One of the more unusual subterranean features of corporate Auckland life is no longer accessible.
A Penrose staff-only, swipe-card-entry pedestrian walking tunnel, built last century between Fletcher Building's headquarters and 810 Great South Rd and buildings it then developed and owned opposite, has been blocked off.
It was used by Fletcher staff to get between their buildings, under the busy road.
But it also became New Zealand's most unusual art gallery.
That was under the direction of Fletcher Trust Collection curator Peter Shaw who used both sides of its blank, stark white walls to showcase part of one of this country's most important corporate art collection.
Six years ago, he staged A Centennial Exhibition, Treasures from The Fletcher Trust Collection, in that quiet area.
The impressive display celebrated the first 100 years of Fletcher, founded in Dunedin by Sir James Fletcher I in 1909. The tour started above-ground in the Fletcher House foyer, with the staff's most-loved painting: Don Binney's 1.8m x 1.5m oil and acrylic on canvas Pacific Frigate Bird II.
Then, people climbed down a set of stairs in a separate building to get into the tunnel and see works by J.B.C. Hoyte, Colin McCahon's July Waterfall, Dick Frizzell's amusing Waikato Landscape 1985 (acrylic on board) John Tole's cubist Through the Trees 1953 (oil on canvas) and Peter Siddell's remarkable Harbour Shadow 1984 (acrylic on board). Looming at the end of the tunnel was McCahon's movingly massive 1.1m x 1.4m July Waterfall, juxtaposed by Frizzell's energetic Woodchopper 1983 (enamel on board).
Goodman Property Trust owns the buildings opposite and a portfolio manager Jarrod MacGregor said no decision was made to fill in the tunnel. Both Goodman and Fletcher held licences for it, he said.
It's just been blocked off, not being filled in. The tunnel is both parties' responsibility. They're doing their works on their side of the road and they locked their side of the road off and we locked our side of the road off.
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"It's just been blocked off, not being filled in. The tunnel is both parties' responsibility. They're doing their works on their side of the road and they locked their side of the road off and we locked our side of the road off," he said.
Under chief executive Mark Adamson, the headquarters beside the tunnel are undergoing a $40 million revamp. A new one-level structure is rising between Fletcher House and Jack Smith House, headquarters of Fletcher Construction, at the neighbouring 816 Great South Rd.
Adamson said the new building would be for staff who are now spread across the city, as well as for meetings and conference space.
"This is the biggest area we've got," he said, indicating the small meeting room on level seven of Fletcher House where he held a results briefing on Wednesday . The business needed more meeting and conference space as well as more office area, he said, hence the redevelopment.
Internal walls have been demolished and open-plan offices created in Fletcher House. All that work has meant walls vanished, prompting a partial sale of the Fletcher art collection.
The yard alongside the Southern Motorway where Fletcher tower cranes have been stored, is also being dug up and used for carparking.
See a Google Map of the Fletcher headquarters here: