84 London Street, Dunedin

  • Manono. May 1990. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: A E McEwan.
  • Manono.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Amanda Mulligan. Date: 31/10/2014.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 5189 Date Entered 13th December 1990


City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Lots 3 & 4 DP 10097



Manono was built for Willi Fels, a prominent Dunedin businessman and benefactor. Fels (1858-1946) was born in Germany where in 1881 he married Sara Hallenstein. They came to New Zealand in 1888, as did Sara's father Bendix Hallenstein, who established the major retail chain of Hallensteins and the DIC. Willi Fels subsequently became the managing director of Hallensteins and chairman of directors of the DIC. In addition to his business interests, Fels was deeply interested in ethnology and anthropology, particularly of the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. In 1929 he donated 85,000 ethnological artefacts to the Otago Museum, together with the finance for a new wing to house them.

In Samoan the word manono means "rock" and it is thought that the name was suggested to Fels by the German Governor of Samoa as a suitable name for his new house. Manono is also the name of an idyllic Polynesian island off the shore of Upolu and this may have been the inspiration of the name of Fels' house.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Manono was built for, and for almost 40 years was the home of Willi Fels, a prominent Dunedin businessman and benefactor. It stands as a visible reminder both of his success in business and his generosity to his adopted city.


Manono is a very large house the exterior of which somewhat belies the elegance of the interior and the high degree of finish in the principal rooms, both upstairs and down. In creating a home and showpiece for one of Dunedin's leading citizens in the early years of this century, Patrick Wales continued Mason and Wales' association with large-scale domestic architecture and made an individual contribution to a small precinct within Dunedin which boasts some of the finest houses in the country.


The formal impact of the building in its immediate environment is much less than when it was first built. Only the rear of the house has a street frontage, from which angle it is rather unassuming and almost institutional in character.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mason & Wales Architects Ltd

Mason and Wales Architects Ltd is the oldest architectural practice in New Zealand, having been founded by William Mason (1810-1897) in 1862 Dunedin. Mason was born in England, studied under Peter Nicholson and worked under Thomas Telford and Edward Blore. In 1838 he immigrated to New South Wales, and came to New Zealand in 1840. Having spent 22 years in Auckland he went to Dunedin at the time of the gold discoveries and was elected the first mayor of Dunedin in 1865. He was active in politics as well as in architecture.

Mason was in partnership firstly with David Ross (1827-1908) and William Henry Clayton (1823-1877) and he took in N.Y.A. Wales (1832-1903) when Clayton left the firm to become Colonial Architect in Wellington. Wales had worked as a clerk of works and was very competent in all aspects of construction.

The firm was responsible for many of Dunedin's early important buildings such as the Post Office (later known as the Exchange Building), Princes Street (1864-68), the Exhibition Building (later the Dunedin Hospital), Great King Street (1864), St Matthew's Church, Stafford Street (1873), and the Wains Hotel, Princes Street (1878).

Mason and Wales designed the Abbotsford Farm Steading (1871) at Outram, Otago (NZHPT Reg. No. 7579). This farm steading was designed for James Shand, a prominent land owner, politician and businessman in the area. Mason and Wales designed another farm steading for Shand at his property Berkeley in 1881 (demolished 1981). In 1881, Mason and Wales also designed a plain concrete Chicory Kiln (NZHPT Reg. No. 3359, Cat II) at Inch Clutha, South Otago for Gregg and Coy.

Mason and Wales continues today. N.Y.A. Wales (b.1927) is a fourth generation director of the firm.

WALES, Nathaniel Young Armstrong (1832-1903)

Wales was born in Northumberland, England, and educated at Jedburgh, Scotland. He immigrated to Australia in 1854 and found employment as a carpenter working on the buildings for the first exhibition held in Melbourne.

He arrived in Dunedin about 1863, and was a clerk of works for William Mason on the old Bank of New Zealand Building (1862-64), the Post Office Building (1864-68) and the Port Chalmers Graving Dock (1868-72).

