Australian Temperance and General Mutual Life Assurance Society (T&G) Building

Harcourts Building, T&G Building (Australian Temperance and General Mutual Life Assurance Society (ATG) Building), T&G Head Office, Former T & G Building, Harcourts Building; 203 Lambton Quay; 205 Lambton Quay; 207 Lambton Quay; 209 Lambton Quay; 211 Lambton Quay

203 – 213 Lambton Quay (also 30 Grey Street), Wellington, Wellington
  • Constructed

    1928 - 1928

  • Builder(s)


  • The building is aesthetically significant for its bold, sculptural facade, a crucial element in the Lambton Quay streetscape, and perhaps the best example in the city of the Chicago style. 

    The architectural style of the building was developed for T&G Mutual Assurance as a distinct ‘house-style’ by the architectural practice of A&K Henderson. The building has value as part of a group of T&G Mutual Assurance buildings located across Australasia.

    The building has historic value for its association with T&G Mutual Assurance, one of the biggest and most successful insurance companies in Australasian history. 

    The building is in largely authentic condition, particularly on its exterior and in significant interior spaces such as the main foyer. The building is a relatively rare surviving example of a head office building from the first half of the 20th century in the CBD of Wellington.

  • close History
    • Australian Temperance and General Mutual Life Assurance Society (T & G)

      T & G was established in Melbourne in December 18761 by the Independent Order of Rechabites, a friendly society founded in Salford, England in 1835.  The Rechabites, like many friendly societies of the time, charged subscriptions to members and in return offered social security to families in need.  The key point of difference with the Rechabites was that, from the outset, it was a strong promoter of temperance, whereas most other friendly societies were closely associated with local drinking houses or pubs.  

      The Rechabites arrived in Australia in 1839 and branches were founded initially in Sydney and Adelaide, before spreading to other centres.  In 1869, the Rechabites formed an assurance branch as part of its operations.  However, this arrangement excluded some policy holders from decision making and the potential success of the initiative was compromised by the exclusion of non-abstainers.  So, a new organisation was formed in 1876 to capitalise on the commercial opportunities available and it offered two forms of cover – for teetotallers and non-abstainers (although the latter were still carefully scrutinised).  This distinction, enshrined in the T & G’s first Articles of Association, gave the company its cumbersome name.  The Australian Temperance and General Mutual Life Assurance Society was quickly shortened to T & G in everyday use and the acronym was soon emblazoned across Australian cities.   Later, in 1974, the company was retitled T & G Mutual Life Society.  

      During the company’s first few decades, the Rechabites remained strongly influential, with many of T & G’s directors prominent lodge members.  The lodge influence lingered on into the 20th century but eventually petered out.  

      The company’s first branch outside Melbourne was opened in Adelaide in 1878 and by 1884, there were branches or agencies in Sydney, Brisbane and Tasmania.  After a solid if unspectacular start, T & G’s progress was remarkably swift.  In 1880, it had 1774 policy holders.  A decade later, it had 18,659.   The company offered industrial assurance, an innovative move, and by the late 1880s, it was in a position to construct its first building, a head office in Melbourne.  A depression followed and a period of slower growth, but by the turn of the 20th century the company’s fortunes had greatly improved and it was looking to expand inside and outside Australia.  

      That expansion, which included main branches in Australia’s states and a foray into New Zealand, meant that by the end of 1903, there were 700 branches in Australasia.  By the following year, the company had 100,000 policyholders.  It earned the company the sobriquet ‘The People’s Society’.    This rapid expansion meant that the company was looking for buildings to rent.  

      By the 1920s, it began to construct new offices in many of its branch locations.  The company’s direction was set by James Tuson Thompson, who began with the company as an agent in 1899 and by 1922 had risen to become chairman and managing director.  Thompson saw the consistent use of a distinctive architectural style as part of his publicity strategy for the company. This building programme began a long and fruitful partnership with Melbourne architects A & K Henderson and the development of a building style utterly synonymous with T & G.  Among the buildings constructed during this period, that lasted until the beginning of World War II, was the head office in Melbourne and state offices in New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland.  A head office was built in Wellington and branch offices in other centres.  

