12 Torquay Street, Kaikoura

  • House.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rachel Connolly. Date: 25/10/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1457 Date Entered 25th August 2006


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the building and the land on Certificate of Title MB4D/597.

City/District Council

Kaikoura District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 703 (CT MB4D/597), Marlborough Land District


The small but ornate villa at 12 Torquay Street, Kaikoura, is a handsome example of Edwardian architectural style and carpenter's skill. Built by Cumming Haswell as his own home, the house later became the District Nurse's residence, and therefore also represents the genesis of modern community-based heath care in the Kaikoura district. A community resource centre today, 12 Torquay Street continues to provide nursing services.

In 1895, carpenter Cumming (Cum) Haswell purchased a section in the intersecting angle of New (now Kilarney) and Torquay Streets (then a main thoroughfare of Kaikoura), over the road from the post office. About [1899] a house was constructed on the site by Haswell for himself. This modestly-scaled but ornamental villa displays a carpenter's skill and attention to detail. Haswell also ran a small hardware store from an adjacent building, since demolished.

Cumming Haswell (1869-1960) was born in Oamaru to teacher Robert Haswell and his wife Mary. The family moved with Robert's postings until eventually settling in Kaikoura, where Robert established a commission agency. Cumming worked initially in the Kaikoura Telegraph Office, and then for his father until Robert's death in 1892. He then served a carpentry apprenticeship, subsequently becoming foreman for Kaikoura builder W. Cooke for seven years - during which time he superintended the erection of St Peter's Anglican Church. In 1903 Cumming established Haswell Brothers, his own building business. Two of the larger projects constructed by the firm were the local branch of the Bank of New Zealand and the Town School. Early in 1910 however, the Haswell family joined the northwards drift and shifted to Waipukurau in Hawkes Bay, where Cumming resumed building. He constructed his last house, for his daughter and her husband, in 1939.

The Haswell's Torquay Street property was sold to farmer James Johnston in 1911. Johnston subdivided the property, selling the house on a reduced parcel to schoolteacher Mabel McLauchlan in 1917. McLauchlan transferred the property in 1919 to Thomas Barry and Bertram Smith. Smith and Barry were partners in a farming operation in the Puhi Puhi valley, north of Kaikoura. Bertram Smith apparently occupied the house for a period. The property remained with Barry, Smith and their heirs until 1943, when it was sold to Nathaniel Vale, the manager of the Kaikoura branch of department store chain, Beath and Co. Vale and his wife had leased the house for some years, but upon purchase immediately transferred it to farmer Herbert Hamilton. Neighbours of Smith and Barry in the Puhi Puhi Valley, the Hamilton family purchased the house as a term-time home for Mrs Hamilton and her children, so that the children could attend the nearby school.

The Crown purchased the property from the Hamilton's in 1950 to serve as a District Nurse's residence. District Nursing - the care of the sick in the community - developed on an ad hoc basis throughout New Zealand from the late nineteenth century, with nurses working for a wide range of public and private institutions. Gradually these services came under the umbrella of the Health Department, but were not placed on a regular footing until the gazetting of the Social Security (District Nurses Services) Regulations in 1944. These regulations provided for the expansion of services to communities not yet covered, direct funding from government and the free provision of all services. As a consequence, District Nursing grew significantly in the post-war period - although a shortage of nurses restricted the speed of its roll out. As part of their employment package, many rural District Nurses were supplied with a house that was expected to double as their home and clinic.

District Nursing was established in Kaikoura about 1948, apparently in the wake of a local typhoid epidemic. The first District Nurse, Miss Elsie McClintock, was also charged with carrying out the duties of Public Health Nurse and Plunket Nurse - a combination of roles that was to continue in Kaikoura for nearly thirty years. Miss McClintock's territory extended from the Hundalee range in the south to Kekerengu in the north - 100 kilometres of frequently rough country that she traversed regularly in a Health Department-issue ex-army Ford Anglia. At many remote sheep stations, where visitors were few and far between, she was a welcome caller. As part of her job, McClintock also spent a considerable amount of time working to improve the health of the Maori community at Mangamaunu. During these early years in government ownership, 12 Torquay Street served as residence, clinic and Plunket Rooms. Miss McClintock married a local widower, Mr Hynams in 1953, and although she ceased to be District Nurse at this time and moved from the house, she continued to relieve the new incumbent, Miss Geraldine Webb, for many years. In 1956 the Plunket Rooms were moved from Torquay Street, when purpose-built rooms were opened as part of the new Memorial Hall on the Esplanade. Like her predecessor, Geraldine Webb also eventually gave up her position when she married local farmer Ron Howard. Miss Webb was succeeded by Miss Isabel Russell, who remained until she too married (in 1977) and left the region.

