Historical Significance or Value
Scotland Cottage has historical significance as an example of New Plymouth’s built heritage which survived the conflicts of the Taranaki Wars of the 1860s, and for its association with the Honourable Henry Scotland, who made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s legal system through his 42-year service on the Legislative Council.
Archaeological Significance or Value
Because Scotland Cottage is thought to have been initially constructed in 1854 it is associated with the early period of European settlement in New Plymouth. As such the site is of archaeological significance. The section has potential to contain archaeological deposits associated with this period, including evidence of early domestic and garden structures, as well as household refuse. The building itself has the potential to provide information about nineteenth century construction techniques as well as historical aspects such as the importation of prefabricated elements for colonial dwellings.
Architectural Significance or Value
Scotland Cottage has architectural value as a representative example of a building type characteristic of the colonial period of New Plymouth’s settlement. The house is of typical ‘saltbox’ form, comprising of a single gabled section with lean-to addition at the rear, and features original French casement window joinery and vertical board-and-batten cladding. Its exterior appearance has been little altered since its construction. The house is of particular architectural interest for its foundations, which are river boulders from the nearby Te Henui river. This is demonstrative of the common practice of settlers to use materials that were to hand for construction, but in this case using something unique to the geography of the location.
Social Significance or Value
Scotland Cottage has played a part in the lives of countless pupils of New Plymouth Girls’ High School, as the facility for music practice and a historic feature of the school grounds. The social significance of the cottage is also demonstrated by the NPGHS Centennial Trust’s particular focus on its preservation, and the extensive restoration work and maintenance carried out by the school.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
Scotland Cottage is associated with Henry Scotland, who as a member of the Legislative Council of New Zealand played an important part in the development of the country’s legal system. Scotland was also outspoken on many current affairs of the day and appeared frequently in the newspapers as an opinionated public figure.
(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history
It is likely that through archaeological excavation information could be obtained in relation to the domestic activities at the Scotland Cottage site dating from the 1850s onwards. This could help provide knowledge of how colonial settlers lived and create a picture of how their lifestyle changed through various periods.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place
Scotland Cottage is a valued part of the New Plymouth Girls’ High School campus, as evidenced by the extensive efforts to restore it in 2004, as well as its importance in the school’s institutional history. The historical association of the place with its former owner, Henry Scotland, is commemorated through the naming of the school’s boarding hostel, Scotlands. The community esteem for the building is demonstrated by the particular regard given to its preservation by the NPGHS Centennial Trust and the fondness with which it is remembered by alumni.
(f) The potential of the place for public education
As a feature within the grounds of a large public secondary school the cottage has the potential to educate generations of students about the colonial past of New Plymouth, as well as New Zealand’s political development through the system of the Legislative Council by its association with the Hon. Henry Scotland.
(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement
Scotland Cottage is thought to date from 1854, linking it to the period of New Plymouth’s development as a colonial settlement. When constructed the cottage was located in a largely rural neighbourhood away from the outskirts of the commercial town centre.
(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places
The Taranaki Wars of the 1860s saw many homesteads, especially those in outlying areas, fall prey to the fighting, sacked and burned. 187 settler homesteads were known to have been destroyed during the conflicts, all located outside the defensive cordon of the central township. Henry Scotland’s cottage is therefore a rare survivor of this significant period in Taranaki’s history.
Summary of Significance or Values
This place was assessed against, and found to qualify under the following criteria: b, c, e, f, i, j
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.
The Taranaki region is thought to have been settled by Maori around 600-700 years ago. Archaeological evidence suggests that pa were being built in the area, which surrounds Mount Taranaki, as early as the fifteenth century. A number of iwi hold mana whenua in the west coast of the region, including Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutunga, Te Atiawa and Taranaki. The area which would become New Plymouth was initially populated by Nga Mahanga a Tairi of Taranaki, and then Te Atiawa, who affiliate with the waka Tokomaru and are said to descend from the semi-divine origins of ancestor Awanuiarangi, whose people moved south from Northland to the Bay of Plenty and Taranaki.
