949 Highcliff Road, Otago Peninsula, Dunedin
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 1
Private/No Public Access
27th July 1988
Extent of List Entry
Registration includes the land comprised in Lot 2, DP 338392 Otago Land District (CT 157897), and the structures and the associated fittings and fixtures in the complex known as Springfield thereon, including the house and associated outbuildings.
Lot 2 DP 338392 (CT 157897), Otago Land District
Historical Significance or Value
The first New Zealand co-operative cheese factory was set up in this building, in the part now used as a barn and one end of the new kitchen. In August 1871 eight dairy farmers met at John Mathieson's house and formed the Otago Peninsula Cheese Factory Company, shares to be one pound and represent 10 quarts of milk. In the first season four tons of cheese were produced.
John Mathieson had been making cheese for some years previously at Grant Braes and, with the profits and his capital brought from Scotland in 1858, had bought by ballot the Springfield property in 1864. He paid Stewart Leckie 10 pounds to quarry out of the ground sufficient stone to build the house and byre, as well as to fill in the holes afterwards. Mr William Tait, stonemason, received 501 pounds for cutting the stone. When cheese making began in 1871 three enamelled cast iron tubs, each holding 40-50 pounds of curd, were set in the kitchen wing and a wooden vat holding a 100 gallons of milk was installed in the barn. The barn was also used as the curing room.
The methods of the company were businesslike and far-minded, serving as a good model for other co-operatives. In 1875 cheese making was shifted to a new brick and concrete factory at Pukehiki and the company re-formed as the New Peninsula Cheesemaking Company, eventually to become the province-wide Taieri and Peninsula Dairy Company. It is likely that this was the first cooperative dairy factory in the southern hemisphere, only those of Norway and Switzerland being earlier.
John Mathieson and subsequently his son James continued to farm the property until1917. Mr E Y Aitken bought from James, and his descendants have lived in the house ever since.
This is a well-preserved, good quality, farm building of the 1860s, typical of the bluestone buildings erected by the farmers of moderate wealth around Dunedin.
A cairn on Highcliff Road directs visitors to a view of the building in a scenically attractive setting of the harbour and hills.
Probably John Mathieson for whom the house was built.
Significance of Architect/Engineer/Designer:
John Mathieson came from near Edinburgh and presumably copied the design from farmsteads known to him in Scotland.
Architectural Description (Style):
Vernacular Scottish cottage with simple gables and one bay window with a flat roof.
The house has been modernised inside and at least one of the windows enlarged. Aluminium window frames have replaced the wooden ones. Some new plaster ceilings have replaced the crumbling lathe and plaster ones. A large wooden bedroom extension was added in 1884 and removed about 1950. The stone exterior wall was expertly replaced to the original state.
Its association with the first diary co-operative.
The walls are built from basalt quarried from the property, the window facings are Oamaru stone, and the interior woodwork is rimu and baltic pine bought from Larnach and Guthrie. The roof is covered with Welsh tiles. The house is built round an inner courtyard which is almost completely enclosed by the building.
L. Galer, Houses and Homes, Allied Press, Dunedin, 1981
Otago Daily Times
Otago Daily Times
R G Lister article, 31 Jan 1974.
Geoffrey G. Thornton, New Zealand's Industrial Heritage, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1982
This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.
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.