Gear Homestead 'Okowai'

Okowai Road, Aotea, Porirua

  • Gear Homestead 'Okowai'.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Geoff Mew, Wellington Branch Committee of the NZ Historic Places Trust. Date: 18/01/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 1328 Date Entered 23rd June 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent of registration includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 54351, Wellington Land District and the buildings and structures known as Gear Homestead 'Okowai' and their fittings and fixtures.

City/District Council

Porirua City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 54351, Wellington Land District


The Gear Homestead, or Okowai, was built for James Gear, the founder of the Gear Meat Preserving and Freezing Company (established in 1882), which played a major part in development of Petone. The company operated from its Petone site until was closed in 1981. The Gear Homestead was completed in 1887. Following Gear's death in 1911, his widow, Ruth, and daughter, Doris Evelyn continued to live in the house. Doris married R. W. Bothemley in 1916. Bothemley occupied the house until his death in 1967. In 1969 10 acres [4.05 hectares] of the estate including the house were taken under the Public Works Act for a school. The remainder of the land was subdivided for state housing purposes. In 1975 the Porirua City Council purchased the house for use as a community arts centre. The house served as the main location for Peter Jackson's early film 'Bad Taste' (1988) and is now used as a venue for functions such as weddings.

The homestead is a two-storey timber structure. It is clad with rusticated weatherboard and has a corrugated iron roof. A wooden verandah surrounds the house on three sides, with an open balustrade. A bridge at the rear connects the upper storey with the bank behind. There is a later addition at the back of the rear. The house is surrounded by a large garden, and is a prominent landmark when viewed from the main highway north of Wellington.

The Gear Homestead is significant for its association with James Gear, the founder of the Gear Meat Preserving and Freezing Company, and an early pioneer in the export of refrigerated meat. The company was one of Wellington's largest employers and one of the most important industries in Petone. The house reflects the status Gear acquired through his successful business ventures and is a popular venue for community groups and social gatherings.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1887 -

Completion Date

22nd November 2001

Report Written By

Helen McCracken

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.