      Despite the arrival of the Depression in the late 1920s, the company retained its vitality, mainly because it was so well entrenched in the two economies.  It introduced group and accident insurance, and later, in 1936, a service that allowed policyholders to buy a home through the Home Purchase Scheme.  It was able to continue its building programme throughout that difficult decade.

      During World War II, many company staff served in the armed forces, cutting the workforce by some 1700 men and women.  In the period after the war, the company re-established itself with vigour and in 1959, two wholly owned subsidiary companies were formed – T & G Fire and General Insurance Company Limited and T & G Nominees Pty Limited.  The number of policy holders, total of assurance, funds and property portfolio all grew substantially in the 1960s and 70s.  By 1975, the total of assurance was over $4 billion (nearly 10 times what it was in 1950) and the company held over $835 million in funds.  

      In the early 1980s, T & G and National Mutual entered into negotiations, with a view to merging.  The two companies had been down this road before, over 70 years earlier, but nothing came of it.  The main perceived benefits were savings on administration and the investment opportunities available to a much larger company.  The deal was done on 1 April 1983 and it spelled the end of the T & G brand and its considerable presence in Australasia.  The company’s physical presence lives on in the many buildings that remain in various Australasian cities and towns.  

      In 1995, National Mutual was demutualised and AXA SA secured a 51 per cent interest in the company.  In 1999, National Mutual changed its name to AXA Asia Pacific Holdings in 1999.

      T & G in New Zealand

      T & G opened its first branches in New Zealand in the four main centres late in 1902 or early 1903.   Its head office was established in Wellington on the corner of Waring Taylor Street and Lambton Quay, where Midland Park is today.3  Advertisements were placed nationwide for insurance agents and the company got off to a quick start after those hired were offered large incentives (‘contests, championship lists and silver medals’)  to reach a ‘£100,000 of ordinary business’ target in the first year.    Within five years, the company had 6% of the market, which was then serviced by 12 insurers. 

      The zeal with which T & G approached its work continued to be encouraged by the head office, which set branches in competition with each other, offered prizes and trips away as incentives and generally strove for better results.  This competition was a hallmark of the branches themselves, with the annual staff picnic even including competitive events.  The company emphasised the need for staff to feel they belonged, but not at the expense of wanting them to outdo each other, or, as the Inspector of Branches wrote, ‘The way to manage staff is to get the men fighting each other.’ 

      In 1911, T & G began a scheme that it hoped would reduce claims.  Copying the success of an American insurer’s scheme to offer visits from nurses to sick policyholders, T & G did something similar.  The company kept up this approach until the 1950s, reasoning that it made good business sense by potentially preventing worse health outcomes for policyholders and reducing the company’s exposure to more risk.  

      The national manager, from 1910, was the splendidly named Caesar Augustus Marquis (1874-1936).  He originally joined T & G in 1895, left in 1899, only to return in 1902, when he was sent to New Zealand to help establish the Christchurch operation.  In addition to Christchurch, he was later handed Dunedin district to manage before his appointment to Wellington.  In 1920, New Zealand was divided into four centres and Marquis was given Wellington, where he remained until his death.  He was an Eastbourne Borough Councillor for a period, a mason, a member of the Wellington Savage Club and a keen bowler and golfer.   A staff newsletter described him as:

      A fine fellow, popular with all, and a loyal friend.  As a business associate, he was always ready to give the benefit of his past experience.  As a Branch Leader, he inspired confidence, was fair to all, and he is deeply mourned by his staff.  He grew with the Wellington Branch and his departure will leave a gap that will be difficult to fill.    

      In 1915, the head office was moved to rented accommodation in Brandon Street.  Marquis pushed for a permanent building for T & G.  He noted a site on the corner of Grey Street and Lambton Quay (on the opposite corner from where T & G eventually built) but his General Manager was not enthusiastic.  He attempted it again in 1918 when he tried to interest his superiors in the Central Hotel on the corner of Featherston Street and Lambton Quay (now the site of the former MLC building).  Again, the response was lukewarm.  Finally, in 1922, by which time C.H. Hudson was in charge of the New Zealand operation, the company moved on a property on the northern corner of Grey Street and Lambton Quay.  In its own local publication, in February 1923, the following was written:

      New Zealand seemed to be the Cinderella branch of the Society.  The premises we occupied in Wellington as the Head Office for New Zealand did not belong to us and were not of a nature that would impress our staff or public the size and importance of the Society.   We have now our site for our Dominion Head Office.  

