Te Kauwhata Winery
55 Te Kauwhata Road, Te Kauwhata
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 1
Private/No Public Access
29th November 1985
Lot 1 DPS 69220
The winery complex at Te Kauwhata near Huntly has played a major role in the development of the New Zealand wine industry, having pioneered state involvement in viticulture and other aspects of production. Starting out as the site of an experimental wattle plantation in 1886, the station was established by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1893 as one of the first two experimental farms in the country. Its purpose was to test crops, including vines, that could be grown on previously uncultivated clay soils in the Waikato. Te Kauwhata took a pre-eminent role in experiments on grape and wine production, particularly after Romeo Bragato - who helped to develop the Victorian wine industry in Australia - became Government Viticulturalist in 1902. It was the only experimental farm to continue its efforts in this field after the 1920s, when its sister-station at Arataki in Havelock North closed down.
The earliest permanent winery building at the station was erected in 1903-1904, with construction probably being overseen by Bragato himself. The initial structure consists of a concrete fermenting house and cellar, topped by a half-hipped roof with red tiles. Its architectural style appears to have been inspired by agrarian structures in the Mediterranean region, harking back to the traditional heartland of wine production in Europe. Initial success for the station included the development of disease-resistant rootstock, quality vinefera vines and acclaim for its wine at the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908. A further cellar was added before the prohibition movement effectively put an end to large-scale efforts, when Bragato left for Canada. Further expansion took place in the 1920s, and more substantially during the Second World War, when wine production was increased to raise revenue for the war effort. Experiments in the 1950s included brandy manufacture, carried out in a very large copper still. Sold by the government in the early 1990s, the complex retains many original fixtures and furnishings, including concrete wine vats and brandy-making equipment. It also contains a number of large oval-shaped wooden barrels, obtained as reparations from Germany after the First World War.
Te Kauwhata winery is nationally significant for having pioneered aspects of viticulture and wine production in New Zealand, particularly during the early twentieth century. It is important for its connections with Romeo Bragato, the first viticultural scientist in the country. The complex is valuable for illustrating the history of state involvement in grape and wine production from its inception to the end of the twentieth century. Still used as a winery, the complex and its equipment is significant for demonstrating changing approaches to wine and brandy production during the last century, including techniques of manufacture. The winery contains a number of elements that are rare or unique in New Zealand including its still tower, distilling equipment - such as the only nineteenth-century pot-still in the country - and the wooden barrels supplied as war reparations. Its 1903-1904 structure is unusual in its design and concrete construction. The complex is a reminder of government leadership in agricultural science and is the only substantial remnant of the early experimental farm established in the 1890s. It illustrates the Liberal government's commitment to agricultural expansion during its earliest period of political power (1891-1912), when large estates were broken up and transferred to smaller farmers. It also shows changing attitudes to innovation, work practices and management throughout the twentieth century. The station was a major employer - often of seasonal Maori labour - and is the progenitor of the current settlement at Te Kauwhata. It is important for its role in the transformation of the immediate and regional landscape, and retains an aesthetic rural setting that includes nearby vineyards.
Registration covers all connected buildings forming the current complex, their fixtures and finishes. It also includes recent modifications.
Site of wattle plantation
Site of experimental farm
Site of timber wine cellar
1903 - 1904
Construction of concrete fermenting house and cellar
1906 - 1912
Cart dock expanded to form western cellar
1941 - 1942
Top cellar, middle cellar and still tower
1945 - 1947
Dining and lavatory block
Office added and internal modifications to dining block
Internal modifications to top cellar, including removal of several vats
20th November 2001
Report Written By
P.G. Forder, 'The Te Kauwhata Viticultural Research Centre (1886-1977)', MA Research Essay, University of Auckland, 1977
New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)
New Zealand Historic Places Trust
'Te Kauwhata Winery, Station Road, Huntly', Buildings Classification Committee Report, Wellington, n.d.
Tony Nightingale, White Collars and Gumboots: A History of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 1892-1992, Palmerston North, 1992
Frank Thorpy, Wine in New Zealand, Auckland, 1971
pp.30-38, 91-95 & 135-138
Graeme Burgess, Dinah Holman and Jeremy Treadwell, 'Te Kauwhata Viticultural Research Station: Draft Conservation Plan', Auckland, 1994
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.