Carter Home (Former)

84 Moreton Road, Parkvale, Carterton

  • Carter Home (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7663 Date Entered 30th June 2006


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the buildings (including the Carter Home (Former), barn, stables and garage but excluding the relocated Trentham Ladies Rooms and nearby relocated meat store), their fittings and fixtures, and the land and garden on the certificate of title WN816/67.

City/District Council

Carterton District


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 17 DP 3680 (CT WN816/67), Wellington Land District


The Carter Home, near Carterton, was made possible by a bequest in the will of Charles Rooking Carter (1822-1896), an instrumental figure in the history of the Wairarapa settlement. Carter provided land and funding for the establishment of an old men's home at a time when there was little government provision for the welfare of aging workers and a real social need for their care.

The Home was designed by the Wellington architect, William Crichton, in a brief partnership with Joseph Roe of Masterton. It was officially opened in 1901. It provided quality accommodation for up to twelve elderly male residents at a time. These residents were required to be over 65 years of age, residents of Carterton for at least five years prior to entering the Home and of sound moral character. The Home was unusual in the level of care provided and in that the residents were not required to contribute either financially or provide physical labour for their upkeep. One notable resident, James Cox, lived in the Home between 1918 and 1925, kept a diary of his experiences which would later form the basis for Miles Fairburn's important social history, Nearly Out of Heart and Hope: the puzzle of a colonial labourer's diary. However, changing expectations of residential care resulted in a falling number of residents by the 1960s. The Home was closed in 1964.

In 1966 the property was purchased by William Mason (1919-1994) and his wife Maureen Mason. The Masons ran their business 'Mason Handprints' from the building, producing hand-printed wallpapers and furnishing fabrics to William Mason's designs. William Mason also worked as an interior designer and became a pivotal figure in the development of a New Zealand style of interior design during his residence in the former Carter Home. The Masons sold the house when they retired in 1974 and subsequent owners have used the property as a family home.

According to the architect Charles Fearnley, the 'Carter Home could be regarded as interesting by any standards, visual or historical.' The Home is closely associated with Charles Rooking Carter, whose vision made the Home possible. The Home is of historical importance as an early example of purpose-built housing for the elderly and is unusual in the exceptionally high quality of care provided to its residents as a result of Carter's generosity. The Home is of particular interest for its social history, which was recorded in the diary of James Cox, one of the home's former residents. The Home retains much of its original character and its ventilation system is of technological interest. The importance of the Home is enhanced by its association with William Mason, a renowned New Zealand designer who rose to prominence during his residence in the building.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical significance or value:

The Carter Home has historical significance. It was made possible by a bequest from Charles Rooking Carter, an important figure in the history of Wairarapa settlement. Carter's bequest acknowledged the plight of aging male New Zealanders at the turn of the century. Carter's response to their plight was within contemporary social norms, reflecting the growing trend towards the development of institutions for the care of the elderly and destitute and the focus on the needs of the 'deserving poor'. However, Carter's response was atypical in that residents of the Carter Home were not required to contribute financially, or to provide physical labour for their upkeep. In addition, Carter ensured that the numbers within the Home would be limited and that its residents would be comfortably housed. Such provisions enabled Fairburn to describe the Home as a veritable 'seventh heaven' for its residents at a time when there was little official provision for the basic needs of the elderly. Carter Home is therefore an important marker in the development of the provision of housing for the elderly and provides concrete evidence of the living conditions in an early retirement institution.

Architectural significance or value:

The building is the only work identified as being designed by the firm Crichton & Roe, formed by the prominent Wellington architect William Crichton (1862-1922) and Joseph Roe, then of Masterton. Both men are recognised as notable architects. Roe designed a number of private homes and commercial buildings in Hawera, including the White Hart Hotel in New Plymouth. Crichton contributed to the design of a number of important buildings including Wellington's Missions to Seamen building and the Wellington Fever Hospital. Reflecting the trend towards the creation of more 'home-like' environments in New Zealand's institutions, the Carter Home was based on the plan for a large villa. It features interesting decorative detail that was designed especially for this building rather than being mass produced. Despite the home-like references, Crichton and Roe also catered for the perceived needs of the institution. The building was planned around a wide, central hallway and staff and inmates were accommodated in separate wings. Staff accommodation was relatively private, while inmates slept in large dormitories. The Home's original layout has largely been retained. The original fabric has also been preserved. The timber floors, tongue and groove walls and board and batten ceilings remain extant, and early and original fittings, such as the elaborate double doors hung in the wide hallway, gas light fittings, and early ventilation system have been maintained in good working order. The setting and the complex of outbuildings that enabled the Home to function also remain extant. Plants mentioned in Cox's diaries for instance, can be identified, as can the stables, barn, and chicken run. The former Carter Home is therefore of considerable interest as the purpose of the building can be readily perceived from its current layout, extant materials and original setting.

