Sarjeant Gallery Redevelopment

  • Project typeEarthquake strengthening, restoration and construction of new wing
  • Project value$64.4M
  • Project scheduleConstruction commenced in the final quarter of 2019 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2023
  • Contractor nameMcMillan & Lockwood PN Ltd.
Pataka facade render.jpg

The Sarjeant Gallery Redevelopment Project includes earthquake strengthening and restoration of the existing 100 year old Sarjeant Gallery; and the addition of a new, modern wing, which will be joined to the rear face of the Gallery. 

The Sarjeant Gallery Redevelopment Project is a partnership between Whanganui District Council, Whanganui iwi, central government, large and small private donors and Trusts. 

The new wing will house a temperature and humidity controlled storage area for the Sarjeant’s nationally significant permanent collection, further gallery spaces, an education facility, event and function areas, staff offices, a board room, reception area, a café and retail space.

It will honour the memory of Sir Archie Te Atawhai Taiaroa, for his contribution to leadership in the Manawatū-Whanganui region and will be known as Te Pātaka o Sir Te Atawhai Archie John Taiaroa.

Te Pātaka o Sir Te Atawhai Archie John Taiaroa has been designed by Warren and Mahoney Architects. The design arrived at as the result of an Australasian design competition run in 1999.

Reopening will occur after the construction period has finalised and both the new and old gallery’s heating and ventilation systems have been fully commissioned so the artwork can be installed.

The redeveloped Sarjeant Gallery te Whare o Rehua Whanganui is currently projected to re-open in 2024.

Redevelopment Timeline

  • Work is progressing on site in two concurrent stages.

  • May 2022: Ground beams and foundation works complete under the central dome and new suspended concrete floors installed

  • May 2022: Concrete Floor poured for the Link building April 2022: Basement foundation works and ground beams completed for west, east, south wings and new concrete floors installed in the Sarjeant

  • March 2022: The timeline for the project was reassessed and the date for completion adjusted to late 2023. A cost increase of $9.4M was also forecast. 

  • February 2022: Removal of old brickwork and parapet capping stones commenced on the roof of the Sarjeant

  • January - February 2022: All weather tent installed over the Sarjeant

  • December 2021: Basement floors, walls and columns for the ground level of the tower block constructed

  • November 2021: Basement floors and walls completed in the new collection storage area of the new building
  • July 2020: Excavation works commenced for the new wing
  • December 2020: Two large buttresses were erected to support the east and west stone exterior walls of the Sarjeant during strengthening works.
  • November 2020: Excavation reached its lowest level, compacted hardfill placed, and installation of ground beams for the basement of the new wing underway.
  • November 2020: A temporary retaining wall was installed along the former tree line behind the Sarjeant to ensure the existing building is not undermined during the final stage of construction of the new basement.
  • November 2020: The Project Archaeologist returned to site after the discovery of colonial artefacts, late October.
  • November 2020: Ground stabilising concrete was required to form a large retaining structure to prevent the old building slipping forward during the excavation work for the new wing.
  • September 2020: Drilling of hundreds of vertical core holes down through the exterior wall cavity, from roof to ground level, begins in the Sarjeant. Steel bars are then inserted down into the holes as part of the post tension strand strengthening system.
  • August 2020: Excavation and archaeology work ongoing with Cultural Monitors present on site daily
  • August 2020: PM Jacinda Ardern visits the project site
  • July 2020: Minister Shane Jones visited the site and announced $11.6M in further Government support
  • June 2020: Level 1 walls and columns complete
  • June 2020: Datum monitoring sites have been strategically attached to the building so that any subsidence or movement can be detected
  • June 2020: Topsoil has been stripped and excavation commenced for the new wing with Iwi monitors and the project archaeologist in daily attendance.
  • June 2020: demolition works and uplifting of the timber floors inside the Sarjeant began.
  • June 2020: underground service connections located near the Band room are being redirected.
  • June 2020: The Council approved a variation to contract to McMillan & Lockwood for restoration of the 100-year-old gallery
  • May 2020: with the move into Level 3, two mauri stones were laid at the rear of the Sarjeant Gallery and more trees were removed to enable safe construction of the basement loading area and access road.
  • May 2020: the peer review of the structural strengthening methodology for the existing building has driven an 8-month extension to the construction programme due to works needing to be undertaken and sequentially, rather than concurrently as originally estimated. Construction completion moves out to March 2023.
  • May 2020: fencing erected around the site perimeter and project site offices and portacoms moved onto site.
  • March – May 2020: all redevelopment project on-site activity went into hiatus during COVID-19 Level 4.
  • February 2020: Planning for cultural and archaeological monitoring and treatment of any findings unearthed during the excavation of the site at Pukenamu Queen’s Park.
  • February 2020: Revised design of the seismic strengthening solution for the existing gallery was completed and negotiated with the main contractor to ensure efficiency of construction and best value.
  • February 2020: Conservation architect met with the main contractor to review and approve the methodology for lifting, storage and reinstatement of the timber floors. 
  • January 2020: Several trees removed from the building site area behind the Gallery building, on the site designated for the Gallery extension, Te Pataka o Sir Archie John Te Atawhai Taiaroa. Removal of these oaks and Phoenix palms had been addressed in the Resource Consent for the project and no objections to their removal had been received. New plantings will be included in the landscaping in the later stages of the redevelopment.
  • November 2019: the existing gallery is blessed by Te Runanga o Tupoho so that work can commence on the lifting and protection of the timber floors ahead of restoration works. 
  • November 2019: Resolution by Council to proceed with construction and award the main construction contract to McMillan & Lockwood PN Ltd.
  • September 2019: $12M PGF funding announced
  • August 2019: Request for Proposals (RFP) closed
  • May 2019: Post tension strand accepted as the seismic strengthening method and revised detailed design for the Sarjeant gallery building underway
  • April 2019: Expression of Interest document made public in Australia and NZ calling for interested contractors
  • January 2019: Detailed design underway for the new wing and alternatives sought for the seismic strengthening method to ensure best value outcome for the 100 year old building 
  • December 2018: Gaye Batty appointed as Project Director, Sarjeant Gallery Redevelopment. As Project Director for the Len Lye Centre, Gaye Batty successfully delivered the Len Lye/Govett Brewster redevelopment project within budget and on time and has most recently, as Project Director, led the redevelopment of the New Plymouth Airport Terminal Development
  • October 2018: Cost estimate provided by quantity surveyors for developed design exceeded funds raised.
  • August – September 2018: Design phase workshops to ensure building plans fit for purpose       
  • December 2017 – April 2018: Key consultants engaged
    • Warren and Mahoney – Architects
    • Clendon Burns Park – Structural Engineers
    • Pacific Consulting – Building Services
    • Pacific Fire – Fire Design
    • BlackYard – Electrical Design
    • Rider Levett Bucknall – Quantity Surveyors
  • December 2017: Council approves the appointment of RCP to undertake Design Management to the completion of the Detailed Design
  • 2016: Developed design drawings are prepared with cost estimate of $34M
  • 2016: Unencumbered resource consents granted for the project


