Keyte’s Barn (Former)

19 Aubrey Street, Regent, Whangarei

  • Keyte’s Barn (Former). Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: S Bartlett. Date: 11/04/1994.
  • Keyte's Barn (Former). Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: S Bartlett. Date: 11/04/1994.
  • Keyte’s Barn (Former). Map from QuickMap®.
    Copyright: QuickMap®.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3922 Date Entered 6th September 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Allot 1 Parish of Whangarei (CT NA519/249) North Auckland Land District and the building known as Keyte’s Barn (Former), thereon. (Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 8 October 2015.)

City/District Council

Whangarei District


Northland Region

Legal description

Pt Allot 1 Parish of Whangarei (CT NA519/249) North Auckland Land District


Keyte’s Barn (Former) is located is in Aubrey Street Whangarei. It is associated with Richard Keyte who came to Whangarei in 1865 and was a prominent European settler, builder, inventor and business person. The barn has historical significance because of its association with Richard Keyte and also social significance in that the barn was used for his undertaking business.

Richard Keyte (b.1841) originally worked as a carpenter, building many early Whangarei residences including the Whangarei hospital as well as serving as the town’s first undertaker. Keyte built a house in Dent Street about 1880 and had workshops in Vinery Lane and also Dent’s Paddock, now Apirana Avenue. In the early 1890s he purchased land in Aubrey Street and built a new house. The barn behind the house may have been shifted from the Apirana Avenue site, and for many years was used as a workshop for the undertaking business.

Richard Keyte was also an inventor and patented a means for automatically indicating changes in temperature which could be used as a fire alarm or in the freezing chambers of ships holds. He also invented an automatic fire escape which he then disposed of to a Wellington syndicate. Richard Keyte died in 1921 and left a widow and eight children. His younger son William Keyte (1866-1957) entered the undertaking business with his father, and after the death of his father, conducted the business in Bank Street.

The date of the barn’s construction is given as 1865 in the site record report, but in the field record form the date of construction is from 1880’s and shifted onto its present site in the 1890s. It is reputed to have been built by Richard and John Keyte who came to Whangarei in 1865 and used the barn for temporary accommodation until their permanent houses were built.

The building is a large, double storeyed, box shaped construction made from vertical boards and battens. The bottom story of the barn contained a loose box, a carriage house that doubled as a kitchen and office and embalming room. A steep narrow staircase lead upstairs to the single room that Mr Keyte lived in. There was a larger room where he stored wood and built coffins. The house in front of the barn was moved onto the site in 1915 and while the house was being reassembled the Reed family lived in the barn. The building has been altered by successive owners upstairs was developed into a rumpus room and guest room, downstairs into a garage and storage area.

In the 1980’s New Zealand Historic Places Trust intervention saved this building from being demolished. Sympathetic owners replaced and repaired the badly rotted exterior cladding and converted the barn into comfortable living quarters. The disfiguring holes cut for garage are not part of the original structure and there are no original windows left.

Keyte’s Barn (Former) has been used as temporary accommodation for families while more permanent dwellings have been built, a stable, carpenters and undertaker’s workshop, an office, an embalming room and it is currently being used as a garage and guest room. Keyte’s Barn (Former) is a humble building with an intriguing history.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Richard Keyte

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1865 -
Presumed to have been built by Richard Keyte for accommodation and workshop.

Moved to present location.

1915 -
Used as accommodation for Reed family while house being reassembled on property.

Completion Date

9th June 2015

Report Written By

Bill Edwards

Information Sources

Northern Advocate

Northern Advocate

Northern Advocate, 18 May 1921; Northern Advocate, 9 March 1904; Northern Advocate, February 1994.

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