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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




For the purpose of this article, the term “public buildings” includes the following: Government and municipal, commercial, educational, institutional, and hospital.

Before the white man came to New Zealand, there was already a form of public building, that is, the tribal meeting house of the Maori, the whare runanga. This was a focal point of tribal activity and, as such, was adorned by their craftsmen both by carving and by painting.

The European naturally brought with him his own familiar expressions of architecture, and it is well to consider the main stem of architectural history from which they sprang. If a tree of architecture could be drawn as a diagram, its roots would be shown running back into dim antiquity nourished by the influences of geographical, geological, climatic, religious, social, and historical surroundings. Its main trunk would branch into the more easily found examples of Egyptian and Babylonian architecture, and the eastern work of China and Japan. Further up the main tree would flourish the Grecian and Roman styles leading on to the central feature of Romanesque, with a side branch of Byzantine. From this would spring both Gothic and Renaissance architecture, branching in turn to later revivals and culminating in contemporary modern architecture.


Paul Pascoe, A.R.I.B.A., Architect, Christchurch.