Historical Significance or Value
Ngahere has historical significance as a residence that was occupied for a short period by the eminent New Zealand-born architect William Gummer. Belonging to the same select Lutyens-trained group as Bamford and Piece, Gummer lived in the house while he worked on important architectural projects including the Remuera Public Library, the Auckland Railway Station and his own residence, Stoneways.
Aesthetic Significance or Value:
Ngahere has high aesthetic value for its visually interesting design which incorporates steep roof and gables, tall brick chimneys, small-paned windows and juxtaposed elevations that extend around two street frontages. The residence has aesthetic significance for the simplicity of its interior, including detailing such as its attic fireplace, distinctive window fastenings, Gothic-influenced front door and a timber staircase with unusual newel posts. The aesthetic value of the residence is enhanced by its setting within an English-style front garden with mature trees.
Architectural Significance or Value:
Ngahere has architectural significance as a notable Auckland example of Arts and Crafts-style domestic architecture, and reflects the influence of the English architect Edwin Lutyens. It has particular significance for its butterfly floor plan, which maintains family privacy from the public thoroughfare on two frontages, and enables the enjoyment of sun, open outlook and access to a private garden at the rear. Ngahere is architecturally important as one of a small body of works designed by Noel Bamford, or jointly by architectural partners Bamford and Pierce who both studied in the office of Edwin Lutyens in Britain.
Social Significance or Value:
Ngahere has social significance for reflecting the importance of family ties in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century New Zealand society, having been commissioned by heiress Jeannie Richmond as a family home for her daughter and son-in-law on her Rockwood Estate. It also reflects the existence of social networks and family relationships among groups of professional people in early twentieth-century Auckland, a body that provided Bamford and Pierce with a number of their commissions.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
Ngahere has significance for reflecting representative aspects of New Zealand's history including the development of the Arts and Crafts movement in New Zea-land and the appeal of its Englishness to well-to-do Edwardians concerned with matters of aesthetics and social status, and for those who believed they were creating a new Britain. Ngahere also reflects close family relationships, a multi-generational association with place - represented by the early twentieth-century survival of a wealthy nineteenth-century country estate on the fringe of a major city - and the subsequent redevelopment of such estates as sought-after subur-ban residential locations.
(b)The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:
Ngahere has significance for its association with significant figures in the devel-opment of architecture in New Zealand, notably Noel Bamford and William Gummer. As well as being Ngahere's designer, Bamford had close family links to the people who commissioned and initially occupied the residence. Gummer occupied Ngahere while involved in several significant architectural projects.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:
The place has technical value as an early example of Arts and Crafts architec-ture in a New Zealand context, and as an early work by Bamford who was the first of four New Zealand-born architects to study under Edwin Lutyens in Eng-land and to set up in architectural practice upon return. Ngahere is one of few houses designed on a butterfly floor plan, by which means Edwardian values of status, formality and family privacy were accommodated; and greater opportu-nity provided for outdoor relaxation by a sizeable porch which facilitated a de-gree of indoor-outdoor flow later considered integral to the New Zealand life-style. The design is also significant as one of comparatively few works by Bam-ford, or the architectural practice of Bamford and Pierce, whose major body of works was complete by 1916. The residence - particularly its service area - has been modified and extended, but sufficient of the overall layout and building fabric remains extant to illustrate the style, function and principles of the butter-fly floor plan design.
(k)The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:
The place forms part of a significant and comparatively well-preserved historical and cultural landscape in Epsom, a suburb favoured by the influential and wealthy for their residential estates in the nineteenth and early twentieth cen-tury. Epsom contains a number of surviving historic nineteenth-century estate buildings including Highwic, Marivare, Rockwood, Clifton and the residence that became Rocklands Hall. Grand homes of a more recent era including Florence Court and Omana built in the early years of the twentieth century, Rannoch (1914) and Stoneways (1926). Stoneways was designed by architect William Gummer, also a Lutyens protégé and an occupant of Ngahere in the mid 1920s.
