Burnett Homestead Gates

Burnetts Road, Cave

  • Burnett Homestead Gates.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.
  • Burnett Homestead Gates. February 1992. Original image submitted at time of registration.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: C Quirk.
  • Burnett Homestead Gates. Detail February 1992. Original image submitted at time of registration.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: C Quirk.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1956 Date Entered 25th June 2004


City/District Council

Mackenzie District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 18800 (CT CB687/9), Canterbury Land District

Location description

Registration Includes: The entrance gates, gate posts and associated wall and the land on CT CB687/9


Andrew and Catherine Burnett, originally from Sutherland, Scotland, took up Mount Cook Station in 1864. With their family increasing to eight children they survived the rigours of a very isolated life in this remote region. By 1873 they purchased land near Cave so that the children could more readily attend school and time was shared between the two stations. To educate the family Andrew Burnett built a home in Perth Street Timaru. This was gifted for a museum and later demolished to make way for the present purpose built museum. Andrew's younger son, Thomas (1877-1941), a member of parliament for the local electorate, had a great respect for his parents' achievements and those of the first settlers of the MacKenzie Country, devoting time to recording in detail the history of the original settlement of the area . In 1930 he had St. David's Church built at Cave as a memorial to his parents and other Mackenzie pioneers

The Burnett Homestead Gates were erected by T.D. Burnett during the worst years of the great depression (1932-3), with the inscription that reads 'to keep minds and hands busy'. Stylistically they resemble the nearby St. David's Pioneer Memorial Church (1928-30, Cat. I), a heavily 'Arts and Crafts' influenced Romanesque/Norman structure designed by Herbert Hall of Timaru, and also built of river boulders. Perhaps the same craftsmen who had worked on the church were provided with work for this project. The inscriptions are an interesting mixture, though once more Burnett is honouring and commemorating his parents and other early pioneers.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Burnett Homestead Gates have significance as an example of the projects undertaken during the Great Depression. Their scale indicates the status of the landowner who commissioned them and the overall message they convey is homage to the pioneer settlers of the area.

(a) they represent an example of the projects undertaken during the Great Depression. In providing his home with an imposing entrance way, T.D. Burnett was able to give paid work to local people in need, with a project which might not have been so grand in another era.

(g) The gates and their flanking walls are of technical and design interest through their massive construction and idiosyncratic inscriptions.

(k) The gateway is a landmark feature in Burnett Valley as is St. David's Pioneer Memorial Church (Category I) on a wooded hillside across the road. Built in 1930, it too was commissioned by T.D. Burnett.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Burnett, T.D

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Groves, Charles

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

McBride & Groves

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

The gates form the entranceway to the winding drive which leads to the two storeyed timber Burnett homestead. From two massive central pillars are hung the main decorative iron gates, featuring the name of the property Strath Naver. The right hand pillar is engraved with the initials 'AB' for Andrew Burnett (the first owner of the property) and a forearm with the motto 'pioneering sweat and toil'. The left hand gate pillar is engraved with 'CB' for Catherine Burnett, Andrew's wife and the words "faith, hope, self-reliance". A New Zealand fern and a Scottish thistle are also included.

At each side of the main gates the abutments curve outward, the initial section topped by castellations and the final lower end terminating with two pedestrian scaled gates. At the left hand end the iron gate has the notation "England Expects" with a wrought iron English rose symbol over it. At the right hand side the gate is decorated with a bunch of shamrocks and the words "Faugh a Ballagh", which is understood to be the motto of the Irish Guards. (Translated: "Clear the way")

The curved flanking walls which abut the main gates have Gaelic inscriptions with letters made from different shaped smaller stones. These read on the left: CABHAIDH SINN AN T'SEAN RATHAD - AN RA THAD MA TH (We keep the old way - the good way).

On the right: AN NI THA AGAINN CUMAI DH SINN (What we have we hold).

A huge rock is set in to the right hand end of the wall. It is inscribed:

Erected 1932-3

To keep minds and hands busy

during the great depression 1932-3

Men learn lessons from adversity

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1932 - 1933

Construction Details

Iron gates supported on massive ashlar bluestone gate pillars flanked by river boulder abutments.

Completion Date

3rd September 2004

Report Written By

Pam Wilson

Information Sources



Michael Woodlock, St. Andrew's College, Christchurch

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Donovan, D. 'Rugged Beauty', May 1994, pp. 22-23. NZHPT File 12004-112; NZHPT Field Record Form.

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern 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.