Mason and Wales, award winning architects, Dunedin.

History

Mason & Wales

Mason & Wales Architects is the oldest Architectural practice in New Zealand, having been founded in 1863 by William Mason, the first Architect to live and work in New Zealand and the first Mayor of Dunedin.

During its history the firm has been responsible for the design of a large number of notable buildings throughout New Zealand.

William Mason

William Mason was born in Ipswich and like his father and grandfather before him, he practiced his architecture in his native town. In 1838 he emigrated to New South Wales, where he took employment with the Colonial Architect. In 1840 he sailed from Sydney to New Zealand as a member of Governor Hobson’s staff, and became the first architect to live and work in this country.

Mason stayed twenty two years in Auckland, sampling the many occupations of a colonist – auctioneering, farming, and politics, as well as architecture. While a Member of Parliament, he moved south to Dunedin to enjoy the prosperity of a province suddenly enriched by the discovery of gold. He became Dunedin’s first Mayor and then, in 1877, he retired to the seclusion of Lake Wakatipu.

William Mason died in Dunedin in 1897. Among Mason’s well-known buildings are the former Government House in Auckland and St Matthew’s Church, Ross and Glendining Warehouse and The Otago Daily Times offices in Dunedin, as well as some now demolished buildings including the BNZ in Wellington.

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Nathaniel Wales

Nathaniel Young Armstrong Wales was born in Northumberland, educated in Jedburgh, Scotland and came to Dunedin from Victoria in 1861.

N.Y.A Wales was originally employed by William Mason as Clerk of Works on the Bank of New Zealand Building. Wales had had no strict architectural training, but nor had many men describing themselves as architects at that time. His matter-of-fact approach to the profession, untroubled by finer points of aesthetics, appealed to Mason.

Wales had an outstanding knowledge of the practical side of building and a sound head, which soon took him into Parliament and subsequently made him Mayor of Dunedin. He also had an outstanding military career, in which he rose from the ranks to be a Lieutenant-Colonel of Militia and Honorary Colonel of Volunteers.

Wales became a Partner in the firm, and the practice was renamed Mason & Wales. The firm occupied a leading position among the pioneer architects for many years, and a number of the prominent buildings of Dunedin City owe their origin to its ability and diligence.