16 Patrick Street, Petone, Lower Hutt
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
28th June 1984
Sec 8 Blk VIII Heretaunga Settlement (CT WN461/213), Wellington Land District
This house is one of the first state houses built in New Zealand. Under the Workers' Dwelling Act 1905 the Liberal Government, led by Premier Richard John Seddon, undertook to provide low cost but quality housing to working families. Land was purchased in the suburbs of the four main centres (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin). In order to avoid an image of a 'workers barracks' by erecting all houses to the same design, a competition was held to find a number of designs. From the winning entries two sets of designs were produced, one for the North Island and one for the South Island, to take account of the climatic variation between the two islands. Petone was chosen as the site for the first of these houses primarily because Wellington was considered to have the highest rents in the country. In 1906 the first 25 houses, based on seven designs by prominent New Zealand architects, were built in what was named the Heretaunga Settlement. Initially, interest in applying for the houses was small, primarily due to the cost of rent and the distance of the settlement from the main industrial areas of Petone and Wellington City. Many workers also found it difficult to find the deposit needed to apply for the house. Although changes were made to increase the maximum income limit a worker was allowed to earn, it was not until transport improved that the houses became fully tenanted. Only 9 more houses were built in Petone under the 1905 Act, and by 1919 only 657 had been built throughout the whole country.
In 1984 the registered properties in Patrick Street and adjoining Adelaide Street constructed under the Workers' Dwellings Act 1905 were declared part of an Historic Area by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
This house style, known as Design No.3, was the result of a brief partnership between the two Christchurch-based architects Samuel Hurst Seager (1854-1933) and Cecil Walter Wood (1878-1947). It was built by Page and Anderson. It is considered to be the most innovative of the houses built under the Workers' Dwelling Act. With its low-pitched pyramid-shaped roof, Design No.3 is reminiscent of the Californian Bungalow-styled house, and in many ways the exterior of the building anticipates the state houses erected by the first Labour Government (1935-1949). Inside, the rooms feature dark stained rimu panelling. A back verandah was once the location of the earth closet and fuel-box on one side, and the food safe on the other. The smell from the earth closet was so great that it was eventually moved to the rear of the section.
This house has great historical significance as it was one of the first state houses built under the Workers' Dwelling Act 1905, the first large-scale central government initiative to provide affordable housing to low-income working families. It was part of a wider package of social legislation passed by the Liberal Government (1893-1912). It is also significant as it was designed by notable architects, Samuel Hurst Seager and Cecil Wood.
Seager, Samuel Hurst
Seager (1855-1933) studied at Canterbury College between 1880-82. He trained in Christchurch in the offices of Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort (1825-1898) and Alfred William Simpson before completing his qualifications in London in 1884. In 1885, shortly after his return to Christchurch, he won a competition for the design of the new Municipal Chambers, and this launched his career.
Seager achieved renown for his domestic architecture. He was one of the earliest New Zealand architects to move away from historical styles and seek design with a New Zealand character. The Sign of the Kiwi, Christchurch (1917) illustrates this aspect of his work. He is also known for his larger Arts and Crafts style houses such as Daresbury, Christchurch (1899).
Between 1893 and 1903 Seager taught architecture and design at the Canterbury University College School of Art. He was a pioneer in town planning, having a particular interest in the "garden city" concept. Some of these ideas were expressed in a group of houses designed as a unified and landscaped precinct on Sumner Spur (1902-14). He became an authority on the lighting of art galleries. After World War I he was appointed by the Imperial War Graves Commission to design war memorials in Gallipoli, Belgium and France. In New Zealand he designed the Massey Memorial, Point Halswell, Wellington (1925).
Wood, Cecil Walter
Born in Christchurch, Wood (1878-1947) was articled to the local architect Frederick Strouts between 1894 and 1899. He worked for a short time as a draughtsman with the firm Clarkson and Ballantyne before travelling to England in 1901. Here Wood was exposed to a high quality of architectural design in the Edwardian Free Style, and was employed by two leading Edwardian architects Robert Weir Shultz and Leonard Stokes.
In 1907 Wood returned to New Zealand to take up partnership with Samuel Hurst Seager. The partnership lasted for only one year for Wood set up his own practice in 1908. The years 1908-1915 were dominated by domestic commissions, but it was also during this time that he began his association with Christ's College, which included such commissions as Hare Memorial Library (1915), the Memorial Dining Hall (1923-5), Jacob's House (1931) and Open Air Classrooms (1932). During the 1920s Wood's practice began to expand and a Georgian influence can be seen in such works as Weston House Park Terrace (1923-4) and Bishopscourt (1926-7).
A short lived partnership in 1927 with R S D Harman allowed Wood to travel to the United States while another in 1937 with Paul Pascoe allowed him to travel to England, Europe and the United States without neglecting his practice. During this second trip he made preparations for the design of St Paul's Anglican Cathedral in Wellington, which was erected after his death.
During his life Wood had made a substantial contribution to the architecture of Christchurch, having an enthusiasm for both European and American styles.
16th August 2001
Report Written By
Ian Bowman, 'Special Precinct protects workers dwellings', in Historic Places in New Zealand, September 1989, no. 26, pp. 3-5.
Ian Bowman, 'Patrick Street Historic Precinct, Conservation Principles and Design Guidelines', 1990
Susan Butterworth, 'Petone, A history', Auckland, 1988
Barbara Fill, 'Seddon's State Houses; The Workers' Dwellings Act 1905, & the Heretaunga Settlement', Wellington Regional Committee Monograph Number 1, New Zealand Historic Places Trust, Wellington, 1981
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.