Mangahao Power Station Superintendent's House (Former)
1 Hay Street, Mangaore
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
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.
Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region
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.
Public Works Department
No biography is currently available for this construction professional
1922 - 1923
2nd February 2017
Report Written By
James A. Jacobs
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: http://www.ipenz.org.nz/heritage/itemdetail.cfm?itemid=430
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, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/hydroelectricity (accessed 30 January 2017)
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.