      The building was completed in June 1928 and became the Wellington branch as well as New Zealand head office.  This was a period when branches were largely autonomous and reported directly to Melbourne; the local head office  was ‘responsible for policy and general direction.’   

      Despite the completion of a purpose-built head office, it was not until 1959 that a New Zealand board was established.  Then, in the early 1960s, control of operations in New Zealand was centralised in Wellington.  By 1976, there were over 200,000 policy holders in New Zealand and the company employed 500 people.  There were offices in most cities and sizeable towns.    

      In 1983, the merger with National Mutual also took effect in New Zealand and the name T & G was consigned to history.   AXA later took over National Mutual.    

      The land

      The site of the former T & G Building has been occupied in three periods.  

      The first began with the construction of one of the city’s most important early buildings, the Oddfellows Hall.  The two Oddfellow lodges - Loyal Britannia and Antipodean, Manchester Unity held a series of working bees and reclaimed a small piece of land near the southern end of Lambton Quay in 1859 and then built their hall.  Constructed of timber, the hall was for some time the major meeting space in the city and was used for a great variety of activities, including lodge meetings, recitals, concerts, lectures, political events, auctions and the like.  The Oddfellows thought that, having reclaimed the land themselves (and presumably being given permission to do so by the Wellington Provincial Council), it would have freehold over the site.  However, it eventually had to pay £1000 for the land.  

      About 1882, the hall was demolished and the land was leased by the Colonial Insurance Company, which built offices on the western side of the property.   The lease for the land was transferred to the company on 24 November 1881 and it moved into its offices the following year.   On Grey Street, three small timber commercial buildings were built (two of them two-storey and one single storey - dates unknown) on the eastern side of the site.  The Colonial Insurance Company was bought out by the Commercial Union in 1890 and the latter continued to use the building for its offices.   Confusingly, the hall continued to be advertised and mentioned in newspaper articles, which suggests that some sort of hall was still in one of the buildings occupying the land.  

      In December 1922, a sale of land, by then known as the Oddfellows block,  was announced in the media.   Finally, on 16 January 1924 the Oddfellows Hall trustees sold the property to T & G,  which demolished the structures on the land and built the present building, which opened four years later.  

      The building

      It is not certain when planning of the new building began.  The plans were not ready until 1926, nearly four years after the purchase of the land was announced and two years after the transfer took place.  Kingsley Anketell’s design followed the style consciously developed for the company by the architects.  It is especially similar to the Adelaide building (1924-25, minus its rooftop embellishments) and Brisbane (1923, less its curved mansard roof).  Neither of these buildings had the famous T & G ziggurat tower, but they were still very clearly in the company idiom.  So was Wellington.  

      The building was a significant size, but the 1920s saw a great building boom in Wellington and bulky, taller buildings were becoming more common in the city.  T & G did not need all the space in the building when it was opened, but it planned for expansion, making ‘allowance for reasonable expansion of the Society’s activities…and by providing for tenants and erecting larger buildings, sites were developed to greater advantage.’   This was something that A & K Henderson was very well aware of too.  

      Although A & K Henderson were virtually company architects, they were very busy and, of course, a ship journey away on the other side of the Tasman Sea.  So, construction was supervised by the Wellington firm of Atkins and Mitchell.8   This practice benefited from its association with T & G and later designed buildings of their own for the firm.  The contractors were Mitchell and King and the contract price was £130,000.  Work took 20 months and the building was occupied from 1 June 1928 and opened for business on 5 June.  The Evening Post described the building:

