When the Bank of New Zealand was first established in Auckland in 1861 no time was lost in sending representatives to the southern districts for the purpose of raising share capital and opening branches. Without the help of the South, the founders realised that the launching of the new bank would not be a complete success.
Accordingly, on 11th December 1861 the Bank’s president, and General Manager arrived in Nelson by steamer and were met by the Curtis brothers, one of whom, H E Curtis, was a provisional trustee of the Bank. They immediately arranged to engage staff and secure an office for opening.
The Bank opened for business on 13th January 1862 in small, rented premises in Hardy Street near Trafalgar Street corner with James Watkins as Manager.
In 1870 the Bank moved into new premises erected that year on Trafalgar Street. The Nelson Evening Mail on the 12 April 1866 described the building in the process of being built:
'During the past few months an impetus has been given to the erection of buildings in Nelson. The Bank of New Zealand, now in course of erection, is in a style so massive and costly, and is, we trust, likely to stimulate any of our fellow townsmen to the erection of solid buildings, that we thought it desirable to give it a special notice.'
The article than goes on to describe the building in some detail, concluding with,
'It is unnecessary to remark on the valuable addition to our public buildings that the Bank of New Zealand will present, or to express a hope in which we all will indulge, that it is only the commencement of a series of similarly ornamental and durable structures.'
Although the building was substantially built, as a result of the Murchison earthquake on 17 June 1929 nearly £2,000 had to be spent on restoring the building.
The building was demolished a century later in 1970 and replaced with a larger, more modern branch building.