Topic: New Plymouth Post Office 1959 (Currie Street)
The 1995 NPDC Heritage Study describes this building on the corner of Currie and Gill Streets as, "a strong no-nonsense piece of architecture, typical of public building of the 1950s, functional and built of quality materials". It was opened on 14 May, 1959 by the Postmaster General, the Hon Michael Moohan. This was a gala occassion with Currie Street closed between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and a crowd of several thousand.
The Post Office was built by W.Williamson Construction Ltd of Christchurch for about £400,000. The architect was R.W. Syme from the firm, Taylor and Syme.
According to J.S.Tullett in "The Industrious Heart" this was the culmination of 25 years of controversy, petitions and frustrating delays. The site had been first purchased in 1935 for £10,000 from the Shaw Estate.
For more details on the opening Post Office please refer to the supplement in the Taranaki Herald on 13 May, 1959. Available on microfilm in the Taranaki Research Centre at Puke Ariki.
This is the tenth main post office in New Plymouth, the first being a raupo whare in Brougham Street in 1842.
The Post Office (NZ Post) still occupies half of the ground floor and the ANZ Bank the other half. Above the staff area of the ANZ is a glass atrium designed by the well-known artist, E.Mervyn Taylor. In 1996 the art work was saved thanks to the action of the New Plymouth Heritage Group and the artist Don Driver. They convinced the ANZ Bank to preserve the atrium for all to see rather than cover it over. The upper floors are now serviced apartments.
(Note: New research in 2017 has discovered that the glass atrium was actually designed by James Turkington and constructed in Auckland.)