Summary of Significance or Values
This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, g, and k.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.
Early history of the site
Ngahere is situated in Epsom, a short distance from the base of Maungawhau (Mount Eden). Maungawhau has a long history of human occupation. The renowned military engineer, Titahi of Ngati Awa, built a large pa there, believed to have been occupied for several centuries up to the late 1600s. Maungawhau was part of the broader Auckland isthmus taken over by Ngati Whatua in the early eighteenth century. No Maori occupation of the mountain is currently known immediately preceding Auckland's founding as colonial capital in 1840.
The Rockwood Estate (1865-1907)
Located a few kilometres to the east of the colonial settlement of Auckland, Epsom was subdivided into farms following the transfer of the Waitemata-to-Hobson and Waitemata-to-Manukau blocks in 1841. The area became renowned for its fertile farmland and large country homes. The land later occupied by Ngahere was part of a Crown Grant made to Scottish-born William Aitken (1826-1901) in 1865. Here he constructed the two-storey house Rockwood, one of a number of homesteads built in Epsom in the mid-to-late 1800s. Aitken, a land agent, invested heavily in land and enterprises in the northern province and was considered to be one of Auckland's most financially successful early settlers.
On Aitken's death in 1901, Rockwood passed to his niece Jeannie Stirling Richmond (1854-1917) who had lived there as child and who returned with her children in 1886, the year of her husband's death. Jeannie's husband John Richmond (1845-1886) was a founder of Auckland law firm Hesketh Richmond in 1870. He was well-connected, having served his articles under his relative Thomas Bannatyne Gillies (1828-1889) who later became a Supreme Court judge.
Taking over Rockwood in 1901, Mrs Richmond made substantial changes. Subdivision of the estate began within the decade, hastening Epsom's evolution from a loose community of country estates to a suburban residential area.
Construction of Ngahere (1907-8)
Upon the marriage of two of her three daughters, Mrs Richmond commissioned Auckland architect Frederick Noel Bamford (1881-1952) to design a house on the estate for each couple. In 1914, the architect's brother - lawyer and academic Dr Dean Bamford - was to marry the second of Mrs Richmond's daughters to wed. Located within the western part of Rockwood's grounds, Ngahere was built in 1907-8 for Margaret Richmond (1884-1972) and her husband Donald MacCormick (1870-1945). MacCormick, a bank employee, was the son of barrister John MacCormick, an inaugural member of the Council of the New Zealand Law Society in 1870.
Ngahere was constructed on the east side of Mountain Road, north of the rear drive to Rockwood. The house stood within its own setting, a site of less than 0.4 hectare not formally delineated until 1923.
Constructed with a timber frame and cladding, the one-and-a-half storey, Arts and Crafts-inspired Ngahere is one of the earliest known surviving buildings designed by Bamford. After studying architecture in Auckland under Edward Bartley in circa 1902, Bamford worked in the office of English architect Edwin Lutyens (later knighted) a leading exponent of the English Domestic Revival style. The first of four young New Zealand-born architects to study under Lutyens, he returned to New Zealand in 1906. The other Lutyens protégés were Hector Pierce (1879-1918), Bamford's business partner who returned in April 1907; William Gummer (1884-1966) who studied under Lutyens in 1911; and Roy Binney (1885-1957) who returned in 1912, but lived permanently in England from the late 1920s. The firm Bamford and Pierce - formed before March 1908 - drew on aspects of the English Arts and Crafts tradition to formulate architectural designs for a New Zealand context.
The Arts and Crafts movement, a major influence in the works of Bamford and Pierce, emphasised a return to nature. This was generally expressed in a commitment to suiting a building to its site, to the use of local building traditions, and to use of natural and local materials. Bamford's use of stone for Ngahere's foundations wall and a connected outbuilding suggests an acknowledgment of the site's volcanic character. The cladding was timber weatherboarding, the prevalent vernacular material in the Auckland area. The roof tiles were probably Australian.
