Emerald Villa

4 Tohunga Crescent, Parnell, Auckland

  • Emerald Villa, Parnell: Front garden and main facade (looking southwest).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 4/04/2007.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 571 Date Entered 27th June 2008


Extent of List Entry

The registration includes all of the land in CT NA 964/251 (as shown on the 'Extent of Registration' plan in Appendix 3) and the structures, their fittings and fixtures thereon, excluding the garage to the northwest. The registration includes the brick well located to the rear of the northwest corner of the house, and garden features such as the front fence and gate in the eastern part of the property.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lots 1, 2 Deeds Plan 1186 (CT NA964/251), North Auckland Land District


Emerald Villa is a significant remnant of a transitional phase in the shift from Georgian to Victorian architecture in New Zealand. It is also an unusually well-preserved example of a timber residence from the 1860s. Evidently started in 1862, the two-storey building was erected in Parnell for the family of William Lodge (1813?-1906), a court clerk to the Auckland Provincial Council. Lodge was a well-to-do member of the colonial bureaucracy who had recently migrated to New Zealand. Previously a resident of the prestigious Fitzwilliam Estate in Dublin, Ireland, Lodge may have chosen Parnell as a place to settle because of its reputation as a desirable residential area on the fringes of colonial Auckland. Parnell was also an early centre for the Anglican Church in New Zealand, an institution with which Lodge and his family developed significant ties.

Sited on a plot directly overlooking Hobson Bay, Emerald Villa was erected as a large two-storey building, enjoying wide views across the Waitemata Harbour and visible as a landmark from seaward approaches to Auckland. Unusually tall for its semi-rural setting, the main house appears to have been built as an L-shaped structure in one or two stages, starting in 1862. The building's design was of transitional type, fusing elements of traditional Georgian architecture, such as visual simplicity, with emerging Victorian ideas, most notably a return bay and prominent gables. Transitional architecture marked an important step in the emergence of a New Zealand vernacular tradition, which culminated in the classic return bay villa of the 1870s and 1880s. Emerald Villa unusually incorporated an offset flush gable and rear return bay in its two-storey design, conceptually linking two other forms of transitional houses: those with a central flush gable and those with a projecting bay on their main frontages.

More broadly, the growth of transitional architecture can also be linked with shifts in thought away from progressive Enlightenment ideas to Victorian concepts that emphasised the acceptance of traditional authority through reference to medieval architectural prototypes. Particularly supported within the Anglican Church, such ideas initially developed in England during a period of social tension. In New Zealand, transitional architecture developed at a time when settler fears of Maori rebellion were high. Emerald Villa is one of a number of prominent transitional residences in Auckland province linked the Anglican establishment and provincial judiciary, who were respectively responsible for moral and legal order in the colony.

Shortly after the construction of Emerald Villa, Lodge is known to have been a clerk to two of the most important courts in the province and earning £300 per year. Befitting his status, the spacious residence incorporated at least eight rooms, all of those downstairs being heated. Outbuildings may have existed to the rear, and a well in the rear yard supplied fresh water. Early additions to the building appear to have included a single-storey gabled element and a long lean-to accommodating a passage at the rear. These evidently provided improved service facilities, including access to rooms in the northern part of the structure. Following the death of Anna, William Lodge's wife, in 1873 and Lodge's retirement in or about 1881, the house continued to be occupied by Lodge and members of his family. His middle daughter, Kate Lodge (?-1929), subsequently spent ten years with the Melanesian Mission on Norfolk Island, marrying the Tasmanian-born missionary James Ozanne (1863-1900) and moving to England when Reverend Ozanne became a vicar in Mossley, Cheshire. From Lodge's death in 1906 to 1939, the house was variously occupied by some or all of his three daughters, during which period the structure appears to have undergone little modification. After 1939, it was temporarily converted into two flats incorporating minor modifications before its use as a single family home was reinstated in 1950. Although now within a significantly smaller site, the main building retains an unusual amount of its early form and fabric, and is also associated with known surviving archaeological remains.

