Historical Significance or Value
Homebush is of considerable historical significance in the Wairarapa. It has been owned by a wide variety of people, some locally prominent, stretching back to the 19th century, even before it was extended by William Lucena. Lucena's death gave the house some infamy but its historical importance does not revolve around one incident. The house appears intended to demonstrate Lucena's success as an immigrant landowner in New Zealand and it remains one of the grandest homes in the Masterton area. The presence of the original cottage at the rear of the main house imbues the house with additional interest. This would be even greater were it known who was responsible for its construction and who lived there. Of more recent historical interest is the house's occupation by nationally known broadcaster Paul Henry and its recent use as a restaurant by Chris and Marianne Hackney, which has made the house more accessible to locals and visitors alike.
Homebush's principal value lies in its architectural, aesthetic and technological significance. The house is typical of the Tudor influenced, English domestic revival architecture of C.T. Natusch, who was able to translate effortlessly the kind of architecture he was so familiar with into a New Zealand setting. Homebush is a richly detailed and attractive dwelling, with an eclectic range of architectural motifs; no façade is treated the same way.
The interior is similarly impressive, with some fine spaces on both floors featuring extensive use of dressed and varnished native timbers. A beautifully finished staircase may be the highlight of the interior, but the house as a whole demonstrates an attention to detail that is typical of large Victorian houses. There are even surviving patches of original wallpaper in tucked away places.
There is considerable technological interest in Natusch's use of concrete and timber construction in a decorative manner. Half-timbering was a common decorative device, but concrete was not yet a building material in regular use in New Zealand and for an architect who had only been in the country a few years, Natusch's approach was both innovative and challenging. This is particularly so in his use of pre-cast concrete panels, which Kernohan considers was unique in the Wairarapa.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
William Lucena's transformation of a modest cottage into a major country house is typical of the kind of ostentatious demonstration of wealth and success that many landowners aspired to in the new country. In that sense, although Lucena's was no 'rags to riches' story, Homebush is a statement about his rise to a position of affluence, a story repeated often in 19th century New Zealand.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
People: Homebush was designed by Charles Tilleard Natusch, an English born architect who became well-known in New Zealand. Natusch established his own architectural practice shortly after his arrival in Wellington and completed work for a number of prominent residents. He was known for his distinctive, high quality homesteads and Homebush reflects his skill in this area. Homebush is also associated with Charle Edward Daniell, who was commissioned to construct the building. Daniell, a builder and timbermill owner, worked extensively in the Wairarapa and was a well-known figure in the community.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place
Although designing decorative houses in an English tradition, C.T. Natusch was also capable of employing innovative and interesting construction techniques and Homebush is a very good example of this. His use of pre-cast concrete panels at a time when concrete was still not in common use was imaginative and resourceful. The house has stood the test of time.
The building's design is both attractive and a little unusual, with its various lean-tos, porches and bays. The interior is particularly fine, with many rooms in a largely authentic condition.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape
Homebush Road was a relatively early subdivision of rural land on the outskirts of Masterton. It is a most attractive road, long established and carefully laid out with large exotic and native trees. There are other significant houses in the area, although none as important as Homebush. This dead end street is a cultural landscape of, potentially, regional significance.
The land today occupied by Homebush, like all Wairarapa land, was once in the hands of Maori. Most Maori land was purchased by the government and then sold to settlers; yet the Mangaakuta Block appears to have been sold by individual Maori. Akenehe Tutere and seven others , by then probably in receipt of a Crown Grant, sold the land to Thomas Hill, a licensed native interpreter of Masterton in two parcels - in 1870 and 1871. James Bragge took photographs of Maori at a pa at Mangaakuta in the 1870s.
Hill subdivided his land into 22 lots and three of those lots (7, 9 and 11) were sold to William Noble over a period of a year between 4 April 1878, when he purchased Lot 9, and 15 May 1879, when he purchased Lot 7. Although no firm information has been found, the cottage is likely to have been constructed during the period of Hill or Noble's ownership. The pitsawn timbers suggest it was probably built no later than the 1870s.
In 1881, Noble died crossing the Wainuioru River and administration of his estate was taken over by the Public Trustee. It sold the property to Annie Cross in January 1890. Shortly after this, runholder William Lucena of Featherston arranged to buy the property off Cross for £420, paying a deposit of £20 when the agreement was signed.
