Butler House and Trading Station (Former)

31 Marchant Road, Hihi, Mangonui

  • Butler House and Trading Station (Former), Mangonui.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 21/09/2018.
  • Butler House and Trading Station (Former), Mangonui. 1847 or earlier portion of Butler House, with pre-1852 rear lean-to and harbour beyond – looking northeast.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 21/09/2018.
  • Butler House and Trading Station (Former), Mangonui. Pre-1858 rear addition to Butler House, looking northwest.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 21/09/2018.
  • Butler House and Trading Station (Former), Mangonui. Butler Drying Rack.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 21/09/2018.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 447 Date Entered 25th November 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Allot 1 Sec 2 Vill of Mangonui (RT NA509/128), Allots 2, 4-8, and 10 Sec 2 Vill of Mangonui (RT NA509/127), and Allot 9 Sec 2 Vill of Mangonui (RT NA509/129), North Auckland Land District and the building and structures known as Butler House and Trading Station (Former) thereon including the main residence and the burial ground. It also includes trees including the pohutukawa, the magnolia, and the olive. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information).

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

Allot 1 Sec 2 Vill of Mangonui (RT NA509/128), Allots 2, 4-8, and 10 Sec 2 Vill of Mangonui (RT NA509/127), and Allot 9 Sec 2 Vill of Mangonui (RT NA509/129), North Auckland Land District


Butler House and Trading Station (Former), at the mouth of Mangonui Harbour, has special significance as an early colonial trading post connected with Māori, Pākehā and overseas commercial networks. Established in circa 1847 by Captain William Butler (1814-1875), a former whaler, the trading station is particularly important for the strength of its links with the American-based South Pacific whaling fleet, which increasingly used Mangonui after the Northern War (1845-6). Whaling was an important global industry at this time due to the demand for whale oil as lighting. Retaining a wide variety of remains dating to an early period in the country’s post-1840 history, Butler House and Trading Station (Former) includes a well-preserved residence initially built in 1847 or earlier; extensive in-ground archaeological remains linked with use as a trading station; a burial ground; and notable early trees. As well as having special value for its potential to provide public education about early colonial commerce and domestic life, it forms a key part of a notable historical and cultural landscape at the mouth of the Mangonui Harbour that demonstrates shifts from pre-1840 Māori control of the landscape to the emergence of colonial Mangonui as the administrative centre of the Far North.

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) is situated at the southern end of Waikeke peninsula, within the rohe of Ngati Kahu. Widely settled in pre-European times, lands bordering the Mangonui Harbour formed a significant food production area for Māori communities. From the early nineteenth century, these communities traded produce and goods directly with visiting whaling ships, which sought supplies on their way to and from nearby hunting grounds. In 1840, whaling captain William Butler set himself up as an intermediary in this process, establishing an initial trading post at Paewhenua Island in the south-eastern part of the Mangonui Harbour.

In circa 1847, Butler moved his home and business to Waikeke, closer to deep-water anchorage at the inner entrance to the harbour. This coincided with an increase in port activity at Mangonui with large numbers of whaling vessels visiting the harbour over the next decade, and colonial infrastructure emerging on the opposite side of the entrance to regulate trade. Butler’s new complex was well established by 1852, when a station that included a bonded store and other facilities, as well as his home, formed a major focal point for buying and selling goods with Māori, settlers and whalers. As the business expanded through the decade, Butler extended his residence - Butler House - from a small two-up, two-down timber cottage of Georgian influence into a more rambling, ten room structure. As well as being as a place of reception and entertainment for visiting whaling captains and others, the dwelling was the focus of family life for Butler, his wife Eliza and an increasingly large number of children. Associated trees were planted and a family cemetery established by 1856.

Butler’s commercial activities shifted to Mangonui, on the opposite side of the harbour entrance, after a European township was formally established there in the 1860s. Following his death and burial in the family cemetery in 1875, the property was rented to tenants. Occupants included Hubert Dacre, a former sportsman of note from Auckland, who subsequently purchased the property in 1921 and made limited alterations to the house. In 1970, the property was bought by Lindo and Laetitia Ferguson and their family who fully restored the residence, supported archaeological investigations, and established a whaling museum at the property.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has high historical significance for the strength of its connections with the activities of the nineteenth-century whaling trade in the South Pacific, and as a notable point of contact between this global enterprise, early colonial entrepreneurship and Māori engagement in support and supply. It directly reflects immediate post-1840 relations between Māori and Pākehā, in which the supply of whaling ships shifted from direct provisioning by Māori to those mediated by early settler businesses.

