Chew House

19 Ottawa Road, Ngaio, Wellington

  • Chew House. From the road.
    Copyright: Wladimir & Denise Ramsteijn.
  • The sun porch.
    Copyright: Wladimir & Denise Ramsteijn.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1348 Date Entered 27th July 1988


City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 5 DP 26224

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The cottage was built as a family home for a city businessman John Chew, 20 years before the railway went through.

John Chew arrived in Wellington in 1858 and was trained as an engineer. He owned 200 acres of land in the Kaiwharawhara district in 1860 and had leased another 250 acres. A former sawmill existed somewhere in the vicinity of Nagio Hall. Chew renovated this mill and operated it, but a big flood in the 1860s destroyed the mill. Chew also had interests in timber in the Wairarapa. Hutt Valley, King Country and near Porirua. He also had other business interests in Wellington.

The present house is the third on the site and was built c.1865. The other two houses were demolished and these were probably built in the late 1850s and early 1860s. The second house is said to have become Chew's workshop, storeroom and wash-house.

Some alterations to the existing house have taken place but do not seem to have detracted from the house's association with local industry (i.e. sawmilling) and with that of an innovative local engineer and entrepreneur.


Important example of domestic colonial architecture. A typical wooden house of the 1860s and still a family home. Original lines virtually unchanged.

This colonial dwelling is one of the few remaining examples in near original condition still standing close to Wellington.


A charming reminder of Ngaio's industrial beginnings, set, today among modern buildings.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


The original architect is unknown but the original owner John Chew was an engineer and probably supervised construction. John Chew was also an early importer of machinery.


Domestic colonial architecture

Steep pitched roofs

Low eaves


Double-hung small-paned windows

Plain sawn undressed weatherboards - timber unknown, but, as Chew was a timber merchant, of good quality.


Kitchen and bathroom updated

Conservatory on rear

Front verandah enclosed

Shingles covered

Notable Features


Wooden features - mantelpiece

Pelmets, doors

Door knobs, keys etc

Original Totara fence (picket)

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1865 -

Construction Details

New Zealand timber - Kauri fittings - Totara. Local Ngaio, Kahikatea is incorporated. According to family legend the cottage was originally painted with iron oxide.

Timber (White Pine Kahikatea, Totara & Kauri) and corrugated iron.

Land initially part of Kaiwarra sawmill site owned by Joseph Hurley in the 1850s.

Information Sources

Onslow Historian

Onslow Historian

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.