Last updated: Friday 20 January 2023

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is replacing the roof of its more-than-130-year old heritage building, essential work that will help protect the beautiful old building and precious artworks within for future generations. 

The heritage restoration project is called ‘Kia whakahou, kia whakaora’, which means to ‘restore’ or ‘heal’ in te reo Māori. Enabling works are planned to begin in February 2023, starting with the site hoardings.  

The project is being delivered by Tātaki Auckland Unlimited with support from Precon Project Management and design input from Ignite Architecture and Heritage specialists David Pearson Architects. Auckland Council is funding the project as part of the long term plan for this iconic Auckland asset. 

The restoration only affects the heritage building, not the modern extension which opened in September 2011. 

Heritage status 

Melbourne architects John H Grainger and Charles A D’Ebro designed the building in French Château style. One of Auckland’s first civic buildings, it opened in 1887 as Auckland City’s Free Public Library and Municipal Offices, with part of the building devoted to the Gallery.  

Auckland Art Gallery officially opened on 17 February 1888. 

Much admired for its timeless beauty, the heritage building is listed as a Category 1 place of outstanding cultural significance. The project team has been working closely with heritage architects to ensure all the replacement and renewal materials and products are sympathetic to its heritage status. 

Project stages 

The roof replacement is Stage 1 of a wider proposed restoration programme. Stage 2, once funding is available and approved, will include restoring the external render of building and window joinery. The roof restoration is expected to take two years. 

Stage 1: Replacing the roof 

The considerable age of the slate tiles on the roof and natural deterioration over time has meant the loose and slipping tiles no longer protect the roof structure underneath, and they have become a health and safety hazard. Temporary mitigation has included a catch-fence along the roofline. 

Visible works will start with enabling structures, including hoardings, scaffolding and protective shrink wrapping.  

Once this is in place, work can begin on a complex project that includes:  

  • Replacing the slate roof, the underroof, lead and copper flashings and gutters and downpipes. Skylights will also be removed to reinstate the original dormer roofing.  
  • Civil work along the Wellesley and Kitchener Street pavement will enable better drainage connections from the roof gutter and downpipes. 

The project team has procured slates from the original quarry in the United Kingdom. Only a handful of skilled installers are able to do this careful work, as each tile is installed by hand.  

Stage 2: Protecting the façade

A second phase of the project will focus on repairing the original render on the surface of the building. The wall coating has bitumen layers underneath, and the surface is showing significant wear and tear. The facade team will carefully remove these old layers using specialist removal techniques, and then resurface the building with a fresh, protective coating.  

Recoating the exterior will allow the team to use a lighter, brighter colour in keeping with the building’s original appearance.  

While the building facade is opened up for renewal, the team will also be able to make sure other elements, such as the heritage window joinery, are still sound. 

Find out more 

The FAQs below will be updated as the project progresses. 

Watch this space for updates, videos and presentations and more from the project team and heritage architects.  

If you have questions not covered here, please contact us

FAQS

General FAQs

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is replacing the roof of its more than 130 year old heritage building, essential work that will help protect the beautiful old building and precious artworks within for future generations. 

Designed by Charles D’Ebro and John H Grainger in 1883 and completed in 1887, this building was one of Auckland’s first civic establishments. It is recognised as a Category 1 historic place of outstanding cultural significance.  

The heritage restoration project has been named kia whakahou, kia whakaora (to restore, to heal). Enabling works are planned to begin February 2023, starting with the site hoardings. The restoration only affects the heritage building, not the modern extension which opened in September 2011. All the work done will be sympathetic to the heritage status of the building.  

The roof replacement is Stage 1 of a wider proposed restoration programme. Stage 2, once funding is available and approved, will include restoring the external render of building and window joinery. 

Stage 1: Replacing the roof  

Visible works will start with enabling structures, including hoardings, scaffolding and protective shrink wrapping.   

Once this is in place, work can begin on a complex project that includes:   

  • Replacing the slate roof, the underroof, lead and copper flashings and gutters and downpipes. Skylights will also be removed to reinstate the original dormer roofing.   
  • Civil work along the Wellesley and Kitchener Street pavement will enable better drainage connections from the roof gutter and downpipes.  

Stage 2: Protecting the façade  

A second phase of the project will focus on repairing the original render on the surface of the building. The wall coating has bitumen layers underneath, and the surface is showing significant wear and tear. The facade team will carefully remove these old layers using specialist removal techniques, and then resurface the building with a fresh, protective coating.   