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has importance as a place that reflects the shifting power structures at Mangonui. The location of the place is linked to the growing importance of the colonial government at Mangonui before the township was formally established and the increased Pākehā dominance over commerce that developed during the period when Mangonui was a significant whaling port.

The place also has historical significance through its links to William Butler as an early settler and important local figure in the development of Mangonui and to later owners such as Hubert Dacer and Lindo Ferguson, a former Auckland politician, who was important in the restoration and conservation of the place.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has aesthetic significance for its secluded nature, which allow feelings of proximity and connection with the past. Its location immediately beside the Mangonui Harbour - integral to its historic functioning as a trading station - enhances these aesthetic qualities through the immediate connection of the place to the harbour and the entrance as well as the township. The place also has aesthetic value for the visual appeal of its main residence and the extent to which its interiors, in particular, demonstrate the patina of age.

Archaeological Significance or Value

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has high archaeological significance for the extent, nature and quality of surviving material within the place that particularly relates to its use as a trading station servicing the Pacific whaling fleet in the 1840s and 1850s. Especially notable elements include an unusually well-preserved residence dating from 1847 or earlier; in-ground archaeological deposits that encompass the remains of buildings related to the trading station; and a burial ground that includes headstones and other nineteenth-century material. Artefactual evidence retrieved from excavations from the place has included buttons, clay pipes, and glass bottles.

The place also has archaeological value for containing sites linked with pre-European Māori occupation; and as a key part of a much wider archaeological landscape of importance which includes adjacent pā sites, ovens, midden, and terraces.

Architectural Significance or Value

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has architectural significance as well-preserved example of an early colonial homestead of Georgian influence. It directly reflects successive expansion of early colonial residences as circumstances and affluence change and the place has a well-preserved interior layout.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has special significance for the extent which it reflects New Zealand’s connections with the international whaling trade in the mid-nineteenth century, and especially Mangonui’s emergence as a centre for the supply of the South Pacific whaling fleet as a direct consequence of the Northern War (1845-6). Commercial activity associated with the exploitation of New Zealand’s natural resources by overseas enterprises was an important feature of the early colonial period.

The place is more generally significant for the extent to which it reflects the importance of maritime commerce in early, post-1840 New Zealand, and particularly that linked with the development of initial settler communities; local trade between Māori and Pākehā; and connections to global products. The place was a meeting point for multiple groups who were reliant on trade networks.

The place also has high value for the extent to which one of its major components, Butler House, reflects the importance of domestic life within this commercial context, being a major and highly visible component of the trading station and its use.

The place reflects an early stage in development of Mangonui as a European centre, which by the 1860s had become the administrative centre for the far north.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

The place is significant for the closeness and length of its connections with Captain William Butler, a Pākehā whaler and trader who was a notable figure in the development of early colonial commerce in the far north of New Zealand, especially in relation to the whaling trade. Butler was a particularly significant figure in the development of Mangonui from the early 1840s onwards, acting as a magistrate, pilot and harbourmaster in addition to his trading activities, and in the 1860s becoming Mangonui’s first elected member of the House of Representatives.

The place also has some significance for its connections with Lindo Ferguson, a deputy mayor of Auckland City Council, who undertook major restoration work of Butler House and its wide site in the 1980s and 90s. It also has an association with Hubert Dacre, a local dentist who had been a prominent sportsman in his youth, and who lived in the place with his family between 1912 and 1939.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has special value for the extent of its potential to provide information about a variety of matters of importance in the study of early colonial New Zealand, including the activities of the South Pacific whaling fleet; local and global commerce; early entrepreneurship involving both Māori and Pākehā; and the operation and layout of 1840s and 1850s trading stations. Its value in this regard is enhanced by the variety, well-preserved nature and comparative rarity of the remains at the place that may reveal significant further information, which include an extremely well-preserved mid-nineteenth century residence; extensive in-ground archaeological remains and associated artefacts; and other elements such as early trees and a burial ground.

Systematic investigation of Butler House, in particular, can additionally provide knowledge about early colonial construction and materials; appearance including décor; and domestic layout and activity. The surviving early fabric includes rare or unusual remaining features such as a hinged louvred window in its front verandah and a smoke-blackened ceiling in its back kitchen. Catalogued wallpaper samples collected during renovation works have considerable potential to provide information about the nature and evolution of interior decoration.

