[extract] A building of particular note stands at the intersection of Dunedin's Water and Cumberland streets. Unlike other well-preserved examples of the city's rich architectural heritage, upgraded for new offices or converted into inner-city apartments, it is now largely unoccupied. Broken windows and grime-streaked paintwork speak of years of neglect (figure 1). This building was constructed in the early 1880s, a time of unparalleled growth and prosperity in Dunedin as the city capitalised on the rush to Central Otago following the discovery of gold in 1861. The handsome solidity of the original structure embodies the certainty and progressive vision of the city's political and business leaders (figure 2). It was from these premises, centrally located in the railway, harbour and exchange precinct, the city's former commercial and transport hub, that the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand (USSCo.) commanded a vast network of steamers, port branches and maritime labour in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Today this building stands as a rather tired remnant of what was one of the largest and most important maritime enterprises in the history of the South Pacific.