78 Harris Street And Rutene Road, Kaiti, Gisborne

  • Torrington.
    Copyright: Arnold & Louise Pellows. Date: 23/04/2007.
  • .
    Copyright: Arnold & Louise Pellows. Date: 23/04/2007.
  • .
    Copyright: Arnold & Louise Pellows. Date: 23/04/2007.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3515 Date Entered 5th April 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 1570 (CT GS2B/1368) and Pt Lot 2 DP 1570 (CT GS2B/1367), Gisborne Land District, and the building known as Torrington thereon.

City/District Council

Gisborne District


Gisborne Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 1570 (CT GS 2B/1368) and Pt Lot 2 DP 1570 (CT GS2B/1367), Gisborne Land District


Torrington, constructed in circa 1912-13 in Kaiti, Gisborne, is a visually striking and well preserved Queen Anne style house. The two-storey timber residence has architectural and aesthetic significance as a grand example of this type of architecture in the Gisborne area. The house reflects the middle class aspirations and opportunities that accompanied suburbanisation in provincial centres during the early twentieth century. It also has some historical significance for its connections with the residence’s first owner and occupant Vincent Adolphus Pyke, who was a long-term manager of the Gisborne branch of the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), a Justice of the Peace and a prominent figure in local affairs.

Tūranganui-a-kiwa has a long history of Māori occupation. The earliest permanent European settlers moved to the area in the 1830s and the colonial town of Gisborne was laid out in 1870. Mihi Hetekia was issued the title to Kaiti Block 93, immediately to the east of the town, in 1887. 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. In 1909 Kaiti Block 93 was subdivided, and two residential sections purchased by V. A. Pyke in 1911 and 1912. Pyke, the manager of the Gisborne branch of the BNZ, had Torrington built in circa 1912-13 and was living there with his daughter Gwendolyn by 1914. Pyke had an important role in the community, holding responsibility for the bank’s lending and establishing multiple new branches in the wider Gisborne area during his 20 year tenure. Having earlier occupied residential premises attached to the BNZ in central Gisborne, Pyke’s construction of a purpose-built dwelling in a suburban environment reflects an increasing move among business managers at the turn of the century to reside away from their site of work.

The two-storey timber house is believed to have been designed by local architect Albert Williams and was prominently positioned at the corner of Harris Street and Rutene Road. Its design was in the Queen Anne Revival style with a prominent corner tower and cupola viewable from both road frontages. Queen Anne Revival architecture was primarily used in domestic designs and was known for its homely aesthetic and use of architectural details from a wide range of English architectural traditions. The style is also associated with suburbanisation and middle class homeownership at the turn of the century. Other Queen Anne features incorporated into the design of Torrington included its asymmetrical interior plan and exterior roof lines, the use of decorative half timbering, and the ornate double storey verandah which surrounded the characteristic tower.

In 1915 Pyke retired from BNZ and sold part of Torrington’s associated land. He was strongly involved with imperial patriotic organisations during the First World War (1914-18), in which conflict his son, Leslie, was wounded while on active service. After V.A. Pyke’s death in 1926 his daughter sold Torrington to Isobel Rice, the wife of Dr Henry Goulding Rice. H.G. Rice was originally from England and having trained as a surgeon at Cambridge University moved to New Zealand where, in 1913, he was recorded as practising in Auckland and Christchurch. During the First World War Rice served in the British forces in a medical role before returning to practice medicine again in Auckland. Henry and Isobel married in 1922 and moved to Gisborne at around the time they purchased Torrington.

Henry and Isobel owned Torrington until their deaths in 1961 and 1969 respectively. The place has remained in private ownership to the present (2018). Changes have included construction of a garage in the south-west corner of the property and renovations to the residence’s kitchen. In recent years the property has been used as bed and breakfast accommodation. The residence is one of several notable, large houses in suburban Gisborne built or occupied by individuals linked with medical practice or the financial profession in the early twentieth century.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Albert Williams

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1912 - 1913

Kitchen renovation

Additional building added to site
Garage built

Completion Date

29th June 2018

Report Written By

Alexandra Foster

Information Sources

Poverty Bay Herald

Poverty Bay Herald

Poverty Bay Herald, 1 Apr 1915, p. 4.

Tairawhiti Museum

Tairawhiti Museum

Tairawhiti Museum, Photo Archive, URL:

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,, [accessed 5 January 2018].

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.