75 Waimata Valley Road, Waerenga-A-Hika, Gisborne

  • Waiohika.
    Copyright: Lesley Witters. Date: 15/01/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7187 Date Entered 23rd June 1994


City/District Council

Gisborne District


Gisborne Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 3839 (CT GS2B/860), Gisborne Land District

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The house was built for Charles Gray, he was born at Godmanchester, near Huntingdon, England, in 1840. He spent eleven years at sea, and rose to the position of Captain. After being a glazier in Queensland for seven years, Mr Gray came to Auckland in 1877, and soon afterwards settled in Poverty Bay district, where he bought a property named Waiohika, of about 3000 acres in extent. Charles Gray took a great interest in all local matters and was a member of the Poverty Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Society of which he was president for two years. He married in 1868, and eleven years later his first wife died. In 1882 he married again, to a daughter of Bishop Williams, of Waiapu, and had five sons and three daughters.


This style of house originated from Frank Lloyd Wright who introduced a general horizontality of line, lower gable, a preference for casement windows, verandahs closed and the low eave line. The movement was implemented during the first decade of the nineteen hundreds in America where Wright's houses became low and elongated and designed in the shape of cruciforms and later H, L and T plan shapes.

These features of the Prairie house influenced Louis Hay ten years after and is apparent in a few of his works in Napier and Gisborne, for instance, the Hetleys residence at Taradale and the Gray's residence at Waiohika. Waiohika has exaggerated out-stretched eaves which is significant to its long horizontal eave-line, true to the style of "Prairie House". The eaves create a sweeping effect from the low gable roof line out onto the topside of the eave. The central living area of the houses ground plan is rectangular in shape with two wings extending off. The wings contribute to the Prairie long low horizontal line and also balances the architectural plan shape of opposite extending wings. The west wing (not true to ground plan photo) is in a basic rectangular form and is a closed-in verandah of the living room. The east wing is an exceptional example of the Prairie house design with the wing extending out in a L shape form, partially enclosing a courtyard. Down one side of the wing is a roofed over verandah while the other side has various utility rooms, for example, fuel room, wetroom, cooler. The courtyard has its own intimate environment with vegetation growing within.

The joinery throughout is in keeping to the Prairie style. The mullions accentuate heavy vertical details use on all sashed windows. The front entrance porch reveals a solid weather-boarding column which leads to a full height seven foot doorway, a very deceptive feature of lowering the ceiling down to a human scale.

The front door, sliding doors and staircase panels are frosted lead-lights with the acceptable rectangular lattice with a similar vertical line as the windows. The north facing balcony is roofed over and has three single wooden columns at each outer balcony corner holding the roof up. The columns have been kept single and not joined together because L Hay wanted a modest facade in material construction.

The design of the staircase is unusual in the sense that it is three flighted beginning with a dog-leg and landing at the top. The landing has five light sash windows which internally highlights the pronounced vertical line of the windows. The maids quarters were incorporated upstairs and had their own staircase leading to the kitchen.

The Prairie house was designed for prosperous clients. Its size and inimitable form in New Zealand was for the opulent customer who could afford to have such a prodigious homestead built.


The homestead is surrounded by bush from Waimata Valley Road but it is on a slight raised plateau for the house to look over the whole Poverty Bay district. It can be viewed from Grays look-out, which is a hill west of the house. Its long horizontal line and extending eaves express its prominent architectural characteristics. The north side of it looks over pastures. The house's grounds are well maintained with trees and shrubs growing to the line of the house.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Hay, James Augustus Louis

J A Louis Hay (1881-1948) was born at Akaroa, Banks Peninsula. He attended Napier Boys' High School and worked for both D T Natusch and Walter P Finch. Hay developed a strong interest in the work of William Morris (1834-1869), Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) and Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959). On completion of his training Hay worked both in Dunedin and Australia before returning to Napier to commence practice on his own account.

Hay was chairman of the Hawkes Bay branch of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and was the Institute representative on the Napier Reconstruction Committee after the 1931 earthquake. He also did extensive work toward the reconstruction of Napier in the 1930s as a member of Associated Architects, a co-operative design organisation whose members included the principals of the three other major architectural practices in Napier at that time - C T Natusch and Sons, Finch and Westerholm and E A Williams. In collaboration with these architects Hay contributed to the Marine Parade Development plan, and the reconstruction of Napier Public Hospital.