The place has strong potential to provide further information about ancestral Maori use of the peninsula and harbour before and during the use of the place as a trading station through the use of archaeological assessment and investigation.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has special or outstanding significance for its potential to provide information about early colonial trade and commercial enterprise during this period, which connected local Māori communities and international business networks. It especially has potential for public education about the activities and reach of the South Pacific whale trade, an early example of a globalised business activity affecting New Zealand. The special or outstanding ability of the place to provide education about these matters is particularly conveyed through its extensive, well-preserved and varied remains, including Butler House; the visual and other aesthetic appeal of the place; and its use as a museum that is open and promoted to the public.

(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from an early period of New Zealand settlement

Having been established within a few years of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi (1840), Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has special significance for its connections with a very early period in New Zealand’s colonial history. The house dates to 1847 or earlier with 1850s additions, and its associated trading station - of which extensive archaeological remains survive - was used from at least the late 1840s onwards. The place also contains widespread evidence of Māori use prior to European settlement.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural area

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has special significance for forming a key part of a notable historical and cultural landscape at the entrance to the Mangonui Harbour, which contains a large number of ancestral Māori archaeological sites connected to the strategic importance of the peninsula including a major pa immediately to the west of the place; a number of notable colonial and later buildings at Mangonui township, a very short distance to the south of Butler Point; and the Mangonui Harbour itself. Part of the key importance of Butler House and Trading Station (Former) is its articulation of activity that connects occupation of the wider Māori landscape with the emergence and development of Mangonui township as a major centre for whaling supply and also government administration for the Far North of New Zealand.

Summary of Significance or Values

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has special significance for forming a key part of a notable historical and cultural landscape at the entrance to the Mangonui Harbour, and for the extent which it reflects New Zealand’s connections with the international whaling trade in the mid-nineteenth century, and especially Mangonui’s emergence as a centre for the supply of the South Pacific whaling fleet as a direct consequence of the Northern War (1845-6). Having been established within a few years of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi (1840), Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has special significance for its connections with a very early period in New Zealand’s colonial history.

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has special value for the extent of its potential to provide information about a variety of matters of importance in the study of early colonial New Zealand, including the activities of the South Pacific whaling fleet; local and global commerce; early entrepreneurship involving both Māori and Pākehā; and the operation and layout of 1840s and 1850s trading stations.

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) has special or outstanding significance for its potential to provide information about early colonial trade and commercial enterprise during this period, which connected local Māori communities and international business networks.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Stacpoole, John

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early History of the Site

Butler House and Trading Station (Former) is located on the tip of the peninsula previously known as Waikeke at the north side of the Mangonui Harbour within the rohe of Ngati Kahu. Stories connected with the eastern section of Muriwhenua of Doubtless Bay and Mangonui uncover a complex history for the tribe known as Ngati Kahu. A number of ancestral waka are associated with this area including: Ruakaramea, Mamari (Mamaru), Takitimu and Tinana. Ruakaramea was said to have landed at Mangonui. Mangonui was a strategically important place in the history of Ngati Kahu, being near the traditional pathway that linked the Mangonui Harbour to Whangaroa and inland travel networks.

Of the recorded Pā sites around Mangonui two are located at the tip of Waikeke, one of these is Rangitoto, on the north side and the other is located adjacent to the subject property overlooking the inner harbour. This is a reflection of the site’s location at the harbour mouth and the importance of controlling access from the coast. Excavations of well-preserved Pā at Waikeke have found evidence of Māori occupation from the fourteenth to the late eighteenth century during which period Mangonui was a satellite centre of commerce in the north with a wide range of abundant resources which were exploited by local Māori. There are a number of recorded midden and oven sites reflecting the extensive occupation at and around the subject property.

The area was once clothed in native trees used for utilitarian construction purposes by ancestral Māori. A number of local specimens retain immense cultural significance including a giant coastal Pohutukawa reputed to be over 500yo.