Ngahere's low-sweeping, complex roof form, steep gables, tall brick chimneys and multi-paned casement windows reflected Lutyens' influence. The house adopted a variation of the butterfly floor plan.
Popular for Arts and Crafts residential designs in England in the 1890s, the X-shaped butterfly plan traditionally had wings projecting symmetrically at angles from a central core. The concept, combining ideas of modern functionalism and notions of the picturesque, was an appropriation of the palazzo plan, modified to gain solar access and views. The style was popular for Edwardian country houses, a dwelling type for which Lutyens became particularly well-known.
Ngahere's comparatively complex design was a major departure from the predominant New Zealand house style of the time, the villa with a central passageway. The elevations to Mountain Road and Rockwood's driveway were designed to maintain privacy. The more open northeast elevation overlooked the garden.
Internally, Ngahere's rooms were accessed by a broad short corridor in each of the two wings off a small manorial-style hall and drawing room in the hub of the house. The front door opened into the north corridor, off which was a cloakroom with a lavatory. The staircase, obliquely located towards the corridor's south end, provided access to the attic level containing a sewing room and bedroom. The drawing room opened onto a wide recessed porch, deeper and shorter than the villa verandah, and of sufficient size for use as an outside room. Linked to the garden by brick steps, Ngahere's porch facilitated a degree of indoor-outdoor flow later considered integral to the New Zealand lifestyle.
The south wing of the house contained two bedrooms, a bathroom and a dressing room. In the north wing was the dining room, separated from the service area by a small servery. The remaining service rooms were a kitchen, larder, scullery and maid's room. A single-storey L-shaped building - containing a washhouse, a boot room, and a fuel room - was connected by a porch, effectively creating a U-shaped courtyard.
As well as its exterior, Ngahere's interior detailing including its window catches and beamed ceilings was also Arts and Crafts-inspired. Its broad, front door incorporated a shallow-pointed arch, a reference to the movement's Gothic Revival origins. The newel post at the foot of the stairs was full height. The balustrade was of plain timber slats. Three subsidiary newel posts terminated in carved finials, each of a different style. Rooms reflected a classical simplicity more commonly found in English architectural styles adopted in New Zealand a decade or more later. Ngahere stood within an area of shrubs and trees within wider Rockwood grounds which were laid out in trees, lawns, and a network of winding paths and carriageways.
Bamford and Pierce partnership (circa 1908-16)
By early 1908 Bamford had formed an architectural partnership with Hector Pierce. The butterfly principle adopted at Ngahere was subsequently used for the plan of a cottage in Domett Avenue (1910-11). Both houses were a significant contrast to the more traditional designs produced by the partnership for Bishopscourt (Record no. 103, Category I historic place, 1909-10) and other houses at this time. A fireplace and newel posts at Bishopscourt invite comparison with features at Ngahere. Also known as Neligan House, the brick Bishopscourt was the partnership's most prestigious commission.
Like other dwellings designed by Bamford and Pierce, Bamford's Ngahere reflected the rurally-focused, English Arts and Crafts movement that particularly appealed to those in New Zealand who saw themselves as building a new Britain. Patriotic sentiments were high as the colony achieved Dominion status in 1907, the year of Ngahere's design. The Arts and Crafts style which fused Edwardian concerns about status with matters of beauty, was one of two major architectural styles embraced. By contrast with the English Baroque Revival style, Arts and Crafts ideals continued to influence domestic architecture in New Zealand into the 1920s. Aspects of the Arts and Crafts movement became discernable in residential design around the turn of the century, notably in the work of Hurst Seager in Christchurch and, from 1904, in the designs of Dunedin-based Basil Hooper.