      The facades of this eight-story building…present an architectural treatment of high artistic quality, and from the top of'the building a glorious view of the harbour and surrounding hills is obtained. The base of the building is finished in trachyte, and the upper portion in cream stucco. The entrance hall with walls panelled with Takaka and Italian marble and a beautifully decorated ceiling gives rise to a splendid approach into the heart of the building. The lifts, which adjoin the hall, are of the most modern design, dual control, and travel at a speed of 400 feet a minute. Leading from the entrance hall is the society's assurance chamber, beautifully finished, with perfect light obtained from 11 large ceiling light constructed of leadlighted glass. The upper floors are subdivided into commodious and well-lighted offices, and from each of these offices from the vertical ducts the following services are obtainable: Hot and cold water, central heating, electric light and power, and gas and sewerage services. A mail chute has been placed adjacent to the lifts, allowing tenants to post their mail, the chute being cleared by the General Post Office at regular intervals. Strongrooms, sixty in all, are fitted out with steel shelving for the convenience of tenants. At the main entrance is a service telephone, with direct communication to the caretaker, who, if entrance is required by the tenants after the building is closed, can open and close the main entrance doors by pressing a button alongside his telephone.  

      Harcourt & Co., whose offices were a short distance north on Lambton Quay, advertised the building to prospective tenants, citing the building’s ultra-modern facilities.   Along with the public area on the ground floor,  T & G occupied part of the first floor and the fifth floor.  Other tenants moved in over the next few months, many leaving existing premises to move to the city’s bright new building.  

      In July 1928, while the building was filling up, Kingsley Henderson himself visited Wellington and, in an interview with the Evening Post, described his approval of the recent buildings erected in the city.  He also outlined his approach to designing office buildings, stating that ‘solidity and dignity expressed the feeling in all modern designs for banks, insurance offices, and similar structures. The great modern steel frame building with its concrete floors and brick curtain walls [has] fully arrived and [is] here to stay.’  He described the ‘mechanical equipment’ required in modern commercial buildings, citing the new T & G building as an example. 

      This means the furnishing of every room with electric light and power, telephone, hot and cold water, lavatories, central heating, fire hoses, posting shoots for mail matter, dentists' chairs, floor coverings, fast lifts to various floors. "You can see all these in the new T. and G. Building in Wellington —a very satisfactory work running into £130,000.  As modern buildings of brick, steel, and concrete are now being constructed," he added, "you can't have the place pulled about to put in this or take out that. Ducts are now provided between wall and wall for attending to pipes and wires, and every requirement of prospective tenants has to be thought out and provided for well before the work of construction is begun.

      For their part, the staff was more than enthused about the new building:

      The acquisition of such magnificent premises has stirred our whole team up to the highest pitch, and all present expressed their determination to leave no stone unturned to prove to Head Office that their confidence has not been misplaced.  The wonderful facilities at our disposal cannot make for other than more efficiency and better results.  

      Early in its history, the building was the scene of a ritual that might have had its origins in a lodge ceremony.  The Inspector of the Canterbury branch, a Mr Lewis, was honoured in the following, somewhat bizarre fashion:

      Staff proceeded to the Throne Room, which had been specially decorated for the occasion.  When all were seated a stately and brilliantly apparelled procession entered, led by the Master of Ceremonies.  Following him were the Bishops of Pahautahanui (sic) and Paekakariki, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Archbishop, and lastly, two pages.  After swearing in his assistants, the Archbishop with the help of two bishops, proceeded to create the members of the Royal Court…. Others were ennobled and robed, including C.A. Marquis as Duke of Wellington with other guests being honoured as Earl of Canterbury Plans, Earl of Kilbirnie Heights, Earl of Island Bay and Viscount of Taranaki.

      The building was fully, or mostly, tenanted over the following decades.  The company gradually took over more of the building as time wore on, but the nature of the building’s internal arrangements – a series of compartmented spaces – meant that the building retained a significant number of tenants for a long period.   The story of those occupants is told in more detail below, but by way of an example, there were (excluding T & G themselves and the caretaker) 49 tenants in the building in 1931.  The type of space available attracted small professional tenants, such as accountants, brokers and, particularly, lawyers.  Dentists also liked the building, which may have led to the mischievous moniker of ‘Tooth and Gum’ that some liked to use for the building (although this may have been more pertinent at other T & G buildings).  

