History

We believe that the hotel you stay in should be an extension of your travel experience, which is why we’re incredibly proud of Heritage Auckland. Set in the iconic Farmers Department Store building, the hotel remains an Auckland landmark, with the building retaining much from its historic past. Original features include hardwood floors and wooden beams, and of course the gorgeous art deco Grand Tearoom, with vaulted ceilings and fantastic city and harbour views. Auckland’s heritage lives on in this wonderful hotel, preserved and enhanced for the enjoyment of a new generation.

Building history

1909
Robert Laidlaw spends his life savings (£240) to open a mail-order company, Laidlaw Leeds.

1917
  
Laidlaw Leeds is approached by another mail order company – The Farmer’s Union Trading Company – with an offer to merge. Laidlaw becomes managing director of the new venture: Farmer’s Trading Company.

 

 

1921
The Farmers department store opens after a major expansion. The building is seven storeys high, has five acres of floor space, tearooms, and a rooftop playground – making it the largest and most impressive store in the country.

The old Farmers Building
Farmers Union Trading  Coy building, 5 February 1924, ref 1-W302, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

 

 

 

1930
The main tearoom (seating 300 people) is opened in time for Farmers to celebrate its 21st birthday – it becomes one of Auckland’s most prestigious places to dine.

1936
   
Hector arrives! He’s an Australian sulphur-crested cockatoo, gifted to Farmers by an elderly customer who felt she could no longer care for him. Hector goes on to become a Farmers institution and for the young no trip to Farmers is complete without a trip to the rooftop playground to see him.

Hector dies in 1977 aged 131. After 43 years of service, all agreed that Farmers had lost its loudest and best salesman. But the legend lives on with Hectors Restaurant.

1990
Farmers gives the Auckland Santa Parade (first Santa Parade was in 1934) to a charitable trust, and donates $350,000 worth of costumes and floats. Find out more about our Corporate Social Responsibility.

1991
Farmers’ Hobson Street Store closes when the company moves its operations to suburban shopping areas. The much-loved landmark, however, is given a new lease on life with the development of one of the city’s top hotels, Heritage Auckland.

1998
The grand opening of the Heritage Auckland. A year later the Tower Wing opens.

1999
The entire hotel is taken over for the two-day APEC event, welcoming 500 delegates including four heads of state.

2000
Tenacious challengers for the ‘Auld Mug’, Luna Rossa make the hotel their base of operations every sailing season from 1998 to 2002. The Italians have around 90 people staying at the hotel and ‘block book’ the Grand Tearoom for six months at a time.