Pilot Station Historic Area

80, 78 And 76 Moana Street, Aramoana

  • Pilot Station Historic Area. Plan of Historic Area from registration report..
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Date: 13/12/1996.
  • Pilot Station Historic Area. No. 3 Boatman's Cottage.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 20/06/2014.
  • Pilot Station Historic Area. No. 1 Pilot's House.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 20/06/2014.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Area Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7368 Date Entered 13th December 1996

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 3 DP 24352 (CT OT16D/747), Otago Land District and the Pilot Station Historic Area thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 11 December 2014.

City/District Council

Dunedin City

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 3 DP 24352 (CT OT16D/747), Otago Land District

Summaryopen/close

Hidden in low sand dunes of North Spit at the head of Otago Harbour and protected from the weather by looming trees is the Pilot Station Historic Area. The Pilot Station Historic Area consists of three cottages that from 1913 to 1923 provided accommodation for the Otago Harbour Board’s pilot and boatmen, responsible for piloting vessels in the harbour. These buildings recall the importance of the pilot service in the days before radio communication, and have architectural significance as examples of workers’ dwellings designed by prominent Dunedin architect Basil Hooper, known for his Arts and Crafts style residences.

Harbour pilotage is the ‘navigation of a vessel through restricted and shallow waters to an allocated berth and safely mooring her thereat, without incurring any damage to either the ship, or to harbour works and plant.’ Ships needed a guide to take them through the heads and onwards following the channel between the sandbars to the deep water harbour of Port Chalmers. A harbour pilot boarded the incoming or outgoing vessel. A long harbour with a narrow entrance between North Spit and Taiaroa Head, a narrow channel with sandbars nearby, and rocky islands to negotiate, Otago Harbour was a challenge to seafarers. These houses are located at the harbour entrance, with an anchorage for the pilot’s launch, and a jetty nearby. The proximity to the harbour entrance meant the pilots were on hand when a ship arrived.

In the 1860s, the first pilot station was at Taiaroa Head but in 1912, the Otago Harbour Board decided to relocate pilot service across the channel to North Spit, near the small settlement of Aramoana. The Otago Harbour Board commissioned Dunedin architect Basil Hooper to design a pilot’s house and two boatmen’s cottages. The houses are all weatherboard with Marseilles-tile roofs. The pilot’s house is the largest, as befitting his senior rank, while the two boatmen’s cottages, though different in exterior appearance, have the same floor plans. Hooper’s Arts and Crafts design is evident in the tiled ridge-line, the multi-paned windows, pitched gables and interior detailing. These working-class house designs are unusual for Hooper who was better known for his large residences for well-off clients. The boatmen’s houses have different external appearances, but have identical floor plans. Cottage No. 1 has a single, gabled roof, and a verandah with a steeply pitched roof. Cottage No. 2 has a hipped roof with two return gables, and a verandah with a flat roof. The floor plans show a kitchen, sitting room, and one or two bedrooms, a central main entrance hall and a cross passage, and a bathroom, scullery and one or two more bedrooms along the back of the house.

Work was underway by December 1912. The foundations for the pilot’s house were completed and the boatmen’s houses were ‘well forward’ by the 18 December. By November 1913, the Pilot Station was complete, and the cottages were occupied by ‘the harbourmaster’s staff.’

By the 1920s, improvements in communication technology, and access to a reliable motor launch led to the pilot service being relocated to Port Chalmers. The Otago Harbour Board put the houses up for tender and they were sold into private ownership.

In 2014, the three houses remain private residences, two available to rent as holiday cribs.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Historical.

The three former pilots' houses at Aramoana were built by the Otago Harbour Board in 1913 to serve its new pilot station which was being transferred from Taiaroa Heads to the Spit. The Board again relocated the pilots in 1923, this time to Port Charmers. Since then the houses have been in private ownership.

The houses were built for the Otago Harbour Board, which employed the following during the years 1913-23:

George Thompson - 1895-1922

Duncan McDougall - 1902-18

Frederick John Duncan - 1907-36

Francis A Maxwell - 1907-15

James Smith McKenzie - 1918-19

John McLean - 1922-40

These houses date from the end of an era in which poor surface communications compelled port authorities to station Harbour Department staff at the harbour entrance in order to service shipping which often arrived unannounced. By 1923 the provision of (1) reliable powered pilot launches and (2) a road between Port Charmers and the

entrance enabled the Board to relocate its pilots in the township and to reduce its requirement for the provision of staff accommodation.

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Architectural:

Pilot's House No.1

The Pilot's House No, I at Aramoana is an Arts and Crafts workingman's type cottage designed in Edwardian Free Style by Dunedin architect Basil Hooper. It represents part of the outstanding Domestic Revival style that Hooper built his reputation on with large set-piece houses in Dunedin during the years 1904-1923. The fact that the Pilot's House was one of a group of small houses designed for employees of the Otago Harbour Board makes it an example of a particular class of building for which Hooper is less well known, but which is nonetheless very important in understanding the scope and oeuvre of Hooper's work.

