in Timaru" built of local bluestone with Oamaru stone facings, complete with manager's quarters. The building lasted some 91 years before being demolished and the present (May 2011) bank building on the George St. corner was opened on 11 October 1963. On 15 November 1982 the Stafford North branch opened. The Bank in 1984 had 47 employees at the main bank with Mr Graham Blane as manager and 13 at the Stafford North branch. There were branches in Temuka, Waimate and Geraldine with agencies in Peasant Point and Fairlie. In 1881 the BNZ, Waimate was designed by H.M. Duval - architect.  See The Timaru Herald, 30 March  1984.

Timaru Herald 15/04/2011 New business for Stafford St
A relocating Christchurch business and a bank are bringing changes to the face of Stafford St. BNZ Bank is moving from its present location on the corner of George and Stafford St. From about the end of July its new home will be in the old State Theatre, more recently Noel Leeming, near the intersection of Church and Stafford streets. Timaru Retail Association spokeswoman said an antique dealer was also moving in. "It's going to be a really great addition for Stafford St. They're setting up in Timaru and will be opening shortly." The business was one of several that was moving to Timaru from Christchurch following the February 22 earthquake. About six builders have spent five months working on the BNZ site, with most of the work surrounding strengthening the building. The State Theatre closed in 1984, after being purchased for a sum "far too attractive" to refuse, the Timaru Herald reported at the time. The closure led the way for the development of the Stafford Mall.

The wooden BNZ, on the right, before the 1868 fire. Another photo.

Timaru Herald, 3 July 1869, Page 5 REBUILDING OF TIMARU.
As the Building Act which precludes wooden buildings in the principal thoroughfares will soon become law, Timaru will probably in the course of a very few years present a most creditable appearance in its buildings, and second to no town of its size in New Zealand.  

Timaru Herald, 29 June 1870, Page 5 BANK OF NEW ZEALAND.
As this building is finished, it may be interesting to our readers to give a brief description of it, especially as it is undoubtedly the finest public building at present erected m Timaru. The bank is built on nearly the same site as the one which was destroyed in the great fire of December, 1868, but it was not for some considerable time that preparations were made to replace the old structure, in the winter of 1869 numerous plans and specifications were drawn out, and at last, in November of that year, one by Mr Lawson, of Dunedin, was decided on, and the contract of Messrs Hunter and Goodfellow, of Dunedin, was accepted, and the building commenced. The new bank is of blue stone obtained from the quarries near Timaru, with dressings of Oamaru white stone, and built after the Italian style. The plan is nearly square, with a frontage on the street of 47ft. A splayed dressed bluestone base, and a moulded white stone plinth over is carried all round. The lower windows are circular headed, with carved and moulded keystones bold architraves and deep reveals, with moulded trussed sills and sunk panels under, flanked with bold pilasters with rock-faced quoins, having a neat cornice over running all round. The upper windows are square headed with architraves, moulded sills, &c, pilasters on either side with rustic jointed quoins. The main entrance to the building is approached by a massive porch built chiefly of white stone, with panelled rustic angle pilasters surmounted with cornice and neatly panelled angle blocks over, with stone balustrading between. The building is finished with a bracketed frieze and a bold cornice carried on richly carved cantilevers (all in white stone), with panelled soffit and blocking course over. In the front face of the building a pediment is carried up with mouldings, &c. The blue stone work is in coursed rubble, and is very neatly pointed. On entering the building at its main entrance, passing through an inner door of cedar with glass panels, the visitor finds himself in a large banking room of 18ft x 28ft This room is lighted by three large windows, one m the front face of the building, and two on its north side. This is really a handsome room ; but we think it would be improved if the cornice running round it was a trifle less heavy. The height of this room is fourteen feet, and the cornice is of dimensions which would suit a room of twice its size. The fittings here are of polished cedar (worked up in Dunedin). The counter is carried on richly carved trusses on capped and panelled angle posts with handsome mould nosings, the space under being panelled with bolection mouldings. The screens to the desks are the same, but finished off with baluatrading. Off the public rooms is the manager's room of 13ft x 13ft, and a strong room built of 18-inch brickwork, measuring 10ft x 7ft. The manager's room is furnished m the same style as the public room, the fittings being of polished cedar. Besides these rooms on the ground floor, there is another small room for the manager's private use, stationery room, kitchen, dining room, &c. Upstairs, are the remainder. of the private apartments, consisting of a large-sized drawing room with seven bed rooms. These upstairs rooms are 12 feet m height. Mr Lawson, of Dunedin, is the architect for the building, and Messrs Hunter and Goodfellow, contractors. The whole of the work seems to have been done m the most satisfactory manner under the general superintendence of Mr Evans, clerk of the works.

