Oneida Homestead

No 2 Line, Oneida Farm, Fordell

  • Oneida Homestead, Fordell.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Unknown.
  • Oneida Homestead, Fordell. Building detail. Original image from Heritage New Zealand Print Collection .
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: G Thornton. Date: 1/12/1971.
  • Oneida Homestead, Fordell. c1870s. 'The Burnet home with 4 women standing on the balcony'. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image. Ref no. 1/1-000169.
    Copyright: Alexander Turnbull Library. Taken By: William James Harding.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 160 Date Entered 22nd November 1984


City/District Council

Whanganui District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 404 Pt Sec 1 DP 11797 Blk VII Ikitara SD


Oneida is one of Wanganui's most distinguished rural homes. It was built in 1870 for Joseph and Mary Ann Burnett. Joseph had emigrated from England to the United States in 1830 in with his parents and siblings. He met and married his cousin Mary in 1833, and soon after moved to Utica near Trenton, Oneida County, New York State. Following several attempts to settle in both America and England, the couple eventually immigrated to New Zealand in 1856. They settled in Wanganui where Joseph established himself as a confectioner and baker. In 1860 they acquired a 170-hectare property east of the township, but it was another decade before the family were able to move into their new house.

Although the plans for Trenton House (now more commonly known as Oneida) were prepared by George Frederic Allen (1837-1929), a surveyor and architect in the Wanganui region, the design owes much to the architecture that the Burnetts saw during their time in the United States. The steeply pitched roof, lacy barge boards, windows with pointed arches, one storey porch and asymmetrical plan were all common to the Carpenter Gothic style which developed in America during the 1830s and 1840s. Constructed from heart totara and kauri, the house was completed in 1870. An unusual feature for its time was the central hall. This rises 13.5 metres from the ground floor to the apex of the roof and is broken halfway by an organ loft and railed gallery. There have been several alterations to the building including the addition of a verandah in 1880. Joseph Burnett died in 1893 and the property passed to his sons Cornelius and Alfred. The property was divided and Cornelius inherited the house. The property was eventually farmed by the third son of Cornelius, Benjamin Ward Burnett. Benjamin lived at Oneida until his death in 1975, and the house was sold the following year to the Bryant family. The latter, with the help of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, undertook restoration of Oneida.

Oneida is significant as it is one of the finest examples of the Carpenter Gothic style in New Zealand. It is also associated with Joseph and Mary Burnett, early Pakeha setters to the Wanganui region. They and their descendants lived in the house for over 100 years.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Allen, George Frederic


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1870 -

1880 -
Semicircular verandah added

1895 -
Totara shingle changed to corrugated iron

1895 -
Two small extensions to bedrooms

One of the original wings removed

Completion Date

25th September 2001

Report Written By

Helen McCracken

Information Sources

Alexander Turnbull Library

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

Burnett Family Papers', 1829-1895, MS-Papers-1454

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Athol L. Kirk, 'George Frederic Allen (1837-1929)', Vol.2, 1870-1900, Wellington, 1993, pp.5-6.

Porter, 1979

Frances Porter (ed.), Historic Buildings of New Zealand: North Island, Auckland, 1979

pp. 198-203

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.