Emerald Villa has high archaeological value for the range and quality of archaeological material contained in the place, which can provide information about domestic activity in the early colonial era and later. The place has special architectural value as an unusually well-preserved example of a transitional building, which demonstrates the shift from Georgian to later Victorian architectural styles and the emergence of a New Zealand vernacular tradition. It is particularly significant as an unusual or unique surviving example of a transitional design that conceptually links houses with central flush gables on their main facades to those with a projecting return bay. Emerald Villa has historical value for its associations with the development of the colonial judiciary in New Zealand, Irish immigration and the Anglican community, as well as for reflecting Parnell's desirability as a genteel residential location on the outskirts of Auckland.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The place has historical significance for its associations with the development of the colonial judiciary in New Zealand and wealthy Irish immigration. It is also of value for its connections with the Anglican Church, most notably through the Lodge family and Kate Lodge's involvement in Anglican missionary activity. The place is significant for reflecting the development of Parnell in the 1860s and Parnell's desirability as a genteel semi-rural township on the outskirts of Auckland.


The place has high archaeological value for the considerable range and quality of archaeological material contained in the place that can provide information about domestic activity in the early colonial era and later. Material includes the remnants of an early well, artefactual material in the sub-floor of the main building, and possibly other buried archaeological deposits. The main structure has archaeological value, incorporating well-preserved evidence of early colonial construction techniques, timber production methods and aspects of interior décor.


The place has special architectural value as an unusually well-preserved example of a transitional building, which demonstrates the shift from Georgian to later Victorian architectural styles and the emergence of a New Zealand vernacular tradition. It is particularly significant as an unusual or unique surviving example of a transitional design that conceptually links houses with central flush gables on their main facades to those with a projecting return bay.

This place was assigned a category status having regard to the following criteria: a, c, g, i, k

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

Emerald Villa reflects important aspects of New Zealand history, including Irish immigration, the development of the colonial judiciary and the lifestyle of early public servants. It also reflects the evolution of Parnell as a genteel semi-rural settlement, and as a desirable place of residence for members of the Anglican community.

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

As an outstandingly well-preserved residence of 1860s date, the place has special potential to provide information about the development of early colonial housing and domestic activity in New Zealand, including the social significance of architectural style, layout and decor. It also has potential to provide information about broader nineteenth-century society including the kauri timber industry, animal husbandry and meat processing techniques.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

Emerald Villa has special value as an outstandingly well-preserved residence of transitional colonial design, of particular significance for reflecting the variety of design responses during the transition from Georgian to Victorian architecture and the emergence of a New Zealand vernacular tradition. It is an unusual and possibly unique survivor of a building with an offset flush gable and rear return bay, conceptually linking buildings with central flush gables with those incorporating projecting return bays in their front facades. No other exact parallels in New Zealand are known. Emerald Villa has considerable significance in demonstrating how basic cottage construction could be adapted to create larger buildings of the type needed for the growing colonial middle and professional classes in New Zealand.

(i) The importance of the identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement:

Emerald Villa dates to an early period of colonial settlement, at which time Auckland was capital of New Zealand.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

The place forms part of an important historical and cultural landscape in Parnell, Auckland's earliest residential suburb and an early centre of Anglican administration in New Zealand. Parnell contains a large number of historic buildings of nineteenth-century date, including the highest proportion of early surviving residential houses in Auckland and buildings commissioned by the Anglican Church or for those who served it. Emerald Villa is one of three places in Tohunga Crescent that appear to be of related age and design.

Emerald Villa is assigned Category I status because:

-it is an outstandingly well-preserved example of a transitional building, which demonstrates the shift from Georgian to later Victorian architectural styles in New Zealand;

-it is an unusual or unique surviving example of a particular transitional design, conceptually linking houses with central flush gables on their main facades to those with a projecting return bay

-it is of particular value for adding to our knowledge about the diversity of architectural responses during the transitional phase of colonial architecture and the emergence of a New Zealand vernacular tradition;

-it is an outstandingly well-preserved residence dating to the 1860s, with special potential to provide information about the development of early colonial housing, domestic activity, and broader nineteenth-century society; and

-it is a significant part of an important colonial landscape in Parnell that includes numerous notable early residences, and buildings linked with Auckland's Anglican community. It is one of three places in Tohunga Crescent that appear to be of related design.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early history of the site

The property occupied by Emerald Villa lies on the west side of Hobson Bay near the eastern boundary of the first land purchase by the Crown from Ngati Whatua for the founding of Auckland in 1840. Believed to have been erected in the early 1860s, Emerald Villa is located in Parnell, a separate settlement to the south of the town of Auckland during the nineteenth century and a centre of Anglican administration in New Zealand. From the early years of Auckland's development as colonial capital, Parnell was prestigious residential location.