Lucena was a lawyer in London before coming to New Zealand in 1853. He originally settled at Pigeon Bush, near Featherston. In 1859, he married Mary Vennell, who was born in New Zealand in 1841. They had eight children before Mary succumbed to pneumonia on 23 November 1876 at the age of 34. The following year, on 9 April, Lucena married Etty Maunder, his housekeeper (or governess, depending on the account), with whom he had two children. By the time of the birth of the second child, Lucena and his family had moved to the Masterton district.
In 1891, Lucena commissioned Charles Tilleard Natusch (1859-1951) to design a house for the property. Natusch, who had only been in the country for four years, incorporated the original cottage into his design and construction on the house began in October 1891. The principal contractor was C.E. Daniell and the work was completed in January 1892.
Lucena died on 15 February 1892, almost immediately after moving into the house with his wife and children. The cause of death was described by the coroner as 'congestion of the brain' and 'definitely from natural causes', but it sparked controversy in the district. Etty Lucena was subjected to local rumours that she had poisoned her husband. The children from Lucena's first marriage, angry that she inherited his estate, were inclined to believe it. Lucena's body was later exhumed from his plot at Masterton Cemetery and sent to England for analysis. The body was never returned to the grave and may never have been returned to New Zealand.
Following Lucena's death, his widow and William White, executors to the will, resolved to settle the outstanding amount for the sale of the property and £400 was paid. Etty Lucena used the house as a school for girls, but whether she lived there for any length of time is not known. A painting of the house in 1895 describes it as Justin Aylmer's house, but his connection with the house is not noted in any land records. Etty Lucena owned the property until 1903 and then sold it to James Cruickshank. By this time, the property also comprised Lots 12-15, 17-18 and 22, more than seven hectares of land. How this land was aggregated is not known. The first certificate of title was issued in 1907, after the land was sold by Cruickshank to Sarah McLaren, described as a widow from Martinborough.
Sarah McLaren kept the property for 20 years and then in 1927 sold it to James Anderson, a salesman of Masterton. He owned the property until 1940, when he sold it to Andrew Clarke, a farmer. It was the start of a regular turnover of the property, a pattern that has persisted throughout the life of the house. In 1942 the house was affected by a strong earthquake and a chimney on the south elevation was removed. Clarke sold the house to Henry Candy, an apiarist in 1944; he sold it to Sydney Bubb in 1948 and in 1953 it was sold to Frank Cameron, a school teacher from Wellington. Leslie Jones, a farmer, bought the property in 1956. A year later it was bought by Reginald Munro, a fencing contractor.
In 1966 the property was bought by land agent Anthony Bird and his wife Jean Bird, who kept the property for the next 11 years but did not live in it. Instead their son occupied the house and kept it as a flat. The house became well known for its parties. By this time, the house was beginning to show signs of a lack of maintenance.
In 1977 the Birds subdivided the land, keeping a small portion - less than a third of a hectare - and the house. Immediately after the subdivision, they sold the property to Richard Cowan, a building contractor, and his wife Nerolie. As a result of the subdivision, the Cowans had to build a new driveway, which is the one in use today. By this time, the house was in poor condition and considerable remedial maintenance was required. The Cowans did some repiling and added the kitchen extension, to a design by Richard Cowan. The intention was to remove the original cottage too but this idea was abandoned and only one wing was built. In 1986 the house was sold to artist Maxwell Riddle. During his period of ownership, a fire damaged the fireplace in the room to the east of the hall (the present restaurant).
In 1990 it was bought by insurance agent Catherine Biss, who immediately sold it to Shane and Denise Baker. They did a great deal of the work required to restore the house's condition and appearance. In 1995, they purchased 1.36 hectares of land to the south and west, once part of wider estate, and added it to the existing property.
Within months of this transaction they sold the property to broadcaster Paul Henry Hopes (better known as Paul Henry) and his wife Rachael. They built homestay units to the rear of the house and continued the refurbishment of the property, including the repair and restoration of the room previously damaged by fire. Paul Henry gained the National Party nomination for the Wairarapa seat in 1999 but lost the election. As a result, the family moved to Auckland in 2000 and the house was purchased by Chris and Marianne Hackney, who have used it as a private home, restaurant and conference centre since.
Homebush is a two-storey house, situated in semi-rural farmland, on Homebush Road. It occupies a generous site, with a large lawn, trees, flagpole and driveway in front (north), gardens, gazebo and more buildings to the south and west. On the adjoining property to the west is a stables that may have been connected with the house that is no longer part of its associated land. The house is a relatively short distance from Masterton but completely removed from the urban area. It is part of a leafy, mature subdivision along Homebush Road.
