Bell House/Restaurant

75 Bells Road, Pakuranga, Manukau

  • Bell House/Restaurant.
    Copyright: Grant Sheehan. Taken By: Grant Sheehan.
  • Bell House/Restaurant.
    Copyright: Grant Sheehan. Taken By: Grant Sheehan.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 125 Date Entered 21st September 1989


City/District Council

Auckland Council (Manukau City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 60358 Pt Allot 22 Pakuranga Parish

Location description

CT 17D/521 (North Auckland Registry) - as per Heritage Covenant legal description.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Bell House is one of four similar houses built for officers of the Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps stationed at Howick and Panmure. Completed in 1851, it was built for Captain Charles Henry Montressor-Smith, of the Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps. On 10 January 1851 Captain Smith received a Crown Grant of Lot 22 Pakuranga. The land (99 acres) had access to the tidal reach of the Pakuranga creek.

Captain and Mrs Smith were temporarily housed in Cook Street, Howick, while their new house was being completed. According to contemporary reports, Mrs Smith was not too happy with the new residence. It was built on low ground near the creek and the Captain and his wife and servant were often ill. Captain Smith and his family left for another fencible settlement, Panmure in 1856. He sold all his land (Lot 22 plus Lot 26, a total of 78 hectares) to a wealthy Australian, Robert King. Twelve years later, King sold the house and half the land to a Scottish immigrant, David Bell. The property remained in the ownership of the Bell family until 1974, when R.A. Bell donated the entire house and grounds to the Historic Places Trust. Because of this association with the Bell family - one of the early Pakuranga families, this building has considerable regional significance.

The house did not remain on its original location. In 1895 Ben Paton, a builder from Howick, removed the house to its present position for the owner, Alexander Bell.


Bell House is one of the few remaining examples of a fencible officer's cottage. Houses built for private soldiers were double unit cottages (until 1847) and after this, single unit cottages. As Bell House was built for an officer, however, it was an elegant two storied homestead. There are very few remaining examples of this type of home remaining. The only other known example is the house standing at 7 Sale Street, Howick (from which the Bell house is believed to have been copied).

Earlier examples of the architectural style of Bell House, described as 'Mission style' or 'portable Georgian' are the Kemp House in the Bay of Islands (1821) or The Elms in Tauranga (1847). The officers' houses in the Waikato, similar in appearance if not in plan, were exemplified by Bell House.

The designs for the fencible cottages came from Army Ordinance Depots in England or Australia. Local materials were used but the bricks for the foundations, the chimneys and wells were sent out from England as ship's ballast.


Bell House is a significant structure within Lloyd Elsmore Park, in which various buildings of the Howick Colonial Village are located. Bell House is not visible from the main Pakuranga highway, but is prominently situated on Bells Road on the entrance to the Village.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


The house is built in the Georgian style, adapted to Colonial conditions. It has a verandah on three sides, with French doors and a symmetrical facade. There are 12 light double hung windows under the eaves. The French doors open onto the verandah from the main downstairs rooms.

The architect for Bell House is unknown, but was the work of Army Ordinance Depots in England or Australia. The main strength of both buildings derives from the lengths of kauri rising to the height of the house at each of its four corners i.e. similar to the 'balloon framing' method of construction, used primarily in the United States.

The interior of Bell House is considered typical of all fencible homes. They were mostly plain hipped-roof houses with a wide hall, drawing room and dining room connected by folding doors, and a stairway leading to two bedrooms and a dressing room above.


1895 - After the house moved to present site (see Historical Significance) lean-to added to back of house comprising kitchens, two large bedrooms, and two small rooms for a servant or farmhand.

1974-76 - One-storied portion added at back in 1895 considered inferior (description above) and replaced with a sympathetic addition.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1851 -

2008 -

2009 -
Fire damage repaired.

1895 -
After house moved, lean-to added to back of house comprising kitchens, two large bedrooms and two small rooms for a servant or farmhand.

1974 - 1976
One-storied portion added at back in 1895 considered inferior and replaced with a sympathetic addition.

Construction Details

The house is built of pitsawn heart kauri timber, which was hand dressed on the site. To this day it is free from borer. The ceilings and walls were lined with lightly joined nine inch wide tongue and groove kauri boards. Square-head nails were used only when necessary. The foundation and chimneys were constructed from bricks imported from England.

Information Sources

Auckland Star

Auckland Star

18 June 1973

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1932, p. 6; 28 September 1933, p. 6.

8 May 1968, p. 12

Salmond, 1986

Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen

Drummond, A 1971

A. Drummond (Ed), The Auckland Journals of Vicesimus Lush, 1850-63, 1971

p. 57-8

La Roche, 1977

A. La Roche, A History of Bell House, Pakuranga 1977

Journal of the Auckland-Waikato Historical Societies

Journal of the Auckland-Waikato Historical Societies

D. Beavis, 'The Bell House at Pakuranga', 1974, p. 19-22

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.