The Emerald Villa property was originally part of a 5-acre Crown Grant made in May 1854 to Auckland merchant William Smellie Grahame (1813-1894). Grahame was a significant landowner and early Auckland businessman whose bond store on the Auckland waterfront was one of the first stone buildings erected in the colonial capital.

Grahame's land was subdivided early in 1858 and sold by highly successful Glasgow-born real estate agent William Aitken (1826-1901). Promoted as being 20 minutes walk from St Paul's Church (then in Emily Place), the area - a 'splendid marine estate' known as Brighton - was designed to attract wealthy citizens, clerks of refined taste, and 'emulous artisans'. Hobson Bay's southwest slopes were largely undeveloped at this time, apart from a substantial timber residence occupied by architect Reader Wood (1821-1895) on Brighton Road.

Construction of Emerald Villa (circa 1862-1865)

On 19 December 1861, William Francis Lodge (1813?-1906) purchased the three-allotment land parcel on which he was subsequently to erect Emerald Villa. Lodge was a recent migrant to New Zealand, arriving in Auckland with his wife and five children in October 1861. Previously a well-to-do resident of Dublin, Lodge had married Anna Moore (1818?-1875) of Colerain House, County Tipperary in late 1845 or in 1846 receiving a settlement of ₤1000 from her family . He is known to have lived on the prestigious Fitzwilliam Estate, a social and architectural centrepiece of the Irish capital, and appears likely to have been employed in the Dublin judiciary,

Immediately after his land purchase in New Zealand, Lodge started a position as a clerk of courts with the Auckland Provincial Council. As a putative member of the colonial bureaucracy, his choice of Parnell as a place to live reflected his social standing. It may also have been linked to a commitment to the Anglican community, to which his family had strong connections. The purchase was situated between the Anglican Church's administrative centre in Parnell and its Melanesian Mission at Kohimarama, now known as Mission Bay. Within three months, Lodge had bought four additional lots, giving him a sizable holding of over half an acre, comprising more than three-quarters of the block bounded by present-day Tohunga Crescent, Lee, Freemont and Elam Streets.

The first known reference to a house on the site is in January 1863, when Lodge placed an advertisement in a local newspaper thanking his friends and neighbours for extinguishing a fire in front of his residence, suggesting initial construction in 1862. A tender notice for the construction of a 'dwelling house near Parnell' by architects Reader Wood and James Baber in May 1862 may refer to the building but cannot be substantiated. The property was known as 'Emerald Villa' by April 1863 when Lodge's name appears in a list of claims to vote. The fact that Lodge titled his home in this way from the outset suggests that he intended to develop a substantial dwelling befitting a family of means, as in Britain the term 'villa' initially carried connotations of a country house for the residence of an opulent person. The name may also have alluded to the family's origins in Ireland, the 'Emerald Isle'.

Erected close to the edge of a bluff overlooking Hobson Bay, the new timber house enjoyed unimpeded views towards Rangitoto Island and the broader Waitemata Harbour. It would also have been a landmark to ships travelling between Auckland and the open sea. As a two-storey building, Emerald Villa was uncommonly tall for its era and its setting. Most dwellings of the period, particularly outside of an urban environment, were either one-and-a-half storeys or a single storey high.

The design of the building appears to have been asymmetrical from an early stage. Employing an L-shaped groundplan, it incorporated a main wing looking out over Hobson Bay and a shorter side wing facing inland, towards Remuera. An examination of the physical fabric of the structure suggests that the two wings were either erected simultaneously or with the initial construction of the main wing followed by a side wing in the same style and using similar materials. If the latter, a date may be indicated by Lodge obtaining a mortgage for ₤150 in December 1863, increased to a larger sum of ₤400 in April 1865. Alternatively, construction in the early 1870s is possible. In either scenario, it appears that the building was perceived as a unified architectural entity. Both wings were almost certainly in place by 1873, as rates rolls after that date suggest that no major additions took place.