      With tenants and the T & G’s own changing requirements came alterations to the building.  To 2011, there have been 47 applications for permits to do work on the building, most of them relatively minor, involving partitions, fit outs, shop front changes and the like.  All these permit applications are listed below, but the most significant early change came in 1932 when the rear walls of the seventh floor balconies were moved forward, reducing the size of the balconies and increasing the floor space in the offices behind.  No original shop front survives either.  The only other notable change to the exterior is the replacement of original cladding to the soffit and fascia of the verandah.  

      In 1943, a substantial air raid shelter was formed in the basement, sufficient to accommodate 305 people (there were 296 people working in the building at the time).  Other significant changes came after the war, with alterations to various floors in 1955 (the fifth, sixth and seventh), 1959 (sixth and seventh),  1964 (fifth), 1966 (sixth and seventh), and 1969 (fourth).  Many of these involved the removal of brick walls to convert smaller spaces into open-plan arrangements, the introduction of suspended ceilings and the construction of lighter partitions.   In 1970, the ground floor shops were altered so that the recessed doorways were made flush.   The much changed seventh floor had more substantial work done in 1976.  

      Since then, more changes have been made to offices and shops, but arguably the most significant recent modification was the construction of the six lifts for the adjacent HSBC tower, which were placed in the lightwell of the T & G building and extended above it another 16 storeys.  The work, which was completed in 2002, did not affect fabric of the T & G building as such but introduced a significant visual element that emerged from near the middle of the building.   

      In 1983, T & G and National Mutual merged under the latter’s name.  This necessitated the reorganisation of staff and accommodation and in the case of Wellington the new company hoped that all activities could be under the one roof in the nearby National Mutual centre on Featherston Street.  However, this proved to be impossible initially and the administrative sections of the superannuation division, sales training and typing centre were all initially housed at the T & G building.   

      In 1982, the building received recognition of its heritage value when it was given a ‘C’ classification from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) under the Historic Places Act 1980.  In 1989, the NZHPT revised a number of its classifications and proposed lifting the T & G Building to a ‘B’.  This ranking meant the Trust could seek a ‘protection notice’ for the building if it felt it was under threat of demolition or substantial modification.  This change of status concerned National Mutual, who challenged the proposal and sought a hearing on the matter in front of a committee of the NZHPT board.  The committee approved the upgrade and the NZHPT Board classified the building in June 1990.  Unhappy with the outcome, National Mutual took the matter to the High Court, arguing that the NZHPT ignored the opinion of two prominent architects and advocates, Sir Michael Fowler and Sir Miles Warren.  The High Court found in favour of the NZHPT and there the matter ended.  

      National Mutual soon pulled its staff from the building; street directories show no occupation of the building by their staff from 1984 onwards.  Instead, the long-standing and successful real estate firm Harcourt & Co. Ltd took over the space left by National Mutual and remained in the building for the next 25 years.  Their tenancy gave the building a new name – Harcourts Building – that only ended with their departure to Cambridge Terrace in 2010.  

      In 1999, National Mutual sold the building to Customhouse Quay Properties Limited.  Since 2000, the building has been owned by Austrian-born Wellington businessman Mark Dunajtschik, firstly by his company Lambton Quay Development Limited, and then, from 2002, Lambton Quay Properties Nominee Limited.  


      As might befit a brand new building on a central city site, the T & G building was quickly filled during the second half of 1928.  Apart from the firm itself, which took a relatively small floor area, the ranks of early occupants were dominated by solicitors.  In the early part of the 1930s there were no fewer than 11 practices or sole practitioners in the building.  Some of these firms took very lengthy occupancies.  Findlay, Hoggard, Cousins and Wright, Hardies Boys, Scott and Haldane, Holdsworth and Gault (later Gault Mitchell and Gault Mitchell and Wilson), Hogg and Stewart (later Hogg Gillespie, Carter and Oakley), and Devine, Crombie and Cahill (later Cahills), were just some of the legal tenants who remained for decades in the building.   Dentists were generally located together on the second floor, with J.L. Jones a long-standing lessee.