The Pilot's House is one of a group of three houses located at North Spit Beach. The houses were designed in December 1912 and completed in October 1913 for the purpose of accommodating the Otago Harbour Board Pilots, who had been transferred across to North Spit from their previous location at Taiaroa Head in 1912.

Pilot's House No.2

As the architectural style and quality of House No.2 is the same as the Pilot's House (house No.1 of the group) the assessment is the same as that given for the Pilot's House No.1 The only difference to note is that whereas the Pilot's House is designed with a hipped roof and with a gabled Bay window, House No.2 is a simple long rectangular building having flush gable ends and a gabled entrance at right angles to the rear facade, the front facade catching the sun and not, as Hooper would argue, needing the entrance on that side.

The Pilot's House No.2 at Aramoana is an Arts and Crafts workingman's type cottage designed in Edwardian Free Style by Dunedin architect Basil Hooper. The Boatman's cottage, House no.2, is the second building of a group of three houses located at North Spit Beach designed by New Zealand Arts and Crafts architect, Basil Hooper of Dunedin (1876-1960).

Pilot's House No.3

As the architectural style and quality of House No.3 is the same as the Pilot's House (house No.1 of the group) the assessment is the same as that given for the Pilot's House No.1. The only difference to note is that whereas the Pilot's House No.1 is designed with a hipped roof and with a gabled Bay window, House No.3 appears to be an "I" plan cottage with two gabled wings at right angles to the central portion.

The Pilot's House No.3 at Aramoana is an Arts and Crafts workingman's type cottage designed in Edwardian Free Style by Dunedin architect Basil Hooper. The house is the third of a group of three houses located at North Spit Beach. The houses were designed in December 1912 and completed in October 1913 for the purpose of accommodating the Otago Harbour Board Pilots, who had been transferred across to North Spit from their previous location at Taiaroa Head in 1912.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Hooper, Basil Bramston

Hooper (1876-1960) was apprenticed to the Dunedin architect James Louis Salmond in 1896. He went to England in 1901 where he worked under Professor Arthur Beresford Pite and became associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. He was influenced by the work of C F A Voysey (1857-1941). Hooper was employed in the housing section of the London County Council Architectural Department.

Having been elected an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Hooper set up in private practice in Dunedin in 1904. He became well-known for his domestic architecture, designing such houses as 26 Heriot Row (1911) and 319 York Place (1916). He also designed the brick St Kilda Methodist Church Hall (1909, demolished 1985) and supervised the construction of St Paul's Cathedral in Dunedin, which was designed by Edmund Sedding. He was one of New Zealand's most talented Arts and Crafts architects.

Hooper moved to Auckland in 1921 and established the partnership known as Rough and Hooper. They designed the Australian Mutual Provident Society Building, Hamilton (1924), and the Motor Supplies Warehouse, Auckland (1929).

Love Brothers

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Harbour pilotage is the ‘navigation of a vessel through restricted and shallow waters to an allocated berth and safely mooring her thereat, without incurring any damage to either the ship, or to harbour works and plant.’ A harbour pilot boarded the incoming or outgoing vessel and in a long harbour with a narrow entrance between North Spit and Taiaroa Head, a narrow channel with sandbars nearby, and rocky islands to negotiate, Otago Harbour was a challenge to seafarers. Ships needed a guide to take them through the heads and onwards following the channel between the sandbars to the deep water harbour of Port Chalmers.

In the early years of settlement, the Governor had the authority to appoint pilots – Governor Grey appointed Richard Driver as official pilot in 1847. Driver was stationed at Taiaroa Heads and had to row the considerable distance into Dunedin once a month to collect his pay. At first, pilots at the Lower Harbour were stationed at Taiaroa Heads or Port Chalmers. In 1868, the control of the pilot service was transferred to the Provincial Government of Otago, which constituted the Otago Pilot Board in 1864. Pilots were key to the smooth operation of harbour services. Once a formal pilot service was established, pilots were usually Foreign Going Master Mariners, skilled in ship handling. The Provincial Government’s involvement was short, and in the early 1870s, control reverted to the Commissioner of Customs. Once the Otago Harbour Board was constituted, it took over control of pilotage. Captain John Louden was chief pilot under the Otago Provincial Government, and under the Harbour Board. The first pilot station was located at Taiaroa Head above what is now known as Pilots Beach.

Access for ships was crucial, not just for safety, but for the economics of Otago. In 1883, for example, the New Zealand Refrigerating Company, responsible for the first shipment of frozen meat from Port Chalmers, wrote to ask what draught of water the pilot service was prepared to take over the bar, as the company had contracted to load five steamers with meat for London. Captain Thomson of the Harbour Board wrote that safe passage had been had by vessels drawing 22 feet (6.7 metres), but that since the Board had made improvements to the entrance he considered that vessels drawing 25 feet (7.62 metres) could be brought into port.