Technological significance or value :

The design of the Carter Home was influenced by Carter's own specifications and reflects his desire that the Home be of sound construction; of particular note is the original, extra-thick corrugated iron on the roof, which was specifically requested by Carter. The ventilation systems have technological value. The bimetallic spring thermostatic dampers, which automatically operate the roof vents, are also extremely reliable and are in sound working order.

Social significance or value:

The Carter Home has considerable social significance. The Home reflects attitudes towards, and accepted means of managing, New Zealand's poor and destitute in the early twentieth century. At the time, dependency was viewed, both by those providing assistance and by those who required it, as a kind of moral failure. There was little assistance for aging workers available and what was provided was aimed toward the 'deserving poor'. Recipients were often expected to work for their upkeep as well as their own moral good. Carter's response to the issue drew on these social attitudes. Carter considered an institution an appropriate means of alleviating the problem and targeted his help towards the deserving. Yet once men were accepted into the Home, their treatment was markedly different to that which prevailed in other similar institutions. Carter provided the best environment that he could for the residents of his Home. His will is specific in requiring high quality materials for the construction of the building. He also provided completely for the care of the residents. Their upkeep was provided for by income from the surrounding farmlands, which was sufficient to allow a considerable degree of comfort. The large villa included two, well-ventilated dormitories and a large dining and smoking room. As was typical separate accommodation was provided for the 'Matron and Master' of the Home. By the second half of the twentieth century however, social expectations had changed and there was greater value placed on privacy. The dormitory layout became less appealing and the Home finally closed in the 1960s.

What makes the Home particularly important is the survival of the diary of James Cox, a former resident of the Home. The voices of the 'inmates' of Homes and institutions are rarely heard; managers and committees write the vast majority of surviving documents. Historical impressions of inmates are shaped by the authors' own attitudes. Cox's diary is there important as it provides a rare and valuable insight into the Home from the perspectives on an inmate. The diary records Cox's impressions of the Home and the attitudes of its managers and the impact it had on his life is made explicit. The diary was studied by well-known social historian Miles Fairburn and formed the basis for his influential work Nearly Out of Heart and Hope: the puzzle of a colonial labourer's diary. Fairburn's work makes the social history of the home publicly accessible and deepens our understanding of the plight of elderly men for whom the Carter Home was constructed.

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

The Carter Home property is an important example of purpose-built charitable housing for the elderly in the early twentieth century. Carter's bequest to establish the Carter Home was prompted by a real social need. Aging workers found casual work difficult to obtain and those that found employment were often poorly paid. Carter's response to the issue of the aged poor was shaped by social attitudes of the period. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there was an expansion in the number of institutions built to provide long-term institutional care for the 'deserving poor'. Yet Carter's bequest resulted in a Home that was atypical in a number of ways. Unlike most Homes, where residents were required to work for their upkeep and, often, their own moral good, residents of the Carter Home were not required to contribute to their upkeep either through work or financial contributions. In addition, the number of 'inmates' was kept relatively low and their comforts were made a consideration. These features caused Miles Fairburn to describe the Carter Home as 'a sort of seventh heaven' for the elderly, itinerant males who found a home there. The Home is therefore an important record of attitudes in the early twentieth century and contributes strongly to New Zealand's social history.

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

The Home is closely associated with the Wairarapa philanthropist and politician Charles Rooking Carter. Carter is remembered for his notable contribution to the growth of Wellington and settlement of Wairarapa; and as a bibliophile and writer. He made a number of significant donations during his lifetime and his will included many generous bequests. The Carter Home was constructed on Carter's Wairarapa estate and was funded through a bequest in his will. The building and its management was guided by his specific instructions for many years. The Home, which was named after Carter, is therefore an important link to this notable New Zealander.

The Home is also associated with William Mason, who has been described 'as New Zealand's most successful designer and printer of unique textiles and wall papers, and creator of décor'.

Mason began his career as a painter but in 1961, his flair for colour and pattern led him to establish the firm 'Mason Handprints'; he began producing hand-printed textiles for the commercial market. Mason developed his own distinctive style of modern eclecticism and by the mid-1960s his business was established and his designs highly influential. Mason's bold designs spurred interest in the rejuvenation of older homes through the use of textiles to create highly contemporary environments. Between 1966 and 1974, when Mason retired, Mason Handprints was run from the Carter Home. The Masons operated the business from the former dormitory wing of the Carter Home, while printing was run from the former bathroom wing. This was the period of the firm's greatest influence and the Home was integral to the success of the business.

