Historical Significance or Value
The house was built as the main base for a large mixed pastoral and cropping farm in the late 1870s. The farming practices of its successive owners and occupiers are representative of much of the Waikato district, with experimentation of crops, sheep breeding and dairying development. The subdivision of the land from a large farm of over 1000 acres (404 hectares) to a dairy unit of 92 hectares and recently its reduction to 0.787 hectares as part of a housing estate also represents trends occurring in the wider district and areas adjacent to Hamilton and other towns.
The property associated with Briarley was an investment by an absentee owner based in England whose sons worked the land in New Zealand.
The owners and occupiers of Briarley have contributed proactively to this development and change through their cultural, church and sports activities, support of road and bridge construction and participation in the local cropping and dairying industries. The dairy industry continues to be of major importance and at least two of the owners of Briarley contributed greatly to its development in the Waikato. The first occupant of Briarley made contributions to the development of services and amenities in the district through the Cambridge Farmers Club and the construction of roads and bridges.
Architectural Significance or Value:
Briarley is a rare known surviving example in the Waikato of a farmhouse from the late 1870s and is a simple bay villa with central hallway and lean-to structure at rear.
Social Significance or Value:
Various occupants of Briarley were prominent in the local and regional communities, in particular Bill and Nora Bourke who contributed to the establishment and activities of several horse and other sports, and through social agencies were foster parents to many children.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
The property reflects the changing pattern of settlement in the Waikato from traditional Maori occupation through to pastoral European-style farming with ever-decreasing farm sizes, then subdivision into small ‘lifestyle’ holdings for residential development. The latter is a change of use increasingly experienced by rural areas adjacent to Hamilton city in the last 30 years.
Briarley’s involvement with the dairy industry through its owners and occupiers and its associated productive farmland are strongly representative of the devel-opment of the Waikato dairy industry and contributors to a prime national export industry.
The property is an example of absentee investors in the new colony during the 1870s.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place:
Briarley is known to older members of the Matangi-Tamahere community as ‘the Bourke’s house’, Bill and Nora Bourke having been prominent in community and social affairs and known for their hospitality.
(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement:
Briarley dates from the early period of European settlement after the confiscation and re-assignment of Tainui lands, and represents the development of European pastoral farming in the Waikato district.
Summary of Significance or Values
This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, e and i.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.
Briarley house is situated between Tamahere and Matangi, Waikato District, in a housing subdivision of what has until recently been open farm land. The house sits on part of Allotment 44, Parish of Tamahere. When built it was the homestead for a large farm of over 1000 acres (405 hectares) that has been subdivided several times since its establishment in the late 1870s.
The Tamahere district was intensively occupied and cultivated by Ngati Haua. Three pa sites exist in the immediate area, one being within the curtilage of the house. At least one of the sites is associated with Tainui leader and kingmaker Wiremu Tamihana Tarapipipi Te Waharoa. Although the land was confiscated by the government in 1864, 15000 acres (6070 hectares) at Tamahere were subsequently returned to members of Ngati Haua who were considered friendly to the government, but in the form of individual holdings. Allotment 44 of 200 acres (80.9 hectares) was granted to Hae.
By 1872, nearly 5000 hectares had been sold by Tamahere Maori to Europeans. Pastoral farming developed such that by January 1875 the district had crops of wheat, barley and oats being grown by European settlers and ‘grain and potatoes galore’ by Maori. In December 1876 the Tamahere district still had ‘less than a score of settlers’.
By 1877 Allotment 44 and adjacent allotments had been acquired by John Abraham Tinne, ‘gentleman, of Liverpool, England’. The name Briarley refers to his home at Aigburth. J.A. Tinne appears to have been an absentee landowner, possibly investing in New Zealand land after Theodore F.S. Tinne and J. Ernest Tinne (presumed to be his sons) settled here. Another son, Herman William Tinne, recorded his address on the 1877 electoral roll as Briarley, Tamahere, and from December 1876 began a series of advertisements re trespass on his land, seeking labour for cutting gorse, digging drains and erecting fences. The exact date of construction of the house has not been ascertained but by early 1880 the house was well established and Briarley (spelt as Briarly) was described as belonging to Messrs J.E. and H.W. Tinne, and as a 1040 acre (421 hectare) property in scrub, grass and turnips, and running cattle, pigs, sheep and horses. The house occupied by H.W. Tinne was situated on the hill Potuwha. The house was described as being built of ‘heart of Kauri brought from the Thames’ and having a verandah on two sides and eleven rooms, with outbuildings at the rear. About 60 metres away was a small four-roomed cottage. Several acres of plantations of coniferous and deciduous trees plus 150 fruit trees surrounded the house.
Herman Tinne was a member of the Cambridge Farmers Club and involved with the Cambridge Jockey Club and the Comus Dramatic Club; he was a subscriber to the bridge at the Narrows in 1878. By 1880 advertisements note both H.W. and J.E. Tinne as proprietors. On 25 February 1881 H.W. Tinne’s property, including household furniture, vehicles, horses and livestock, was to be sold. Tinne left the property by September 1881, returning to England.
