The first Supreme Court building was built on Queen Street, in the commercial hub of Auckland. When a larger building was needed, a new site was acquired beside the Parliament and Government House of the time, forming a government precinct. Architect Edward Rumsey designed the two-storey brick building in a neo-Gothic style, and when it opened in 1868 it was one of the colony's most impressive public structures. A novel feature of the building's facade were carvings by engraver Anton Teutenberg depicting prominent public figures including Ngāpuhi chief Hōne Heke. This photograph shows the building in 1869. The former Parliament can be glimpsed behind it. It was extensively renovated in 1988, but significant parts of the original fabric were kept.
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