Skip to main content Skip to footer

Iconic Napier building at 61 Tennyson Street sold

Iconic Napier building at 61 Tennyson Street sold 1536x1040

Historic Hawke’s Bay building bought by heritage buff

An iconic Hawke’s Bay property with a storied history dating back to 1886 has been bought by a former Napier man with a passion for preserving heritage.

The Sainsbury Logan & Williams building on the corner of Tennyson Street and Cathedral Lane was sold this month in a deal brokered by Colliers International.

It is the first time in more than 130 years that the property has not been owned by partners of the long-established law firm.

The buyer, Stephen Matthews, grew up in the Hawke’s Bay, attending Onekawa School and Colenso High School. He now lives in Auckland but eventually plans to resettle in the Hawke’s Bay.

Colliers International Broker Dan Walker, who transacted the sale with colleague Cam Ward, says he is thrilled to have found a buyer with such a strong affinity for Napier’s heritage.

“When Stephen asked me to show him some properties, his passion for heritage became apparent straight away.

“He owns several vintage cars, including a 1927 Chrysler once owned by his grandfather, and has previously refurbished and restored a heritage home in Plimmerton.

“I took him to see the historic Sainsbury Logan & Williams chambers, which was then owned by two current and two retired partners of the firm.

“The owners were looking to divest to ensure landlord and tenant separation, providing the ideal opportunity for Stephen to put in an offer.

“We negotiated a deal that both parties were happy with, and Stephen couldn’t be more delighted with his purchase.”

The premises sold for $2.65 million, representing a yield of 6.15 per cent on $163,000 annual rent.

Matthews says he’s thrilled to have the opportunity to help preserve Napier’s past.

“The Sainsbury Logan & Williams chambers is a special building in a special location, right in the centre of Napier’s Art Deco quarter.

“Owning a heritage building certainly comes with challenges, but the vendors have done well to preserve the character of the building while also investing significantly in earthquake strengthening.

“A building has to be functional, and it’s important that tenants are able to use and enjoy the space. There’s a delicate balance between preserving heritage and ensuring a building is fit for purpose, and I’ll do my best to achieve that.”

The property comprises three separate but interconnected buildings, each with a unique history.

The distinctive corner building at 61 Tennyson Street was built after the original chambers, dating back to 1886, were all but destroyed in the February 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake.

The only surviving parts of the original building were the strong room, which was protected by a heavy door more than a foot thick, and a smaller ancillary.

The strong room preserved hundreds of land titles and other documents that would have otherwise perished in the fires that raged through Napier following the quake.

These were used to reconstruct the documents at the Lands and Deeds Office in Napier, all of which had been destroyed.

To rebuild after the quake, the law firm engaged Finch & Westerholm architects, who incorporated the surviving strong room into the new design.

Completed in 1932, the building is an amalgam of architectural elements including an Italian Renaissance-inspired façade, Louisiana-style metalwork and a tiled parapet with a clear Spanish Mission influence.

It still retains many of its distinctive Art Deco features including a Terrazzo tiled entranceway and a cupola with lead lighting.

The adjoining Munster Chambers building on Tennyson Street was completed in 1933. A shamrock graces the Art Deco façade as a nod to the Irish roots of the North Island’s former name, New Munster. The law firm purchased Munster Chambers in 1977.

The final addition came in 1992, when Sainsbury Logan & Williams purchased the Anglican Church’s former office building to the rear on Cathedral Lane.

All three buildings are now interconnected. Munster Chambers was joined to the main building in 1981 and the Anglican Church office in 2007.

The buildings are now in good hands, with Matthews able to draw on his experience of owning and living in historic Turville House in Plimmerton, Porirua, north of Wellington.

Located high on a hill at 75 Motuhara Road, the house was built between 1907 and 1910 by Sir George Troup, who was then the chief architect for NZ Railways.

It shares many design features with Dunedin Railway Station, which Sir George also built in 1907. He later went on to become Wellington Mayor from 1927 to 1931.

Matthews and his wife Gayle O’Brien bought the house as a project and spent nine months restoring and renovating it over 2004 and 2005. The couple sold up in 2017 when they moved to Auckland.

Matthews also has an affinity for vintage cars, having owned several 1920s Chryslers.

One of these was a 1927 model owned by his grandfather, who sold it in 1968. Matthews and his brother Martin bought it back when it was listed on Trade Me in 2016.

Related Experts

Shoneet Chand


Auckland North

Shoneet has been involved in selling investment property for over 13 years and since 2015 he has been a Director in the Investment Sales Team at Colliers International, specialising in Investment & Development Sales across the wider Auckland region.

Over the past 8 years he has been one of the most successful investment sales brokers in Auckland with a track record of significant sales second to none. He has had considerable experience in dealing with international purchasers and has recently completed several deals with investors out of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He has been involved in a number of large land sales and portfolio sales, including divestments for well-known brands like Z Energy, The Warehouse & Bunnings.

Shoneet has been the top broker in his market for both 2014 and 2015 while also placing in the top 10 brokers nationwide again for Colliers in 2016. In 2017, Shoneet transacted over $260 million of property and was ranked 2nd in New Zealand.

