Anthem House

17 Lancaster Street, Lawrence

  • Anthem House.
    Copyright: Graham & Gillian Wallace. Date: 18/09/2004.
  • Anthem House.
    Copyright: Graham & Gillian Wallace. Date: 4/03/2009.
  • Anthem House.
    Copyright: Graham & Gillian Wallace. Date: 18/03/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2242 Date Entered 2nd April 2004


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the building, its fixtures and fittings and land on CTs OT128/206 and OT128/82. The registration includes the original outbuilding associated with the residence.

City/District Council

Clutha District


Otago Region

Legal description

Secs 3-4 Blk VII Town of Lawrence (CTs OT128/206 and OT 128/82)


The land on which this house was built was originally part of one acre block owned by Blue Spur miner Samual Hales in the 1870s (OT41/52). Sections 3 and 4 Block VII were transferred to John Joseph Woods in 1902 (OT128/82, OT128/206).

Woods was responsible for setting Thomas Bracken's lyrics "God Defend New Zealand" to music.

Woods was born in Tasmania in 1849. He moved to New Zealand where he taught in private schools, music being his specialty. In 1874 he transferred to the Roman Catholic St Patrick's Church School in Lawrence as headmaster. In September 1874 he married assistant teacher at the school widow Mrs Conway. They both continued teaching at the school until 1876.

In 1877 he left teaching and became County Clerk and Treasurer to the newly established Tuapeka County Council in Lawrence. He held this position for 55 years, and was made an Honourable Freeman of Lawrence in recognition of his service.

Woods had a wide range of interests. He could play twelve instruments and was an especially accomplished violinist. He was a keen sportsman and had close links to the Roman Catholic Church in Lawrence, and conducted the choir.

On 1 July 1876 the Dunedin newspaper the Saturday Advertiser published Thomas Bracken's verses "God Defend New Zealand" and invited readers to set them to music as a national air or anthem. Twelve entries were received, and Wood's entry was chosen as the winner. Later recounting his composition to publisher A.H. Reed, he remembered: "I immediately felt like one inspired...I set to work instanter and never left my seat till the music was completely finished late on in the night."

The anthem was probably first played at Lawrence, but its first formal public performance was at Dunedin's Queen's Theatre on Christmas Day 1876. The music was soon published and was eventually presented to Queen Victoria by Richard John Seddon as New Zealand's anthem. Bracken assigned all rights to Woods. The rights were later acquired by Charles Begg and Co. In 1940 the Government purchased the rights.

The prosperity of the Borough and of Wood's own standing are reflected in the house on the corner of Lismore and Lancaster Streets. The Tuapeka Times described it on completion:

For beauty of finish, excellence of situation and picturesqueness of design, the seven-roomed house erected by Mr J.J. Woods...should satisfy the most exacting or fastidious. Apparently neither expense nor trouble has been spared in securing comfort, as well as every modern convenience.

Among the modern conveniences were the bathroom and scullery which each had "the latest improved taps and both are provided with large china washbasins.

The description notes the cast iron finials and scrolls which helped set off the architectural lines of the building and the veranda fretwork and brackets. The description ended by noting the prominent site of the house - it "commands and extending view of the country stretching away towards the Lammerlaws, whilst the natural drainage must be perfect, and the situation is generally of the healthiest."

The healthy site must have benefited Woods as he retired at 83 in 1932. He died in 1934.

After his death the house was owned briefly by his daughter Mary Woods, before being transferred to Lawrence butcher James Barr in August 1938. In 1944 the property changed hands again, this time to Nellie Brown, wife of Lawrence Stock and Station agent Ebenezer Brown. In the 1950s it passed to Wright Stephenson and Co. Ltd which owned it for the next twenty years. In 1971 the property was owned by J.B.W. Rowe Contracting Ltd (OT128/206 OT128/82)

In the late 1970s there was renewed enthusiasm for the historical values of the property and it became known as "Anthem House." A plaque was unveiled in 1977 recording J.J. Woods contribution to the district as well as his composition of the national anthem.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The development of New Zealand's identity, as reflected in the composition of the Anthem, is an important part of the history of the emergence of the country as an independent nation.

Anthem House is a good example of a early twentieth century masonry villa, with its contrasting cement detailing and its decorative gables consistent with the late nineteenth/early twentieth century architectural styling for a residence of this type.

The house is culturally significant due to its association with J.J. Woods, the composer of the music for Thomas Bracken's verse for what was to become the National Anthem.

Anthem House is associated with J.J. Woods, significant as the composer of the music to which were set the words of Thomas Bracken, which became New Zealand's National Anthem, an important defining moment in the history of the developing identity of our nation.

There is strong community esteem for the House, its location is sign posted, and a plaque outlining its history fixed to the building, a history of which there is much local pride.


Construction Professionalsopen/close


No biography is currently available for this construction professional


No biography is currently available for this construction professional


No biography is currently available for this construction professional


No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

The house was built in 1902. It is constructed of brick. It has six gables and a veranda featuring ornate fretwork and ornamented barge boards and brackets. The windows are bordered with cement plaster and cement quoins feature on the front fa├žade. It contains seven rooms used by Woods as a parlour, dining room, two bedrooms, kitchen, scullery and bathroom.

The original layout was described in the newspaper of the time. The dining room was 15 ft by 13ft (4.5m by3.9m) and the parlour of the dame dimensions. There were two bedrooms each 10ft by 7ft (2.1m by 3m), a 12ft by 9ft (3.6m by 2.7m) kitchen and a 8ft by 4ft 6inch (2.4m by 1.2m) scullery. There was a pantry and bathroom with hot and cold water. The hall way ran right through the centre of the house 28ft long (8.5m), with a 20ft (6.1) back passage. The fittings and furnishings were designed by the Contractor. The kitchen was fitted with a high pressure boiler which provided hot water for the bathroom and the scullery.

Walls and ceiling were all plastered, and the parlour ceiling ornamented with a centre flower. The fanlight and sidelights at the front door were cathedral glass and the windows on the outside were all bordered with cement plaster with cement quoins on the front. The inside walls were 11ft (3.3m) high. The front of the house were all painted and lined, with the six gables fitted with cast iron finials and scrolls which set off the architectural lines of the building. The veranda had a concrete floor which ran the full length of the front of the building. The veranda had 18 pillars with 13 lights between them. The veranda ceiling was diagonally shaped, lined and varnished.

The outbuildings at the time consisted of wash house, coal house, storeroom, workshop,, tool house, and were all brick and roofed with iron. They had concrete floors. The wash house was fitted with boilers.

The house is approached by a flight of 22 concrete steps with parapet walls leading from the side entrance and four pillars fitted up with handrails.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1902 -

Interior alterations and renovations.

Completion Date

7th September 2004

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Mayhew, 1949

W.R. Mayhew, Tuapeka: The Land and Its People: A Social History of the Borough of Lawrence and its Surrounding Districts, Otago Centennial Historical Publications, Dunedin, 1949

McIndoe, 1985

John McIndoe, Tuapeka Fields: A Tribute to A Golden Past - Commemorating the 125th Anniversary of the Discovery of Gold at Gabriels Gully, Dunedin, 1985 [first published: Daphne Lemon, The Stars in Orion, 1979]

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust


Otago Daily Times

Otago Daily Times

28 January 1977

Southland Times

Southland Times

8 January 1977

Tuapeka Times

Tuapeka Times

17 December 1902

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area 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.