Moa Seed Farmhouse and Barn

4760 Roxburgh-Ettrick Road (State Highway 8) And Langlea Road, Dumbarton, Otago

  • Moa Seed Farmhouse and Barn.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Angela Middleton.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7626 Date Entered 24th June 2005


Extent of List Entry

The registration includes part of the land in CT OT8D/200, and the buildings, fixtures and fittings thereon. The registration includes the farmhouse and the barn.

City/District Council

Central Otago District


Otago Region

Legal description

Part of Lot 1 DP 16903 (CT OT8D/200), Otago Land District


The Moa Seed Farmhouse and barn buildings are vernacular structures built of schist dating to the first land grant in the area to Francis Tubman in the 1860s. The Tubman family owned the property until 1912. Shortly after World War I the farm was taken over by the government for training returned soldiers.

This farmhouse and associated barn are located on a small section of land subdivided off the original 34 acre Moa Seed Farm. The name comes from its function as a rehabilitation farm for soldiers after World War I, producing seed crops, an industry that was continued into the 1950s. As a rehabilitation unit, Moa Seed Farm was associated with the agriculturalist J.W. Hadfield, who designed and introduced seed certification in New Zealand. The "Moa" aspect of the name originates from the large quantity of moa bones that were found in this area and nearby Moa Flat in the nineteenth century.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

These two buildings were among the earliest buildings constructed in the district, associated with the first Crown Grant of this block of land. As such, they are historically significant. The farmhouse and stables are also associated with the use of the farm in the development of New Zealand agriculture, in particular in its use as a seed farm and its management under J. W. Hadfield, an author and exponent of New Zealand agriculture from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Moa Seed Farm was a small holding in the midst of larger properties such as Moa Flat Downs, a station that once stretched over 100 kilometres along the Umbrella Mountains and Old Man Range from Beaumont to Clyde. It was the location of a rehabilitation scheme for returned World War I soldiers, a significant period in the history and development of New Zealand agriculture.

Moa Seed Farm has architectural significance. The Moa Seed Farm buildings (homestead and stables) are representative of farm buildings dating from early European settlement in the district. While the architect and builder are not known, both buildings demonstrate the vernacular architectural style of early Central Otago buildings, constructed from locally available materials (schist and mud). The simple exterior of the two-storied stone house and barn in their mature garden present a notable and striking view to State Highway 8.

The Moa Seed Farm buildings are culturally significant. They are associated with the first European settlement in the area, with the use of the holding as a rehabilitation unit following World War I, and with the agricultural research of J.W. Hadfield, an important figure in New Zealand's agricultural history.

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

The buildings and farm are associated with specific events in New Zealand's agricultural and social history that is the use of the farm as a rehabilitation unit for returned World War I soldiers and its use as a seed farm.

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

The use as a rehabilitation farm was developed under the management of J.W. Hadfield, a seminal figure in the history of New Zealand agriculture and author of a number of works in the field. Hadfield designed and introduced seed certification into New Zealand; he was a director of the Agronomy Division of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and was awarded the O.B.E. in 1953.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:

The Moa Seed Farm buildings provide knowledge of New Zealand's history with respect to their association with the above events (early agriculture and use as a rehabilitation and seed farm) and their association with J.W. Hadfield.

(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement:

These buildings date to the first Crown Grants in the Dumbarton area, hence to first European settlement here.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places:

Moa Seed Farm is a rare historic place as rehabilitation farms dating to post-World War I. It is also a rare historic place in its historic function as a seed farm, and its association with experimental agriculture.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

The Moa Seed Farm buildings are one of a number of vernacular farm structures still standing that date from the first years of European land holdings in Central Otago. The Moa Seed Farm structures resemble other historic buildings of a similar style and constructed from the same materials - schist and limestone mortar - that were readily at hand for building in the nineteenth century. These structures are the extant remnants of a former historical landscape.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The Moa Seed Farm farmhouse and associated barn were originally located on a property of 34 acres, granted to Francis Tubman in 1872. Six years later, in 1878, Francis Tubman transferred this title to Edward Tubman. In the same year a large insurance policy was taken out, indicating that the house was in existence at this time. The Cyclopedia of New Zealand notes that Edward Tubman, born in 1835, was one of the first Europeans to take up land leases at Dumbarton in 1867. Tubman was a member of the Tuapeka County Council and ran the Dumbarton post office from about 1900. According to the Cyclopedia Edward Tubman had two brothers, one of these no doubt being Francis, to whom the original Crown Grant was evidently issued. The farm remained in the ownership of the Tubman family until 1912, when the Wescott family purchased it and it became known as part of the Westcott settlement.