He was the top broker at Colliers in the 2018 financial year and a finalist for the Commercial & Industrial Salesperson of the Year award, which is judged nationwide across all agencies. In both 2019 & 2020 he was again ranked in the top 5 brokers nationwide for Colliers and was involved in over $300 million & $325 million of sales in each calendar year. 

Over the past six years, he has transacted over $1.5 Billion dollars in sales.

Notable Transactions over $10m include;

  • 2-4 Fred Thomas Drive, Takapuna -   $60,850,000
  • 33 Corinthian Drive, Albany  -   $50,500,000
  • 229 Dairy Flat Highway, Albany -   $33,000,000
  • Todd Industrial Park – Wellington -   $33,000,000
  • 9-11 Corinthian Dr, Albany -  $27,340,000
  • 44 Taharoto Road, Takapuna -   $27,270,000
  • 279-301 Lincoln Rd, Henderson -   $27,000,000
  • 11 Coliseum Drive, Albany -  $26,700,000
  • The Warehouse, Albany -   $26,400,000
  • LEP Childcare Portfolio-   $20,775,000
  • Farro Fresh/ASB Constellation Dr -   $25,500,000
  • Kmart Te Rapa  - $23,750,000
  • 1-11 Parkway Drive -   $21,000,000
  • Noel Leeming, Wairau Park -   $19,000,000
  • 5 The Warehouse Way, Northcote -  $19,000,000
  • Rapid Labels – William Pickering Dr -  $17,300,000
  • 16 Dinning Road, Riverhead -  $16,500,000
  • 35-45 The Strand, Parnell -   $16,100,000
  • 44 Arrenway Drive, Albany -   $15,300,000
  • 151 Lincoln Road, Henderson -    $15,250,000
  • 51 Corinthian Drive, Albany -  $15,150,000
  • 7-21 Kawana Street, Northcote -  $14,998,100
  • 124 Bush Road, North Harbour -   $14,950,000
  • 550 Te Irirangi Drive, Botany -   $14,200,000
  • PlaceMakers, Albany -    $14,000,000
  • 24 Oteha Valley Rd Extn, Albany -    $13,300,000
  • 217-227 Archers Rd, Wairau Valley -   $13,250,000
  • 44 Arrenway Drive, Mairangi Bay -  $13,117,116
  • 6 Canaveral Drive, Mairangi Bay -   $13,000,000
  • 119-121 Onewa Road -   $12,750,000
  • 3 Monahan Road, Mt Wellington -  $12,680,000
  • 155 Wairau Road, Wairau Valley -   $11,500,000
  • 13 William Pickering Drive, Albany -  $11,400,000
  • 14-18 Lovell Court, Albany -  $10,500,000
  • WCDL Development on Onewa Rd -  $10,250,000
View expert

Matt Prentice


Auckland North

Matt joined Colliers International in 2006 with a focus on mid to upper end industrial & investment transactions.  Specializing in tenanted investments, occupier representation through to vacant land / building sales on the North Shore, Matt was promoted to a North Shore Director in 2015.

In 2011 and 2012 Matt was awarded the “Golden Gavel” for Colliers New Zealand as the most successful auction sales broker across Colliers New Zealand. Matt has been the number one North Shore sales and leasing broker, 2011, 2012 and 2013.  In 2012, was a top 20 performer across Colliers New Zealand and has over $600 million of sales since joining colliers International.

In 2013, Matt was in the top 10 Highest Performing Brokers Nationwide and in 2014, he had a record year completing more than 50 transactions, and  finished in the top 10% of brokers in New Zealand.

In 2015, Matt completed over 60 transactions, more than any broker North of the Bridge, again finishing in the Top 20 brokers in New Zealand.

In 2016, Matt had a record year finishing top 10 in the country and was the top broker on the North Shore.

In 2017 Matt finished in the top 5 brokers in New Zealand, and completed over 70 transactions.

In 2018 he finished in the top 10 brokers in New Zealand and completed over 120 transactions. Matt was awarded the MVP of brokerage for Colliers International New Zealand.

In 2019 Matt finished in the top 5 brokers in New Zealand and achieved the “Golden Gavel” as the highest performing “Auction Broker”. Again, he completed over 100 transactions.

2020 was a record year, selling over $250 million of stock, with 99 deals in total for the year. Matt finished as the 4th highest performing broker in NZ.

Recent Transactions include:

  • 13 William Pickering Drive, North Harbour - $17,300,000

  • 7-19 Croftfield Lane, Wairau Valley - $17,280,000

  • 6 Canaveral Drive, Albany - $13,000,000

  • 44 Arrenway Drive, Albany - $15,300,000

  • 2c William Pickering Drive. North Harbour - confidential

  • 180-184 Target Road, Wairau Valley - $13,000,000

  • 71 Apollo Drive, Albany - $17,550,000

  • 124 Bush Road, North Harbour - $14,950,000

  • 229 Dairy Flat Highway, Albany - $33,000,000

  • 34-41 Poland Road, Wairau Valley - $15m circa

  • 1-11 Parkway Drive, Albany - $21,000,000

  • 44 Arrenway Drive, Albany - $15,300,000

  • 30 Apollo Drive, Albany - $12,942,000

  • 155 Wairau Road, Wairau Valley - $11,500,000

  • 53 Paul Matthews Road, North Harbour - $5,610,000

  • 7 Armstrong Road, North Harbour - $7,400,000

View expert