By mid April 1883 the property had been leased to prominent local farmer W. Muir Douglas. He was in residence in August 1883 when several of the outbuildings were destroyed in a fire. Muir Douglas and his brother J.A. Douglas owned and managed the large estate Bruntwood to the south of Briarley and were known for their successful sheep breeding and turnip experimentation; Muir Douglas was involved with the local hunt club. They were still at Briarley in March 1885, but by 15 August 1885 Gordon Glassford was ‘of Briarley’ when he supported the proposal for a local meat tinning works, and still there in April 1886.
Title was transferred to Herman W. Tinne in 1890 after his father’s death and in 1906 to Sarah Trubshaw. The Trubshaws built a new house at the north end of the property and remained in the district for many years; some of the family lived in Briarley. The property was subdivided in October 1910, the house with approximately 92 hectares being transferred to the Goodwin brothers, farmers who also owned another Matangi property, Woodside. Within a year it was transferred to John Thomas (Tom) Bryant, a prominent local farmer who also owned adjacent land.
Tom Bryant was one of the first Europeans to buy and develop land in the Tamahere-Matangi district and owned land elsewhere in the Waikato. He was on several local committees including the Matangi dairy factory committee, established the Methodist church in Matangi and was director of the New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company Limited for many years. Dairying increased in the wider district by the early 1900s, with dairy factories opening at Tamahere, Hautapu and Matangi. The development of the dairy industry in Matangi continued apace when in 1919 the Glaxo Factory was built in Matangi, then, the biggest, most technologically advanced milk factory in the world. The Glaxo Factory produced milk powder; this important commodity was widely used within New Zealand and exported internationally. Designed by FC Daniell, today the disused Matangi Dairy Factory is a Category II NZHPT registration (Record no. 4935).
The only major structural change to the house may have been during dairy farmer John Thomas Pawson’s ownership after 1919. This was the addition of a gabled extension to the southeast side, forming a small sun porch to what was the sitting room. In 1936 William (Bill) John Bourke leased Briarley and bought it in 1938. Bill and wife Nora were well-known in the community. Bill Bourke (1901-1977), affectionately known as ‘Big Bill’ and ‘the lord mayor of Matangi’, was a prominent rugby representative for Waikato and a foundation member of the Waikato Harlequin Club. He was on the dairy factory and patriotic committees in Matangi and involved with competition wood chopping, the Matangi Bowling Club, the Waikato Hunt, Hamilton Pony Club, Cambridge Polo Club and a founding member of the Matangi Light Horse Club. Nora Bourke (1902-1999) was one of the first women Justices of the Peace and was involved with the Patriotic Relief Fund for Soldiers, on the National Council of Women, an active member of Plunket and a voluntary probation officer. Nora and Bill fostered ‘dozens’ of children for social welfare agencies and the house is remembered with affection by some of these children. The Bourke’s hospitality was well-known and the house is still referred to as ‘the Bourkes’ house’ by older members of the community. The Bourkes managed a dairy herd supplying the Matangi dairy factory and bred Southdown rams on the 92-hectare farm.
A few internal alterations to the house were undertaken during the Bourke’s ownership in approximately 1949, creating a bathroom with toilet converting the previous bathroom and pantry in the rear lean-to into a kitchen, though it consequently had a split-level floor. The old kitchen with its coal range continued to be used as both kitchen and laundry. The room with the bay windows was the main bedroom, and the room opening off the new kitchen and sun porch was the sitting room/formal dining room. The family usually ate in the new kitchen.
From approximately 1981 the house was rented to a succession of tenants, during which time several minor changes were made. In October 2003 the property was bought by Titoki Estates Limited for subdivision into small ‘lifestyle’ holdings for residential development, part of the change of use experienced by rural areas adjacent to Hamilton city. In September 2004 the property, now consisting of the house on only 0.787 hectares was bought by Andrew and Cath Mott. The house was in poor condition. Since then the Motts have undertaken many repairs while retaining original features.
The house sits on a low hill on the edge of a steep gully in an area that was extensive farmland but is now a mixture of small-holdings, market gardens and larger farms and a recent residential subdivision. It is situated a few kilometres from the small settlements of Matangi and Tamahere. The house was once the farmhouse of a mixed pastoral farm that has been developed as a housing estate and turf-growing business in the last few years. To date only a few new houses have been built, within 200 metres of the farmhouse, and the setting remains predominantly rural. To the northwest and north of the house is the bush-clad gully of the Mangaharakeke Stream and several mature trees, including oaks, surround the house.
The front of the house faces northeast, orientated with its southern corner towards the main road (Tauwhare Road). The access drive leads from the newly-formed Titoki Drive to the southeast side of the house. Formerly the drive approached from the east and swung around along the southeast side, affording the visitor a view of the front rather than the rear of the house.
