Merchiston Station Homestead

Putorino Road, Rata

  • Merchiston Station Homestead.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 24/01/2002.
  • Merchiston Station Homestead.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 24/01/2002.
  • Merchiston Station Homestead.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 24/01/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 33 Date Entered 27th June 1985


City/District Council

Rangitikei District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Lots 10 11 Pt Lots 1-3 DP 286 Clsd Rds Hapopo Blk IX X Ongo


This large and splendid homestead was built for John and Edith Hammond between 1906-1908. They married in 1886, bringing together two early Pakeha settler families of the Rangitikei, the Hammonds of York Farm and the McKelvies of Flockhouse, Parewanui. The young couple settled at Merchiston (near present-day Rata), where they cleared the land and established a sheep, beef, and mixed cropping farm. In 1905 Edith received a legacy from her father's estate with which she decided to build a new and larger house. She commissioned Christchurch architect Joseph Clarkson Maddison to undertake the design of the house. At the time Maddison had just completed the design of the temporary show buildings for the New Zealand International Exhibition held in Christchurch.

Like many big country houses of the day, Merchiston was built to impress and to entertain, as well as to be a family home. The various Australian and New Zealand woods used in the house were the best available, and the very high standard of craftsmanship can be seen in the entrance hall, stairwell, and gallery. The 34-roomed mansion accommodated the family, servants and the numerous guests. The hall, dining room, and morning room were separated by sliding doors, which opened out into a ballroom, while the billiard room features the work of local Ngati Hauti craftsman. Today the house is surrounded by three hectares of mature gardens. In front of the house is an elaborate fountain, which was originally constructed for the New Zealand International Exhibition of 1906-1907. Local community groups have occasionally used the garden for charity events.

Merchiston Station Homestead, with its large size, highly-accomplished design and attractive setting, is one of New Zealand's more significant homesteads. It is also important for its connection with two settler families of the Rangitikei - the Hammonds and the McKelvies - and the architect J. C. Maddison.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Maddison, Joseph Clarkson

Joseph Maddison (1850-1923) was born in Greenwich and came to Lyttelton in 1872. He settled in Christchurch and commenced practice as an architect.

He designed a large number of public buildings, mainly in Canterbury, including The Church of the Holy Innocents, Amberley, the Anglican Church at Port Levy, Warner's Hotel (1881) and Clarendon Hotel (1902), both in Christchurch, Government Buildings, Christchurch (1913) and numerous private residences.

Maddison was well known as an industrial architect and was responsible for the warehouses of the Kaiapoi Woollen Company. His specialty, however, was in the design of freezing works. Among his designs were the Canterbury Freezing Works, Belfast (1883) and the Mataura Freezing Works, Canterbury and he is considered to have been one of the chief exponents in this field during the late nineteeenth century.

He was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1887.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1908 -

Completion Date

11th October 2001

Report Written By

Helen McCracken

Information Sources

New Zealand Historic Places

New Zealand Historic Places

Jim Lundy, 'A Grand Family Home', March 1994, pp.38-41

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.