(e)The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:

The Carter Home retains a strong link with the current Carterton community. The Carter Home was built for Carterton's residents and was managed by a committee of locals that was chaired by Carterton's mayor. The aged men's home function did not cease until late 1964, so there are still people in the community with memories of it. The current owners have compiled a notebook over the last 20 years as a result of people approaching them with stories of the property's past, which suggests that the Home still has a special place in the memories of many, reinforcing that the community's attachment to the Home is alive and well. However, the Home is also of interest to the wider New Zealand community. It has featured in a number of publications, including two books on the Wairarapa's architectural heritage. The Home was discussed and illustrated in relation to Mason Handprints as part of an exhibition and exhibition catalogue of that name. A history of the Home's role in providing housing for the elderly is given in the book The Carter Legacy commissioned by the Carter Society in 2003. The Home has also been discussed in academic and more popular literature by Professor Miles Fairburn (University of Canterbury) and Professor Margaret Tennant (Massey University) regarding the housing of the poor and elderly in New Zealand. The former Carter Home is therefore held in esteem by a diverse range of communities and groups, each of whom appreciate different aspects of the former Carter Home's rich history.


The Carter Home has outstanding heritage value. The Home is associated with Charles Rooking Carter. Carter is remembered for his contribution to the settlement of Wairarapa and as a bibliophile, writer and benefactor. The Carter Home was conceived of, and named after Carter. It was constructed on Carter's estate and its construction and on-going maintenance and management was fully funded from a bequest in his will. The Carter Home is therefore an important link to a notable New Zealander. The Home has outstanding social significance. It reflects attitudes towards, and accepted means of managing New Zealand's poor and destitute in the early twentieth century. Carter's response to the issue drew on contemporary social attitudes yet his Home provided a markedly higher standard of care than was possible or even considered desirable in other, similar institutions. What makes the Home of particular importance is the survival of the diary of resident James Cox; normally residents' experiences are perceived via documents created by those managing the institutions. Cox's diary is therefore important as it provides a rare and valuable insight into the Home from the perspectives on an inmate. The Home, designed by notable architects Crichton and Roe, retains much of its original character and is of architectural interest because the original purpose of the building can be readily perceived from its current layout, extant materials and original setting. The original materials and ventilation system are also of technological interest. Following the closure of the Carter Home in 1964 it became the residence of William Mason, an important New Zealand designer of textiles, who rose to prominence during his residence in the building. Mason's association with the Carter Home adds to the building's historical value.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Crichton & Roe

William Crichton of Wellington & Joseph E. Roe of Masterton.

The plans for the Carter Home were developed by William Crichton of Wellington (1862-1922) and Joseph E. Roe of Masterton. It appears that the partnership may have been formed for the purposes of the Carter Home contract. Roe appears to be the more junior of the architectural partnership, as when he relocated to Hawera two or three years later he advertised as the “Late Partner with Mr W Crichton of Wellington”. He designed a number of buildings in and around Hawera, both private homes and commercial buildings such as the Maxilab building in High Street and the White Hart Hotel. By 1915 he was in a partnership with Greenish, and according to their advertisement, was a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Architects. In 1901 Crichton formed a very fruitful partnership with McKay, producing a number of important buildings including the Missions to Seamen building and the Wellington Fever Hospital. Chricton was actively involved in forming the New Zealand Institute of Architects, being an office bearer 1922-23.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Charles Rooking Carter (1822-1896) was born in England in 1822. Initially apprenticed to the building trade, Carter read widely and developed a strong interest in the Chartist movement. He wrote extensively on labour conditions and served as secretary of the movement which resulted in a shorter working Saturday for many London shops. In 1850 he married Jane Robertson and, shortly after the marriage, the couple relocated to New Zealand. In New Zealand, Carter worked initially as a builder and architect. In 1853 he obtained a position on the committee of the Small Farms Association in the Wairarapa, which initiated the settlement of Masterton and Greytown. While serving on the committee, Carter acquired land in the Taratahi block and his work led, in 1859, to the new town of Carterton being named after him. Carter represented Wairarapa on the Provincial Council between 1857 and 1864 and in the General Assembly between 1859 and 1865. In his later years he spent prolonged periods in England and wrote valuable commentary on a number of New Zealand subjects. Carter made a number of significant donations prior to his death on 22 July 1896 and the provisions of his will enabled the establishment of the Carter Observatory in Wellington, an area of bush land known as the Carter Reserve and the Carter Home for Aged Men.

Carter's bequest to establish the Carter Home was prompted by a real social need. Aging workers found casual work difficult to obtain and those that found employment were often poorly paid. Miles Fairburn's biography of James Cox, an unskilled labourer who experienced increasing ill health, provides an in-depth study of the plight of poor and aged men during this period. Fairburn demonstrates that Cox held firmly to a Victorian ideology of self-help, viewing dependency as a kind of moral failure. As he aged, casual work became increasingly difficult to obtain and his pursuit of it required regular relocations that made the formation of long-term relationships difficult. Cox's desire for self-determination meant that, on occasion, he became a vagrant and was forced to resort to begging. According to Fairburn:

The psycho-sociological effects of poverty dulled his appetite for public gatherings and his sense of community-belonging in other ways. We cannot underestimate the extent to which over these years he was preoccupied with and distracted by the mechanical problems of economic survival.

Carter's response to the issue of the aged poor was typical for the period. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there was an expansion in the number of institutions built to provide long-term institutional care. In 1880, the Government identified twelve institutions charged with caring for orphans, the elderly and the destitute. By 1920, there were 24 institutions that cared for the elderly and destitute alone. In such homes elderly men like Cox were often domesticated for the first time. As was also typical, Carter's bequest was targeted towards the 'deserving poor'. Carter specified that:

all applicants for admission to the Home must be of good character and a special preference shall be given to those who have not been habitual drunkards and have not become Bankrupt.

Yet while Carter's response reflected the social attitudes of the period, Carter's bequest resulted in a Home that was atypical in a number of ways. Elderly applicants for government assistance were often in boarding situations where care was minimal and exploitation was common. For instance, in 1904 Auckland's Costley Home for the Aged Poor was found to be 'lamentably wanting in those ideals of comfort, hygiene, privacy and manners that characterised the model home'. Carter's Home, on the other hand, was to be described by Miles Fairburn as 'a sort of seventh heaven' for the elderly, itinerant males who found a home there. The origins for this difference arose from the terms of Carter's bequest. He emphasised that residents of the Home were not to be required to contribute to their upkeep: 'The purposes and object of The Home shall be the gratuitous support in the buildings of the said Home of Aged men of good character'. The Home, which was to be established on five acres of Carter's Estate, was to be funded from the proceeds from leases on the remainder of the estate lands. Carter also specified that the Home should be built to accommodate 20 residents, although he had hoped that contributions from others would enable the facility to be expanded. This contrasted with the typical Home, which tended to house hundreds of 'inmates'. Finally, Carter emphasised the importance of a building that was soundly constructed and properly maintained and managed.

In accordance with the terms of the will, a committee was established to manage the bequest. The committee was chaired by the Mayor of Carterton and included the 'resident Clergyman of the Church of England' and 'three members of the Borough Council'. To allow £300 interest to accrue, there was a four-year delay between Carter's death in 1896 and the commencement of work on the home in 1900. That year the committee commissioned architects William Crichton of Wellington (1862-1922) and Joseph E. Roe of Masterton to complete plans for the building. In March tenders for its construction were called for and in June it was announced that Crichton & Roe had completed plans:

of a handsomely designed and very solid building in wood, to the order of the Trustees of the estate. The foundations are to be of concrete, and special care has been observed in the lighting, warming and sanitary arrangements of the building, and the comforts of the old men studied in every way.

The new, single storey building was dedicated on 7 January 1901. It resembled a large villa and included two large, well-ventilated dormitories and a large dining and smoking room for the 'inmates'. A comfortable sitting room, bedrooms and office were provided for the Matron and Master of the Home.

It appears that there were between seven and 10 residents in the Home's early years, although initial purchases recorded in the account book for 1901 indicate an expectation of 10-12 residents. In accordance with Carter's will, residents were at least 65 years old and had spent at least the last five years in the Carterton district. A few early application forms from the period 1909 to 1914 survive: the applicants were: Daniel Carey (b 1840), John C. Grady (b 1838), William Brigham (b 1836), Peter Fealick, (fl 1913), John Taylor (b 1825) and James Fortune (b 1846). Carey's application form indicates that he was originally from Ireland where he was orphaned at an early age and, at the time of his application, had been living in a boarding house while supporting himself with savings from his labour. He was a Roman Catholic and illiterate but had never been bankrupt and, unlike most of his peers, he managed to contribute £100 towards the Home.

Although basic medical care was provided, the Home was not a hospital: inmates who became chronically unwell were often transferred to the Greytown Home for Incurables. The Carter Home was somewhat unusual in this regard. However, the approach made the environment more pleasant for residents. Life was not all roses however, as an incident was reported where one resident pushed another down the stairs over a dispute about how to pronounce a word! Such outbursts of violence appear rare, however, particularly compared to the public institutions of the period. Unlike other (often larger) institutions of the time, the Home did not appear have a long authoritarian list of rules, including a requirement of temperance. Incidents of drunkenness were reported to the Committee in the monthly reports, but there is no suggestion that any sort of punishment was meted.