The 1870 BNZ building at the intersection of Stafford Street and George St. Timaru, before the days of automobiles.

Timaru Herald, 30 December 1886, Page 3 TOWN IMPROVEMENTS. QUINN'S BUILDINGS.
This block of buildings situate at the corner of George street and Cain's Terrace, has attracted a great deal of attention, and since the scaffolding and other things have been removed, has been much admired, both by residents of and visitors to Timaru. The site named is a splendid one, and like many other business sites in town is a "made one." It is only a few years since the Pacific Ocean used to send its waves right up to what is now familiarly called the Bank of New Zealand corner, there being at the period we speak of a deep creek running past this corner to the sea beach. Of this creek, its dangers, and the many accidents that happened to wool wagons, etc., in passing along the main road at this point, columns could be written, but just at present we must leave them to rest in the memory of the oldest inhabitants. It is now some months since the contract for building was let, and the tumble-down, unsightly, half burnt old shop were razed to the ground. To carry the enormous pile of brick and mortar, immense concrete foundations had to be put in, and this work was found to be very costly, and to some extent dangerous, because made ground is always treacherous, and liable to cave in without being polite enough to give workmen warning. In excavating the foundations and cellar, the George street culvert was found to be a great impediment to operations, and the unhealthy gases from it were a source of much annoyance to the laborers working on the job. The depth the foundations go down varies a little, the greatest being no less than 28ft 6in. In digging, amongst other strange things brought to light were a large number of whale bones, relics of the very early days indeed, when the European whalers first invaded the happy hunting grounds of Bloody Jack, who was himself very fond of invading other people's territory. The foundations once down, the work of building was proceeded with m a very satisfactory manner. The new block has a frontage on Cain's terrace of 7lft, and on George street of 50ft ; the height from the street level to the top of the building being 54ft. The style of architecture is Modern Venetian, and the facades are both very handsome looking. The only objection that can really be taken to the building is the extremely sharp corner to it at its junction with the thoroughfares named, but this would not be so noticeable were the building not so much " down in a hole." The corner shop is a very large one, its inside measurement being 25ft by 65ft 6in. On the first floor is a store room 25ft by 65ft l0in, the second floor being of the same dimensions. These floors are supported by iron columns, the bases of which on the ground floor, rest on concrete piers. A circular cast-iron beautifully finished staircase connects with the floors named, and is found very convenient. The shop facing George street, occupied by Mr O'Dowd, the well-known baker and confectioner, is 17ft 9in by 15ft in the clear, at the back of the shop being a waiting room, 14ft by lift, to the right of which is a passage out of which springs a strongly made and neat staircase. After passing through a small yard the bakehouse, 17ft 9in by 15ft 9in, adjoining which are two ovens each 9ft 6in, is reached, all of these buildings being well built and finished. On the first floor of the shop named is a sitting room 17ft 6in and a kitchen 14ft by 11ft : on the second floor three bedrooms, 11ft by 10ft 6in, 15ft 6in by 8ft, and 15ft 6in by 10ft 6in, respectively. These rooms, like the shops, are splendidly finished throughout, well lit and well ventilated. The shop windows are of plate glass, O'Dowd's being 5ft wide by8ft 6in, with fanlights above, and square turn-in windows, and the corner shop main are 8ft 6in by 6ft 6in, the others in proportion. The bressummers are supported by cast-iron columns of elegant design ; the first floor windows are circular headed, supported by pillars, the shafts of which are of Timaru bluestone, and the bases and capitals of Oamaru stone. The capitals have been richly carved by Mr Godfrey, junior, of Dunedin, and look extremely well. Elliptic headed windows are set m the second storey, and a handsome cornice runs round the building. Encaustic tiles have been let in the doorways of the shops, and the sills of the various windows are of bluestone. The main doors are made of clear pine, the larger and upper panels being of glass and the lower of wood, and they are well hung.
    The architect for the buildings was Mr M. De H. Duval ; the contractors for brick, concrete work and carpentering, Messrs Jones and Palliser ; the contractor for painting and plumbing, Mr W. Healey ; and the clerk of works, Mr Ogilvie. The whole of the work has been most faithfully executed, and is a lasting credit to the gentlemen named.