By 1912 the aesthetic had become a significant influence in certain Auckland circles. In 1914, Ngahere and another residence designed by Bamford and Pierce for a Remuera site in circa 1911 were the subject of a pictorial feature in the building trade magazine monthly New Zealand Progress. In the same issue were two Arts and Crafts-style residences designed by fellow-Lutyens' protégé William Gummer, who later lived in Ngahere.
In New Zealand, those with money gravitated to traditional English architectural styles. Renowned for its fine residential works, Bamford and Pierce's practice benefited from the architects' strong family networks with sections of Auckland's social, professional and business elite. Clients, such as the medical practitioner Dr Kinder (House 1 St George's Bay Road, Record no. 2634, Category II historic place, circa 1912), were officeholders in the Church of England and its associated charitable boards including the Melanesian Mission Trust and the Leslie Orphanage Trust. Pierce's late father, George, was also prominent in Diocesan affairs. Several commissions appear to have had Hesketh Richmond connections including houses at Domett Avenue (1910-11) and Gilgit Road (circa 1914-15), the latter designed for Dean Bamford and his wife. As the president of the Auckland Law Society (1912-16), Bamford was a prominent member of the Auckland bar. Edwin, the Bamfords' father, was the District Lands Registrar, Auckland's senior public office-holder in surveying and land matters.
Other residential commissions included Coolingatta in Remuera Road (1911, demolished) for a surveyor; houses for two stock brokers (Dilworth Avenue, Remuera (demolished), and Pencarrow Avenue, Mount Eden, circa 1910); and for an accountant (Brightside Road, Epsom, circa 1915); a land agent (Domett Avenue) 1910-11; and a mining engineer (30 Arney Road, Record no. 604, Category II historic Place, circa 1911). These were professions that flourished during Auckland's decades of economic growth following the depression of the 1880s and early 1890s.
Later occupation and ownership (1917-2009)
After Jeannie Richmond's death in 1917, Rockwood estate's subdivision into suburban residential sites accelerated. In 1920 a number of new sites were created fronting Mountain Road. Ngahere was formally subdivided from the Rockwood estate and transferred to Margaret MacCormick in 1923. By 1925, it was being rented out to the noted architect William Gummer and his wife, Edith. The Gummers were recently married and had their first child while living in the house.
William Gummer was an associate of Ngahere's designer, Noel Bamford, with a similarly strong association with Lutyens. Shortly before occupying the house, Gummer had gone into partnership with C. Reginald Ford (1880-1972), giving rise to one of the Dominion's most prominent architectural practices of the 1920s and 1930s. Gummer and Ford were responsible for some of New Zealand's largest and most complex projects. In 1925-6, Gummer was involved with the construction of the high-profile Dilworth Building in Queen Street, Auckland (Record No. 4600, Category I historic place); and the Remuera Public Library (Record No. 115, Category I historic place) which won a New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) gold medal. He also undertook designs in 1926 for the Auckland Railway Station (Record No.97, Category I historic place). The latter structure, held to represent 'a new departure in monumental civic architecture in New Zealand', was also awarded an NZIA gold medal shortly after its completion in 1930.
Gummer evidently lived at Ngahere while overseeing the building of a home for himself and his family, known as Stoneways. This was located a few doors away in the Mountain Road subdivision and was under construction in 1926. Designed by Gummer, Stoneways is considered to reflect Lutyens' influence in its use of a complex but lucid plan, which linked wings placed at oblique angles. By 1927, the Gummers had moved to their new residence. Ngahere was tenanted by a Mrs Elizabeth Burlington.
In 1935, two residential lots were subdivided from Ngahere's grounds. The house was transferred in 1950 to one of two family companies associated with further development of the wider estate, which saw Rockwood's rear drive formed as Rockwood Place.
