Fairlight Station Homestead

47 Fairlight Road, Fairlight

  • Fairlight Station Homestead.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Pat Fox. Photo taken 1996.
  • Fairlight Homestead.
    Copyright: Mari Hill Harpur Photography. Taken By: Mari Hill Harper.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 380 Date Entered 16th November 1989

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Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Sec 48 Eyre SD (CT SL6B/348), Southland Land District, and the building known as the Fairlight Station Homestead thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.

City/District Council

Southland District

Region

Southland Region

Legal description

Sec 48 Eyre SD (CT SL6B/348), Southland Land District

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Historical Significance or Value

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.

Fairlight was the last home of Captain John Howell, the founder of Riverton, Southland's oldest settlement, where he set up a whaling station and then a village in 1834. Howell had been born at Fairlight on the Sussex coast and went to sea on whaling ships. He settled at Riverton and married Kohikohi, the daughter of a Ngatimamoe chief. He inherited land rights through her and established a farm with stock from Australia.

These rights were not extinguished by the sale of the Murihiku Block to the Crown and Howell was a major runholder from the beginning of European settlement. As a member of the Southland Provincial Council 1862-1869, he lobbied successfully for a road from Riverton to Kingston up the Aparima. His first big run stretched almost from Fairfax to Wreys Bush and was staffed by Maori who moved with him from the Riverton village. When he took up the 30,000 acres at Fairlight during the 1860s they again moved with him. Howell had control of Fairlight by 1860 but did not shift his family of eleven children and his second wife there until 1869. His second wife was Caroline, the daughter of Captain Robert Brown and Wharerimu of Kopupu, an early settlement on Codfish Island. Howell farmed Fairlight successfully, first with cattle and then sheep until the rabbit invasion of the seventies. He died in Sydney in 1874.

The land farmed from the homestead has remained extensive. Up to the 1930s the run had about 39,000 acres running back to Eyre Creek, and under the McPherson family who took over the run in 1937 it is still 21,000 acres in area, running back to the Eyre Creek watershed.

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.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE:

Houses of this period were more commonly Gothic or elaborately Classic. Such a large wooden house in relatively simple Georgian styling is not common in Otago and Southland. Wealthy people at this time did not consider wood an appropriate material for a large permanent house and most are of stone or plastered brick. Its simple proportions have been affected somewhat by the rather elaborate verandah but in the main this is a fine and substantial residence.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK SIGNIFICANCE:

The house is well placed among its trees and paddocks with the rugged slopes of the Eyre Mountains behind it.

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Physical Description

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.

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION (STYLE):

The house is in a simple Georgian style but without classical embellishments. It is two storeyed with a long glassed-in front porch, a one storeyed lean-to section at the back with a free-standing, tall, brick, kitchen chimney, and hipped roofs on both the house and the verandah. Most of the house is built of beaded and bevelled weather boards, but the verandah wall has diagonal tongue and groove boards below the elaborately glazed windows. The lean-to at the back is either stone or brick plastered over. The main windows are simple double-hung windows with a vertical glazing bar in each sash. The lean-to has six-pane sashes.

The house contains 14 rooms, including five bedrooms. The two front rooms and the hall on the ground floor and the ceilings are panelled in Southland beech (probably red beech) pit-sawn on the property. Folding doors convert these rooms and the hall into one room for dancing. The kitchen was originally separate from the house but was later shifted into the lean-to with its massive chimney. There is still a row of detached store rooms at the back. The outer walls were filled with rubble rock and clay for insulation and this is still in place.

Visually the house stands clear of farmstead buildings except for a cow shed tucked in behind the house, with shelter belt trees at a distance. There is a simple but-and-ben cottage across the paddocks within the shelter belt trees. Howell planted trees typical of the period - wellingtonias, oaks, willows and sycamores.

MODIFICATIONS:

The verandah has been added or at least filled in

A balcony on the main elevation has been removed

The kitchen has been shifted inside from a separate building and later modernised

Some fireplaces have been blocked off

Notable Features

The age of the house, its good order and its association with Captain Howell and the Maori people of Southland.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1869 -

Construction Details

The two-storeyed house is built mainly in wood, with a corrugated iron roof. The verandah floor is concrete and there is concrete edging around the foundations.

Completion Date

28th April 1989

Information Sources

Porter, 1983

Frances Porter (ed), Historic Buildings of Dunedin, South Island, Methuen, Auckland, 1983.

Other Information

A copy of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region office

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.