Both the building's appearance and layout reflected Lodge's social status. Internally, the structure was a spacious residence of eight rooms, with its most prestigious spaces being located at the front of the house. These included a parlour and a possible withdrawing room or study in the main wing, and a dining room at the front of the side wing. All of these spaces were heated. Service quarters in the form of a kitchen were located at the back of the side wing, at a greater remove from the other rooms than in more modest properties of the era. Its exposed board décor was considerably plainer than the wallpapered rooms present in the rest of the house. The upstairs was accessed from a staircase in the main hall, leading to two large bedrooms in the main wing and a further two rooms in the side wing. The former were accessed via a long corridor at the front of the building, providing greater privacy to the rooms at the rear, suggesting that they were initially children's rooms. The parents' bedroom is likely to have been near the top of the staircase at the eastern end of the side wing, with views out over the harbour. A smaller room at the rear of the side wing may have been for a younger child. The household was supplied with water from a well at the rear, located close to the kitchen.

Emerald Villa and the development of the New Zealand vernacular

As completed, the building can be seen to reflect a significant step in the evolution of colonial New Zealand buildings. In particular, it belonged to a transitional stage of architecture between the standard flat-fronted Georgian houses of the very early colonial period and the asymmetrical return bay villa of the 1870s and 1880s. During the shift between these styles, a considerable amount of experimentation took place and a wide variety of building forms emerged. The 1860s, in particular, can be regarded as a period of architectural flux, most notably in the houses of the well-to-do. In more modest structures, the transition may have occurred slightly later.

Transitional styles fused Georgian architecture with emerging Victorian features including asymmetrical layouts, prominent gables and Gothic Revival ornamentation. The fluidity of design in the transitional period meant that one or more of these elements might be employed. In the case of Emerald Villa, the building combined a strong sense of Georgian visual simplicity with an asymmetrical return bay and prominent gable ends. Aspects of its design may have been unusual.

In particular, the house incorporated a flush gable towards one end of its main facade, expressing the existence of a return bay extending to the rear of the building. This differed from some of its known contemporaries, which included two known groups. One group, found most notably in Nelson and Northland, had flush gables that were centrally positioned as part of a symmetrical, flat-fronted arrangement. The other group, found throughout New Zealand, had an asymmetrical arrangement incorporating return bays that projected from the front of the building as part of a front L- or T-shaped groundplan.

Houses with central flush gables are known to have existed in the 1850s, as at Woodstock House, near Nelson. The concentration of residences with similar features in Northland, including Clendon House, are considered to be slightly later. Houses with an asymmetrical return bay are considered to have first appeared in Auckland in 1845 and in some Wellington farmhouses of the 1850s, or before. By 1860, the device is considered to have become a fairly standard solution to creating additional space. Symptomatic of a 'pre-industrial vernacular' period when houses were built mainly by tradesmen, the return bay is seen as marking an important step towards a distinctive local style, becoming much more significant in New Zealand than in England. A full vernacular New Zealand tradition is exemplified by the emergence of the later, classic return bay villa.

Emerald Villa can be seen to have adopted an intermediate design between these two groups, conceptually providing a halfway point between the central flush gable and the projecting return bay (see illustration in Appendix 5). In incorporating an asymmetrical flush gable on its main facade, it appears to have been one of at least three residences in its immediate neighbourhood that adopted a similar stylistic approach. At 8 Tohunga Crescent, a one-and-a-half storey house of this design was erected in 1860 by the builder James Lloyd Mandeno. Another at 7 Tohunga Crescent was possibly built before 1873 and almost certainly by 1886. This was owned from 1854 until this time by the prominent architect Reader Wood, who also lived nearby. As the largest of this group, Emerald Villa demonstrates the extent to which basic forms for cottages could be adapted to suit bigger structures during the transition from Georgian to later Victorian styles. The group in general may also be an example of local diversity during a period of architectural experimentation.

More broadly, changes from standard Georgian architecture to transitional forms can also be associated with shifts in political thought from progressive Enlightenment ideas based on egalitarianism and reason, to later Victorian concepts that emphasised respect for traditional authority through reference to medieval architectural styles The revival of popularity in asymmetry and other transitional elements can, in part, be attributed to the activities of the Cambridge-based Camden Society, a conservative body with close links to 'high church' Anglican philosophy that stressed the importance of hierarchies as a way of maintaining social order. Consciously connecting architecture with the development of moral behaviour, the Society formally emerged in 1839, at a time when discontent among working class groups was particularly strong.