In 1962 Ngahere's curtilage was further diminished. Ownership of the house passed to an Auckland medical practitioner. By this time the ground floor layout had been modified to accommodate new ways of living, including an absence of domestic help which had eventually disappeared from New Zealand households by the Second World War (1939-1945). A new kitchen occupied the former larder and scullery, and the former kitchen and maid's room became a family room. A shower, a time-saving device enhancing personal hygiene, replaced the bath. Fireplaces in the ground floor bedrooms were removed.
In 1970, new owners converted the linked utility building into a garage. In 1974 Ngahere was bought by Donald Kenderdine and his wife Shonagh who later became the first woman Judge to sit on the planning bench in New Zealand. The house changed hands in 1978. Upper floor accommodation was extended by the addition of a bathroom and a bedroom, necessitating the creation of new dormers. The former service area was remodelled into an open-plan kitchen and family dining area, flowing into an enlarged family room in the former courtyard. A garage was constructed adjoining Rockwood Place. The single-storey utility building was demolished, although the laundry chimney was retained for a fireplace in the new family room. In 1995 a small shelter was added to the main entrance and a lych gate created on the Mountain Road boundary. A stone boundary wall may also date from this period.
The property changed hands again in 2001. An upper floor extension to provide a further bedroom with a new dormer enclosed one of the chimneys, reducing its visibility. The property remains in use as a private residence.
Ngahere is situated in Epsom, an inner suburb of Auckland. Located to the southeast of Auckland's main city centre, Epsom is a mainly residential area containing a number of recognised historic houses. Ngahere lies on a corner site, on the east side of Mountain Road at its intersection with Rockwood Place. With the exception of the nineteenth-century Rockwood homestead, the houses in Rockwood Place are comparatively modern. The east side of Mountain Road in the immediate vicinity of Ngahere consists of a mature streetscape of substantial circa 1920s residences interspersed with pre-1950 dwellings.
As well as noted nineteenth-century gentlemanly estate houses including Highwic (Record no.18, Category I historic place), Clifton (Record no. 2623, Category I historic place), Marivare and Rocklands Hall (Record no.7276, Category I historic place), a number of notable early twentieth century residences survive in the Epsom area. These include the circa 1914 Rannoch (Record no. 7198, Category II), a Spanish Mission style former janitor's house (Record no. 4532, Category II historic place) constructed in 1914-15 in association with Auckland Grammar School (Record no. 4471, Category I historic place), Wharetane built in circa 1925-6, and Stoneways constructed in 1926.
Ngahere occupies an irregularly-shaped lot of approximately 2000 square metres. The building is situated in the south western part of the plot, near to the Rockwood Place and Mountain Road boundaries. Close to the front boundary are two modern garages, one at the northern end of the property the other midway along the south side of the site. The house is partially screened from the road by fencing which includes a rock wall, and plantings including a large pohutukawa and a puriri. To the west of the house adjoining Mountain Road and extending to the Rockwood Place corner is a formal English-style garden with hedges, yews, lawns and curving paths. The garden may have been established in the later decades of the twentieth century. Viewed from the street the place has considerable aesthetic impact for its setting and the complex design of the residence with its steep roof and gables, tall brick chimneys, small-paned windows and juxtaposed elevations that wrap around two street frontages.
To the rear, a short set of curved, brick steps - likely to be part of the original garden layout - lead off the northeast side of the house. Yew trees close to the house are well-established specimens of unknown age. Within the garden are two or three sections of tall dry-stone walling of unknown date, some relatively recent. Much of the site is occupied by a swimming pool and a flat lawn area occupied by a former pool. To the east of the lawn is a recently erected garden shelter.
The remainder of the property to the north was added to the land parcel in 2008 and has recently been planted with native species. This is not included within the extent of the current registration.
Main building - exterior
Ngahere is a timber clad dwelling of one-and-a-half storeys with tall brick chimneys and a tiled roof. Of Arts and Crafts style, it has a complex butterfly-plan appearance. The northern part of the structure has been modified by additions which replace and extend beyond an earlier outbuilding.
