Story: Department stores and shopping malls

Page 5. New Zealand’s main malls

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Growth in malls

In the 1960s planners in New Zealand became convinced that the modern idea of integrating shopping and services in one major centre was both efficient and attractive. Enthusiasm and investment in mall development increased rapidly, and were supported by the shopping public.

In 1964 the Fletcher Trust and Investment Company began work on the Pakuranga Town Centre. It incorporated two department stores: branches of George Court’s and Farmers.

Other malls followed, including Northlands shopping centre in Christchurch in 1967, and malls in Johnsonville, Wellington, in 1969 and Wainuiomata in 1970.

Fully enclosed malls

Christchurch’s Riccarton mall, built in 1965, was the first fully enclosed shopping centre in New Zealand.

When St Lukes shopping centre in Auckland opened in September 1971, it was the largest covered mall in New Zealand. On opening day more than 100,000 patrons visited its 1.2 hectares of shops and 14 hectares of parking, built on a disused quarry site. The mall extended over two levels, linked by escalators and ramps.

Looking the wrong way


After visiting the Glenfield mall site in 1972, architect Warwick Massey asked, ‘According to what maxim of commercial law does a shopping centre with a view have to turn so resolutely away from it? The Glenfield site looks to the east over a pleasant suburban scene with our beloved Rangitoto [Island] in the background’1 – but there was no view of it from the enclosed mall.


The Glenfield shopping mall, on Auckland’s North Shore, opened in November 1971. It was built on a sloping site with two levels of shops, as well as an aviary containing more than 100 noisy budgerigars. The advantages of covered malls were clear, and some existing open centres were given roofs.

In the late 1970s Manukau City mall was built alongside the civic administration block, with other community services clustered around the new centre. Mall development and redevelopment continued throughout New Zealand in the 1980s and 1990s. Cinema multiplexes were often added, together with extra parking.

Westfield malls

Westfield Properties, the world’s largest shopping mall owner and developer in the early 2000s, arrived in New Zealand from Australia in 1999. By 2008 it owned more New Zealand malls than any other company. Other Australian-based companies also dominated the scene.

Sinner or saint?


‘Are malls blights on the urban landscape, cheating us of real shopping variety with their samey blandness, ripping the corner-store heart out of our communities?’ one journalist asked in 2006. ‘Cathedrals to out-of-control consumerism, with its insidious social, economic and environmental toll? Or simply suburbia’s new village square: comfortable, safe places to spend time with friends and family as well as convenient one-stop shops?’2


Sylvia Park and Botany Town Centre

Sylvia Park, New Zealand’s largest mall, opened in Auckland in 2007. With over 200 shops, it was owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s Kiwi Income Property Trust, which also owned a number of other malls in 2008.

AMP’s Botany Town Centre in Auckland re-worked the mall concept as a small-scale town with tree-lined streets, gardens and squares. In 2008, it was the second largest retail development in New Zealand.

Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin

In 2008 Wellington had fewer malls than the other main cities, with Westfield Queensgate in Lower Hutt and North City in Porirua being among the largest. Christchurch had Westfield Riccarton, Eastgate, Northlands and The Palms. Arthur Barnett’s, the only remaining iconic department store in Dunedin, anchored the Meridian Mall. The Wall Street mall opened in Dunedin in March 2009.

  1. Warwick Massey, ‘Site visit: Glenfield shopping centre.’ Auckland Architectural Association bulletin 46 (May 1972), pp. 5–6. Back
  2. Nicola Shepheard, ‘Mall life.’ North & South (June 2006), p. 41. Back
How to cite this page:

Helen Laurenson, 'Department stores and shopping malls - New Zealand’s main malls', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 April 2024)

Story by Helen Laurenson, published 11 Mar 2010