The two-storey Manaia Post Office sits prominently in the centre of the small town, a landmark since opening in 1912. 

It was designed by the Government architect, John Campbell, who was also responsible for Parliament Buildings , the Public Trust Office in Wellington, the Dunedin Law Courts and many others during his 20 years in the position. The contractor was A.B. Burrell from Hāwera and the cost £3,333.  

The foundation stone was laid on 1 May 1911 by the Minister of Agriculture and Member of Parliament for Egmont, the Hon. Thomas Mackenzie. It was discovered soon after the ceremony that his surname had been misspelt on both the foundation stone and the ceremonial silver trowel. The critical ‘a’ had been left out, although Mackenzie took it in good spirit, joking that “the blunder must be that of an Englishman”. The foundation stone was taken away to have the error corrected. 

The new post office was officially opened on 10 April 1912 and the honour fell again to Mackenzie, this time in his new role as Prime Minister. Sir Joseph Ward, Prime Minister and Liberal Party leader resigned in March 1912 and Mackenzie was elected to replace him. Mackenzie’s tenure in both roles was short. In July 1912 his Government lost a vote of no confidence and Mackenzie also stood down as Liberal leader. 

Reform of the public sector was a feature of the Labour Government from 1984-1990. In April 1987 New Zealand Post was restructured. The reforms impacted postal business in particular and the Manaia Post Office was officially closed on 13 September 1991. The building was bought by the Waimate Plains Property Society Incorporated in 1991, but has been in private ownership since 1993. (Manaia Heritage Inventory, 2003)

Related Information


The New Post Office (Hawera & Normanby Star, 1 May 1911)


Manaia: New Post Office & Library (Hawera & Normanby Star, 11 April 1912)


John Campbell - Government Architect (Wellington City Heritage)


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