Frank Duncan Tourist Series 3017

Timaru Herald, 1 July 1898, Page 2
Mr F. Palliser made a good start yesterday with putting in the concrete for the first half of his contract for extending the George-street drain, and as the job is a troublesome one in any case, and almost impossible in heavy sea weather, we hope he will be fortunate m the latter respect; The old drain has been dammed with clay, and the drainage temporarily turned again into the old block yard. The new work has to be put in at a considerable depth beneath the top of the shingle bank, and quite a large pit has therefore had to be excavated before work could be begun, and the bottom is so low that a Californian pump was brought into requisition to clear it of water. The bottom and sides of the work will be in concrete and the covering arch in brick.


Robert Alexander Chisholm, Edinburgh born, s/o Robert Chisholm, arrived at Auckland from Scotland with his parents in 1852 and had a brief sojourn in the Union Bank of Australasia in Lyttelton in 1860 before going to Timaru as manager of the BNZ in 1862. On February 13, 1866 he married Alice, second daughter of the late William Henry Hewlings, Esq., Leicester, England. Her sister Mary Hewlings married Walter Kitson, a prominent Canterbury surveyor. They were nieces of Samuel Hewlings the surveyor who made his headquarters at Timaru where he took a leading part in the development of the town. A Town Council had been elected in 1865 and functioned under a Chairman, Hewlings, who became the first Mayor when the Borough was incorporated on 13th July, 1868. In Dec. 1895 Mr Robert A. Chisholm, BNZ, manager, Timaru left for Invercargill to take charge of the BNZ there. Chisholm retired from the Bank of New Zealand in Invercargill in 1899, lived there for nearly 20 years before his death in July 1918 at the age of 79.

Timaru Herald, 9 July 1864, Page 4
Timaru— July 2, 1864 [Before B. Woollcombe, Esq., R.M.] OBTAINING MONEY UNDER FALSE PRETENCES.
Robert Alexander Chisholm sworn, said : I am agent for the Bank of New Zealand, Timaru. I saw prisoner about the 5th February last, m the office of the Bank of New Zealand at Timaru. He called and said a certain amount of money should have been sent down to his credit from Lyttelton. I told him it had not come. He afterwards asked me to draw out a cheque for £19 7s. 6d. for him. the cheque produced is the one I drew out for him. I can't swear that prisoner signed it in the Bank, but I believe he did. He gave me his name as Thomas Doran. I made out another cheque for £24 It is frequently done, for me to fill in the body of the cheque to accommodate people.

Timaru Herald, 18 May 1866, Page 3
The office of the Bank of New Zealand will be closed on the 21st instant, being Whit Monday, and also on Thursday, the 24th instant, being the anniversary of the Queen's Birthday. JOHN P. HARRIS, Pro Agent. Bank of New Zealand, Timaru, May 17, 1866. 

Timaru Herald, 16 February 1866, Page 2 Married
February 13, at Timaru, by the Rev. George Barclay, Robert Alexander Esq., Bank of New Zealand, eldest son of Robert Chisholm, Esq., Auckland, to Alice, second daughter of the late William Henry Hewlings, Esq., Leicester, England.

Timaru Herald 8th August 1873 Death :
August 6th - At Timaru, Walter Hewlings, infant son of Robert A. CHISHOLM, aged one month

Timaru Herald, 7 February 1880, Page 3 Richard Williamson Hall : I am a clerk in the Bank of New Zealand.

Timaru Herald, 23 July 1880, Page 2 Death
Bent— On the 22nd instant, at the Bank of New Zealand, Timaru, Robert Bent, Esq., late Agent at Kaikoura.

