Mangahao Power Station Superintendent's House (Former)

1 Hay Street, Mangaore

  • Mangahao Power Station Superintendent’s House (Former).

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4056 Date Entered 5th September 1985


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 71906 (CT WN41C/857), Wellington Land District, and the building known as Mangahao Power Station Superintendent’s House (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Horowhenua District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 71906 (CT WN41C/857), Wellington Land District


Constructed ca. 1922-23, the house built for use by the superintendent of the Mangahao Hydroelectric Power Station was the most distinctive of the early staff bungalows that comprised the new village of Mangaore, near Shannon. It has historical heritage value for its relationship to the significant Mangahao power scheme, which, supplying Wellington, Horowhenua, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay and the Wairarapa, was the first of many large hydro power stations to be built in New Zealand under a Government-resourced plan to provide a national electricity supply. The bungalow also has some architectural heritage value as a representative example of a widespread early-twentieth-century residential building form.

The beginning of a permanent settlement at Mangaore dates to 1919 when construction of the Mangahao hydroelectric power scheme began. By May 1920, three camps had been established at the principal work areas of the project. In addition to more modest worker housing, the original settlement at Mangaore also included a ‘village’ of permanent five-room bungalows. These were built for engineering staff working on the construction and, later, maintenance of the power plant.

In December 1922, the Press reported: ‘Mr A. Blackwood, superintending engineer at the Lake Coleridge power-station, has received notification of his transfer to the Mangahao power-station.’ Archibald ‘Archie’ Blackwood (1876-1951) installed the ‘plant’ or power generating components of the power-house and stayed on after completion to manage its operation. While the specifics of their relationship are not clear, it is wholly plausible that Frederick Kissel, the electrical engineer who designed the Mangahao power scheme, was primarily responsible for Blackwood’s move to Mangaore as they had worked together in similar roles at Lake Coleridge. At the party feting Blackwood and his family on their departure from Canterbury in April 1923, friends and co-workers praised Blackwood’s contributions to the field, as noted: ‘many interesting references were made to the pioneering work which had so capably been carried out, and brought to a successful issue under the superintendency of the departing guest.’ He transferred to the Mangahao project around the time that much progress was being made with the powerhouse construction and he would have been well settled by the time the generating equipment began to be installed.

The Public Works Department constructed a four-bedroom bungalow for the Blackwoods that was larger and showed a higher level of design than the other bungalows built at Mangaore. It is not known whether the distinctive house was a general perk of the position or a specific outcome of negotiations regarding his relocation; regardless, it provided ample room for Archie Blackwood, his wife ‘Lou,’ and their children. The December 1922 notice explained that Archie Blackwood would ‘take up his duties next month.’ The family’s departure party did not occur until April 1923, suggesting that even if Blackwood had started work the previous January the family did not relocate until April, perhaps because the house was not ready.

The superintendent’s house occupied a quiet section on the edge of Mangaore Village. Its form was more complicated than the other bungalows, featuring two front-facing gable roofs, slightly offset, and a cross-gable extension on the northwest wall. Design flourishes included scrolled trim around the inset porch, a front-facing bay window, and a small arched oriel window to the left of the porch. The house would have undoubtedly appealed to Lou Blackwood as the modern bungalow was touted as providing families with both ‘elegance and comfort.’

The staff houses at Mangaore were owned by a succession of government entities until sold off in the mid-1990s as part of the privatisation of New Zealand’s electricity sector. From the exterior, the house appears to remain in good condition and retains its original outbuilding and garage.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Public Works Department

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1922 - 1923

Completion Date

2nd February 2017

Report Written By

James A. Jacobs

Information Sources

Salmond, 1986

Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen

Institute of Professional Engineers in NZ (IPENZ)

Institute of Professional Engineers in NZ

IPENZ Engineering Heritage Record entry, ‘Mangahao Power Station’, Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand, URL:

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

John E. Martin, 'Hydroelectricity', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 30 January 2017)

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 Central region Office of Heritage New Zealand.