The Home had sufficient income to employ a staff of four: the caretaker/manager and his wife, a cook and a grounds-man / handyman. Under their management, facilities at the Home were gradually developed. Fruit trees, shrubs and hedging plants were requested and planted, while the highest of the pine trees were topped. Water pipes were laid in the garden and a garden hose was bought. Bricks were set around the footpaths and six loads of metal were spread around the home. Residents were encouraged to help a little around the Home, although not to the extent seen in similar institutions of the time. In 1918, James Cox, the subject of Miles Fairburn's biography, was referred to the home by his doctor at the age of 71. Cox was disgusted to find that the grounds had been neglected and developed a routine of spending most weekday mornings working in the gardens. When the Home acquired a new lawnmower in 1922, Cox was thrilled to be trusted to use it.

Fairburn's biography of Cox provides a useful window on the home. Cox, for instance, particularly enjoyed the food: For Christmas dinner in 1918, he tucked into roast turkey with seasoning, young potatoes, greens, mince pies, apples, oranges, dates, raisins, two or three kinds of biscuits, and a bottle of ginger ale. Aside from the lack of privacy the only thing Cox particularly disliked about his life in the Home was the other residents. 'He despised them for their decrepitude, for their indolence, for the fact that they were not active like he was but dozed their days away in front of the fire in the smoking room'. This preference of many residents for remaining inside 'enveloped in a fug of tobacco smoke, or huddled around the fireplace' was also noted in other institutions of the period. Cox was particularly unsympathetic towards those showing signs of senility, apparently attributing it to a character deficiency. The residents 'were always quick to petition the trustees to rid the home of anyone 'in an irresponsible frame of mind'. Cox remained in the home until shortly before his death in 1925, and Fairburn notes the impact the Home had on Cox's life:

By bringing his poverty to an end, retirement [at the Carter Home] gave him the resources - the residential stability, the prosperity, the economic security - that allowed him to develop his friendship network to an unprecedented degree; he was tempted to go to more community events knowing that there would be a good chance of meeting friends there...Cox loved the place...his last years were the happiest...he had ever experienced in New Zealand. His adopted country, which for years had cruelly treated this decent man, suddenly decided to bestow good fortune upon him.

Fairburn puts much of the success of the Home down to the Andersons, who took over management of the Home in 1914. Joseph Anderson in particular was greatly respected by the residents, in part because of a caring approach particularly evident when his charges became sick, providing both fuss and practical assistance. When the Andersons retired in early 1925 'the inmates held a party in their honour and all but two pitched in to purchase a farewell present'. Mr and Mrs King took over the management of the Home.

In 1955 Harry and Grace Berney became the Master and Matron of the Home. During their tenure, the staffing level was reduced to two; labour was divided largely along traditional lines, with Harry looking after the vegetable garden, orchard and other gardens plus helping Grace in the house as well. In the late 1950s, the 'Mayor Ron Wakelin realised what a burden the [washing for around a dozen residents was] he arranged for all the bed linen to go to a commercial laundry', lightening Grace's duties somewhat. The residents were still not required to work, although some helped with small chores.

By this stage, however, the numbers in the Home were falling. Social expectations had changed and the dormitory layout, which provided no privacy, was less appealing. This precipitated a financial crisis. Carter's will failed to allow for female residents, who would have boosted numbers, and the male residents were not required to contribute financially. Meanwhile, inflation had eaten away at the Home's income source: the rent levels for the estate leases were set only every 21 years. In 1958, the Committee attempted to get the term of the leases reduced, but to no avail.

The financial difficulties prompted Reverend de Candole to plan a new retirement facility in Carterton that would be more 'keeping with the expectations of retirement accommodation of the day. The plan, known as 'the Carter Plan', took some time to come to fruition. In 1960, when Doug Whitcombe and his wife took over management of the Home, the Carter Society was formed to progress the Plan. The Society's executive included representatives from the Carterton Borough Council, the Wairarapa South County Council and the local churches. This was at a time when the Government:

was advancing a new policy which aimed to: "encourage the development of district nursing and domiciliary services", so that, as they informed the Society, it would be possible "for old people to continue living in their own homes as long as possible."...

In October 1960 the Government indicated its willingness to establish a 12-bedroom home for the aged in Carterton, on certain conditions. In 1961, Parliament passed the Carter Trust Act, which modified the terms of Carter's will. The Act meant that women could be admitted to the new home and that residents could be charged a small weekly boarding fee. On 12 December 1964 the new home, named 'Carter Court' by the public was opened in central Carterton. The Carter Home, which has been described as 'the forerunner of today's retirement homes', officially closed in 1964.

In 1966 William James Mason (1919-1994) and Maureen Mason (nee Innes-Smith) purchased the former Home for use as business premises and a private residence. Mason is New Zealand's most successful interior designer; he was a printer of unique textiles and wallpapers, and a creator of décor. He reached and achieved this status during his residence in the former Carter Home.

