Tokarahi Cookshop and Men’s Quarters
47 Dip Hill Road, Tokarahi
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
7th April 1983
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Lot 1 DP 2561 (CT OT15A/220), Otago Land District, and the building known as Tokarahi Station Cookshop and Men’s Quarters thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero meeting on 8 June 2017.
Pt Lot 1 DP 2561 (CT OT15A/220), Otago Land District
The Tokarahi Station farm buildings (a combined cookshop and men’s quarters, and a combined woolshed and stables), likely designed by Oamaru architectural partnership Forrester and Lemon, and probably built around 1878, are located on Dip Hill Road close to the settlement of Tokarahi in North Otago. The buildings have historic and architectural significance for their association with the McMaster family on Tokarahi Station and early pastoralism in North Otago, and as fine examples of vernacular farm buildings from the 1870s.
Tokarahi Station was a pastoral run with origins in the larger Maerewhenua run taken up by John Borton and Alexander McMaster in 1861. When Borton and McMaster’s partnership broke up in 1878 the run was divided with McMaster retaining the Tokarahi, and Borton the Maerewhenua. Tokarahi then comprised 70,000 acres of leasehold and 13,000 acres of freehold land. McMaster was one of the seven largest landowners in North Otago in 1879, each of whom owned at least 10,000 acres of freehold land. McMaster was thus part of a land-owning elite, along with the likes of John Reid (of Elderslie), Robert Campbell (of Campbell Park), and a handful of others.
The inscription ‘1878’ on the wall of the wooshed and stables indicates this as the year of construction. Although no documentary evidence has been found to support this, it is logical that following the division of the Maerewhenua run in 1878, McMaster would have required a set of farm buildings to serve Tokarahi. This is supported by evidence that Borton and McMaster had a woolshed at Maerewhenua, making it less likely that a woolshed existed at Tokarahi prior to the division of the Maerewhenua run. The Forrester Gallery holds a Forrester and Lemon sketch of the cookhouse – thus certainly the cookhouse, and most likely also the woolshed & stables, were designed by Forrester and Lemon.
The cookshop and men’s quarters is a single storey, gabled building built of limestone with an iron roof and timber sash windows. The building has a chimney at the northern end where the kitchen was located. The southern part of the building was the men’s quarters, which had a separate entrance. There is an addition to the southern end of the building which closely matches the detailing of the main building but with slightly lower eaves and ridgeline. This addition is not shown on the original Forrester and Lemon sketch of the building and may have been constructed later.
The woolshed is oriented east-west and is also constructed of limestone with an iron roof. This building has a hipped roof at the eastern end. Connected, but running at right angles to the woolshed is the stables which is also constructed primarily of limestone but has a weatherboard front. There is a low lean-to structure made of limestone connected to the northern end of this part of the building. The purpose of this structure is unknown.
Together with the yards in the foreground of the buildings the group forms a cohesive and attractive set of early farm buildings built using vernacular materials. In addition, the Tokarahi Station homestead remains nearby. Although the homestead is in separate ownership, the existence of the full grouping of buildings associated with Tokarahi Station adds to the heritage significance of the place. In 2017, the buildings remain part of the working farm.
1st February 2017
Report Written By
K C McDonald, White Stone Country: the story of North Otago, Capper Press, Christchurch, 1977, 
R. Pinney, Early Northern Otago Runs, Auckland, 1981
D.J. Mortimer, ‘The Tokarahi Settlement – An Evaluation of the Liberal Government’s Land Settlement Policy’, University of Otago History (Hons) Thesis, 1979
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.
A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand.