Johnston House

227 Harris Street, Kaiti, Gisborne

  • Johnston House, Gisborne.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Gail Henry. Date: 13/06/2007.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3513 Date Entered 5th April 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 8 DP 1844 (CT GS3A/1273), Gisborne Land District, and the building known as Johnston House thereon.

City/District Council

Gisborne District


Gisborne Region

Legal description

Lot 8 DP 1844 (CT GS3A/1273), Gisborne Land District


Constructed in circa 1919, Johnston House is a visually appealing example of a small suburban residence of Queen Anne-influenced design in Gisborne. The single-storey, timber residence was erected as a long-term family home for accountant Heath Johnston and his wife Millicent. Potentially reflecting the professional background and social aspirations of its owners, the dwelling incorporates a number of features that are more commonly associated with larger homes of the period, such as a domed corner turret and front portico. As well as its architectural and aesthetic values, it is significant as one of a group of residences within the immediate neighbourhood that reflect variation in architectural style and social status in early twentieth-century suburban Gisborne.

Tūranganui-a-kiwa, now known as Gisborne, has a long history of Māori occupation. The earliest European settlers moved to the area in the 1830s and the government laid out the town of Gisborne in 1870. Located immediately to the east of the township, the Kaiti Block remained in Māori ownership before it was partitioned in 1888. With the establishment of new industries in the region at the end of the nineteenth century, the population of Gisborne grew and there was increased suburbanisation of the land around the outer fringes of the early town, including at Kaiti. After a number of subdivisions, Heath Ingles Johnston purchased a ‘quarter-acre’ residential section on Harris Street in 1915, the same year he married Millicent Kathleen Norman. Johnston House appears to have been built in 1919, shortly after the end of the First World War (1914-1918), at which time construction costs were rising.

Johnston House occupied almost the full width of the section. Its design was strongly influenced by Queen Anne Revival architecture, which was primarily known for its homely aesthetic and use of architectural details from a wide range of English architectural traditions. Queen Anne elements at Johnston House include a low tower at one corner and a projecting bay window at the other angle, collectively flanking a wide central verandah and portico. The domed tower is similar in aspects of its design to a larger example on a grand 1912-13 house with Queen Anne style architecture on the same street, built for a more established financial professional (List No.3515, Category 2 historic place). Other Queen Anne elements at Johnston House included tall chimneys with rough stucco render, imitation half timbering on the side gables and a second projecting bay on the south side. The interior of the house had an asymmetrical floor plan, including three bedrooms and an internal bathroom around a central hallway which led to the back of the house. An attached laundry and water closet were accessible from the back porch.

During the 1920s, Johnston evidently worked as an accountant for Dalgety and Company, a prominent stock and station agency based in Australia and New Zealand in the early twentieth century. The Johnstons occupied the house until Heath’s death in 1977, during which time a number of modest changes were made to the property. A potentially early outbuilding was located at the rear of the property by 1942, and a small extension was added to the back of the house before 1957. After the property was transferred to a new owner in 1978, the outbuilding was replaced by a larger shed and garage, and the chimneys of the main residence were also removed after 1984. In 2018 Johnston House remained a private residence. It forms one a group of residences in close proximity within the same neighbourhood, which reflect architectural and social variation in the development of Gisborne’s early twentieth-century suburbs through the construction of homes of differing size and styles for owners of varying status.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Additional building added to site
Outbuilding erected

Extension added to rear of residence

Additional building added to site
1980 -
New shed/garage constructed to replace pre-1942 outbuilding

Original Construction
1919 -

Completion Date

26th June 2018

Report Written By

Alexandra Foster

Information Sources

Alexander Turnbull Library

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

Alexander Turnbull Library, ‘Architect unknown: Plan residence Harris Street for H Johnston, esq. [ca 1910-1930]’, ‘Plans-2007-030-0515’, Part of ‘Hill, Perry Martin, 1926-2005: (Architectural plans, 1960-1990s)’, Wellington, New Zealand.

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Monty Soutar, “East Coast places – Gisborne”, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,

Apperly, Irving & Reynolds, 1989

Richard Apperly, Robert Irving, and Peter Reynolds, A pictorial guide to identifying Australian architecture: styles and terms from 1788 to the present, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1989.

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.