European whalers initially arrived along the Taranaki coast in the first half of the nineteenth century, and generally integrated themselves relatively harmoniously with the local Maori communities. By the early 1840s, a Ngati Te Whiti pa at Ngamotu, called Otaka Pa, was still populated but many other Maori strongholds in the region had been abandoned following attacks by taua from the Waikato a decade earlier, which had prompted a major migration of the remnant Te Atiawa population to Otaki, Wellington and Marlborough. However, increasing numbers of European settlers created a demand for land and the resulting tensions between tangata whenua and colonists had lasting effects on all Taranaki residents.
Organised colonial settlement at Taranaki was first instituted by the Plymouth Company in 1839-1840, who arranged to purchase land from the New Zealand Company for the settlement of immigrants from Devon and Cornwall, although this purchase would be much disputed in the future. The site of the township was chosen and laid out by Chief Surveyor Frederic Carrington in February 1841, and settler ships arrived from England from March 1841 onwards. By this time the Plymouth Company had fallen into financial difficulties, and was formally merged with the New Zealand Company in May 1841. Settler ships continued to arrive, but disputes around the Crown’s role in transferring land out of Maori ownership, and between tangata whenua over who had the authority to transfer land were already evident, frustrating all involved.
The series of prolonged conflicts during the 1860s are now commonly known as the Taranaki Wars, waged between the Crown and Maori in response to Maori uprising against the enforced alienation of their land. These caused widespread deprivation, suffering and loss of life and land for iwi, resulting in the heavy confiscation of tribal land taken by the Crown under the Land Settlement Act of 1863. The devastating effects of these actions have since been acknowledged by the Crown through formal apologies and efforts of redress by settlement agreements.
The conflicts also affected the fledgling European settler communities, with many residents of outlying areas abandoning their homes and taking refuge in the urban centre of New Plymouth town, or leaving the region altogether for a time. Complaints from anxious European settlers eventually forced the Government to station troops at New Plymouth, and the site of the former Pukaka pa (Marsland Hill) was transformed into a military stockade and barracks in 1855. As the frequency of battles decreased the British troops were gradually withdrawn, until the last detachment of the 50th regiment left in 1867.
The newspapers of the time were filled with commentary and debate about the situation, and the Honourable Henry A. Scotland (1821-1910) was one resident who was outspoken on matters of the war, and many other issues during his lifetime. Scotland immigrated to New Zealand from London in 1850, arriving on the ship Eden. The son of a former President of the Supreme Court in British Guiana and Chief Justice of Trinidad, Scotland also followed a legal career and had been called to the Bar in London in 1849, following an Oxford education.
While practising as a barrister and Justice of the Peace in New Plymouth, in 1854 Scotland sold his property on Courtenay Street and it was at this time that he is thought to have moved to a new residence on the eastern bank of the Te Henui river, Town Belt Section G. It is located between the former site of the old Colonial Hospital building (now known as The Gables and relocated to Brooklands Park) to the north, and Pukewarangi Pa to the south. Although Henry Scotland was described as being possessed of a good deal of wealth when he first came to the country, his new house was a spacious but simple cottage of unostentatious design, using materials that were to hand along with some imported joinery. Built from rough-sawn timber the cottage is single-gabled with a rear lean-to and front verandah, clad in vertical board and batten. A photo from c.1875 shows the building was originally roofed with timber shingles, making the house a typical New Plymouth settler residence of the time, although notable for its river-stone foundations - boulders from the nearby Te Henui River. Historians Ron and Gail Lambert state that ‘the predominance of small wooden buildings with vertical cladding and kohekohe shingles were a distinctive feature of the town in the first twenty years.’
The wars of the 1860s saw many such homesteads - especially those in outlying areas like Henui - fall prey to the fighting, sacked and burned. 187 settler homesteads were known to have been destroyed during the conflicts, all located outside the defensive cordon of the central township. Henry Scotland’s cottage is therefore a rare survivor of this significant period in Taranaki’s history.