Coinciding with the arrival of increasing numbers of Europeans from around the turn of the 19th century, the local population declined due to the introduction of new diseases and the continued northward expansion of Ngapuhi who were equipped with firearms. Disputes also broke out between Ngapuhi and Te Rarawa from the south in the Ngati Kahu rohe. Local Māori developed highly successful direct trading relationships with the European settlers and whalers who came to Mangonui. In the early decades of the nineteenth century trade at Mangonui was primarily a barter system through which Māori exchanged a range of produce including firewood, pork, potatoes, kumara, pumpkin, corn, and fruit for goods such as gunpowder, flints, fishhooks, knives and metal tools, blankets, tobacco pipes, beads and mirrors with settlers and whalers. In 1840 it was noted that Māori settled at Oruru ‘supplied dozens of vessels, chiefly whalers, with potatoes and corn, besides all the settled white population’ and that they had sold more than 200 tons of potatoes specifically.

The Bay of Islands and Mangonui were an important connection in the international whaling trade. Whale products were in high demand with a wide range of uses including for lighting in which the oil was an essential component. In 1812 New Zealand’s waters were considered to be the best in the South Pacific for whaling and, while early ships came for short periods of a few weeks, by 1827 whaling stations were being established around the country by men from Australia and Europe. By the 1830s American whalers were visiting New Zealand in larger numbers than British whalers. The main port frequented by whalers in these years was Kororareka until it was sacked in 1845 during the conflict between Hone Heke and the colonial government. Mangonui became favoured as an alternative port as it was a sheltered deep water harbour that was less affected by the fighting than Kororareka and also didn’t have a customs collector until later in the decade. During this period the shore whaling industry was in decline having peaked in the 1830s and Mangonui was the one of the closest ports to ongoing whaling activity at Three Kings whaling grounds. Mangonui was also an important centre for other trading industries during the nineteenth century with flax as well as kauri timber and gum being processed, traded and exported from there.

Captain William Butler

In 1840 Captain William Butler (1814-1875), the master of the whaling barque Nimrod, settled permanently at Mangonui. Butler had obtained a number of properties around Mangonui after his first visits to the area in 1838. These properties included a farm at Oruru and Paewhenua Island in the southern part of the harbour where he established his home which contained two dwelling houses, outhouses, sawpits, stock and 40 acres of ground fenced in and in part cultivated.

A trading relationship developed between local Māori and Butler, who set up a trading station on the island in the early 1840s dealing in timber, cattle, and general trading between whalers, settlers and Māori. Butler sourced some goods including firewood, kauri gum, flax, pork, vegetables and fruit from Māori and supplemented these with goods that he was able to produce at Paewhenua.

Butler was also becoming an important figure in the growing settler community. Butler married Elizabeth (Eliza) Merritt in April 1840 and was authorised to act as Magistrate mainly to ‘control the behaviour of whaling crews in port and organising the apprehension of deserters’ in which he coordinated efforts with local Māori. He was also appointed as Surveyor General and Chaplain by Hobson, and represented Mangonui in the forming of the New Zealand Banking Company, which closed in 1845. Butler and his family were among the few settler families to return to Mangonui following the Oruru war in 1843 during which time they temporarily evacuated to Kororareka and two of their buildings on Paewhenua were burnt down.

Butler Point

The first European land purchase at Mangonui was by Ranulph Dacre, a timber trader and merchant, in 1831. Thomas Ryan, one of Dacre’s crewmen, settled at Mangonui on Dacre’s land working as a sawyer. In 1838 Ryan obtained Waikeke and sold part of the peninsula to Butler in 1845. Butler moved to his new property shortly afterwards in c.1847 and was advertising his re-established trading station to whaling ships in 1848. The move to the peninsula coincides with the beginning of an active colonial government presence at the settlement following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Most importantly for trade was the 1848 appointment of a magistrate, William White, with responsibilities which included the collection of customs and other duties.

By 1850 Butler was firmly established on the peninsula while White investigated the overlapping land claims of settlers at Mangonui which had been unresolved since they were first investigated in 1843. Butler formally purchased his house site from the Crown and then purchased most of the land now known Butler Point in 1852 at public auction. Butler had established a complex of buildings at the point by this year which included Butler House and four other timber buildings which were likely associated with his trading activities, notably one of these buildings was probably a bonded store which Butler had been authorised to build in 1851. Three of the commercial buildings were located south of Butler House and one was north. Also north of the House was a fenced area possibly used for keeping stock. Butler House is reported to have been brought to the Point from Paewhenua Island on rollers and floated across the harbour. In 1852 the house was a two-up, two-down one and a half storey building with an eastern verandah overlooking the harbour. The interior was comprised of a parlour, ground floor bedroom with stairs to the upper level and two small rooms.

