National Tobacco Building

1 Ossian Street, Ahuriri, Napier, Hawkes Bay

The National Tobacco Building, formerly known as The Rothman’s Building, stands proudly on the corner of Bridge Street and Ossian Street in Ahuriri. Regarded by many, as one of Napier’s most sophisticated and best-preserved public buildings.  

Originally owned by tobacco tycoon Gerhard Husheer, the building suffered extensive exterior damage due to the Hawke’s Bay Earthquake in 1931.  Although in the midst of the Great Depression, Husheer spared no expense in the rebuild. He engaged Napier based architect Louis Hay, requesting designs for the new factory be as opulent and extravagant as possible. Hay’s, heavily influenced by Art Deco architecture and Art Nouveau at the time, designed a simple ‘arch within a square’ façade and adorned the exterior with intricate motifs: roses, vine leaves and a New Zealand variety of bulrushes known as Raupo. Features also include brass handrails and tiles leading up to wooden doors with lamps either side of the entrance. The building sprung up quickly; construction finished at the end of 1932, barely two years after the earthquake.

The National Tobacco Building is registered as a Historic Place Category 1 Building Structure by Heritage New Zealand. 

After changing hands through the years, the building now serves as home to The Urban Winery, run by wine maker Tony Bish.