Star 13 June 1872, Page 3
James Hassell : I am clerk in the Bank of New Zealand, Timaru.

Timaru Herald, 30 September 1876, Page 3 Birth
Fildes. On the 27th September, at the Bank of New Zealand, Temuka, the wife of J.G. Fildes, of a son.

Timaru Herald, 14 June 1880,
Robert McEwen, manager of the BNZ, Waimate.

Timaru Herald, 2 February 1892, Page 2 Birth 
Perston — On 1st Feb., at Bank of New Zealand, Timaru, the wife of N. M. F. Perston, of a son.

Timaru Herald, 22 November 1893, Page 2 Birth .
Perston — On the 19th Nov., at the Bank of New Zealand, Timaru, the wife of N. M. Fortescue Perston, of a daughter.

Timaru Herald, 23 February 1900, Page 3
Mr N. Fortescue Perston, accountant at the Bank of New Zealand at Timaru for over nine years past, left by yesterday's express for Christchurch en route to Woodville, he having been appointed manager of the bank's branch there. A number of Mr Perston's friends met him at the railway station before the arrival of the train to bid him a cordial farewell, and met in one of the refreshment rooms.,,, Mrs Perston's health was also toasted, and the company then broke up, the train being in.

Timaru Herald
Friday 25 November 1887 Death
WARREN - At Timaru on the 24th inst., Samuel James Warren, Manager of the BNZ, Westport, aged 40 years.
The many friends of Mr J.T. Warren, of Timaru, heard with regret yesterday of the death of his brother, Mr S.J. Warren, which took place yesterday morning. The late Mr Warren was manager of the Bank of New Zealand at Westport, and came to Timaru on a visit some months ago for the benefit of his health. The funeral will be today at 3 p.m.

Timaru Herald Friday Dec. 16 1895
A farewell banquet for Mr Robert A. Chisholm, BNZ, manager, Timaru who leaves for Invercargill to take charge of the BNZ.

Timaru Herald Saturday 25 June 1887
Captain J.H. Sutter, Esq., M.H.R. has resided in Timaru 23½ years. Mr Chisholm, a good friend and a wise banker (BNZ), is only a fortnight older citizen of Timaru than Capt. Sutter. When Capt. Sutter landed in Timaru there were only 15 or 16 houses.

Southland Times 5 February 1901, Page 1
George A. Birch nearly two years manager of Bank of New Zealand, Timaru

Star 28 August 1902, Page 3
The following changes in the staff of the Bank of New Zealand are announced: Mr Aldred, manager at Timaru, to be Inspector, for the Middle Island, in succession to Mr Parfitt, who takes charge of the Melbourne branch. Mr A. Green, to be manager at Timaru.

Location, location, location

Timaru Herald, 20 October 1866, Page 1
Club Hotel. Timaru, P. D. M'RAE, in returning thanks to his friends and the public for the generous support he has received since he commenced business in the Timaru district, begs to inform them that having become proprietor of the above very commodious and comfortable hotel, The business will be carried on in a manner that will ensure their future patronage. First-class single bedrooms for gentlemen and well furnished Private sitting rooms with bedrooms attached for families. First-class table kept, with all the delicacies of the seasons. The very best Wines and Spirits. Also a first class billiard table, attended by an expert marker CLUB HOTEL, GREAT SOUTH ROAD, Opposite the Bank of New Zealand, Timaru.

Timaru Herald, 31 March 1881, Page 1
H. J. Sealy. Land, Estate, and General Commission Agent and valuator
Licensed Surveyor under the Land Transfer Act.
Office in Mr Tate's Buildings, opposite Bank of Zealand, Timaru.

Timaru Herald, 2 October 1877, Page 2
David Mitchell Ross and William Montague Sims, have entered into Co-partnership as LAND BROKERS, ACCOUNTANTS VALUATORS, INSURANCE AND COMMISSION AGENTS, and will carry on such business under the style of ROSS, SIMS AND CO., at their Land Transfer Office, opposite the Bank of New Zealand, Timaru.

