The Bungalow

122 Stout Street, Whataupoko, Gisborne

  • Pickett House.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Date: 24/07/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4554 Date Entered 27th November 1986


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 2 DP 2662 (CT GS2D/356), Gisborne Land District, and the building known as The Bungalow thereon.

City/District Council

Gisborne District


Gisborne Region

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 2662 (CT GS2D/356), Gisborne Land District


The Bungalow was one of the earliest houses built in the Whataupoko block on the northern banks of Taruheru River in Gisborne. Probably initially erected by timber merchant John Trimmer, the place was subsequently associated with a number of other prominent local businesspeople and professionals including William Lee Rees (1836-1912), a notable nineteenth-century politician and lawyer. The place is also significant as a grand, early Gisborne residence that incorporates both villa and early bungalow features, reflecting worldwide changes in colonial architecture and in New Zealand. The Bungalow is a grand home with well-preserved interior features.

Tūranganui-a-kiwa has a long history of Māori occupation. In 1870, the colonial town of Gisborne was laid out, after which subdivision of the Whataupoko block and construction of a bridge across the Tarehu River at Peel Street in the 1880s opened up land north of the growing township which was advertised for sale from 1884. John and Sarah Trimmer purchased a riverside property at Whataupoko and likely erected a single-storey timber residence with rusticated weatherboards and brick foundations, later known as The Bungalow, shortly thereafter. A businessman with interests in construction, and sheep-farming from Tolaga Bay, John Trimmer had recently established himself as a merchant in Gisborne, opening a timber yard in the town and owning a brick kiln near the new residence - potentially providing materials for the latter’s construction. After the Trimmers left Gisborne in 1886, they advertised to let a five bedroom cottage, which may have been The Bungalow. The house may have been subsequently occupied by Kate Wyllie (Keita Waear), a major Māori-Pākehā land owner, and her husband Michael Gannon, a translator and business partner of John Trimmer.

From the mid-1890s, The Bungalow was occupied by William Rees and his family. Rees was a barrister and Auckland-based Member of the House of Representatives who moved to Gisborne to practice law following the end of his political career. Possibly occupying the residence from 1894, Rees sequentially purchased The Bungalow and three neighbouring lots creating an extensive property. The Rees’ used the name ‘The Bungalow’ in advertisements for servants for the house, and possibly laid out pleasure grounds beside the river at the rear. In 1902 the property was purchased by local merchants Joseph Kennedy and John Evans who may have made changes to the main residence in 1902-3.

At the turn of the century, The Bungalow consisted of a single-storey, square-fronted villa with early bungalow features. Villas had been a popular house style since the 1860s and were constructed across New Zealand while bungalows were gaining prominence by the 1890s as a rural home style. Externally, the front part of the house was symmetrically arranged with a wraparound verandah and portico of colonial bungalow appearance which was adapted from concepts encountered by the British in India and subsequently taken up elsewhere in the British Empire. The main part of the residence had a hipped roof of traditional, late nineteenth-century central-gutter type. The internal layout was arranged around a central hallway with bedrooms and family rooms towards the front of the house and two small wings extending from the rear, with the kitchen in the easternmost of these. The interior incorporated board and batten ceilings with ceiling roses, ornate fireplaces and surrounds, and other decorative features – many of which still survive. The west wing may have been a secondary addition, created or substantially modified in 1902-3. This wing incorporated a grand drawing room with a particularly ornate fireplace and coved ceiling and featured Italianate bay windows overlooking the garden towards the river. Extensive grounds included a tennis court and croquet lawn as well as numerous trees and an ornate, rustic-style boardwalk along the riverbank.

Kennedy and Evans sold the property in 1905. After several changes of owner, the property was subdivided and The Bungalow purchased by motor importer William George Bignell in 1923. Bignell made a number of changes including adding a billiard room against the east side of the house. Bignell’s family lived at the property until 1981. Further alterations during the 1980s included a new kitchen arrangement, restoration of early features including fireplaces, and construction of a garage to the west of the house in 1990. In 2018 The Bungalow remained a private residence.


Construction Professionalsopen/close


No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1884 -

1902 - 1903
Addition or modification of west wing (including Italianate bay windows, corner fireplaces, coved ceiling

1915 -
Addition of bay with French doors and inbuilt storage and seating to middle room on west side.

Addition of billiard room with pentis roof, skylight in now enclosed room.

enclosure of verandah on east side, addition of bathroom on west side of back door which intersects Italianate bay window. Reduction in ornamentation.

restoration work including addition of ornamentation to porch and verandah, kitchen renovations, new mantelpiece for kitchen fireplace, stained glass re-added to front door.

Completion Date

28th June 2018

Report Written By

Alexandra Foster

Information Sources

Tairawhiti Museum

Tairawhiti Museum

Tairawhiti Museum, Photo Archives, M-R, 911/111-142, URL:

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Brooking, Tom, 'Rees, William Lee', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 2010. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,

Robinson and Berry 1990

Robinson, Sheila and John Berry (eds.), Gisborne Exposed: The Photographs of William Crawford 1874-1913, Gisborne, 1990.

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 Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.