      Other notable occupants of some length were the British government’s trade commissioner (in the 1930s and 40s), the New Zealand Financial Times, which remained in the building for over 40 years from the late 1930s), the Marine Department’s head office, the Wellington Women’s Club, which occupied offices on the sixth floor until the 1950s, Lemmon Ltd, well known local building contractors, Henry Rudolph, a watchmaker, Herman Schlatter, hairdresser and Margaret Hempleman, a designer.    

      By the end of the 1960s T & G was taking up more of the building, with part of the fourth floor and all of the fifth, sixth and seventh floors given over to their requirements by 1971.  One signification addition to the building about this time was the New Zealand Broadcasting Authority, later the Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand.  

      The most significant change to the building’s occupation since its construction came with the departure of T & G / National Mutual from the building about 1984 and their replacement with Harcourts Co. Ltd, which took over a considerable part of the building and acquired naming rights.  Harcourts remained for 25 years.  In the wake of this, the building’s occupants changed regularly.   In general, there was a greater turnover of occupants as the 20th century wore on. 

      In more recent years, Housing New Zealand Corporation was a significant occupant.  However, that organisation and Harcourts have now left the building. 
    • Modifications close
      • 1990
      • NZHPT proposed reclassification from C to B under the Historic Places Act 1980, and this was challenged by the building’s owners. The building is currently Category I (2012).
      • 1999
      • Conservation Plan prepared by Salmond Architects was received by WCC.
      • 1999
      • SR51752 Environmental Control Business Unit Decision Report for Land Use Consent. Proposal to construct a 23 floor commercial building named the “Millennium Tower” on Lambton Quay. The development would demolish the single storey Air New Zealand Building on the corner of Panama Street and Lambton Quay, and the unlisted Panama House. Hamilton Chambers would be substantially demolished, but the façade would be retained. The Harcourts building was to be retained “in its entirety” but with a new 23 storey lift tower/service core constructed in the light-well. The lift tower would exceed the height limits set out in the District Plan, but the consent was approved with the following conditions. (s) That a conservation plan be prepared for the Harcourts Building by a Trust recommended conservation architect and that the conservation plan be approved by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (t) That all works carried out on the Harcourts Building will be in accordance with the recommendations in the conservation plan and reliant on agreement from both the Historic Places Trust and the Wellington City Council. (u) That a trust recommended conservation architect be employed to supervise the restoration component of the works.
      • 2000 - 2003
      • Construction of “Lambton Tower” later renamed the “HSBC tower” at 195 Lambton Quay. The building was originally “three-quarters tenanted” by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat), Ernst and Young and FR Partners (formerly Fay Richwhite) although the tower has since been renamed.
      • 2000
      • SR 67617 Environmental Control Business Unit Decision Report for Land Use Consent. Proposal to add 2 storeys to the proposed 23 storey tower, to create a 25 storey building with associated “machinery / services module.” This would exceed the maximum permitted by 7.7m (to the top of the highest habitable floor) and 16.5 m (top of the lift core/service tower). There were no additional conditions with regard to the Harcourts Building beyond those imposed on SR 51752
      • 2001
      • WCC Heritage Fund application for $25,000 towards the refurbishment of the entrance foyers, WC area, lift car and cage, verandahs, and shop-fronts. Although the terms of the grant required an encumbrance, this does not appear on the current certificate of title, and it is unclear if the grant was paid.
      • 2004
      • SR119102 proposed construction of a care-taker’s flat on the top of the Harcourts Building. This was in response to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade requirement as principal tenant in the adjacent office tower.
      • 2007
      • SR 124434 construction of caretaker’s flat on the roof of the Harcourts Building.
      • 2012
      • Application to demolish the building and replace it with a 25 storey high rise with a “lightweight replica façade of the current design.”
    • Occupation History close

      Not assessed

  • close Architectural Information
    • Building Classification(s) close

      Not assessed

    • Architecture close

      The eight-storey T & G building occupies the northern corner of Lambton Quay and Grey Street.  In plan, the building is U-shaped around what was once a lightwell and occupies a roughly square site, skewed by the alignment of the streets.  Two facades are visible; the other two are enclosed by buildings, one of which is the extremely large HSBC tower.   The lightwell, on the northern side of the T & G building, was used for the construction of the lifts for the HSBC Tower (2000-02).