Recoating the exterior will allow the team to use a lighter, brighter colour in keeping with the building’s original appearance.   

While the building facade is opened up for renewal, the team will also be able to make sure other elements, such as the heritage window joinery, are still sound.  

‘Kia whakahou’ or ‘kia whakahou, kia whakaora’ means to restore, to heal’ in te reo Māori, a name chosen by the Gallery’s Māori team. The Gallery is on a journey to restore its building and its future - to heal, whether physically, mentally or spiritually. 

As kaitiaki of one of New Zealand’s most important and iconic heritage buildings, we have a responsibility to maintain the Gallery’s original 1887 building for current and future generations to enjoy. 

The considerable age of the slate tiles on the roof and natural deterioration over time has meant the loose and slipping tiles no longer protect the roof structure underneath, and they have become a health and safety hazard. Likewise, there is significant wear and tear to the exterior render of the more than 130-year-old building.

The project is expected to take two years to complete. 

Stage 1 of the project will include a new slate roof to replace the current roof, which is at the end of its life. 

Stage 2 of the project will include renovation of external timber window joinery and a new coat of paint to the external walls. As the work will be sympathetic to the building’s heritage status, the colour will change to reflect its original colour. 

Once the work is complete, the structure will look significantly improved, maintained and cared for, which is befitting for a building of this significance and stature. 

Visit this website page for regular updates, videos and presentations and more from the project team and heritage architects. You can also see more information at an archive heritage exhibition (on display until 26 February 2023) that tells the story of this iconic building and how it has changed over the years.   

We welcome feedback from anyone who loves the Gallery and its heritage buildings as much we do. Please read the information on this page, including the FAQs before contacting us, as frequent updates will be posted here as the project gets underway. 

If you still have queries, you can contact us via info@aucklandunlimited.com. 

Visiting the Gallery and access 

Yes, most of the Gallery will remain open as usual throughout the works. Some heritage parts of the building including the Grey galleries will be temporarily closed during the project, while other areas may be affected from time to time in order that work may be carried out in a safe manner. There will still be lots to see and do at the Gallery, so we encourage you to keep visiting as usual. 

Yes, Auckland Art Gallery exhibitions and events will run as usual. If there are any changes to announced programmes, these will be communicated well in advance. 

Yes, the North Terrace will be open as usual, as will the East Terrace. A small area of the East Terrace’s southern end may need to be closed to provide a safety margin around the roofing works. This will be well signposted, if so. 

Yes, we will make sure the Gallery’s schools programme continues and is aligned to the interests of particular groups. There may be some changes to the instructions given to you – for example, around arriving and departing from the Gallery – but these will be clearly communicated in advance.  

Areas such as the Creative Learning Centre will remain open, and the Gallery will continue to offer programmes and events designed specially to help tamariki discover and engage with art. 

Yes, the Gallery café will be open as usual throughout the works. 

Yes, the Gallery shop will be open as usual throughout the works. 

Yes, the Gallery’s Kitchener St entrance will be open as usual throughout the works. 

Yes, footpaths of Kitchener and Wellesley streets, outside the Gallery, will be temporarily closed during the course of the construction phase. There is also likely to be some temporary closure of Kitchener and Wellesley streets, if required by Traffic Management Plans, safety requirements or construction access. 

We’ll make sure temporary diversions are in place to minimise impacts as much as possible. Information about any long-term, temporary street and footpath closures will be available on the Gallery’s website. 

Alternative pathways will be provided with footpath closures (as above). We don’t anticipate additional changes for visitors with access needs. All visitors will be able to access those parts of the Gallery that remain open during works. You are welcome to contact the Gallery in advance of your visit if you have specific questions or to read more about accessibility at the Gallery here

As with any construction work, there will be some noise and we are assessing construction techniques to find the least disruptive methods. Noise, dust, water and waste will be carefully controlled to stay within prescribed limits. 

We are very mindful that the Gallery is a unique space and visitor experiences can be affected by environmental factors. 

Visiting as a Gallery Member  

Yes, the Members Lounge will remain open throughout the duration of the works. 

No. The Gallery will remain open throughout the works and will continue to run its exhibition and event programme. The full range of member benefits will remain available, including free unlimited entry to ticketed exhibitions, access to special events, discounts in the Gallery shop and café, and free access to the Members Lounge. 

