The newly founded Bank of New Zealand opened an agency in Akaroa in 1863. The agency closed in 1865, but then re-opened in 1873. Two years after that, the agency was doing well and a single storey Italianate building was built to house it, on the same corner site as the present building.
In 1904-05 a two-storey bank was built on the site, in the same Italianate style. It is likely that the original building of 1875 became the ground storey of the new building, though its appearance was altered by the addition of an entrance porch and the replacement of the balustraded parapet of the original building with a hipped roof above the new second storey.
The Italianate style was favoured for banks in late 19th and early 20th century New Zealand. Banks in smaller towns like Akaroa were generally built of timber while banks in cities like Christchurch were of brick or stone. Akaroa’s relatively simple timber bank shows, when compared with the grander masonry banks built in Christchurch, how varied and adaptable the Italianate style was.