The funding for this project comes from a combination of sources: Whanganui District Council; Ministry for Culture & Heritage; Significant Projects Fund (DIA); New Zealand Lottery Grants Board; Provincial Growth Fund (MBIE); public and private trusts and a multitude of individual donations both large and small.


Sarjeant Gallery History

The Sarjeant Gallery was founded in 1912 with a bequest of £32 000 from Whanganui farmer and land-owner Henry Sarjeant. This represents approximately $70M in today’s money (this is based on a calculation of % of GDP).

Building commenced in 1917 and was completed in 1919 and the Gallery was opened to the public for the first time on 6 September, 1919.

The Sarjeant Gallery, clad in Oamaru stone, is situated on an historically important site on Pukenamu Queen’s Park overlooking Whanganui. It is one of New Zealand’s oldest purpose built galleries. The neo-classical Greek-cross style building with its distinctive dome was designed by architect Donald Hosie, from the office of Edward Anscombe (Dunedin).

The building is listed as a Category 1 heritage building by the Heritage New Zealand. It also won an award in 2012 for Enduring Design from the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

The Gallery currently meets only 5% of the current building code. 

The Collection 

The Sarjeant Gallery collection has approximately 8,300 pieces spanning 400 years of international and New Zealand art history.

Outside the main centres, the Sarjeant’s collection is the largest art collection held in a regional art gallery in New Zealand. Included in the collection are works in a broad range of media from paintings and works on paper to sculpture, installations, ceramics and glass.

The Sarjeant Gallery was the first in New Zealand to begin collecting photography with the acquisition of the Denton Collection in 1925. The Denton Collection is the largest collection of pictorialist photography in Australasia and is of international significance, with works by photographers from Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

The Sarjeant Gallery holds the largest collection of works by Edith Collier, over 400 items are held in the Edith Collier Trust Collection.

Contemporary collecting is led by the Tylee Cottage Artist in Residence Programme, the longest running artist residency in New Zealand and forms a significant body of work responding to the Whanganui Region and history.

The entire collection can be viewed on the Sarjeant Gallery’s multi-award winning digital collection portal Explore the Collection

The collection has been appraised by both Art + Object in Auckland and Christie’s of London and was valued at approximately $30 million in 2019.

The collection is temporarily housed at Sarjeant on the Quay in a climate controlled facility using state of the art storage systems until the redevelopment is completed.

Temporary relocation

The Sarjeant Gallery building is currently closed and operations have been moved to a temporary site until the new building can be constructed and the heritage building repaired.

The Gallery opened in temporary premises at 38 Taupō Quay on 24 May 2014. Sarjeant on the Quay features new exhibitions, education services and public programmes.

Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua


Pukenamu Queens Park, Whanganui 4500  View Map

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