Wales entered partnership with William Mason in 1871. The firm of Mason and Wales was responsible for many fine buildings in Dunedin including Bishopscourt (1873), St Matthew's Church (1873), Government Life Insurance Building (1897) and Wains Hotel (1878).

Wales had military and political interests and was a Member of Parliament for some years. He occupied a seat on the Dunedin Harbour Board and was a Dunedin City Councillor. In 1895 he was elected Mayor of Dunedin. In 1900 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


Patrick Young WALES (1864-1939)

for MASON & WALES (Architects)


Manono is a large two-storeyed Edwardian house. Seven hundred and forty square metres in area, the house is asymmetrical in plan and elevation and stands amidst a garden which was developed by its original owner. The brick walls of the building are simply laid in stretcher bond, beneath hipped and gabled roofs, and the surface texture of the principal elevations is enlivened by the use of timber detailing and different groupings of casement-and-fanlight windows, which break up the composition of the exterior walls into smaller units.

The principal elevation of Manono faces north-east, overlooking the garden, the city, and harbour beyond. Framed by two gabled bays of unequal size, the main entrance is sheltered by a verandah and an open balcony on to which two of the first floor rooms open. The north-west elevation also features a verandah between the bow windows which light the living and dining rooms, although here the first floor balcony is roofed and extends over the living room window below. The tiled roofs have broad eaves and are bracketed or fitted with plain bargeboards which enhance the solid and unpretentious appearance of the building.

Inside the house the principal rooms are arranged around a central entrance hall, stairwell and landing which make extensive use of French-polished mahogany. The walls of the hall and landing are fitted with mahogany battens and the same timber is used in the panelled ceilings of both rooms and the closely set balustrades of the half-turn stairwell. Offering a contrast in scale and colour to the darkly stained woodwork are the coloured leadlights, depicting willow leaves and bunches of grapes, which fill the sidelights and fanlights of the front door and the "stepped" window which lights the stairwell and landing.

Throughout the house the internal fittings are largely intact and can be seen to their best advantage in the former library, now the living room, which has an inglenook and built-in mahogany bookcases, and in the former drawing room, now the dining room, which features a Minton tile fireplace, ornate light fittings and a decorative plaster frieze which complements the fire surround. These rooms are connected by a pair of sliding doors and together measure seventy-five square metres. The original dining room on the opposite side of the house is now the living room of a self-contained apartment.

Upstairs there are seven major rooms, most of them currently used as bedrooms, and two adjacent bathrooms which are above the large kitchen and former service pantry on the ground floor. The master bedroom is the only first floor room to feature leaded fanlights, but the four largest bedrooms, one of which is now used as a workroom,

all feature fireplaces with decorative surrounds. In the southern corner of the building is the former servants' wing. This originally communicated with the main section of the house but has since been converted into two self-contained flats.


c.1940s (?) - Fire in servants' quarters; wing rebuilt in Art Deco style and extended to include a garage on the ground floor. This wing was later closed off from the rest of the house and converted into two self- contained flats.

Notable Features

The woodwork in entrance hall and stairwell; fireplaces and fittings, especially the Minton tile fire surround in the original drawing room.

Construction Dates

1940 - 1950
Fire in servants' quarters; wing rebuilt in Art Deco style and extended to include a garage on the ground floor. This wing was later closed off from the rest of the house and converted into two self- contained flats.

Original Construction
1908 -

Construction Details

Brick piles, treble brick walls, Marseilles tile roof. Corrugated iron over later extension. Extensive use of mahogany throughout the interior.

Information Sources

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1905

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 4 Otago and Southland, Cyclopedia Company, Christchurch, 1905

Galer, 1981

L. Galer, Houses and Homes, Allied Press, Dunedin, 1981

Knight, 1988

Hardwicke Knight and Niel Wales, Buildings of Dunedin: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to New Zealand's Victorian City, John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1988

Brasch, 1980

C Brasch. Indirections: A Memoir 1909-1947, Oxford University Press, Wellington, 1980

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. The following text is 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.