Maintaining the channel was important – a mole was built at Aramoana in the mid-1880s. The beaches at North Spit, on the northern edge of the harbour entrance at Otago Heads were vulnerable to erosion, compromising the channel. Protection works included groynes to safeguard the channel, and a mole between Aramoana beach and North Spit beach. By 1909, the Victoria Channel provided a ‘fairway’ twenty feet [six metres] deep from Port Chalmers to Dunedin. At both ports were wharves, goods sheds and docks, all the necessities for big shipping. ‘The whole harbour is dotted with beacons and buoys and lights, and the board promises an efficient pilot service, and a big steamer finds her way to the Dunedin wharves at the darkest hour of the night just as readily as in the day time.’

The Otago Harbour Board decided to relocate the pilot station from Taiaroa Head to North Spit, on the other side of the channel, as the ‘most convenient situation.’ Architect Basil Hooper advertised for tenders for the ‘ERECTION of a PILOT’S RESIDENCE and TWO BOATMEN’S COTTAGES at the North Spit, Otago Heads for the Otago Harbour Board.’ The successful tenderers were Messrs Love Brothers, with their tender of £1,736. Hooper was also to design three cottages for lighthouse staff at Taiaroa head in 1914 (these were demolished in the 1980s to make way for tourist facilities).

All three houses are weatherboard with Marseille-tiled roofs. The pilot’s house is larger, recognising the occupant’s status. All windows are four-paned with double-hung sashes. The boatmen’s houses have different external appearances, but have identical floor plans. Cottage No. 1 has a single, gabled roof, and a verandah with a steeply pitched roof. Cottage No. 2 has a hipped roof with two return gables, and a verandah with a flat roof. The floor plans show a kitchen, sitting room, and one or two bedrooms, a central main entrance hall and a cross passage, and a bathroom, scullery and one or two more bedrooms along the back of the house.

Work was underway by December 1912. The foundations for the pilot’s house were completed and the boatmen’s houses were ‘well forward by the 18 December. By November 1913, the Pilot Station was complete, and the cottages were occupied by ‘the harbourmaster’s staff.’ The Harbour Board pilot service employees lived at the houses. Job advertisements for a ‘coxswain’ and an engine driver (for the pilot launch) both received a salary and a ‘free house.’ A jetty was built at North Spit, as well as a launch anchorage for use of the pilot staff. In 1917, two new water tanks were erected at each of the three pilot houses, and an additional tank at Spit jetty to provide water for picnic parties.

There were some reports that ‘[b]oth designs and the construction of the buildings had been said to be far from satisfactory, and had been reported in the newspapers.’ Hooper defended his work, saying ‘special attention had been paid to the designing of neat and economic cottages’ and he could not understand the criticism. The Board denied any such comment had been made and passed the motion that ‘in view of the fact that the houses at the North Spit were passed to the satisfaction of the board’s officers, there is no intention to cast any reflection on the architect, Mr Hooper.’

Erosion problems were evident early on. In 1914, fences were erected to try and stop drifting sand, and filling work was completed near the pilot station.

The pilot launch was a regular sight up and down the harbour. In 1920, the launch Inishfree was converted to a pilot boat, supplying visiting steamers with,

'An efficient and unfailing pilot service. And as the pilots are shipped and disembarked in the broken waters outside Otago Heads, the equipment of the new pilot launch has been carried out with a view to her performing her duties in practically any state of the weather. She has been fully closed in on deck, so that frisky waves may not be able to foam their way into the engine room. Portion of a big hawser has been lashed round her fore and aft, to prevent damage to her hull while the little craft transfers pilots to big liners in a choppy sea.'

By 1923, communications had improved and access to a reliable powered launch meant that the pilot service could be transferred to Port Chalmers. The pilot service houses were sold into private ownership, and remain in private ownership in 2014, two available to rent as holiday cribs.

Physical Description

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Description:

The area proposed here for registration is located on the North Spit of Aramoana at

the entrance to Port Chalmers, Dunedin.

The area consists of three Pilots Cottages which are positioned on North Spit more or

less midway between the 'Mole' and North Spit Jetty, The cottages are located opposite Harrington Point which is on the other (southern) side of Otago Harbour.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1913 -
completed

Addition
1917 -
water tanks built

Construction Details

Timber, Marseilles tile

Completion Date

15th October 2014

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Allen, 2000

Ralph Allen with Chris Baughen and Jeremy Ashford, Motif and Beauty: The New Zealand Arts and Crafts Architecture of Basil Hooper Harptree Press, Dunedin, 2000

Keyse, 1989

Geoffrey Keyse, Pilots, Otago Harbour: The Port of Otago, A Nautical Diary, Geoffrey Keyse [Dunedin, 1989]

Other Information

A copy of the original report and a fully referenced upgrade report are available from the Otago/Southland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand.

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.

Historic Area Place Name

Pilot's Cottage No. 1
Pilot's Cottage No. 2
Pilot's Cottage No. 3