In a New Zealand context, shifts towards transitional features in domestic housing occurred at a time when settler concerns about Maori rebellion were rising. Early expressions, particularly in asymmetrical planning, appear to have emerged at the same time as the first New Zealand - or Northern - War (1844-45), as noted above. If surviving examples such as Emerald Villa are representative, they may have become more commonplace in the early 1860s, as tensions in Taranaki and the Waikato broke out in military conflict.

Some of the more prominent dwellings employing asymmetry in Auckland Province appear to have been linked with the Anglican Church and the judiciary, respectively the guardians of moral and legal order in the colony. Known examples include Puketona, built for Edward Marsh Williams, the eldest son of Archdeacon Henry Williams and later the Resident Magistrate at Waimata (circa 1861); Bishop William Williams' residence at Waerenga-a-hika, Poverty Bay (1862); Claybrook in Parnell, erected by architect Samuel Kempthorne, the son-in-law of the secretary of the Church Missionary Society in England (1860s); and Te Makiri, a more ornate example constructed at Helensville for Native Land Court Judge John Rogan (1866). A very early example in the Wellington district, Homewood, was erected in 1846-47 by Chief Justice, H.S. Chapman. Anglican churches were themselves in the vanguard of introducing other transitional elements to New Zealand, notably Gothic ornamentation in the 1840s. In 1865-68, Gothic Revival was prominently adopted for the new Supreme Court in Auckland.

The possible involvement of Reader Wood in at least one of the Tohunga Crescent houses may be interest. Wood was responsible for Anglican structures showing Gothic influence such as the Melanesian Mission in Mission Bay (built 1859; NZHPT Registration # 111, Category I historic place) and St Mark's Church, Remuera (built 1860; NZHPT Registration # 113, Category I historic place). He was also an associate of Frederick Thatcher, designer of several early Gothic Revival-influenced churches in Auckland and beyond.

Early modification

By 1868 William Lodge was contemporaneously District Court clerk and the chief clerk of the Auckland Resident Magistrates Court, two of the most important courts in Auckland Province. His combined income at this time was £300, increasing to £370 by 1875. Lodge retained this role after the abolition of provincial government in 1876, and retired in circa 1881, By the time of his retirement, he owned land at Coromandel and held 47 ha (116 acres) at Ararimu south of Drury and Papakura.

Early modifications to Emerald Villa may be indicated by a single-storey element against the north wall of the kitchen. This appears from its construction methods and materials to be of similar date to the main L-shaped structure, and could either have been a scullery, bathroom or servant's room. A lean-to passage at the rear of the building also appears to have been an early addition, allowing service access between the kitchen and rooms at the northern end of the main wing. A similar lateral passage formed part of the original design at nearby Ewelme Cottage (1863-64), and is also a feature of early missionary structures in Northland, as at the mission houses at Kerikeri (1821-22, modified in the 1830s) and Te Waimate (1831-32). The additions at Emerald Villa appear to be linked with the provision of better service facilities, and were concealed from the main frontage.

The house remained a family home following the death of William Lodge's wife, Anna, in December 1873. It is likely that one or more of the family's three daughters - Anna Elena, Kate Mary and Joanna Charlotte - took on the role of running the household. In the early 1880s, Kate Lodge (?-1929) became an unpaid Anglican missionary helper on Norfolk Island for ten years, training girls to be Christian wives as part of the Melanesian Mission. She is known to have assisted Elizabeth Colenso, whose main work was to oversee the cutting out, sewing and patching of clothes for the Melanesian Mission school. While working on Norfolk Island, Kate met the Tasmanian-born missionary the Reverend James Ozanne (1863-1900). Following their marriage, she moved to Mossley, England to assist with his new role as a vicar. William Lodge continued to live in the house after his retirement until his death in 1906.

Subsequent history

Upon William Lodge's death, the family home was bequeathed to the three sisters in equal shares. Only Anna Lodge appears in the 1911 street directory entry for the Emerald Villa property. By 1915 however, shortly before the renaming of Grey Street as Tohunga Crescent, all three Lodge daughters were listed as living at Emerald Villa. Unspecified repairs to the value of ₤45 were made to the building in 1922. Prior to 1920, the property is known to have included a moderate-size garden extending around the northern side of the house, an enclosed rear yard containing an outbuilding (almost certainly a washhouse), and a large back garden backing onto Elam Street. In 1925 the original holding was re-subdivided into seven lots. By this time three of the proposed lots had an existing timber dwelling (one being Emerald Villa) reflecting the increasing intensification of residential development in Parnell during the first quarter of the twentieth century.

Anna Lodge was again listed as sole occupant of the large residence by 1931, sisters Kate and Joanna having died in 1929 and 1930 respectively. The building's shingle roof was replaced with corrugated iron in 1934-1935. At this time the name of this section of Tohunga Crescent changed to Violet Street, but reverted five years later.

After Anna Lodge died in 1939, a Miss Amy Grenfell Spencer bought the property ending the Lodge family's 76-year association with Emerald Villa. It appears that at this time, the building was little modified from its early form. Valuation records for 1936 list external elements such as wooden tubs, a brick copper and an outside toilet when more modern facilities were becoming the norm. By 1942 the house had been converted into two flats, involving minor changes that may have included modifying the position of the main staircase. The current garage was built, and extensions and other alterations to the washhouse were possibly created. Part of the remnant property, excluding Emerald Villa itself, was sold to a Major George Bailey in 1946. The large house on a further reduced site was purchased in 1950 by University of Auckland geology professor Arnold Lillie, who converted it back to a single unit and modernised some elements internally. During his tenureship, a brick well, which had been previously decommissioned, was rediscovered. Modifications to the washhouse, including the creation of a covered seat beside the well, occurred.

The current owner has held the property since 2005. The house preserves its early form and details to a remarkable extent, and no exact parallels to its design are currently known. It appears to be one of comparatively few surviving large residential houses that clearly fuse Georgian and later asymmetrical design as part of its original architectural concept. Other known examples include Puketona (NZHPT Registration # 66, Category I historic place), and a two-storey concrete farmhouse built by John Gow at Invermay, Otago, in 1862 (NZHPT Registration # 2350, Category I historic place). Other broad parallels, such as Homewood, Wellington, and Waerenga-a-hika, Poverty Bay, have either been heavily modified or no longer exist. A smaller, one-and-a-half storey example of an early return bay structure bearing Georgian influence is Claybrook, Parnell (unregistered). Surviving transitional structures that have symmetrical facades but which incorporate flush central gables include Woodstcock House, Stoke (NZHPT Registration # 260, Category I historic place), and Clendon House, Rawene (NZHPT Registration # 73, Category I historic place).

Full two-storey buildings that demonstrate the Georgian origins of Emerald Villa include the Kerikeri Mission House (NZHPT Registration # 2, Category I historic place) and Captain MacDonald's House, Howick (NZHPT Registration # 507, Category II historic place). A later, 1870s structure that reflects the classic two-storey return bay form is the McNicol Homestead, Clevedon. An example of an1860s building of Georgian design later converted into a return bay structure is Wilton Farmhouse in Wellington (NZHPT Registration # 1370, Category II historic place).

Physical Description

The Site

Emerald Villa is located in Parnell, an inner city suburb to the east of the Auckland CBD. Parnell is a notable early colonial settlement, incorporating a number of places linked with the early Anglican Church in New Zealand and the largest surviving concentration of early colonial houses in Auckland City. Significant places linked with the Anglican Church include St Mary's Church (NZHPT Registration # 21, Category I historic place), St Stephen's Chapel and Graveyard (NZHPT Registration # 22, Category I historic place), Selwyn Court (NZHPT Registration # 23, Category I historic place), Selwyn Library (NZHPT Registration # 24, Category I historic place) and the former Deanery (NZHPT Registration # 108, Category I historic place). Noted early residential dwellings in Parnell include Hulme Court (NZHPT Registration # 19, Category I historic place), Kinder House (NZHPT Registration # 110, Category I historic Place), the house of stonemason Benjamin Strange (NZHPT Registration # 2638, Category II historic place), and Ewelme Cottage (NZHPT Registration # 15, Category I historic place).

The site at Emerald Villa is located in the eastern part of Parnell, in Tohunga Crescent, a minor thoroughfare overlooking Hobson Bay and the broader Waitemata Harbour. The immediate surrounds to the property are residential, encompassing a large variety of houses of different styles and ages. The site is positioned towards the southern end of Tohunga Crescent, in a small block also bounded by Elam, Freemont and Lee Streets. It is approximately rectangular, occupying an area of 954²m that slopes down very slightly to the south and east.