The house is predominantly constructed of concrete slabs within timber framing. In a traditional, fifteenth-century style English house, the infill would have been wattle and daub or plastered brick and exposed within and out, so in that sense Homebush mimics a traditional construction but was not built in that way. Architect David Kernohan describes the construction as a form of board and batten, with the pre-cast concrete panels as the board, and the battens hiding the joints beneath. The roof is timber framed and clad in corrugated iron.
The building is essentially L-shaped with the main spine running east-west. There is a surviving portion of the original cottage, which forms an 'extension' to the rear elevation, and there are numerous other excrescences that add to the footprint of the house. A readily obvious feature of the design is that it is richly detailed and every elevation is quite different from the other.
The main elevation, which faces the road, is an asymmetrical arrangement, with a wing to the east, the entrance in the middle and a ground floor bay to the west. A verandah / balcony extends from the wing (beneath a half-timbered gable). To the west, a short lean-to projects from this façade about half-way down the wall. Attached to this are the aforementioned bay window and an elaborate entry porch. The main entrance is framed by groups of small panes arranged around the door. The windows here and on other elevations are generally double hung sashes with six lights on the upper sash and one on the lower.
The west elevation is busy, with the door sheltered by a rectangular porch, a series of floor to ceiling windows to the north, sash windows on the first floor and the coved gable end. There was a verandah along this elevation, which had a convex roof, but it was removed. Visible here is the double-height lean-to that the former verandah was attached to. An original part of the addition, it also has a convex roof but its distinctive form is now hidden by some clumsily fixed flashing and roofing iron. It extends a short distance along the south elevation.
The main feature of the south elevation is the original cottage. A single gabled structure, it abuts the 'newer' part of the house but it shares little stylistically with it. Its age is revealed by the lapped weatherboards and lower stud height, although it has been considerably altered. To the immediate east is a modern addition (c.1980s), a single-storey room with sash windows and a flat, gabled roof, but also given the mock, half-timbering treatment.
The east elevation is dominated by another double-height bay that houses, among other things, the chimney and fireplaces of the rooms on both the ground and first floors at this end of the house.
Inside, the house is formal in plan with a central hallway flanked by two principal rooms. At the end of the hall is the stairs, which turn right to ascend to the second floor. Access to the rear of the house (mainly the kitchen) and the original cottage is via a door to the left of the stairs. There is another passage that leads to the west entrance and this also provides access to the room under the stairs.
Upstairs, the space is relatively narrow. The landing has a toilet (opposite a cupboard) and a bathroom on separate levels, and at the top there are three rooms leading off a passage. A feature of the top storey is the fine coved ceiling. The master bedroom is at the end of the passage and occupies the entire width of the upper storey. It gives access to the balcony via sash windows that extend to the floor.
Main house: the house retains much original fabric.
Garden: (north, west and south elevations) a key part of the house's setting, this is principally composed of the lawns that surround the house, but also the main drive (to the north), the vegetable garden to the south-west and various trees.
Original cottage constructed
1891 - 1892
Main house constructed
Removal of verandahs on west and north elevations
Addition to south elevation (extension to kitchen) built alongside original cottage
Main house: Concrete slabs between timber members, corrugated iron roof. Original cottage: timber framing and cladding, corrugated iron roof.
2nd October 2006
Report Written By
Alexander Turnbull Library
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington
Lucena Genealogical Information, MS 89-266-3/05, MS 89-266-2/07, MS 89-266-5/04
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Natusch, Guy K, 'Natusch, Charles Tilleard 1859-1951', updated7 April 2006, URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz
D. Kernohan, Wairarapa Buildings: Two centuries of New Zealand architecture, Wairarapa Archive, Masterton, 2003
Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)
Land Information New Zealand
Deeds Indices 25/324, 25/325, 99/827, 107/928,144/474
Deed Plan 95, LINZ
Certificates of Title 157/90, 17D/1140, WN46A/85
Chris and Marianne Hackney 20 March and 3 June 2006, owners of Homebush.
Plan of additions to Homebush, C.T. Natusch, 1891 (held at Homebush, copy on file)
Plan of additions to Homebush, c.1980s by Richard Cowan (see Appendix 2)
A fully referenced registration 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.