Worley House (Former)

27 Arney Road, Remuera, Auckland

  • Worley House (Former). June 1986. Image courtesy of ‘Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. Record ID 1052-M2-4.
    Copyright: Auckland Libraries. Taken By: Unknown.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 605 Date Entered 26th November 1981


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 5 DP 419720 (CT 475137), North Auckland Land District, and the building and structures known as Worley House (Former) thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 3 September 2015.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 5 DP 419720 (CT 475137), North Auckland Land District


The two-storey Arts and Crafts, timber-and-shingle style house was built in 1923 to a design by local architect Johnson Clark for Doris Worley for the Arney Road site in the fashionable Auckland suburb of Remuera. Remaining in the family’s ownership for three-quarters of a century, the place has strong historical associations with Worley’s husband Ralph Palliser Worley a founder of the former Worley Group Limited claimed in 1999 to be the largest New Zealand-owned engineering and management consultancy. An early twenty-first century addition providing further living space received an NZIA New Zealand Award for Architecture in 2007 for its quality and the manner in which it attended to the 1923 design in form and composition.

Remuera has been associated with the settlement of rich and successful Aucklanders since the middle of the nineteenth century. From about 1900, the palatial houses of the wealthiest settlers of the 1800s made room for the smaller, but grander townhouses of the city’s commercial or industrial elite. The Worley property lay within an 1852 Crown Grant later part of a 50-acre holding of Canadian-born William Morrin, and his brother Samuel but was taken over by the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company in 1880. Thomas, the best known of the three Morrin brothers owned the extensive Lockerbie estate in Piako before his financial collapse in the late 1880s. In 1882, an Eliza Larkins bought a small section of the Remuera property, selling part in 1905 with the new owners subdividing in 1922 to create the lot bought by Worley.

Doris Eleanor Hankinson Worley (1895-1984) the elder daughter of William Knight, a director of the prominent Auckland-based auctioneering, stock and station agency Alfred Buckland and Sons, married Auckland engineer Ralph Palliser Worley (1890-1965) in 1916 before he left for military service in the First World War (1914-1918). Qualified as a civil engineer in 1912, Ralph Worley worked as a registered surveyor for time from 1914. Upon his return to Auckland in 1919, he embarked on a civil engineering partnership that became Worley Group Limited and continues as part of global engineering company AECOM. Ralph Worley’s commissions included design of the first stage of the Whakatane Paper Mills (later Whakatane Board Mills), New Zealand’s pioneer pulpwood venture which commenced operation in 1939.

Plans for the Arney Road house were prepared by Auckland architect Johnson Clark (1882-1958) in an English Arts and Crafts style, a style favoured in New Zealand in the 1910s and 1920s by those wishing to display their wealth in houses reminiscent of the Old Country. As designed, the visually impressive double-gabled residence had a bell-cast, tiled roof, and small basement containing a tool store and a washhouse. The ground-floor entry opened into a substantial hall, off which was a living room. The living and breakfast rooms opened onto a verandah sheltered by part of the cantilevered main gable supported by columns. On the upper floor were a sitting room, three bedrooms (two sharing a balcony) and a bathroom. The building contractor was Douglas Jack (d.1951) for whom Johnson Clark designed six houses in the 1920s.

Other than a sunporch within part of the ground-floor verandah and conversion of the upper-floor balcony to a sunroom, the house remained unaltered before passing out of the family in 1999. The half-acre section had been subdivided in 1967 following Ralph Worley’s death two years before. The house was transferred to relatives Felicia Worley and Kathleen Knight in 1970. In 2004 in new ownership, an addition to the south side provided basement carparking; a breakfast room, family room and new kitchen (the original kitchen becoming a laundry); and a further bedroom ensuite on the upper floor.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Clark, J

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

D. Jack

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Robin O'Donnell

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1923 -

Sunporch (g.f.); sunroom (f.f.)

2004 -
Kitchen converted to laundry

2004 -
Basement, ground floor, first floor

Completion Date

29th June 2015

Report Written By

Joan McKenzie

Information Sources

Carlyon and Morrow, 2011

Carlyon, Jenny, and Diana Morrow, A Fine Prospect: A History of Remuera, Meadowbank and St Johns, Auckland, 2011.

Hunt, 2009

Hunt, Graeme, Pride and Pasion: AECOM’s 90 Years of Civil Engineering and Consultancy in New Zealand, 1919-2009, Auckland, 2009

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.