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Auckland Town Hall


Auckland Town Hall Auckland Town Hall Auckland Town Hall Auckland Town Hall Auckland Town Hall Auckland Town Hall Auckland Town Hall Auckland Town Hall

Auckland Town Hall (1911)

Municipal magnificence in an urbanising society

Welcome to the best and the worst of civic pomp and circumstance. Just metres away the Aotea Centre skulks in its pit. Camouflaged and fitted with a few guns, this sterile monument might have taken its place in Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. As a contribution to the city’s urban landscape, Aotea Square ranks with bleak Queen Elizabeth II Square at the foot of Queen Street.

The city council has made partial amends with its recent expensive conservation of the Civic Theatre and this building, J.J. and E.J. Clark’s town hall. Planning for it began early in the Edwardian era when the council bought extra land at the intersection of Queen and Grey streets. Melbourne’s Clark brothers drew on the Baroque revival trend for this striking building, which could seat 3000 people in its main auditorium. It certainly dignified this end of Queen Street. In the days of thinner traffic flows, vehicles could play dodgems with Sir George Grey’s statue (now in Albert Park) out in front and a large phoenix palm in the street.

For decades the Town Hall participated in the city’s civic milestones. Local politicians farewelled or welcomed troops, royalty came and went, and student capping antics often raised eyebrows. The Town Hall also provided a venue for political meetings, wrestling, boxing and, of course, arts and music. During the 1960s and ‘70s some people wanted to tear it down, and many thought that it would be rendered obsolete by the new Aotea Centre, but the council saw reason and spent nearly $50 million strengthening and refurbishing the old landmark. It reopened in 1998.

Further information

This site is item number 80 on the History of New Zealand in 100 Places list.



Text: Gavin McLean, 2013

Main image: Benjamin Welby (Flickr)

Other contemporary images: Ronald Woan (Flickr), techedive (Wikimedia), Rose Holley (Flickr) and Christchurch City Libraries (Flickr)

Historic images:

Alexander Turnbull Library
References: 1/1-007186-G (photographed by Samuel Heath Head), 1/2-000165-G, 1/2-001652-G and 1/2-000166-G (all photographed by William A Price)
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any reuse of their images.

How to cite this page

Auckland Town Hall, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated