Whitestone City – Go Easy on the Warpaint or Keep it Nude

Heather Bauchop photo - Heritage Advisor

By Heather Bauchop, Heritage Advisor 

Limestone gives North Otago a distinct visual identity: Waitaki Whitestone Geopark’s UNESCO application describes whitestone as ‘integral to the identity of the Waitaki region’ and particularly to Oamaru, with its fine nationally-significant limestone architecture. Heritage New Zealand’s report for Oamaru Historic Area (centred on Thames/Itchen/Tyne/Harbour and Tees Streets) states that Oamaru’s limestone buildings tell the story of a town that carved its identity in stone, creating a streetscape that is ‘remarkably intact and distinctive, giving it special significance.’

For Oamaru to keep its architectural identity, the vision needs to be carried into the future. It takes a collaboration of skills between conservation professionals, building owners, developers, and local authorities.

Under the Business Heritage Zone (BH) Rules If you are planning to change an existing colour scheme or to paint previously unpainted stone – you need a resource consent. Signage also requires a resource consent.

Harbour, Tyne, Itchen and Wansbeck Street and much of Tees Street are zoned Business Heritage (BH – see map link below). In the BH zone Council has reserved control over:

  • design, appearance, bulk and location of any new buildings
  • design and appearance of any existing buildings proposed to be refurbished, altered or added to
  • The design and appearance of existing and new buildings includes the painting and decorating of building (and balcony) exteriors
  • Design and appearance of signage

The Central Oamaru Design Guidelines (available on the WDC website) state colour was ‘usually an integral part of the design of early buildings’ but its use was limited – paint (usually limewash) was expensive and sparingly applied to stone frieze panels or horizontal detail lines’ or on sashes, doors and window frames with a limited colour palette. The guidelines also recognize that some Victorian and Edwardian buildings were plastered and painted usually with a base colour used for the body of the building, with joinery and decoration highlighted by two or three contrasting colours.

The design guidelines advise:

  • Limiting the numbers of colours - usually to three, maximum four
  • Avoiding large areas of bright or garish colours
  • Avoiding dark monotone colour schemes that hide detail
  • Avoiding stripes, murals or colour patterns that don't relate to the facade detail
  • Choosing colours that are appropriate to the architectural era of the building. i.e. Victorian
  • colours for Victorian buildings and Art Deco colours for these era buildings
  • Not painting previously unpainted stonework, plaster or brickwork

You can talk to the Waitaki District Council’s Heritage Advisor Heather Bauchop about this and other burning brick and mortar issues by calling 433 0300, or email planningenquiries@waitaki.govt.nz .For more information see the Waitaki District Plan:

Page reviewed: 22 May 2019 9:25am