In 1868 Scotland was called to the Legislative Council, a Government-appointed authority modelled on the English House of Lords and designed to regulate legislation passed by the elected House of Representatives. Although Scotland stated in an interview in 1905, ‘I’ve never distinguished myself..I am not a politician, and never was’, by the nature of his position as one required to scrutinise and review Bills, Acts and Amendments of Parliament, he commented publically on many issues of fundamental importance to New Zealand society. An abundance of newspaper articles of the time document Scotland’s apparent steadfastness and mettle as a man not afraid to stand against the tide of popular opinion and remain loyal to his moral convictions, however unpopular this made him with his contemporaries.
For example, in December 1868 Scotland came up against his fellow Justices in Taranaki when he opposed a resolution to form a local bush force, as being ‘an aggressive measure’ against the Maori population. He also made a charge of the alleged transgressions of settlers in the Okato area, who were said to have driven their cattle and horses onto Maori lands in opposition to the wishes of the landowners. For bringing this assertion to the attention of the Colonial Secretary, Scotland earned the wrath of the leaders of the European community, who were already sensitised by earlier charges that settlers had been the cause of the recent hostilities over land.
Scotland resigned his commission as Justice of the Peace but survived the controversy and retained his seat on the Legislative Council, but in 1876 his conduct was again publically condemned when his attempts to stand up for the cause of social justice were published in the forum of the national newspapers. The nationwide eruption of indignation caused by Scotland’s letter to the Belfast Newsletter, in which he supported statements made by a Mr J.G.S. Grant who ‘in a most unwarrantable and malicious manner tried to damage the credit and fair fame of our Colony and its inhabitants’ by suggesting that many of New Zealand’s female immigrants had had to take to the streets ‘to earn a crust of bread in the market of shame’, was on a par with a later episode of Scotland’s notoriety when he accused Sir Julius Vogel of being a ‘broken down gambler’. Scotland also caused outrage for his low opinions of the New Zealand clergy and the intentions of those who had volunteered to serve in the Boer War. New Zealand society was scandalised by a public figure in a respected position of Government making such statements, whereas Scotland felt that he had been ‘persecuted by the snobs ..for presuming to censure the general want of humanity here with regard to the poor man. I am the black sheep of the place..’
Although by the late 1890s the press considered Scotland to be ‘ranked among the fossils, and [with] a reputation for eccentricity’, in 1905 he was appointed Solicitor-General. At his death in 1910 Scotland was, at 89, the oldest living member of Parliament and had contributed significantly to New Zealand’s legal system through his 42-year service on the Legislative Council. His passing was marked by a Parliamentary resolution recording the House’s appreciation of the faithful services rendered and offering condolences to Scotland’s widow.
New Plymouth Girls High School
By the early 1890s Scotland had sold his property in New Plymouth and moved to the Pahi River north of Auckland. His land on Mangorei Road in New Plymouth neighboured the original site of the Gables Colonial Hospital. Part of this land became an educational reserve in 1903 and was eventually absorbed into the grounds of New Plymouth Girls’ High School.
After initially sharing premises with the boys at New Plymouth High School, then an itinerant three years in various buildings around town, a new high school for girls was constructed on a site in Mangorei Road and the pupils moved to the new facilities in the third term of 1916. By 1920 the school needed a new hostel for boarders, and after four years of fundraising for the construction costs the New Plymouth High School Board eventually decided on an adjacent site in Mangorei Road - Henry Scotland’s former land. Although expensive, the beauty of the property - which Scotland had planted extensively with puriris, blue gums, camellias and magnolias - won the committee over. The Board of Governors were helped by further fundraising efforts of the Old Girls’ Association, and the land with its historic cottage was purchased and a new hostel building erected, adjacent to the cottage. The hostel, which was opened in February 1928, was named ‘Scotlands’ in reference to the historic owner of the site.
Henry Scotland’s cottage was then utilised by the school as accommodation for the caretakers, and also as a space for piano practice for the boarders. Four small rooms on the west side of the building were used as cubicles for this purpose, and the instrument was taught between 6am-8pm every day of the week except Sunday. Perhaps because of inconveniences presented by this arrangement the caretakers did not have to pay rent for their accommodation in Scotland Cottage, although Ruby and George Cloke, who lived in the cottage for 40 years from 1938, said they did get used to the sound of students at practice.