The Trading Station

The trading station at the Point was well placed to take advantage of the increased port activity at Mangonui in the late 1840s through the 1850s. Records of whaling boats visiting the harbour indicate that there was a significant increase in American whalers visiting during this period which subsequently decreased from the 1860s. The station was located closer to the entrance of the harbour than Paewhenua Island and, as one of the main landing places, had deep water anchorage for visiting ships. The station was also near the new customhouse established in the late 1840s on the opposite side of the harbour entrance. Butler was still reliant on produce and goods traded from Māori who evidently transported goods to the Point on waka and camped on the foreshore when whaling boats came into port.

The trading station was very successful through the 1850s and the Butler family prospered. In 1852 Butler was reported to be the only merchant at the port and he expanded his enterprise over the decade including constructing additional buildings at the southern tip of the Point. An archaeological excavation of these buildings found a range of artefacts including clay pipes, bottles, and buttons that date usage of this part of the station to the 1850s and mid to late 1860s. The excavation also found copper nails that were associated with boat building and repairs. Mangonui was noted for being a good anchorage to have whaling boats repaired and refitted during the period when the trading station was operating. The station supplied provisions to whaling ships in exchange for oil and whale bone and provided storage facilities where whalers could leave barrels of oil temporarily. Butler also grew his business through importing and exporting goods on his own boats. He imported goods including tobacco, spirits, and other merchandise and exported flax, kauri gum, timber, and produce to the Bay of Islands, Auckland, and Sydney. Butler also attempted to diversify his operation into whaling. He invested in a whaling venture from 1859 with a number of other investors however the enterprise lost money with only a small number of barrels of oil being obtained each voyage and the desertion of the Māori and Pākehā crew. In 1863 Butler’s trading station was described as consisting of several buildings namely a “shop, stores, including Bonded Store, Stockyard, [and a] Bowling Alley”. Butler’s operation dominated trade in Mangonui which resulted in Maori finding it difficult to compete and profit in commercial ventures. In addition to his business interests Butler was appointed Pilot for Mangonui Harbour in 1851 and Harbour Master in 1857 and was involved in the construction of a new multi-denominational place of worship in 1860.

Domestic Life and Butler House

Along with the trading station, Butler House was integral to the functioning of Butler Point. William and Eliza had nine of their thirteen children after the family moved to the Point and the house was expanded significantly by 1858. The expansion was completed in multiple phases. First was a narrow single storey lean-to extension at the rear of the 1847 house that is likely associated with a layout reorganisation of the house as the staircase replaced the earlier access arrangement from the downstairs bedroom. This extension may have been completed before 1852 and a further room was also added between this extension and the front bedroom. The next phase of development added a second one and a half storey building behind the lean-to. This building also had a stair that is accessed from the lean-to and incorporated a large living room on the ground floor. A further structure with a pentice roof was built onto the back of the main extension that includes the kitchen and an additional room. The family also planted a number of plants and trees around the house including a magnolia on the south side of the house and an olive tree on the north side.

Eliza provided support for whalers’ wives when they came into port including providing accommodation when required and assisting with childbirth. The Butler’s also hosted many visitors to Mangonui and the house was the social centre in the district. A burial ground was created at the property by the family where they buried William and Eliza’s sons Richard (1852-1856) and George (1850-1869) and grandson Francis (1870-1870). The burial ground was not only used for family burials. It is reported that Mary Ann Williard, the wife of a whaling captain, who died in childbirth was buried in an unmarked grave at the point and there are unverified stories that unnamed sailors were also buried at the Point in early years.

Later Developments at Mangonui

In the 1860s Mangonui was formally laid out and established as a town. It was the administrative centre of the far north with government buildings and businesses being established around the customhouse opposite Butler Point. Butler was granted an allotment of land at the new township where he built a large building and likely shifted some of his trading interests to during the 1860s while he expanded his land holdings at the point. The trading station at the point continued operation through the 1860s and 70s. William Butler was elected as the first representative for Mangonui in the House of Representatives between 1861 and 1866. While representing Mangonui Butler may have stepped down from running the trading station day to day and temporarily left the settlement between 1863 and 1864. Butler advertised the business and house for lease while he was in Auckland but it is unknown if a tenant was found. Butler declined to stand again represent Mangonui after parliament was relocated to Wellington, returning instead to Butler Point until his death in 1875 following complications related to an accident. He was buried at Butler Point in the family cemetery beside his sons and grandson. William Butler’s will stipulated that his property should be undivided and, after attempts to sell part of the land to raise money for his widow were refused by the courts, Eliza rented out the house and grounds and moved to Grafton, Auckland with her younger daughters. The trading station at the point was likely closed around the time of Butler’s death and the buildings were demolished as none of the Butler’s sons were in a position to continue the business.