      In design, the T & G building can be regarded as transitional in its design. It shows the influence of Louis Sullivan and the Chicago School in the three distinct parts of the façade – base, shaft, and capital, and, as was common with that style, it retains a significant Classical influence in its decoration.  However, there are also hints of Modernity in the treatment of the shaft, particularly the fenestration. 

      The weighty, double height base is faced in trachyte and rusticated.  It is interrupted by a cantilevered verandah and topped by a narrow, balustraded balcony that runs the length of the facades and demarcates the transition from base to shaft.  There are shop window and door openings on both elevations, with the main entrance on the south or Grey Street elevation. 

      The elongated shaft gives the structure its vertical emphasis and a lightness that is counteracted by the base and capital.  The shaft is characterised by the strongly articulated, continuous piers, which are bridged by square windows, and recessed glass panels with metal spandrels.  The corner is chamfered, which draws attention to the building and neatly resolves the issue of the skewed site by removing what would have been an obliquely angled corner.  The chamber contains two groupings of piers rising either side of a band of windows, which are again interrupted by spandrels.  The plain treatment of the windows is the one apparent Modern element on the façade.  The shaft terminates beneath another shallow balcony that runs the length of the façade and is supported by huge corbels.  It likewise acts as a transition to the capital.  

      The heavily decorated capital is a significant contrast with the rest of the building. Large arched windows/doors, which correspond to the arrangement of bays on the shaft, are flanked by paired Doric columns.  This aperture and column arrangement was once much more recessed, but the walls were moved forward in 1932.  A broad and heavy cornice and plain parapet cap the building.  The roof is flat and is clad in what appears to be asphalt.

      Although designed in a Classical idiom, the building demonstrates distinctly modern construction techniques – a steel framework and foundations of reinforced concrete. The exterior walls are 330mm brick, plastered, and with the exception of timber partitions added over time the interior walls that remain are brick or reinforced concrete.

      The interior was not viewed for the purposes of this assessment, although the ground floor foyer remains in largely original condition, with its main entrance doors, polished marble wall cladding, the brass and copper surrounds of the lifts, plastered walls and staircase (also in largely original condition). 

    • Materials close
    • Setting close

      Lambton Quay has developed over time to become Wellington City CBD’s “golden mile” of retail and commercial office buildings where banks, department stores and company head offices have traditionally built their highest quality buildings. This area has a high pedestrian ‘foot-count’ and is the key inner city retail shopping precinct. The street is characterised by the mix of modern office buildings and older heritage buildings, and many of the (modern) office buildings on the west side of Lambton Quay also have a street frontage or access to The Terrace commercial/office precinct. The heritage buildings make a fine contribution to a, sometimes bland, modern streetscape along Lambton Quay.

      The former T&G / Harcourts Building can be read, along with former DIC building / Harbour City Centre, as one of a pair of A & K Henderson Buildings constructed in a similar style in the same year on Lambton Quay.  This pair forms the nucleus of a fine group of inter-war (and later) buildings, often constructed as the head office of a financial institution or an insurance company at the south end of Lambton Quay. These buildings include the Art Deco styled MLC Building (1939-40), the elegant South British Insurance Building(1936) at 326 Lambton Quay, the “Chicago” Styled CBA Building (1936) at 328-330 Lambton Quay and the Art Deco styled Prudential Assurance Building(1934-35) at 332-340 Lambton Quay, along with the fine United Building(1929-30) at 107-109 on nearby Customhouse Quay. 

  • close Cultural Value
     The building is aesthetically significant for its bold, sculptural facade, a crucial element in the Lambton Quay streetscape, and perhaps the best example in the city of the Chicago style. 

    The architectural style of the building was developed for T&G Mutual Assurance as a distinct ‘house-style’ by the architectural practice of A&K Henderson. The building has value as part of a group of T&G Mutual Assurance buildings located across Australasia.

    The building has historic value for its association with T&G Mutual Assurance, one of the biggest and most successful insurance companies in Australasian history.

