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38-42 Rangitikei Street - Innes Dean House

Innes -Dean -House

Building Details

Building name: Innes Dean House (former NZI House)
Address: 38-42 Rangitikei Street
Construction date: 1957
Architect: Gummer and Ford
Architectural style: International Classical
District Plan Category: 2
Building number: 43
Heritage NZ Category: Nil


The building was designed in 1955 by the notable Auckland architectural firm of Gummer and Ford and completed two years later. NZI built a number of architecturally distinctive buildings in provincial centres in the 1950s and 60s and most were designed by Gummer and Ford. These buildings featured prominent columns on the principal facade as the company's signature. NZl was, and still is, one of the country's biggest insurance houses. lts influence has waned somewhat and like many of its buildings their Palmerston North branch has since been sold to a local business concern - in this case, legal firm Innes Dean.


The building is a typical example of an NZI building of the period in New Zealand. Many were designed by Gummer and Ford, or in association with a local architect such as in Nelson, where the architect was Alex Bowman. The style is a combination of the glass curtain walled International Style and the Neo-Classical with greatly simplified entablature, cornice and pilasters, but with highly detailed Classical columns which became a standard for NZI buildings constructed in this period. The interior ground floor has been modified but the central lightwell, and 'L' shaped corridor to the upper floor, off which are located offices, are original. As is typical with the period, window sills are tiled, and stairs have a terrazzo finish.


William Henry Gummer was born in 1885 and died in 1966. He began his architectural career as an articled pupil of WA Holman, an Auckland Architect. Between 1908 and 1913 he worked in the United States and Britain, during which time he qualified as an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. While in Britain he was employed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the most prominent English architect of the period. On returning to New Zealand in 1913, he joined the firm of Hoggard and Prouse of Auckland and Wellington until 1923 when he formed the partnership with Charles Reginald Ford. Gummer was elected a Fellow in 1914, four years after having been elected an Associate was President between 1933 and 1934, and was later elected a life member. Charles Reginald Ford was born in England in 1880 and first served with the RoyaI Navy before joining Scott's 1901-1904 Antarctic expedition. By 1909 he had emigrated from England to Christchurch, and by 1919 was working as a partner in the Wanganui architectural firm of Ford and Talboys. He also gained an expertise in engineering, writing a treatise on earthquake resistant building design. He was elected President of the New ZeaJand Institute of Architects between 1921 and 1922. Ford is recognised for his research on earthquake engineering while Gummer is considered to be one of the most outstanding New Zealand domestic architects of the period. The partnership is also recognised for its larger buildings, winning gold medals from the NZIA for the Auckland Railway Station and Remuera Library. Today their Auckland office buildings, the Dilworth Building, the Guardian Trust, and the State Fire Building, and the Wellington Dominion Museum are of considerable cultural heritage value to New Zealand. Gummer also has made a significant contribution to the architectural heritage in his war memorials, including that in Dunedin, the Massey Memorial in Wellington, the Bridge of Remembrance in Christchurch, and the National War memorial in Wellington.

Summary of Heritage Values

The building is associated with NZI, its customers, clients, and its corporate architectural firm, Gummer and Ford.

The building is a creative but typical NZI building for the period designed in a combination of the International and Stripped Classical styles. Because of its grandeur and scale it is an important built form in Rangitikei Street.

The building is authentic on the exterior with the upperfloor also authentic. The building is a typical example of a Gummer and Ford NZI Building, but which is unique in Palmerston North.

The building has economic, functional, and educational values.

Statement of Significance

The modest age of this building means it has little historical significance but is a unique building style in Palmerston North, designed by the foremost architectural practice in New Zealand of the period.  It contributes greatly to the streetscape of Rangitikei Street.

Building Permit Plans, PNCC (Microfilm file), 366/38
NZHPT 1990, "Glossary of Architects, Engineers and Designers", NZHPT, Wellington
Thorrold-Jaggard Papers. PNCC Archives