Interim years (1875-1912)

The first known tenant of Butler House was Captain John Leslie Chapman. Chapman had been appointed to replace Butler as Pilot of the Port of Mangonui after the former’s death and lived at the house in the years before his own death in 1884. In 1895 Edward James Holmes, a farmer who had previously had a farm east of Butler Point, and his family rented the home for a number of years. At this time the house was falling into disrepair and the upstairs floors were ‘in a dangerous state’. Holmes youngest son, Edward Cheselden Holmes, died in 1900 and was also interred at the cemetery on the grounds. In 1905 the Theophilius Wake and his wife reportedly occupied Butler point with plans to improve the property and adapt it for viticulture. Wake left Mangonui shortly after unsuccessfully contesting the 1905 parliamentary election and Mogford suggests that Butler House may have been temporarily occupied by a Māori family before it was rented in 1912 to Hubert Henry Dacre, a dentist previously from Auckland.

Post-Butler Ownership

Hubert Dacre was the grandson of Ranulph Dacre who had given up his early land purchase at Mangonui in the late 1830s.. Hubert was a prominent sportsman who represented both Auckland and Wellington in rugby and helped found the reformed North Shore Football Club in 1891. Also secretary of the Auckland Swimming Club, he won competitions such as the Amateur Swimming Championship of Wellington in 1894 and was later remembered as ‘one of the best and most powerful swimmers in New Zealand’. Dacre established himself as a dentist in Mangonui district in 1908 and for a time had his practice rooms at the Mangonui Store (List No. 2584, Category 2) opposite Butler Point. Following the death of Eliza Butler in 1919, Butler Point was able to be sold and Dacre purchased the land in 1921. Dacre made a number of changes to the place including replacing the shingle roof with corrugated iron for weather proofing and an extension that was built onto the kitchen to hold a gas plant for a new cooker. Dacre planted an orchard in the grounds, landscaped the garden with shell paths and cared for the original plantings of the Butler family. Butler House continued to be a family home during the period it was owned by the Dacre family. The youngest son of Hubert and his wife Florence was born in Mangonui in 1916 and grew up at the Point. After Hubert Dacre died in 1939, Butler Point was purchased by Robert and Mary Marchant who had been employed as caretakers by Dacre. The house and grounds fell into disrepair over the next decades and stock roamed over the former store site. In 1964 there were three buildings at the property, the House, an old shed and a wool shed which was located at the southern end. Parts of the house were rotted and requiring repairs.

Restoration of Butler House

The Marchants sold the property in 1970 to Dr Lindo Ferguson and his wife Laetitia. The Marchants and their daughter continued living at Butler House after the sale and following Mary’s death a memorial stone was placed for her in the burial grounds. Lindo Ferguson, a former deputy mayor of Auckland City Council, had a long involvement in heritage issues in the city and along with his family was keen to repair and restore Butler House and the wider property. The repairs included rebuilding the chimneys with bricks from the recently demolished bakery at Mangonui, replacement of the battens and the corrugated iron was replaced with shingles as had been originally used. The house was also reblocked and the floors levelled including the kitchen which was replaced with a kauri floor above a concrete apron. The outside privy was restored while an updated internal bathroom was installed inside the house. The other internal rooms were also restored. Wallpaper samples were collected and catalogued during the restoration of the house. Lindo and Laetitia retired to a new house they built at the property and established a whaling museum alongside the restored homestead.

Physical Description

Current Description


Butler House and Trading Station (Former) is located on the peninsula at the east side of the Mangonui Harbour mouth. The place is approximately 300m across the water from Mangonui township on the south side of the harbour mouth and overlooks the harbour. The place is part of a large pre-European archaeological landscape including a kaianga that was later fortified as a Pa immediately to the west of the place (O04/56) and another Pa in the northern part of the peninsula (O04/16). Other sites on the peninsula include midden (O04/447, O04/651, O04/652, O03/653) and terraces (O04/58, O04/466, O04/472). At Mangonui a large concentration of colonial buildings associated with the early township have been identified including Penny Cottage (pre-1856, List Number 3895, Category 2), St Andrew’s Church (1875, List Number 452, Category 2), Old Oak Hotel (1861, List Number 451, Category 2), Barrett Cottage (1875, List Number 3894, Category 2).