Timaru Herald, 21 July 1883, Page 1
K. SANDO, LAND ESTATE, AND GENERAL COMMISSION AGENT. Office in the New Buildings of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Company, next the Bank of New Zealand, Timaru.

Straight ahead is Stafford Street, Timaru April 2002.
Cain's Terrace is the street to the right, up a small incline, ends at Strathallan St. 
eorge St. runs through the intersection left and to the right (out of photo) past the Landing Service Building which is now Timaru' information Centre and on down to the Railway Station.

Taking a walk into town with Timaru man Trevor Griffiths 04/09/2007 Timaru Herald
On the north-western corner of the intersection, stood another bank. This time the Bank of New Zealand. It too was a bluestone building and on obtaining our nursery at Arowhenua it became necessary to have a cheque account. One lunch-time I made a special journey to the bank to deposit my wage for the week because I knew there was precious little in the account. While waiting in the queue to do this an officer of the bank came up to me and in a strong voice said, "Do you intend to keep your account open because you are two shillings and seven pence overdrawn". Absolutely dumbfounded I replied, "Do you think I am here to buy pies?" Worst of all this man was a senior staff member and worse still I had worked for him with garden work quite a few times before. The bank as it stood in those days had a garden area on both the south side and the north side which was affectionately tended by Mr Bentley who was resident in the building and a well known citizen in the community.

Stafford Street. Photographer: D. Nicholson. 1972


In 2008 BNZ changed its logo to a simple "bnz", dropping the southern cross and gold chevron. But in 2011 BNZ announced a further change in its logo - bringing back the southern cross. BNZ external relations manager said today it was a "branding evolution". "Essentially we have simplified our design. It's not a radical change, it's more of a tweak." She did not say how much it would cost BNZ to implement the change but said it had changed to a cheaper colour scheme which would make things, like stationery, cheaper to produce. In 2011 BNZ would turn 150 and said this was the perfect time to return the stars to its logo. BNZ has undergone a handful of logo changes since its foundation in 1861. The southern cross was added to the original logo's coat of arms in the early 1950s. In the late 1970s the logo dropped the coat of arms but carried over the chevron and southern cross.  NZPA | Thursday September 02, 2010

Home of BNZ Timaru for the last 50 years. 910m2 of  space with 13 off street car parks at the back. Top floor with extensive outdoor courtyard
May 2011 photo by M.T. May's Bakery next door, on Stafford St. Barnes Dance is the name of the diagonal pedestrian crossing - occurs here. Allows for an exclusive pedestrian crossing phase.

Reference: BNZ Museum & Archives. Note the new logo. The b/w photos are courtesy of the BNZ Archives staff. The staff welcome research requests by email or letter and are very prompt in replying. They have information on premises and the work history of previous staff e.g. Roberts. In May 2011 they are in the process of digitising some of their collection and also entering the details of their collection into a database which will only be accessed internally. 50% of their enquiries are from external sources and most of those are requiring information about their family or BNZ premises. 

Press, 30 April 1913, Page 11
Mr Walter Kitson, of Christchurch, who died on Wednesday last, was born in Exeter, Devonshire in 1835. Both his parents died while he was still a child, and he was brought up by an aunt. Having been educated at Christ's Hospital, London, he was articled to a surveyor in Exeter. In 1853 he left for Australia, and after being there rather more than a year sailed for Auckland, where he worked as a surveyor in the bush. Mr Kitson was desirous of coming to Canterbury, but as it seemed that there would be no vessel for many months, he took a trip Home, via China, and returned to Wellington, crossing from there to Nelson, and coming on to Christchurch overland. For some years he resided at Timaru, where he worked on private and contract surveys, and also under the Provincial Government. He retired from the Government service when the provinces were abolished, but was afterwards appointed Inspector of Surveys for Canterbury, and returned to Christchurch. He acted as Chief Surveyor for a year. He was well known to many of the old Canterbury settlers, and was greatly respected by all who knew him. In 1865 he married Mary Hewlings, the niece of Samuel Hewlings, for many years Chief Surveyor in Canterbury. She died leaving a family of one son and four daughters. Five years later he married Lucy Marshman, daughter of Mr John Marshman, manager of the Provincial Railways. Deceased leaves a widow, a son and two daughters.

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