The property incorporates a large two-storey timber house close to the Tohunga Crescent frontage in the eastern part of the site, a detached garage to its north, and an elongated outbuilding and well a short distance to west. The area between the rear of the house and the outbuilding is paved. Most of the remainder of the garden is grassed and contains mature trees, including two magnolia and a jacaranda. The small front garden is of informal design and is bounded by a low timber fence. Within its streetscape, the house is visually prominent.

The House


The house retains a very high proportion its nineteenth-century external appearance and fabric. It is of transitional design, fusing colonial Georgian style with an asymmetrical appearance more commonplace in the later nineteenth century. Its groundplan is L-shaped, incorporating a main wing fronting Tohunga Crescent with a slightly shorter wing extending westwards at its southern end. Both wings are gabled, with a steep-pitched roof and narrow eaves. Two brick chimneystacks pierce the roof, one in each wing. The front (east) gable of the side wing is flush with the front facade of the main wing, emphasising the asymmetry of the design. Externally, both wings are of full two-storey appearance. Attached to the rear (west) of the house are a single-storey gabled element against the north wall of the side wing, and a single-storey lean-to along the west wall of the main wing. The walls of all elements are clad with plain overlapping timber weatherboards and their roofs covered with corrugated iron.

The lower part of the main (east) façade incorporates a verandah extending along the full length of the house. This is supported by pairs of slender posts and is enclosed at its southern end. The main front door of the building is asymmetrically positioned in the southern part of the facade and is of Regency style. It is flanked by three sets of French casements, one to the south and two to the north, all of which open onto the verandah. Separate lights are located above the casements, hinged to allow ventilation. Other than a prominent Regency-style window in the front gable, the windows of the upper storey are primarily twelve-light double hung sashes. Twelve-light sash windows also occur at ground floor level on the west and south elevations. The less public north elevation has a single-storey flat-roofed bay addition with French casements. The narrow lean-to at the rear (west) of the house contains also contains a twelve-light window and indications of another aperture that has been blocked up in its western wall. Two external doors on the west elevation are each sheltered by a small porch. A third doorway provides access into the single-storey gabled addition. An external meat safe protrudes through the exterior wall on the south elevation.

A resource consent issued in 2006 includes provision for demolition of the single-gabled addition at the rear of the building.


The house retains an unusually high amount of its nineteenth-century interior, including most of its early layout. Significant aspects of finish and décor also survive.

The structure currently contains six downstairs rooms and five rooms at first floor level. The downstairs area incorporates an L-shaped hall, extending westwards from the front door before returning at right angles at the rear of the building to provide access to rooms in the northern part of the structure. Two large rooms in the main wing to the north of the hall are used as a library and a living room, both served by a central back-to-back fireplace. A smaller room at the northern end of the rear hall is used as a bathroom. The side wing to the south of the main hall contains a large dining room and a kitchen, incorporating another back-to-back fireplace that is centrally positioned. A small room in the single-storey gabled extension against the north wall of the side wing is accessed from the rear of the hall and contains a multi-colour glass internal window of round-headed style.

The main rooms at ground floor level are lined with scrim and wallpaper and contain high ceilings of distinctive appearance. The latter are lined with plain boards, supported by lengthways joists and cross-beams. The main hall ceiling is of plain board finish, while that of the rear hall incorporates rectangular battens. An indication of the type of nineteenth-century wallpaper that may be preserved is provided by visible fragments in a below-stairs cupboard in the rear hall, which incorporates a format popular in the 1870s and 1880s. The rear bathroom incorporates a more recent (1950s?) wallpaper of unusual design. The kitchen is particularly well-preserved. This incorporates an original fireplace, a cupboard arrangement of nineteenth-century position between the chimney breast and south wall, its plain-board wall linings, plain-board ceiling, and a meat safe, previously noted above. A serving hatch and fixtures have been added since 1950.