Butler House and Trading Station (Former) is comprised of a large site that includes a number of buildings such as Butler House, a 1980s house designed by Miles Warren, a museum building and some recent outbuildings associated with the museum, macadamia processing, and the restoration of the Butler House in the 1980s-90s. The site also includes recorded and unrecorded archaeological sites. The recorded sites include midden (O04/469), terraces (O04/471), ovens (O04/578), and a historic store (O04/470) which was part Butler’s trading station. The unrecorded sites were observed along the shoreline and included midden, hangi stones, and brass objects which potentially date to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The site also includes a burial ground. There are a large number of native and introduced trees at the site with particularly notable trees being a magnolia beside Butler House and a olive tree north of the house that were planted by the Butlers and the large pohutukawa which is believed to be over 500 years old.

Butler House

Butler House is a timber building that was constructed in multiple phases. The exterior is mainly clad with pit sawn kauri beaded weatherboards with a shingle roof. The earliest part of the building is the eastern section which was mainly constructed c.1847 and a series of extensions were added on the west side of the building. These were constructed during the 1850s. The house has a mixture of sash, casement windows with two horizontal pivot windows in the upper level of the 1847 part of the house. The fabric is mostly original with a small amount being replaced during the restoration of the house in the 1980s and 90s. The house has three chimneys which were re-built with bricks from the old Mangonui bakery which was demolished during the 1980s.

1847 Section

This section of Butler House is comprised of a one and a half storey two-up, two down cottage with a full width verandah at the front and two small lean-tos, behind. The cottage has a gable roof which extends over the front and back at a shallower angle. There is a hinged louvre window in the south verandah wall. The interior of the structure is laid out with the front door opening onto the parlour with a bedroom on the north side. The earliest lean-to is accessed from the parlour and contains a passage with stairs leading to the upstairs bedrooms and joins the early part of the house to the rear structure. The later of these lean-tos contains a modernised bathroom which is accessed from the passage and from the bedroom. Evidence of changes as part of this series of extensions is evident in this part of the house with external doors and doorsteps into the bathroom, a covered four pane window from the passage wall beside the bathroom, marks in the floor and skirting board in the bedroom indicating the original location of stairs to the upper floor, and exterior weatherboards enclosed in passage. The weatherboards show little wear suggesting the lean-to and stairs could have been added fairly soon after construction. There are a number of fittings that appear to have replaced earlier arrangements. The interior lining boards appear to be pit sawn kauri. The arrangement of the rafters is an early technique that in which they are lapped over at the apex. The battens in the roof space appear to have been reused from a fire damaged building.

1850s Section

The later part of the house is joined to the front of the house through the passage. This section also has a one and a half storey structure with a gabled roof that is a shallower pitch than the 1847 section. Cuts visible in the eastern exterior wall suggest an earlier window arrangement that has been removed. The on the west side of the main 1850s structure is another addition with a pentice roof. This addition, unlike the rest of the building is clad with vertical weatherboards. Internally this part of the house is primarily comprised of a large dining room downstairs, kitchen in the rear addition and two further rooms, one of which opens onto the garden through French doors known as ‘the flat’. The kitchen still has a fireplace and blackened ceiling. The interior is generally also primarily pit sawn kauri with some boards showing evidence of being circular sawn which are potentially associated with further changes to the internal structure. The stairs to the upper floor are also accessed from the lean-to passage and part of the stairwell contains circular sawn kauri boards. There are two rooms upstairs which are lined with mainly pit sawn boards and some circular sawn board that are associated with rosehead nails. Some furniture which belonged to the Butlers and Dacres is present in the house, notably remaining is a wooden table in the dining room and a drying rack in the kitchen which were owned by the Butlers.


Butler House and Trading Station (Former) had close links to the international whaling trade through the 1840s and 1850s during a time when shore based whaling had declined and was an important place of local trade between Maori and Pakeha settlers in this period.