    The building is in largely authentic condition, particularly on its exterior and in significant interior spaces such as the main foyer. The building is a relatively rare surviving example of a head office building from the first half of the 20th century in the CBD of Wellington.
    • Aesthetic Value close
      • Architectural

        Does the item have architectural or artistic value for characteristics that may include its design, style, era, form, scale, materials, colour, texture, patina of age, quality of space, craftsmanship, smells, and sounds?

        The building is aesthetically significant for its bold, sculptural facade, a crucial element in the Lambton Quay streetscape, and perhaps the best example in the city of the Chicago style.

      • Group

        Is the item part of a group of buildings, structures, or sites that taken together have coherence because of their age, history, style, scale, materials, or use?

        The architectural style of the building was developed T&G Mutual Assurance as distinct ‘house-style’ by the architectural practice of A&K Henderson. This type of use of architectural style to create recognition of a brand is rare in New Zealand.

        The building is part of a group of T&G Mutual Assurance buildings that were constructed throughout Australasia.  A number of these buildings in state capitals and major centres remain intact. 

        The building is part of a group of high-quality buildings built in Lambton Quay in the inter-war period. These buildings include the DIC Building (also designed by A & K Henderson), the Commercial Traveller’s Club, and the façade of Hamilton Chambers. 

      • Townscape

        Does the item have townscape value for the part it plays in defining a space or street; providing visual interest; its role as a landmark; or the contribution it makes to the character and sense of place of Wellington?

        The building occupies a prominent corner site and makes a strong contribution to the Lambton Quay streetscape

    • Historic Value close
      • Association

        Is the item associated with an important historic event, theme, pattern, phase, or activity?

        The building site is part of an early, privately-built reclamation along the Lambton Quay foreshore.

      • Association

        Is the item associated with an important person, group, or organisation?

        The building has historic value for its association with T&G Mutual Assurance, one of the biggest and most successful insurance companies in New Zealand History.

        The building was the head office for T&G New Zealand until its merger with National Mutual.

        The building has historic value for its association with real estate company Harcourts Co. Ltd. 

        The building has historic value with the association of the many individuals and organisations that were tenants in the building, particularly local solicitors & dentists, the British government’s trade commissioner, the Marine Department’s head office, the Wellington Women’s Club, the New Zealand Broadcasting Authority and Housing New Zealand.

        The building site is associated with Oddfellows Hall, a prominent early Wellington building.

    • Scientific Value close
      • Archaeological

        Does the item have archaeological value for its ability to provide scientific information about past human activity?

        Central City NZAA R27/270 & Pre 1900 reclaimed land.

      • Technological

        Does the item have technological value for its innovative or important construction methods or use of materials?

        The building has technical value for the use of contemporary materials of structural steel and reinforced concrete

    • Social Value close
      • IdentitySenseOfPlaceContinuity

        Is the item a focus of community, regional, or national identity? Does the item contribute to sense of place or continuity?

        The building exterior has had few intrusive alterations over the past 80 years and contributes to the sense of place and continuity of the Lambton Quay streetscape.

    • Level of Cultural Heritage Significance close
      • Authentic

        Does the item have authenticity or integrity because it retains significant fabric from the time of its construction or from later periods when important additions or modifications were carried out?

        The building is in largely authentic condition, particularly on its exterior and in significant interior spaces such as the main foyer.

      • Rare

        Is the item rare, unique, unusual, seminal, influential, or outstanding?

        The building is a relatively rare surviving example of a commercial building from the early 20th century in the CBD of Wellington.

    • Local / Regional / National / International Importance close

      Not assessed

  • close Site Detail
    • District Plan Number

      17/ 185

    • Legal Description

      Pt Lot 1 A Plan 207; Lot 1 DP 8093

    • Heritage New Zealand Listed

      1/Historic Place 1435

    • Archaeological Site

      Yes – pre 1900 human activity on the site 1859 site of Oddfellows Hall (reclamation)

    • Current Uses


    • Former Uses


    • Has building been funded


    • Funding Amount

      Not applicable

    • Earthquake Prone Status

      124 Notice

  • close Additional Information

Last updated: 6/20/2017 11:42:56 PM