Rocklands Hall

187 Gillies Avenue, Epsom, Auckland

  • Rocklands Hall, Auckland.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7276 Date Entered 27th October 1995

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 11 Part of 7 DP 143375 DRO 88 BLA Pt Lot 4 Allot 63 Sec 6 SA

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Historical/Social/Cultural:

Rocklands Hall is historically significant as the home of prominent nineteenth century farmer, lawyer, politician, judge and naturalist, John Gillies. It is representative of the larger homes built for the Auckland and colonial urban elite. In 1921 the building was purchased by the Auckland Education Board and was used as a student hostel.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Aesthetic:

Rocklands Hall is a very finely designed Neo-Classical Italianate Villa exhibiting a considerable degree of pleasing Classical proportion and symmetry in its design and treatment of detail. The building is located in an area of large residences built in spacious park-like grounds in Epsom and Mount Eden.

Architectural:

Rocklands demonstrates the preference for Neo-Classical designs for large Auckland houses in the 1860s.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The following comments are made in relation to the criteria identified under S.23(2) of the Historic Places Act 1993.

a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

This an important site because of its close association with Thomas Gillies at a time when his career in colonial politics and the legal profession was at its zenith.

b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

Thomas Bannatyne Gillies was a farmer, lawyer, politician, judge and naturalist. He arrived in Dunedin in 1852 and served in the provincial and national parliaments during the 1860s, being elected speaker of the Otago chamber in 1861. He moved to Auckland in 1865 where he recommenced his political career; he served as Superintendent (1869-73) and as a MHR, serving briefly as colonial treasurer in 1872. He also became a Supreme Court judge.

Gillies' other interests were in zoology and botany, publishing many papers in the transactions of the Auckland Institute, acclimatisation and education.

The place is representative of the larger homes built for the colonial urban elite. Rocklands later history as a university hostel is unclear.

g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

Rocklands Hall is a two storey mid Victorian Neo-Classical Italianate style Villa built of timber in 1865-66, with the major addition of a ballroom in 1889. In keeping with the architectural practice at the time, the Italianate theme is eclectic and a number of other historical themes can be seen in the design, eg. Eastlake in the finely moulded and carved detail both inside and out, Queen Anne "Chateauesque" in the multipitched roof lines and Gibbs Style ornamentation in the use of verandahs supported on "Blocked Columns", a fashion invented by the architect James Gibbs in the eighteenth century.

Other architectural features include a typical Italianate staircase tower with wide overhanging eves and modillions, square and segmented windows with stained glass leadlights, Eastlake detail in classical order pilasters (Corinthian) entrance way, dentils, chamfered bolection mouldings, carved scroll work and pediments. The special feature is the rare 1889 ballroom ceiling at Rocklands with its centrepiece ceiling rose.

Rocklands was designed by Auckland architect John Currie (1849-1919). There is very little known about this architect but his style was obviously wide ranging, as would be expected by architects of his generation. At the time the house was commissioned by Gillies in the 1860s, Neo-Classicism was the conservative style preferred in Auckland by the establishment.

Conclusion:

Rocklands Hall, 187 Gillies Avenue, Auckland, is recommended for registration as a Category I as a place of special and outstanding historical and cultural heritage significance and value. The notable architectural features of Rocklands Hall are consistent with a very high class residence built in the 1860s. The buildings association with Gillies makes it equally significant in historical terms.

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Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1860 -

Information Sources

Hodgson, 1991

T. Hodgson, The Big House: Grand & Opulent Houses In Colonial New Zealand, Random, Auckland, 1991

Hodgson, 1992

T. Hodgson, The Heart of Colonial Auckland 1865-1910, Random Century NZ Ltd, Auckland 1992

Stacpoole, 1976

John Stacpoole, Colonial Architecture in New Zealand, Wellington, 1976

Stone, 1973

R. C. J. Stone, Makers of Fortune: A Colonial Business Community and its Fall, Auckland, 1973

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.