Author and Old Girl Christine Cole Catley reminisced in 1985:
‘I’ve just come from looking again at the historic cottage where so many of us did our piano practice from 6am in the row of music cubicles, and where the Clokes lived for so long. We had no idea, then, that it had survived from the days of the Colonial Hospital, but now the cottage has been classified by the Historic Places Trust, and there’s general rejoicing. The [NPGHS] Centennial Committee has decided that the careful upgrading of the cottage should be the first project when the Centennial Trust is established...’
Although the NPGHS Centennial Trust funds must be used for projects that benefit the whole school, the charter contains a clause that gives particular precedence to bestowing grants that enable the preservation of Scotland Cottage in the first instance.
Scotland Cottage has been well-maintained over the years, and the basic form of the building remains. At some point after 1903 the western end of the verandah was enclosed to form a small sunroom, and the eastern end was also enclosed but these partitions were removed in an extensive refurbishment project in 2004-2005, going some way towards reinstating the original layout. The original shingle roofing has been replaced with corrugated steel, and the small timber finials visible in a photograph from 1903 are also no longer present. Only one chimney of the two original remains, servicing the kitchen, and this was repaired and strengthened in 2001. The interior has seen some rearrangement for use as music practice rooms, but is now restored to a residential configuration. The kitchen fittings appear to date from around the 1930s, which would correspond with the time the house was outfitted for use as accommodation for the caretakers.
The 2004 restoration project saw the removal of an outbuilding to the rear of the house, which had been used as laundry. An old well was found during this work, and covered over. The cottage was repainted and re-landscaped at the rear. The restoration project involved the repair of damaged timber of the cottage, and where possible this was replaced with timber from the laundry outbuilding. Some elements of the original joinery were removed, such as an outside door at the rear southwestern corner of the building and the window over the kitchen sink, which was replaced with windows of a sympathetic design. Under repair the front door lock was investigated and found to be of a type made in England in the 1850s, which suggests that the joinery was imported from England and that the cottage could have been partially pre-fabricated.
Since then the cottage has been used by New Plymouth Girls’ High School as meeting rooms for staff and senior students, and for storage. The 2010 celebrations of the 125th anniversary of the school saw a large number of former pupils gather, who shared their memories of the cottage.
Exterior and Setting
Scotland Cottage is located within the grounds of New Plymouth Girls’ High School, in the suburb of Strandon, New Plymouth. The cottage is set well back from the roadside frontage of the school, surrounded by remnant plantings and is located adjacent to the bush which covers the banks of the Te Henui River to the west. Flight Cottage (Record no. 7086, Category II), built in 1868 and relocated to the school grounds in 1990 after restoration, is now a neighbouring building to Scotland Cottage. Together the cottages form a pair of roughly contemporaneous pre-1900 residential buildings within the more modern institutional facilities of the secondary school.
The form of Scotland Cottage is the typical single gable with lean-to construction of the period, also referred to by Jeremy Salmond as the ‘saltbox’ style. The cottage is set on foundations of boulders from the nearby Te Henui river, and these are visible along the north, west and eastern edges of the building, although the original stone foundations of the rear lean-to were replaced during refurbishment work in 2004. The cottage is clad in vertical board-and-batten, and the house is roofed with corrugated steel (replacing the original timber shingles).
Historical photographs of the cottage show a symmetrical frontage, created by four pairs of French casement windows evenly spaced along the north elevation, opening out onto a verandah shaded by an awning. The verandah was supported by posts in five places; these are unadorned squared timber posts but are arranged in pairs each linked by a horizontal truss. Today this symmetry has been altered somewhat by the partial enclosure of the verandah at the western end, however the French casement windows and verandah posts remain, each set of French casements retaining their original brass locking mechanisms. Where the enclosure at the western end has interrupted the placement of that set of French casements, they have been repositioned adjacent to the central front door, but facing east. A set of three modern timber casement windows has been installed into the north façade of the verandah room.
