Union Bank of Australia - investing in knowledge

Looking after any building is about understanding it. How it was built, what's wrong with it. How to fix it. Looking after heritage buildings can require specialist expertise. Robin Miller and Andrew Barsby, from Origin Consultants are doing a building survey of the former Union Bank of Australia to help owners the Oamaru Squash and Badminton Club better understand the former bank’s heritage values and how to look after it.

Origin's report will describe what's important about the building, and identify and prioritize the work that needs done. This work is supported by a $9,000 grant from the Waitaki Heritage Fund. The report will help the club make decisions about what work needs done and what to look after when making any future development plans.

Opened in 1879 and designed by Forrester and Lemon, the Union Bank’s elaborate Venetian palazzo style worked in Oamaru limestone expresses the power and status of such financial institutions in Victorian New Zealand. The bank closed in the 1920s at which it was sold to Oamaru man John Moore, and later by Raymond Gibb and Robert Milligan. The Oamaru Squash and Badminton Club took over the premises in 1957. The Union Bank of Australia merged with the Bank of Australasia to form the ANZ Bank in 1951.

The Union Bank is listed as a Category A item on Waitaki District Plan's Heritage Appendix, and is a historic place with Heritage New Zealand.