Willock House

36 Haronga Road, Kaiti, Gisborne

  • Willock House.
    Copyright: Bob & Lesley Jackson.
  • Willock House.
    Copyright: Bob & Lesley Jackson. Date: 8/06/2003.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3510 Date Entered 5th April 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Lot 1 DP 5247 and Lot 3 DP 5693, (CT GS3D/352), Gisborne Land District, and the buildings known as Willock House thereon.

City/District Council

Gisborne District


Gisborne Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 1 DP 5247 and Lot 3 DP 5693 (CT GS3D/352), Gisborne Land District


Constructed on the banks of the Waimata River, Gisborne, in 1906, Willock House is a well- preserved example of turn-of-the-century, Tudor Revival residential architecture. The large, two-storey dwelling was designed by the notable architect Charles Tilleard Natusch (1859-1951), who is remembered for his ‘legacy of fine houses‘ in the lower North Island. Reflecting a trend for wealthier citizens to erect their homes in suburban environments, the grand dwelling was created on Gisborne’s urban fringe as a home for Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) accountant William Willock and his family. Willock House is one of several notable dwellings in its immediate neighbourhood that reflect architectural and social variation in the development of Gisborne’s early twentieth-century suburbs.

Turanganui-a-kiwa, now known as Gisborne, has a long history of Māori occupation. After the colonial government laid out the township of Gisborne in 1870, the Kaiti Block - immediately to the east of the town - remained in Māori ownership until it was partitioned in 1888. In 1904, a large section in the Block beside the Waimata River was purchased by William Borlase Willock for the construction of a substantial residence. Willock was an accountant with the (BNZ), an organisation that was returning to prosperity after near-bankruptcy during the depression of the 1890s. Both before and after purchasing the land, William and his wife Mary were active in middle-class society, having particularly strong links with the Poverty Bay Golf Club and Gisborne’s horticultural groups.

Set in impressive grounds overlooking the river, Willock House was erected by August 1906 as a grand, two-storey timber house. Its architect, C.T. Natusch, was a notable Napier- and Wellington-based architect who designed a number of houses in English Domestic Revival styles, including the Tudor Revival approach employed for Willock House. Tudor Revival architecture emphasised connections with England, and together with other Old English styles conveyed ideas of comfort and prosperity associated with mercantile wealth. Natusch employed Tudor Revival at Willock House through the extensive use of decorative half-timbering, projecting bays and jetties, tall chimneys and an overall asymmetrical plan. Elizabethan influences in the interior included large fireplaces in two main rooms and the widespread employment of exposed timber – which included herringbone-panelled doors and a grand kauri staircase in the main entrance hall. The house was positioned in the centre of the property. The extensive garden was planted in 1907 and included trees around its boundary. An outbuilding immediately to the south of the house appears to have been constructed by 1906 and evidently formed part of the residential complex from its inception.

After W.B. Willock’s death in 1921, Willock House was transferred to his wife and their sons William Reginald and Geoffrey Welborne Willock. The property was surveyed for subdivision in 1925 and lots within the eastern and western parts of the initial boundary were sold. Following the 1931 Napier earthquake the building’s tall brick chimneys were preventatively reduced in height for safety reasons. The house remained in the Willock family until 1953 when Geoffrey’s children, Richard and Phyllis, sold the house to William Graham who lived there with his wife Dora. The Grahams replaced the leadlight window in the main living room with a picture window facing the river and further subdivided the property in 1966. At an unknown date a grand balustrade and staircase was added in the garden, which provided easier access from the back lawn to the river banks.

Willock House was subsequently transferred to a number of different owners. Recent owners have renovated the house including the kitchen in 2009. A walled kitchen garden with a greenhouse has been added in the grounds. In 2018 the house remained a private residence. It forms one of several early twentieth-century residences in the immediate locality that were each designed in different architectural styles including Queen Anne Revival, Arts and Crafts, and traditional bay villa.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Natusch, C.T. & Sons

Charles Tilleard Natusch (1859-1951) completed his architectural studies in England in 1882, after which he travelled in the United States and Canada. He returned to England in 1883 to become involved in the town planning and development of Southend-on-Sea. He immigrated to New Zealand in 1886 and after a short collaboration with Atkins & Clere, established a practice in Wellington as an architect and quantity surveyor. He then moved to Masterton, Pahiatua and finally to Napier, where he bought the architectural practice of Robert Lamb. From 1908 Natusch worked with his three sons, Aleck, Rene and Stanley. The firm received many domestic commissions from the farming community. Its well known houses include Bushy Park (Kai Iwi), Gwavas (Tikokino), Matapiro (Napier), Maungaraupi (Marton) and Wharerata (Massey University). Following several changes of name and three generations of Natusch architects, the family practice continues today as Natusch Partnership in Napier.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

1907 -
Garden laid out

Chimney reduced

Leadlight window replaced


2009 -
Kitchen renovated

Original Construction
1906 -

Completion Date

25th June 2018

Report Written By

Alexandra Foster

Information Sources

Gisborne Herald

14 Dec 2012

Tudor-styled Arundel...notable example of prominent Hawkes's Bay architect Charles Tilleard Natusch.

Tairawhiti Museum

Tairawhiti Museum

Tairawhiti Museum, Photo Archive, URL: http://www.tairawhitimuseum.org.nz/

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Natusch, Guy K. 'Natusch, Charles Tilleard', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1996. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3n2/natusch-charles-tilleard

Gisborne Exposed: The Photographs of William Crawford 1874-1913

Robinson, Sheila and John Berry (eds.), Gisborne Exposed: The Photographs of William Crawford 1874-1913, Gisborne, 1990

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.