William (Bill) Mason was born in New Zealand and served in the Navy during the Second World War. After the war he trained as a painter at the Goldsmith's College School of Art in London and also enrolled in the Central School of Arts and Crafts, studying textile design under Gordon Crook. Mason returned to New Zealand in 1950 to explore Modernist ideas through his painting. Despite holding a number of exhibitions, Mason failed to achieve much acclaim as a painter and, in the early 1960s, turned increasingly towards textile art.

In 1961 Mason won both first and second prize in a wallpaper design competition; a verification of his ability as a designer of repeat patterns. This success prompted Mason and his wife to establish 'Mason Handprints'. Together they began producing hand-printed textiles for the commercial market. Textile art allowed Mason to draw on his flair with strong colour and patterns and he rapidly developed his own distinctive style of modern eclecticism. The innovative new looks Mason was able to create had widespread appeal and, by the mid-1960s, Mason and Mason's prints and textiles were in strong demand. The mix of historical and modern references meant Mason's designs, which made bold use of colour and strong repeating patterns, allowed the creation of thoroughly contemporary environments within the framework of Victorian era homes, fuelling a groundswell of interest in the renovation of such houses from the Victorian era. As Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins noted, Mason's designs 'created a spirited reinterpretation of the original structure that was more in tune with the early 1970s than any Victorian experience'.

The Masons operated the business from the former dormitory wing of the Carter Home, which was ideal housing for the 33 foot (10 metre) long printing tables. The high stud in the dormitories was not only aesthetically pleasing, but enabled freshly printed papers and fabrics to be hung from the ceilings on dryings racks. Their printing operation was run from the former bathroom wing, which was altered to suit their needs. The old dining room was transformed into a darkroom and the windows blocked out.

When the Masons purchased the house it was in generally sound condition and they made few structural changes. Yet, as Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins had noted, 'what made Mason's approach to the interior so distinctive was that at heart Mason's effects were essentially decorative rather than structural'. The Masons repainted the exterior of the Home in what they believed to be the original colours: cream with white trim. The interior walls were left as they were - primarily natural wood below the dado and white paint above. Yet the Masons added their own distinctive touches. Photographs taken by John Ashton show some of the Carter Home interiors from this period. One photo of the main hallway shows:

split bamboo lamp shades share space with heavily decorated Victorian oil lamps. Oversize couches and chairs are given a modern appearance with the addition of colourful hand-printed slipcovers. Heavy dark door surrounds [in polished wood] are contrasted with the white frames of Mason's abstract paintings.

Mason retired from design work at the age of 55, selling his highly successful business to Resene Paints in 1974. A large collection of Mason's work is now held by the Hawke's Bay Museum and in 1998 an exhibition of his work received widespread acclaim.

The Masons also sold Carter House in 1974. It was purchased by Richard and Caroline Hall. The Halls used the Home as a private residence and carried out renovations to the property. In 1979 when the Carter Estate leases were due for renewal and the Carter Society again petitioned the Public Trustee and Parliament to get the term of the lease reduced so that rental reviews could be more frequent. Richard Hall, a solicitor, represented the Estate lessees at the Private Bills Committee and the Bill reached a first reading, but not a second. In 1980 the Carter Home property was bought by company director Trevor Sim of Wellington. He owned the property for about five years, but no additional information has been uncovered about this period. Rex Sinnott, a factory manager, and Judy Sinnott bought the property in 1985, having moved down to Carterton from Te Awamutu. The Sinnots named the property 'Carter Lodge'. The Sinnotts remained for just two years and in 1987 the Home was purchased its current owners, Greg and Sue Hoskins. The Hoskins used the property as a private residence and as a base for their business, Hoskins Energy Systems Ltd. The Hoskins have made minor changes to the Home and added two outbuildings to the property. In 1998 Richard William Birch joined the Hoskins as owners of the property. Two years later, in 2000, the law regarding the intent of a will was relaxed, enabling the Public Trust to arrange for the sale of the farms forming the Carter Estate, drawing another chapter closed in the story of Carter's Estate. The original land surrounding the Home remained intact. The Carter Home, with its complex of outbuildings, and rich history remains as tangible evidence Carter's compassion and foresight.

Physical Description


Set amidst just over 4 acres of land (1.96 hectares), the Home covered approximately 66 feet by 73 feet (20 metres by 22 metres) when first constructed. The Home is a single-storey, double-bay villa. The use of a building type normally associated with private residences reflects the trend in the early twentieth century towards the construction of 'more home-like' institutions. The two bays are symmetrical and feature triple opening, sash windows. The bays enclose a wide front verandah, which is supported by two sets of posts. The gables are flush with the verandah on both sides, to provide shelter from the winds. The verandah is accessed via wide, concrete steps and the entrance to the house features a glazed and panelled door with glazed side panels. The glass is not original. Door furniture includes a central brass knob and mechanised doorbell. The doorstep is covered with a sheet of metal, possibly brass.

