Tauroa Homestead

2 Hikanui Drive, Havelock North

  • Tauroa Homestead.
    Copyright: Alan Wylde. Taken By: Alan Wylde.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 176 Date Entered 16th November 1989


City/District Council

Hastings District


Hawke's Bay Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 17716 (CT HBK2/1157), Hawke's Bay Land District

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

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.

The Tauroa property was in the Chambers family from 1887 when John Chambers divided the Te Mata station. The present Tauroa was built on the same site as the earlier wooden homestead destroyed by fire in 1914. Thomas Mason Chambers, the owner of Tauroa, had an important role in the history of Havelock North. He was a significant figure in local body politics and the community activities. Chambers and the house he had built, Tauroa are of considerable historical significance to the people and local history of Havelock North.

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.


Tauroa is one of four large country houses designed by Gummer in the Havelock North area over a period of twenty years from 1916. These houses, collectively and singularly make a significant contribution to the history of architectural design in New Zealand. Gummers familiarity with a wide range of styles was exhibited in these houses and they were each quite different.

The design of Tauroa was innovative and far ahead of its time. By his use of sleeping balconies, a court and a pergola, Gummer integrated the architectural interior of the house with nature outside.

It is remarkable that in World War I, a time of scarcity, such a building would have been constructed. Tauroa is a remarkable house by an architect designing works of domestic architecture as advanced as anywhere in the world at that time.


This is a very impressive structure is hidden from the road by an extensive variety of trees. The first view of the house at the end of the tree lined drive is a striking revelation. It is set in a beautiful and extensive garden.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Gummer & Ford

The architectural partnership of Gummer and Ford was established in 1923, and became one of national importance.

William Henry Gummer (1884-1966) was articled to W.A. Holman, an Auckland architect, and was elected as an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1910. In the period 1908-1913 he travelled in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. During this time he worked for Sir Edwin Lutyens, leading English architect of the time, and for Daniel Burnham in Chicago. Burnham was a major American architect and one of the founders of the influential Chicago School of Architecture. Gummer joined the firm of Hoggard and Prouse of Auckland and Wellington in 1913. In 1914 he was elected a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, was president of the Institute from 1933-34 and was later elected a life member.

Charles Reginald Ford (1880- 1972) was born in England and served in the Royal Navy. He was later with Captain Scott's 1901-1904 expedition to Antarctica. He trained as an architect working in Wanganui as an engineer. In 1926 he wrote the first treatise on earthquake and

building construction in the English language. Ford was president of the New Zealand Institute of Architects from 1921-22.

Buildings designed by the partnership include the State Insurance Building Wellington, (1940) the Dilworth Building (1926), the Guardian Trust Building and the Domain Wintergardens (1921 and 1928), all in Auckland, and the Dominion Museum (1936) in Wellington. Gummer and Ford were awarded Gold Medals from the New Zealand Institute of Architects for the designs of Auckland Railway Station and Remuera Library.

Gummer was one of the most outstanding architects working in New Zealand in the first half of this century and was responsible for the stylistically and structurally advanced Tauroa (1916), Craggy Range (1919), Arden (1926), and Te Mata (1935) homesteads at Havelock North.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

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.


Tauroa is a two-storey homestead consisting of two main arms extending from the focal circular hall - a vestigal butterfly-type plan of the Arts and Crafts movement. The house achieves functional integration with the garden. The arms enclose a courtyard. A pergola, portico and sleeping balconies on the first floor make for easy contact with nature. A change in style occurs when hard white stucco walls, strong geometric shapes and a flat roof look forward to the purity of the modern movement.

There are many outstanding features about Tauroa such as the circular hall of green, brown and cream tiles laid in an intricate mosaic and the main staircase above it where clear leaded windows reach to a height of some six metres. The bannisters are made of jarrah and are supported by wrought ironwork made, on the site, by a local craftsman, McDowell, using a hand operated forge blower. The dining room features some charming bronze figurines that appear to be sliding down the light cords; they show the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement. There is also a beaten copper hood surmounting the fireplace. Throughout the house are the highly individual finger plates which bear the initials T.M.C.

The library is a large room (11.4 metres by 7.3 metres) and has book cases from the floor to ceiling, except where lofty windows and French doors are placed. The book cases have shelves at intervals which slide to make a reading surface. One of the innovations in the design of Tauroa was the provision for a centralised vacuum cleaning system whereby the hose was just plugged into wall outlets. The fittings are all in place but the ship bringing over the motor for the plant sunk so the potential of the idea was never realised.


There has been a slight modification in the music room. On the plan held by the family two piliars are marked and appear to have been removed later - the actual outline of the pillars on the ceiling can be seen.

Another minor modification includes the removal and replacement of one bath with a shower (the only one in the house).

Notable Features

The central staircase and lead-light windows

Light fittings and beaten copper hood in dining room

Finger plates throughout the entire house and the vacuum fittings

The cantilevered copper porte cochere

The overall design incorporating pergola, portico and sleeping balconies

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1916 -

Construction Details

All external walls are constructed in double brick with a cavity. Reinforced concrete columns and beams give the house great strength. Outside walls have a white stucco finish. The interior finishing is jarrah and kauri.

Completion Date

28th April 1989

Information Sources

Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune

Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune

Farmer Delighted with his 850,000 Bargain

Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune 8.10.83

Historic Tauroa Homestead

Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune 27.8.83

Shanahan, 1983

Kieran J Shanahan, The Work of William H. Gummer, Architect, Thesis, University of Auckland, Auckland, 1983

Grant, 1978

SW Grant, Havelock North: From Village to Borough 1860-1952, Central Hawkes Bay Printers/Publishers 1978

Grant, 1980

SW Grant, In Other Days: A History of the Chambers Family of Te Mata, Havelock North, Hawkes Bay Newspapers Limited, 1980

Morrison, 1978

R Morrison, Images of a House, Alister Taylor, Waiura, Martinborough, 1978

New Zealand Architect

New Zealand Architect

Cochran C., Heritage Column, No 3 1985

Other Information

A copy of this 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.