In his own practice Hay was responsible for the designs of the National Tobacco Company Building (now Rothman's), Ahuriri (1933), the Hawkes Bay Art Gallery and Museum (1935), and the Hildebrandt Building, Tennyson Street (1932). His domestic work includes 'Waiohika', Greys Bush, Gisborne (1920).

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


Designed and built in the style of "American Prairie House", the Waiohika has its own distinct characteristics under this style. The floor plan is generally rectangular in shape but has wings extending off on the east and west sides. The east side is in the shape of an L and partially surrounds a courtyard while the west wing is a basic rectangular extension. A rough cast concrete strip foundation is below weather-boarding cladding. The roof has clay burnt tiles on a slight gable that sweeps down to a lengthened eave with internal guttering. A wide soffit stretches out to meet an angled fascia. Two brick chimneys exist with one chimney having double terracotta clay tops and the other having double metal flues with cowl tops. The house has predominantly double hung sash windows with accentuated mullions. A garage is attached to the east side and has trellises on either side of the garage door. A stepped timber decking extends from the dining and family rooms. Off the living room is a closed in verandah which forms the westerly rectangular wing. A balcony leads off Mrs Gray's room which is roofed over and then held up by two groups of three wooden column posts, each grouped out at the two outer balcony corners on top to an enclosed rail. The front door and side lights have lead light rectangular lattice with panels beneath on the doors.

The interior walls are lathed and plastered except for the hallway which is lined with dado panels. The ceilings have butt-jointed battens throughout, varying in sizes from downstairs to upstairs rooms. All rooms are lined with frieze boards, picture rails and chamfered skirting. There are sliding doors from the hall into the living room and into the adjoining morning room. Each door has frosted panes in lattice lead lights. The staircase is three flights beginning with a dog-leg. At the top of the second flight is a landing that has a door leading out onto the south balcony. The staircase is lined with dado panels and above in the openings, over the panels are fixed lead lights in stout lead. Divided by a wall but beside the main stairs are the maids stairs with only one flight. All fireplaces are finished with straight tuck pointed work except for Mrs Gray's which has a copper canopy and tile surround. Her mantle piece has rabbited pilasters at each side. The dining room mantle piece is jarrah supported upon jarrah corbels.


1981 (approximately):

- Kitchen extended into dining recess.

- Pantry, porch, workshop and other two spaces on the east side of the dining room gutted to make a family room. Bay windows added in Prairie style.

- Slate tiles laid on the verandah in the L shape wing.

- Garage added onto the east side of the house.

- Washroom gutted.

- Stepped timber sun deck added from the dining room and family room.

Architect: Peter Carter from Carrot Designs.

Builder: unknown.

Dates Unknown:

- One chimney has had its flue tops replaced with taller a double metal flues added.

Notable Features

-The long horizontality is expressed with extending eaves with exaggerated soffits. This categorises its style along with the lower story wings of the east and west sides.

-Heavy emphasis on the mullions for the vertical line windows.

-At the top of the stairs on the east side of the landing is a 1.5 inch pipe. This is a fire hydrant and was/is gravity fed.

-The house is sited east/west with the north face as the back of the house and where the occupants mostly used instead of the front of the house being the south side with lesser sun.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1926 -

Construction Details

Concrete foundations made from river shingle or totara blocks. Floors laid with dressed tongue and groove flooring. The cladding is bevelled back dressed matai weather-boarding. All timber framing is either totara or rimu. Exterior joinery like valley lining, fascias, sill banks, totara or matai. Roof cladding is burnt clay tiles. Dado panels are made of ply-wood. Ceilings throughout formed with Petro Panels with butt-jointed battens. Picture rails and frieze boards line living room, morning room and dining room and all upper floor bedrooms and passages. Chamfered skirting throughout.

Information Sources

Art New Zealand

Art New Zealand

'Louis Hay, Napier and the Chicago School by Peter Shaw', No. 33, pp 46 - 51

Encyclopaedia of NZ, 1966

Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, Wellington, 1966

pp 967.


Architectural Drawings/Plans

Negatives in Gisborne Museum and Arts Centre. These include in the file, lower and upper floor plans and all elevations. Not in the file are negatives of doorways, fireplaces, staircase. Other photos of Waiohika in Museum, under file number 331.

Hitchcock, 1958

Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Architecture, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, 1958


Other Information

A copy of the original 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.