The house is currently painted cream with white detailing. It retains a number of its original, decorative features. According to Fearnley, 'the detail [of the Home] is particularly [interesting], being designed especially for this building rather than being mass produced as was so much fretwork in those days'. Of the detail, the fretwork with its sunburst designs and the scrollwork beneath the windowsills, and the wooden corner stops and cover boards are noteworthy.


The Home was planned around a wide, central hallway that led to two separate wings. Staff was accommodated in the western wing, while the residents' accommodation took up the entire eastern wing. The entrance foyer and two residents' lounges were located on the north side and the kitchen, laundry and dining room to the south. The original layout was described as follows:

Two large well-ventilated dormitories, 31ft by 18ft 6 in [9.45 metres by 5.6 metres] are provided for sleeping accommodation, and also large dining and smoking rooms for the inmates, and a comfortable sitting-room, bedrooms and office are provided for the Matron and Master of the Home, and the kitchen and culinary departments have been conveniently arranged.

Between 1914 and 1942 a bathroom wing was added from rough-cast concrete half-way along the eastern wall of the dormitory wing. The bathroom had a water tank built into the roof with a small windmill perched on it, both since removed. Around the same period the rough-cast concrete outbuilding (currently known as the drying room) was built to the rear of the Home.

A small corridor was built to connect the dining room and the kitchen. This corridor does not have a base wall, but is built like a bridge, presumably to enable access for painting and other maintenance.

Behind the main hallway that connects the two wings and joined to the eastern wing is the old dining room. There is some evidence to suggest that the dining room was either not original or was extended out to join up with the main house.


Most of the ceilings are unpainted in board-and-batten style. There are unusual chamfered sarked ceilings in the hallway and music room (see below). The south-eastern end of the dormitory wing has been partitioned forming two additional rooms, a hallway and a hall cupboard, all with a lowered ceilings of Pinex, thought to have been installed after the 1956 fire. The remains of a gas light fitting is visible on the ceiling of the caretakers' room, presumably dating from 1913.


The floors are primarily polished timber. The entry foyer has a linoleum or vinyl finish, as does the bathroom. The room with the Pinex ceiling has a pre-1930s fitted carpet. There is a small patch of chocolate brown carpet in the laundry/toilet lobby that appears to date from the late 1970s. The laundry floor is of concrete.


Tongue-and-groove match lining moulded with a round quirk has instead been used in the majority of the home, including the foyer and hallway. The former maid's room or dressing room is an exception, and features scrim and wallpaper on rough sawn boards. In most places the walls are unpainted below the dado line, and in horizontal match lining as above. In the original sections of the Home a rounded beading is used vertically in most corners. The dining room does not have a dado or the rounded beading features. In the laundry, sarking is also used for the ceiling. The bathroom has concrete walls finished with either Formica or wallpaper put up after the Masons left in 1974.


The original, glazed double doors between the foyer and hallway are hung on brass 'Smith's Spring' hinges and sport elaborate door furniture. Four panelled doors with smaller panels on the lower half are used in most of the house and many internal doors have what appear to be original locks. Most of the original architraves and skirting boards are intact.


Today the home is heated by radiators installed by the Hoskins. There are also five working fireplaces and a kitchen range. Most, and possibly all of the fire surrounds appear to be replacements. The original kitchen range's position can be seen from marks on the floor and the decorative architrave around a blocked up chimney pipe hole. Another hole in the kitchen ceiling relates to a later free-standing wet back range which has been removed since 1988. The current owners have installed a wetback kitchen range, which sits into the north wall of the kitchen with a non-original fire surround.


The house features two ventilation systems (in addition to the windows). The earliest system consists of vents set in the walls above the windows and are covered with vermin proof plates. The later system consists of roof vents capped with a decorative double cone. Several of the rooms feature a metal plate visible just below the ceiling: these are bimetallic spring thermostatic dampers, which automatically operate the roof vents without the need for electricity. The bi-metal switch is formed by the two different metals expanding and contracting at different temperatures, causing the vents to open or shut as the temperature changes. The system is extremely reliable and is still operating where they have been left in place. The current owners commented that they hear a clunk when the vents close. One of the earliest photographs of the Home identified (c1913) does not show the rooftop vents, so the system was not part of the original design. But they were in place by the time a 1937 photograph was taken. Most rooms have wall vents covered with decorative plates which were manually opened and closed using a cord, however many of the cords have gone, presumably worn out.


Radio jacks (piped radio) in the two resident's lounges are a remnant of the Home's time as an institution.