Places with Whaling connections

Fyffe House (List No. 238, Category 1; List No. 7430, Historic Area)

Fyffe House was first constructed in the 1840s and expanded in the 1850s and 60s. The house was initially built as a small cottage. The owner was Fyffe House was actively whaling while living at the property and the place is the first shore based whaling station in Kaikoura. Fyffe House was later a farming property after the decline of shore whaling.

Matanaka Farm (List No. 7787, Category 1)

Matanaka Farm is the oldest farm in Otago established c.1840. The place was started by John Jones who had interests in whaling vessels working in New Zealand from the 1830s. As whaling declined the farm became a supplier of produce for the developing settlements of Waikouaiti and Dunedin. John Jones also had a shop which was located in Dunedin (not listed).

There are also a number of whaling stations around the country that were involved in the global whale trade around the country. These include Whalers Cottage (List No. 5386, Category 2) an 1860s house intended to provide on-shore accommodation for whalers visiting Pitt Island, and Kakapo Bay (not listed) where a whaling station was founded in 1929 by John Guard who has been credited with founding on-shore whaling in New Zealand.

Places related to Trade and commerce

The earliest commercial building in New Zealand is the Stone Store, Kerikeri Basin (List No. 5, Category 1), which was built for the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1832-36. The store was used as a warehouse and for trade with Maori. Webster's Trading Post and first European settlement, Coromandel Harbour (1838) (S11/888, Scheduled in proposed TCDC District Plan – Part operative) is an archaeological site of a trading station with in-ground archaeological remains relating to the commercial and trading activities of William Webster, a former whaler, dating from 1838. Surviving nineteenth century bonded stores, which were an important part of port activity, include:

Isaacs' Bonded Stores (Former) (List No. 7819, Category 1)

One of the earliest remaining commercial buildings in the centre of Auckland is this bonded warehouse which opened in 1864 and was in operation until the business collapsed in the 1880s.

Tauranga Bond Store (List No. 7738, Category 1)

The oldest remaining building related to commerce in Tauranga. The bond store was built and opened in 1883.

Mid-Nineteenth Century Residences

Many early residential buildings were linked to the activities of the CMS including: Kerikeri Mission House, 1821, (List No. 2, Category 1); Te Waimate Mission House, 1831 (List No. 3, Category 1); and The Retreat, 1850-2 (List No. 70, Category 1). Other early houses include Howell’s Cottage, 1837-8 (List No. 2540, Category 1) a timber house which was built by Captain John Howell; Subritzky-Wagener House, 1860-2, (List No. 80, Category 1) built for the Subritzky brother in mud and stud construction. The oldest surviving residential building in Auckland is Acacia Cottage, 1841, (List No. 525, Category 1) which was relocated in 1920, the oldest Auckland residential building still on its original site is Hulme Court, 1843 (List No. 19, Category 1).

Construction Dates

Original Construction
- 1847
Construction or relocation of Butler House. Magnolia planted.

Original Construction
Complex of buildings constructed for trading station

- 1856
Family burial ground established

Additional building added to site
More trading station buildings constructed. Butler House extended to largest extent.

Demolished - Other
Trading station buildings demolished

Shingle roof replaced with corrugated iron.

Restoration of house, some replacing of timber, chimneys rebuilt.

Additional building added to site
Construction of Museum and associated buildings.

- 1999
Excavation of Store site at Butler Point.

First extensions possibly added to Butler House

Construction Details

Butler House is constructed from Kauri timber with a shingle roof and brick fireplaces and chimneys.

Public NZAA Number





Completion Date

25th March 2019

Report Written By

Alexandra Foster

Information Sources

Mogford, 1992

Janice Mogford, The Butler House, Mangonui 1847-1990, Mangonui, 1992.

Alexander, 2013

Lindsey McFarland Alexander, Whaleship arrivals and Departures on the North-East Coast of New Zealand. Mangonui, Whangaroa, Auckland and other Northern Ports, Kororareka Press, 2013

McMannus, n.d.

Tane McMannus, Captain William Butler and his Store, Dissertation, University of Auckland

Other Information

A fully referenced New Zealand Heritage List report is available on request from the Northland Office of Heritage New Zealand.


Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero 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.

Archaeological sites are protected by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, regardless of whether they are entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero or not. Archaeological sites include ‘places associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand’. This List entry report should not be read as a statement on whether or not the archaeological provisions of the Act apply to the property (s) concerned. Please contact your local Heritage New Zealand office for archaeological advice.