About 1977 the roles of District Nurse and Public Health Nurse were split, and District Nursing was transferred to a new base at Kaikoura Hospital. Margaret Hislop became the new Public Health and Plunket Nurse at this time, and as she already had a home in the area, the Torquay Street house became surplus to requirements as a residence. The house was subsequently leased to a group of teachers, but Margaret retained an office in the building. In following years, the house was also let to the Salvation Army as their local out-reach centre.

In 1987 12 Torquay Street became the site of Te Whare Putea, a bicultural community resource centre run in conjunction with the local Kaikoura Runaka of Ngai Tahu. This included some nursing services, but also incorporated other social and government services (such as the Budget Advisory Service, Alcoholics Anonymous and motor vehicle licensing). A toy library was also run from the garage for a period. Some social services moved from the house to new premises in late 2005, but the nursing services remain.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

It has historical significance in its role as the Kaikoura District Nurse's residence and clinic for nearly forty years, following the nationwide establishment of the service in the 1940s.

The house at 12 Torquay St has architectural significance as an interesting and handsome example of the employment of an elaborate Edwardian architectural vocabulary in the construction of an otherwise modest twin bay villa. There are few houses of such accomplishment and pretension in Kaikoura, and the degree and type of embellishment is comparatively rare in Canterbury or Marlborough.

The house has social significance as a centre of the provision of heath and social services for the Kaikoura community for more than fifty years; originally as a base for District, Public Health and Plunket nursing, but more latterly with a broader mandate as a community resource centre.

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

In its role as both residence and workspace, the house commemorates the development of modern community-based health care over the last fifty years - from the triple disciplines of District, Public Health and Plunket nursing in the 1940s, through to the multiplicity of health providers available today.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:

The house has had strong community associations for over fifty years, initially as the residence and clinic provided for Kaikoura's District/Public Health/Plunket Nurse from 1950 until 1987, and over the last two decades as the bi-cultural base for a variety of social and governmental services.

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

The house is an accomplished and well-preserved example of a modestly scaled Edwardian villa, in what was a small and comparatively remote community at the time it was built.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Haswell, Cumming

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

Kaikoura is a small coastal town on the eastern seaboard of the South Island. It is geographically isolated from other centres of population but sits astride State Highway 1. Consequently the township has served through much of its history both as a rural service centre and as a transit point between Marlborough and Canterbury. The older part of Kaikoura township is located in a long narrow ribbon below a former sea cliff, book-ended by areas known respectively as the East and West Ends.

Midway between the East and West Ends, Kilarney Street - the principle southern entry point into Kaikoura township - descends the sea cliff to meet the former main thoroughfare of Torquay Street. Torquay Street runs parallel to the sea but a block inland, and is one of two streets linking the East and West Ends. At the turn of the century, it was a mixed commercial, service and residential neighbourhood, and contained the post office, courthouse and Anglican church. However the commercial focus of Kaikoura shifted away to the West End during the mid years of the twentieth century. The neighbourhood today is consequently primarily residential. There are several other registered buildings in the vicinity.

12 Torquay Street is a modestly scaled but ornamental Edwardian symmetrical square villa, with twin flat-fronted hipped bays. The rusticated weatherboard fa├žade has raised quoins, paired eave brackets and an elaborately moulded Italianate porch with ogee arches, dentils and a pierced parapet. The interior has been extensively modernized, although the original symmetrical room arrangement, either side of a central hall, remains. The rear of the house is set into the sea cliff.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1899 -

Construction Details

Rusticated weatherboard with a corrugated iron roof and twin brick chimneys.

Completion Date

25th August 2006

Report Written By

Gareth Wright

Information Sources

Allen, 1996

V. Allen, Nurse Maude: the First 100 Years Christchurch: Nurse Maude Association, 1996.

Cumming Haswell Family Notes

Kaikoura District Museum and Archives The Cumming Haswell Family Unpublished notes.

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

NZHPT Marlborough Regional Committee Public Health Nurse's Cottage Unpublished notes, NZHPT.

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.