In 1919 the Returned Soldiers' Reparation Department purchased 450 acres in the area, including this title from the Westcott family, establishing a rehabilitation and training farm for soldiers returned from World War I. The name Moa Seed Farm originates from this time, when the farm specialised in raising various kinds of flower and vegetable seeds. This initiative was not very successful, but improved under the management of Joseph William Hadfield, whose name is closely associated with the development of New Zealand agriculture and the linen flax industry.

Hadfield carried out experimental agriculture; he designed and introduced seed certification in New Zealand, and following his involvement with Moa Seed Farm, became Director of the Agronomy Division (later the Crop Research Division) of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. During World War II Hadfield was Director of Linen Flax Development Production, supplying Britain with flax at a time when other sources were cut off. Hadfield was awarded the O.B.E. in 1953. He died in 1977, aged 90 years.

Under Hadfield, about seven and a half acres (three hectares) was cultivated in vegetables and two and a half acres (one hectare) in flowers for the seed farm, with the area under cultivation increasing annually. According to Webster, the rehabilitation courses were rather indefinite, lasting from a few months to a year, and trainees did not stay long.

In 1921 the property was leased to a syndicate, including Hadfield, known as the Moa Seed Farm Association. The syndicate received a small government subsidy on the condition that it carry out some experimental work. In 1926 the property reverted to the government and the Lands Department allotted sections to the neighbouring returned soldiers. F.D. Barron, the only seed farmer of the original scheme, was granted the lease of the original homestead block of 34 acres and also took over Hadfield's lines of vegetable seeds and roots along with the Moa Seed Farm trade mark. J.L. Dance joined Barron in partnership soon after he received the lease and the two continued to trade as Barron and Dance for a number of decades, continuing to produce seed from Hadfield's original stock. Barron and Dance grew sweet peas, tulips and gladioli. They imported the original tulip and gladioli bulbs from Holland, and the blooms were sent every year to markets throughout the country.

In 1953 R. A. Dance purchased the homestead block of 34 acres of Moa Seed Farm for £445. This was freeholded to him under Section 4 of the Discharged Soldiers Settlement Act 1915. It was sold again in 1965 and in 1973.

In 1977, Leslie and Gail Varney purchased the farmhouse on a title of 4,256 square metres subdivided from the original homestead block, and in 1978 incorporated the land on which the barn was located into their title, making a section of 6,924 square metres. At the time the Varneys purchased the farm house it was abandoned and in a bad state of repair. They carried out extensive repairs to restore the house. It was sold again in 1981 and in 1991 John and Raewyn Lane bought the property to develop the farmhouse as a teahouse / restaurant. In 1994 the Lanes applied for resource consent to convert the barn into four separate units for use as travellers' accommodation. The resource consent was granted following consultation and negotiations with the NZHPT over modifications to the exterior of the building to allow external access to the loft.

In 2002 the property was sold to its present owners, who continue with the commercial use of it as a bed and breakfast business.

Physical Description

The two-storied house has a plain façade with no verandah, with two doors on the ground floor and a window alongside each of the doors. On the first floor, there is a row of four windows looking out from three rooms (originally bedrooms) and a bathroom. It has chimneys in both gable-end walls. There is a lean-to attached to the back of the house which originally housed the kitchen.

While the exterior of the building remains unchanged, the interior of the ground floor has been modified into two large areas. From 1991 the ground floor was operated as a teahouse / restaurant, and under the current owners, who run the property as a bed and breakfast business, the former restaurant is now a dining room

The barn is a rectangular plan building with exterior walls of random rubble schist. Originally the barn had wooden stalls on the ground floor and a loft area above. The roof has a dormer window with a cathead and loading door from the loft.

The barn was converted for use as travellers' accommodation in 1994. The interior has been modified into four separate units, with access to the loft from an external stairway to the original dormer entrance.

Notable Features

Farmhouse and barn.

Construction Dates

1977 - 1978

1991 -
Modification of farm house ground floor to a teahouse / restaurant.

1994 -
Modification of stables for travellers' accommodation.

Construction Details

Both the house and barn have exterior walls constructed of schist with corrugated iron roof.

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

Evening Star

Evening Star

Obituary, 1/8/1977

Galer, 1981

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

Hadfield, 1952

J. W. Hadfield, Arable Farm Crops of New Zealand, Dept. of Scientific and Industrial Research, Wellington, 1952

Hadfield, 1959

J. W. Hadfield, Handbook of New Zealand Agriculture: pastures and pasture species, arable farm crops, soils and manures, plant pests and diseases, Whitcombe & Tombs, Christchurch, 1959

Webster, 1948

A. H. H. Webster, Teviot Tapestry. A History of the Roxburgh-Millers Flat District. Whitcombe & Tombs / Otago Centennial Historical Publications, Otago, 1948

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the Southern 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.