The east and west elevations of the cottage each feature sets of four-paned double-hung sash windows, although the set at the south western corner of the building differs in that it has twelve panes. Cladding that has been replaced during refurbishment work is visible in places on both these facades, differentiated from original fabric by the insertion of modern metal flashings.
Moving round to the rear of the building, this southern portion is comprised of a lean-to attached to the back of the single gabled section. Modern four-paned timber casement windows have been installed along this elevation to light the kitchen, and a brick chimney protrudes from the roof here. A ramp and door provides secondary access to the building.
The cottage is entered through a timber front door of standard four-panel design, although it appears to have been formerly divided into two separately opening halves to match the design of the adjacent French casement windows. The door retains its original, English-made door knob and lock. Entrance is into a central passageway that leads from north to south through the house, though partially divided by a central partition with fanlight above. The cottage is lined with painted wood panelling, with timber panels of considerable width in areas of original fabric, such as this hallway.
To the right (west) just inside of the front entrance, a doorway leads into the room created by the partial enclosure of the verandah. The repositioning of the French casement windows is evidenced by the incursion of the roofline of the sloped verandah into the corner of the window surround.
Continuing south along the hallway, the middle room on the west has been completely relined and new timber window joinery installed. A built-in wardrobe has also been added to this room. The southernmost room on the western side of the cottage features original wall linings (tongue and groove panelling) on the ceiling and southernmost wall only, and has been gibbed and plastered elsewhere. This room is lit by the twelve-paned double-hung sash window, next to which was formerly a door leading to the outside (removed during the 2004 refurbishment).
The former piano practice cubicles are thought to have been located along this western side of the cottage, possibly utilising all three rooms along this aspect. The central hallway terminates at its southern end in a storage cupboard (formerly a bathroom) and a toilet.
At the rear of the house, in the south eastern corner, is the kitchen. This room contains a wood or coal range (circa 1930s), and a servery window through to the adjacent front room. The kitchen is characterised by a bank of cupboards (circa 1930s) towards the eastern end, and is lit by a row of four-paned casement windows to the south and a double-hung sash window to the east.
Moving from this room to the north leads into a sitting or drawing room. The walls here have been exposed back to the original sarking by removal of the scrim, and this wood has been polished and is marked by nail holes from the former lining. The ceiling has been relined with acoustic tiles, and French casement windows open out onto the front verandah. Located in this room at present is a small table made from original timber salvaged from the cottage during its refurbishment in 2004.
The largest room in the cottage is situated in the centre of the northern aspect. The use of this room as a formal dining room is suggested by the presence of the servery window through to the kitchen, although the date of this feature is not known. The room had a large open fireplace that backed on to the kitchen range and presumably shared the chimney, although this fireplace is now blocked up and has been dressed with a mantelpiece that is not original to the house, having been installed in 2004. The room is devoid of decorative features beyond simple scotia boards. The ceiling is lined with plain tongue and groove panelling. The room is well lit by the French casement windows, which here have been extended by the insertion of an additional glazed panel on either side. Today this is used as a meeting room.
Alterations to kitchen; modifications to interior layout creating four piano practise cubicles along the western wall of the cottage
Repairs to roof, chimney strengthened
2004 - 2005
Refurbishment including removal of verandah enclosure at eastern end, removal of laundry outbuilding, removal of outside door at southwestern corner of cottage
2004 - 2005
replacement of some cladding on western and eastern facades, replacement of foundations under lean-to, replacement of southern wall of lean-to
Timber, river stone foundations, corrugated steel roof
21st September 2011
Report Written By
Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen
G & R Lambert. An Illustrated History of Taranaki, Dunmore Press, Palmerston North, 1983.
Nigel Prickett, Historic Taranaki: An Archaeological Guide, GP Books, Wellington, 1990
Wells, 1878 (1976)
B Wells, The History of Taranaki, Edmonson & Avery 'Taranaki News Office', New Plymouth, 1878. Reprinted by Capper Press, Christchurch, 1976
Kelvin Day (ed). Contested Ground Te Whenua I Tohea: The Taranaki Wars 1860-1881, Huia Publishers, Wellington, 2010
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Central 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.