Outbuildings and other features:


The weatherboard barn dates from the same time as the house. It is connected to the house with a section of trellis; a feature evident in a very early photograph of the Home. Much of the northern wall of the barn has been replaced as well as some of the western wall due to borer damage, suggesting it is not of kauri like the main house, or was not heart-timber. When the northern wall was repaired (post-1988) the opportunity was take to install new windows in the hayloft and a concrete footing was laid right around the barn. Some of the loft beams were replaced after 1988.

Lean-to Garage

The original lean-to garage was extended sometime between 1974 and 1985 to create a carport. The original garage had large doors, which were removed c1986. Within the last 20 years a concrete floor has been installed in this area and the original weatherboard lean-to wall has been removed, opening the area into a two-car carport.


The building presumed to be the former stables is located behind the barn. It is constructed from corrugated iron on a wooden frame - both walls and roof, with an interesting method of attaching the corrugated iron to the barge boards that makes use of the iron's curve. It is divided down the middle; the western end has a wide opening suggesting it was accessed by a vehicle at some point. The eastern end features a dressed match lining, moulded with a round quirk (as seen in the main house) and is entered by a simple wooden door. It has a concrete floor that appears to be recent and a wooden-shuttered window, fastened from the outside and designed to slide sideways.


Two weatherboard fowl houses are present on the property and date from the time the property was used as an old men's home. The larger one is reasonably intact, with lidded nest boxes protruding from the western wall. The smaller one was described as dilapidated in the late 1960s and is still looking worse for wear. In the last twenty years it was altered to accommodate pigs. Neither building is in current use.


A hand excavated brick lined bore with a concrete lid is believed to be original and is still in use. A windmill was used to power a pump to draw water but this was gone by 1966. A more modern pump is housed in the pump room. One wall of the pump room is formed by the adjacent roughcast concrete drying room, suggesting it was added on. The laundry drying room is open under the eaves to maximise ventilation and originally had a pulley and rack system to winch the washing up high into the warmer air. It also featured a stove to provide heat. The stove has gone but the chimney is still evident on the roof.

Other Buildings

Two additional buildings have been relocated onto the property: the Trentham Ladies Room and a meat store (not included in the registration).

A concrete three-chamber septic tank is visible in the back paddock, but its age is unknown. A septic tank was in use from at least 1925. A rectangular concrete trough of unknown date is also in the back paddock, currently used as a planter.


There is a hedge, wisteria, and a number of trees (both fruiting and ornamental), which date from the time the property was managed by the Andersons. Parts of the 1914 irrigation system are also still extant. There are a wide variety of older looking plants and exotic trees specimens on the property (predominantly Australian and English species).

Notable Features

Decorative woodwork.

Ventilation system.

Construction Dates

1900 -
Original design (Crichton & Roe) completed, tenders for construction called.

1901 -
Home dedicated and opened.

1913 -
Gas lighting system installed.

1914 -
Bulk of gardens laid out and planted, including fruit trees and a watering system.

1914 -
Gas system extended to lavatory.

Demolished - Other
1942 -
Wairarapa earthquake damages all but one of the Home's chimneys.

Demolished - Fire
1956 -
Fire in the dormitory wing.

1966 -
Damaged finials replaced; extractor fan installed in dormitory; alterations to bathroom wing.

1974 -

1987 -

Construction Details

Carter Home

The Carter Home rests on concrete piles. The exterior base walls are of concrete. The house is constructed around a timber frame and is clad in rusticated weatherboards. The hipped roof is made from the original, extra-thick No. 24 galvanised iron specified in Carter's will. The house features match lining with tongue and groove flooring and board-and-batten ceilings. The timber is thought to be kauri. A flat-roofed bathroom extension on the eastern side is of roughcast concrete. Of the original six brick chimneys, all but one were destroyed by the1942 earthquake and were replaced by brick chimneys in a simpler style.


To the rear of the Home are a number of timber outbuildings, with corrugated iron roofs. The two fowl houses and barn with a hayloft are clad in weatherboards. The barn has a lean-to forming a two-car carport with a concrete floor. A stable has a corrugated iron roof and walls on a timber frame with some match lining. The windows have wooden shutters. A pump room is a lean-to on the roughcast concrete laundry drying room, which has a gabled roof. The pump room has a weatherboard front, tin sheet side, and a corrugated iron rear wall. The fourth wall is roughcast concrete, formed by the wall of the drying room.

Completion Date

23rd March 2006

Report Written By

Kathryn Mercer with NZHPT

Information Sources

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

G H Sutherland, 'Carter, Charles Rooking 1822 - 1896', 2005,

Fairburn, 1995

Miles Fairburn, Nearly Out of Heart and Hope: The Puzzle of a Colonial Labourer's Diary, Auckland, 1995.

Fearnley, 1973

Charles Fearnley, Wairarapa: Through a Visitor's Lens, Dunedin,1973.

Lloyd Jenkins, 1998

Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins (ed.), Mason Handprints, Napier, 1998.

Other Information

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