The residence is comprised of four main elements. The west façade of the house, and the façades to the southwest and south, wrap around the site presenting a complex arrangement of low, bell-cast roofs with extremely wide eaves, steep gables, and chimneys. The exterior walls frequently change direction to accommodate the building's butterfly plan. The southwest gable end of the main ridge and the large dormer lighting the staircase are notable visual elements. The grey roof appears to be of painted Marseilles tiles or similar.
The shorter, northeast façade focuses inward upon the rear garden and is comparatively more open. Both the master bedroom (south wing) and the dining room (north wing) on the ground floor, incorporate a bay with small casement windows. The centrally located, recessed porch and northeast gable of the upper storey overlooks the garden. Below the gable's casement windows, is a square plaque of timber mouldings. In the north ridge adjoining the northeast gable is a recent shed-dormer with casement windows. New French doors in the dining room and modern additions in a former courtyard area open onto a pool area.
The northernmost (single-storey) section dates from 1981 and was built to replace the former service courtyard and utility building. It incorporates the former laundry chimney. The addition is clad in grey brick and timber weatherboards and has steep gables in keeping with the overall design of the house.
Main building - interior
The interior retains much of its early-twentieth century layout and fabric in the central area and southern wing of the ground floor, but the north wing is more considerably altered. The two original spaces within the main roof are apparent and the fireplace survives, but additional rooms have been provided in new dormers.
The ground floor incorporates living rooms, kitchen, bathroom, study and two bedrooms. The northern section of the house (other than the formal dining room) has been significantly altered and modernised. In the formal dining room French doors have been added and the fireplace has been modernised, but the chimney breast remains. The room otherwise retains its original character including timber-beamed ceilings, bay window with small-paned casements and distinctive window fastenings of a type found throughout the original sections of the house.
The layout of the middle section of the house and the south wing appears little altered. The timber staircase with cupboard and panelling on the underside is intact. The southernmost of the two corridors retains its cupboards and simple wide doors. Fireplaces in the drawing room and hall have been replaced. The location of the former chimney breast in the hall is evident from a timber member running at right angles to ceiling beams.
In the south wing, the bathroom has been modernised and an en-suite addition made to the master bedroom. Back-to-back fireplaces have been removed from both bedrooms but the chimney breasts and wide scotias remain. It is unclear whether lead-light windows in the bathroom, lower stair area and corridors are an original feature.
The original fireplace survives on the upper floor. In keeping with Arts and Crafts philosophies of simplicity and honest use of materials, exposed brickwork is a feature of the fire place which has an offset timber mantelpiece. The cast iron grate is freestanding and of distinctive design. The timber-lining of the steeply angled ceilings of the two original rooms in the roof space appears to be relatively recent, but retains the overall character of the original design. Three additional rooms (two bedrooms and a bathroom) off this space are relatively unobtrusive.
1907 - 1908
Connected utility building converted to garage
Fireplaces removed bedrooms ground floor
Bathroom refitted (bath removed, add shower) ground floor
Cloakroom incorporated into hall, windows added south wall
Larder and scullery converted to kitchen
Kitchen and maid's room converted to family room
Bedroom and bathroom (upper floor)
Passage widened (upper floor)
Family room extended into courtyard
Conservatory to west end of new family room
En-suite master bedroom (ground floor)
Bedroom, north east side (upper floor)
Stone foundation walls, timber frame, weatherboard cladding, Marseilles tile roof or similar, brick chimneys
14th April 2010
Report Written By
Lloyd Jenkins, 2004
Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, At Home: A Century of New Zealand Design. Auckland: Random House, 2004
Peter Shaw, New Zealand Architecture: From Polynesian Beginnings to 1990, Auckland, 1991
G.W.A Bush, (ed.), The History of Epsom, Auckland, 2006
Robin Cooke (ed.), Portrait of a Profession: The Centennial Book of the New Zealand Law Society, Wellington, 1969
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region 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.