The house is a single-storey wooden frame building with timber weatherboard cladding. The cladding is rusticated weatherboard (195 millimetres wide with a 45 mm rebate) on the northeast, most of the southeast, and around the bay windows, but is overlapping weatherboard on the rest of the house and in the gables. It sits on timber piles with concrete footings. The house has a hipped U-shaped roof being a roughly northwest-southeast ridge with two northeast-southwest ridges extending to the rear with a central gutter between. There is a gabled extension at the north corner (facing northeast) and near the south corner (facing southeast). The latter is lower than the rest of the roof and has a shallow pitch; it is a later addition to the house (but pre-1936) as the roof overlaps that of the lean-to. There is a verandah on most of the northeast and southeast sides, enclosed at each end by the gabled extensions. The roof extends in a continuous line over the verandah. At the rear is a lean-to with a shallower-pitched roof. Another small lean-to structure at the rear is not structurally part of the house.
Access into the house is through the front door at the northern end of the front verandah and a door placed centrally in the back wall of the lean-to. The four-panel front door opens into an enclosed foyer in which is set a small two-light stained-glass window facing northeast. At the south end of the side verandah a door has been removed and replaced with solid wall. Access onto the verandah is via a temporary set of wooden steps at the east corner. Horizontal wooden rails are set between some of the verandah posts, with mortise holes showing where others at two levels have been removed. The verandah floor is tongue and groove with V with 132 millimetre wide planks.
The gabled wall on the front has a five-sided bay window with a flat roof; a similar five-sided bay window protrudes on the north-western elevation from the same room. This also has a flat roof.
There are three brick chimneys with corbelled decoration: two double chimneys extend through the ridges and a taller single chimney extends from the wood range in the lean-to.
All windows in the main rooms are double-hung four-light sash windows; the two side windows of the bay window are narrower single-light double-hung sash windows. The windows in the en-suite bathroom (sun-porch part of former sitting room, now main bedroom) have a wider central four-light window and a pair of single-light double-hung sash windows either side; the window is shorter than the other double-hung sash windows. On the en-suite window the internal and external frames are plain in style and unlike other moulded frames and sills in the house. In the kitchen the windows are casement and are more recent than the other windows, with circa 1940s hardware. The windows on the west elevation have small hoods, as does the small window of the front foyer.
A central hall leads from the foyer through three doors to the back internal porch, with rooms accessed from the hall except for the en-suite bathroom (former sun porch) which is accessed from the main bedroom (former sitting room). There are five rooms along the north-western side and three (plus the en-suite) along the south-eastern side. The interior front hall door is not original (installed by current owners).
The floors consist of native timber (rimu or kauri) tongue and groove boards running the length of the house up to the lean-to where they run across the house. The boards are approximately 135 millimetres wide. In the lounge they extend into the bay window indicating this was probably not an addition. The floor boards continue into the front foyer indicating it is an original feature. The floor boards run under the interior walls i.e. they were laid first. Within the back porch in the lean-to is a step down; the floor of the old kitchen (‘range room’) is at this lower level.
In the front rooms and front half of the hall (up to the second door) the walls are rough-sawn wide kauri boards covered with scrim and wallpaper; some are now covered with Gib board. Skirting boards are 295 mm deep; cornices are simple 50 millimetre beading, not ornate. In Bedroom 4 and the rear part of the hall (to the rear of the dividing door) the walls are lined with horizontal tongue and groove with bead boards 213 millimetres wide. The skirting boards in the rear part of the hall are shorter. In the bathroom three of the walls are horizontal tongue and groove boards but the northeast wall is kauri sarking covered with plywood.
The wall between Bedrooms 3 and 4 has been strengthened recently: during renovations it was found that this wall had no framework structure but was simply vertical 212-millimetre wide tongue and groove planks with beaded edges, held in place by the cornices and skirting boards.
The ceilings in the front four rooms and front half of hall are timber boards approximately 25 centimetres wide with elaborate moulded narrow battens; the boards are aligned down the length of the house. In the lean-to the ceilings are tongue and groove planks running across the house, and with exposed beams in the kitchen, except that the ceiling in the lean-to end of the hall consists of wide tongue and groove beaded planks running in the same direction as those of the hall. The front foyer ceiling consists of wide tongue and groove and beaded boards. The en-suite walls and ceiling were also tongue and groove before recent renovations. There is some evidence (ceiling cladding and structure) to suggest the southeast half of the lean-to was built at a later date than the southwest half; if so then this would have been prior to the 1920s gabled extension.
The lounge has two five-sided bay windows; no indication that these were later additions was observed. The main windows are 99 centimetres wide, flanked by windows 47 centimetres wide which are flanked by timber panels 85 centimetres wide. The four-panel door has been re-hung to counteract damage to the handle area. The hearth has been modified by raising the concrete floor and a wood burner installed; the original wooden fire surround remains.
The range room has no skirting board on the rear wall. It has remnants of plumbing. The wood range is still in situ.
1876 - 1879
construction of eastern gabled extension to form sun porch
1981 - 2004
rear kitchen window changed; door from new kitchen to porch closed, new door cut into hallway; side door modified
2004 - 2009
timbers changed where necessary; new internal wall built between main bedroom and side porch; an en-suite bathroom created
one bedroom split into bedroom and bathroom; interior toilet installed; three flights brick and concrete steps built; original bathroom and pantry merged to become new kitchen
Timber including kauri, rimu
Report Written By
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1897
Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol.1, Wellington, 1897
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Lower Northern Area Office
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.