The National Bank of New Zealand, which was bought by the ANZ Bank from Lloyds of London in 2003, was dropped as a brand by the ANZ in 2012 in favour of its own brand.
This bank had its beginnings in October 1872 when the National Bank of New Zealand was floated in London by some former New Zealand residents, including former Governor Thomas Gore Browne; Parliament's first Speaker, Charles Clifford; and former Wellington Provincial Superintendent Isaac Featherston.
Dunedin's Bank of Otago was purchased, and then the Wellington branch was opened in 1873.
In January 1914, the bank opened a branch in temporary premises in Queen St next door to the post office.
Before World War I broke out later in 1914, Hastings was well on its way to becoming a very prosperous town due to its rural economy. This was reflected in the fact organisations were building substantial premises there, such as the National Bank.
Tenders for a "Brick and Reinforced Concrete Building at Hastings for the National Bank of New Zealand Limited" were called for by Wellington architect Claude Jones in January 1915.
(What has puzzled me is during that period 1908 to 1915 many substantial CBD buildings in New Zealand were steel-reinforced, but after World War I until around 1925 they were not. I suspect steel shortages during World War I and afterwards were the cause.)
Hastings builders Duncan and Abbott were the successful tenderers for the National Bank building, which would be on the corner of Queen St East and Karamu Rd South. Interestingly, a few years beforehand this exact site had been offered by the owners as the location for the Hastings Municipal Theatre but turned down by the borough council.
There was much excitement in April 1915 when the builders installed a concrete mixing machine at the site.
A shortage of carpenters because of World War I caused delays and Duncan and Abbott advertised for more men in May 1915.
Mr WG Brown, who was the architect's clerk of works for the project, left Hastings by the mail train in March 1916 to sail back to his home in Vancouver, Canada. Such was his popularity, many turned out to see him off at the railway station.
The imposing building opposite the Hawke's Bay Tribune building opened on August 28, 1916.
Suppliers of the furniture for the building, Scoullars in Market St, Hastings, had proudly displayed some weeks before in their shop window the items to go into the new building.
Only 15 years after this building had opened, the 7.8 magnitude Hawke's Bay earthquake struck on February 3, 1931.
Bank employee Jim Crooks was in the telephone booth and put both hands on the wall to stay on his feet. After he ran outside (the building surviving perfectly) he went back inside to put the cash and documents into the basement strongroom.
A fire began that night in a wooden building on the corner of Russell St South and Heretaunga St East.
With no water to fight the fire with due to the collapse of pipes that ran across the Havelock North bridge, the fire brigade used buckets of water in their battle to save the buildings. The fire swept down Heretaunga St East and the long Karamu Rd, jumping from building to building, until it reached the National Bank and set it alight.
The fire completely destroyed the building's interior and water flooded the basement on Thursday when the brigade dampened the ashes. The keys to the strongroom had been lost, so the door had to be forcibly opened - to discover all the documents inside had been under water.
A decision was made to demolish the building due to a belief the fire had compromised the strength of the ferro-concrete structure.
A much smaller National Bank was built in Market Street in Art Deco style, but has since been demolished.
It would have been interesting to see if we would still have what I think is a beautiful building with us today, had the earthquake not occurred.
The present building, named Karamu Chambers when it opened in 1934, remains today.
• Michael Fowler's From Disaster to Recover: The Hastings CBD 1931-35 featuring the story of the National Bank is for sale at the Hastings Community Arts Centre in Russell St for $30.
• Michael Fowler (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a contract researcher, commercial business writer of Hawke's Bay history.