Protecting our building and our artworks 

One of Auckland’s very first civic buildings, the Gallery is a Category 1 historic place loved for its timeless beauty. Designed by architects John H Grainger and Charles A D’Ebro, the original Gallery building contains influences from French Renaissance and Second Empire styles. After opening in 1887 as Auckland City’s Free Public Library and Municipal Offices, part of this heritage building was devoted to the Gallery and its doors officially opened on 17 February 1888. 

Since then, the Gallery has been witness to major events in the city’s life and has continuously offered art experiences that have entertained, educated and inspired audiences from far and wide. As the home of art in New Zealand, the Gallery has continued to grow to meet the needs of us all – first with the addition of the Mackelvie Gallery in 1916 and then with its multi-award-winning expansion in 2011. 

Today, the Gallery retains its historic architecture, combining it with a 21st-century design that connects people with art, heritage and place. 

By working on the external building fabric, we are ensuring this important and much-loved heritage building is maintained for the benefit of current and future generations. All materials have a lifespan and the fact that the building has remained intact and functioning for over 100 years (well beyond the original design life of these materials) shows the integrity and quality of workmanship.  

However, nothing lasts forever, and essential replacements will provide a sound building envelope for future generations. 

Yes, the Gallery is highly experienced in caring for artworks and, as always, will display, store and move artworks in such a way that they are fully protected. 

Yes, the project team will ensure this sculpture is either safe and fully protected or removed from site throughout the works. 

Yes, the project team will ensure the Māori commissions are safe and fully protected throughout the works. 

Yes, the programme of work relates only to the original 1887 heritage building. There are no works to the 1916 Mackelvie Gallery, which will remain open throughout. 

The Gallery’s 2011 redevelopment 

The original 1887 section of the Gallery’s building is more than 130 years old and – like any aged asset – requires regular maintenance, repair and renewal. Maintenance work to all parts of the Gallery is required on an ongoing basis, just as it is for any home or building. The maintenance work completed in 2011 did not address the entire roof which now needs replacing.  

Materials and components in the external fabric of the Gallery’s historic 1887 building have now reached the end of their life and require replacement. That they have lasted this long is a testament to the care that has been shown to the building over its life. It’s our duty to protect the Gallery for all, including those Aucklanders that contributed directly or indirectly to establishing and maintaining the building to this point. 

Works were identified over the last couple of years. Investigation revealed that aspects of the Gallery’s roof required attention and it makes economic and practical sense to combine this with other maintenance work required. By combining individual elements into a single project, we can find economies, minimise disruption and make sure we have the right skills available for the entirety of the project. 

Yes, the heritage section of the Gallery’s building is over 130 years old and, like any asset, requires continuous maintenance, repair and renewal. Components of the external building fabric have reached the end of their life and require replacing. That they have lasted this long is a testament to the care that has been shown to the building over its life. 

The work to the slate roof is not related to the 2011 project.  

Once funding is approved for stage 2 of the project, we will undertake some minor remedial works to the glass roof at the junction between the heritage building and the 2011 addition. We will also improve the more than ten-year-old paint coating on the exterior façade of the building. Paying attention to paint coatings and render is an appropriate measure for materials that require cyclic maintenance. 

Being a good neighbour 

We are assessing potential environmental impacts with the assistance of an external contractor experienced in heritage restoration, who will assist with the selection of materials and construction techniques. Looking after the environment is important to the project team and we are seeking to minimise environmental impacts of the work, if any. 

It is likely there will be some impact, including noise, traffic management, road and pavement closures, construction activity and craneage around the Gallery. We will ensure our neighbours are informed about the work and likely impacts and will put measures in place to mitigate the impacts as much as possible. 

Neighbouring residents and businesses will be advised of works by letter. 

Investing in our building 

This work is being funded by Auckland Council via Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s Long Term Plan (LTP) 2021–2031. The funding reflects the value and heritage status of the Gallery’s historic building. 

Timings 

The installation of hoardings and scaffolding will likely begin in February 2023.

Current planning suggests work will take until at least late-2024. A detailed programme will be developed in conjunction with the contractor and the Gallery. 

 The intended hours of work are 7am – 7pm, Monday through Saturday, though this may change depending on the demands of the project moving forward.