The major internal alteration to the building appears to have been a relocation of part of the staircase, possibly associated with modifications to the side wing on the upper floor. The former is indicated by straight joins in the ceiling boards of the main hall and floor boards at first floor level. Originally accessed from the main hall, the upstairs area is now reached from steps that begin in the rear hall. The upper part of the staircase may be in its original position. The first floor contains a long hall along its eastern frontage, serving two bedrooms in the main wing. The main landing at the top of the stairs also provides access to a front bedroom in the side wing. A smaller bedroom and a bathroom are reached via what appears to be a modified hall towards the western end of the side wing. Ceilings to the upstairs rooms are slightly coved, and have plain board linings. Extensive scrim and wallpaper survives. Where torn, several layers of earlier wallpapers are visible, some possibly of nineteenth-century date. Some of the building's skirtings and architraves consist of two-piece mouldings. Most floorboards, where visible, appear to be early.

Investigation of the attic and sub-floor revealed the widespread use of pit-sawn kauri timber for the main structural elements, including its single-storey gabled addition. Pit-sawn timber was predominant in New Zealand prior to the mid 1860s, when mechanically-produced circular-sawn timber became increasingly available. Early construction techniques were observed, including extensive mortice and tenon assembly, and the use of mortared basalt footings for both chimneystacks. Waney timber used as rafters in the main wing may be capable of dendrochronological analysis to determine precise felling dates, potentially producing information about the colonial timber industry. This could include the time lapse between the extraction and use of timber for construction. Loose artefactual material was also observed in the sub-floor, particularly beneath the single-storey gabled addition and immediately adjacent areas. Artefacts included bottle fragments, timber objects (including an early cotton reel) and shell. Quantities of animal bone were also noted, some showing signs of butchery techniques. Examination of the latter could reveal information about colonial diet, animal husbandry and meat preparation.

Outbuilding (including washhouse)

A long timber outbuilding, erected in three or four separate phases, survives a short distance to the west of the main building. The earliest part consists of a small rectangular washhouse at the northern end of the structure, of vertical board and batten construction. This section has a gabled roof clad with corrugated iron, and incorporates a moulded bargeboard on its gable end. Most of the board cladding is bandsawn. The washhouse interior is unlined. It contains a low brick base for a copper in its north-western corner and a rectangular washtub or sink against its western wall. There is a window above the sink. Access is via a stable-type door in the eastern wall. A very small rectangular addition on its western side to the north of the copper may be a very small external storage cupboard. The northern wall of the structure has been modified, probably since the 1950s, to create a sheltered garden seat in an external alcove.

Sequential extensions have been added to the south, all of vertical board and batten construction. All are also gabled with corrugated iron roofs, except for that at the southern end, which has a pentice roof. The latter has a door in its southern wall.

A resource consent issued in 2006 includes provision for demolition of the outbuilding.


A small brick well survives immediately to the north of the washhouse end of the outbuilding. Its above-ground element consists of a comparatively recent brick lining, six courses high. It is capped with a flat metal lid. Lining beneath the lid was not examined.


A timber-framed garage in the north-eastern corner of the site has a corrugated iron pentice roof. This structure is excluded from the registration.

A resource consent issued in 2006 includes provision for demolition of the garage.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1862 -
Main wing of house (side wing contemporary or pre-1873)

Single-storey gable addition against north wall of side wing

Rear lean-to

Original Construction
Detached washhouse with extension to south

Verandah of main building enclosed (southeast end) - Further extension to washhouse

1934 - 1935
Shingle roof replaced with corrugated iron

1941 - 1942
Conversion into two flats, possibly including repositioned staircase

1950 - 1951
Re-conversion to single household unit

1950 - 1951
Internal modernisation

1950 - 1951
Kitchen Refurbished, Severy hatch installed between kitchen & dining room

1950 - 1951
Bathroom Modernised (ground floor)

1950 - 1951
Bathroom installed (first floor)

1950 - 1951
Highlight window added (first floor south-east elevation)?

Ground floor bay window on north elevation of main wing

Construction Details

Timber, corrugated iron roof

Completion Date

19th September 2007

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR)

Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives

1875, H-11, 'Nominal Roll of the Civil Establishment in New Zealand 30 June 1875', p.20;

1881, H-2, 'Roll of Persons in Government Employ', p. 7

Wises Post Office Directories

Wises Post Office Directories

New Zealand Herald

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

4 October 1929, p.14(6)

Salmond, 1986

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

Southern Cross

Southern Cross

16 February 1858, p.2(3); 4 April 1863, p. 2(4)

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Northern 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.