Wharema

34 Portland Road, Remuera, Auckland

  • Wharema, Auckland: east elevation of main house.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 5/10/2006.
  • Wharema, Auckland: north elevation of main house.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 5/10/2006.
  • Wharema, 34 Portland Road, Remuera (n.d., but probably 1886-1887 or late 1890s.
    Copyright: University of Auckland. Taken By: Elam Archive, acc. no. 03-013, Fine Arts Library.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7695 Date Entered 11th May 2007

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

The registration includes all of the land and structures in CT NA1054/26 (as shown on Map A in Appendix 3 of the Registration Report), including their fixtures and fittings thereon. The structures include the main house, the stables/washhouse, and the eastern boundary wall and fence with its gates and gateposts.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 39575 (CT NA1054/26), North Auckland Land District

Summaryopen/close

Wharema is a large late nineteenth-century residence with close connections to several notable figures in the history of Fine Art in New Zealand. Erected in circa 1886 on the slopes of Mt Hobson-Remuwera in Auckland, the two-storey timber dwelling occupies part of an early colonial estate that belonged to businessman James Williamson (1814-1888). Williamson had helped to found several important financial institutions including the Bank of New Zealand (1861), but sold the land for subdivision in 1884-1885 as he succumbed to financial difficulties. By this time, Remuera had become an attractive suburb for members of Auckland's élite families, who were increasingly withdrawing from the colonial city centre. The half-acre plot on which Wharema was constructed was first purchased by Kate Clark (née Woolnough, 1847-1926), the wife of James Clark, Mayor of Auckland from 1880 to 1883. The couple were prominent members of the Auckland Society of Arts, and resided at a nearby mansion known as 'The Tower'. Kate Clark may have been one of the earliest women writing about New Zealand to have had books published overseas, with A Southern Cross Fairy Tale in 1891, Persephone and Other Poems in 1894 and Maori Tales and Legends in 1896.

Wharema appears to have been constructed in 1886, soon after the land was transferred to Kate's sister, Emily Woolnough (1857?-1920), who married artist Edward Payton (1854-1944) in the same year. Payton had traveled widely, producing illustrations of the eruption of Tarawera in 1886. Credited with producing the first Fine Art engravings in New Zealand, he also became the inaugural principal of Elam School of Arts, the earliest art school in Auckland. Both the proximity of their house to the Clarks and a similar involvement in the Auckland Society of Arts indicates the extent to which social networks combining family and financial ties were an important part of colonial society in New Zealand, particularly among the wealthy élite.

Serving as a family home, the grand residence was initially known as 'The Whare', reflecting Payton's interest in Maori culture and the New Zealand landscape. Located in a semi-rural setting, its gardens incorporated a driveway and a circular planting bed beside the main house. The dwelling's appearance was more strongly influenced by classical design than many houses of the wealthy elite in the 1870s and early 1880s - which were frequently Italianate in style - and may reflect American and other colonial architectural influences. Unusually built on scoria concrete footings, the structure incorporated service rooms on the southern side of its ground floor entrance and larger reception rooms to the north. Its first floor contained at least four bedrooms. All northern rooms had access to the building's main feature, a prominent wrap-around balcony on both floors of the house, offering views out to the Waitemata Harbour on one side and Mt Hobson-Remuwera on the other. The structure is likely to have been erected by George Heron, a Remuera-based builder who became a member of the Newmarket Borough Council and prestigious gentlemen's clubs in Auckland and Newmarket. A detached washhouse and stables may have been added at a slightly later date.

A desirable, élite residence, the house was occupied by other prominent figures in Auckland society, including the solicitor Edward Read Bloomfield. From 1907 to 1917, the property was owned by Mary Tole (née Smales, 1863?-1943), the widow of Daniel Tole (?-1904), a former Commissioner of Crown Lands and Provincial Surveyor. At the time of her occupation of the house, Mary Tole was mother to eight children, of whom several would achieve artistic and other prominence. These included the architect George Tole (1896-1972), who gained an NZIA Gold Medal in 1933 for the design of St Michael's Church, Remuera (with Horace Massey); the artist John Tole (1890-1967), who won the Bledisloe Landscape Medal in 1953 for his painting 'Beyond Taihape'; and Charles Tole (1903-1988), an even more significant artist who received the Serjent First Award in 1970. Influenced by American Modernism, Charles has been considered one of the dozen leading artists in New Zealand in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Partly modified in 1917, the house was subsequently converted into a boarding house, then a rooming house and four flats in the mid to late 1900s. Its large section was also subdivided. The main house has been restored for use as a family dwelling by its current owners.

Wharema is aesthetically and architecturally significant for its striking design and as a well-preserved grand residence of late nineteenth-century date which may reflect American and broader colonial influences in New Zealand architecture of this era. It has cultural and historical significance for its close associations with the development of New Zealand art in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most notably as the residence of several influential artists including Edward Payton and the Tole brothers. It also has historical and social significance for reflecting the spread of wealthy citizens into the suburban hinterland of Auckland in the late nineteenth century, and the importance of social networks linked to family, geography and culture in élite late colonial society. The place has some technological significance for its unusual, early use of scoria concrete basement footings.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The place is historically significant for its close associations with the development of New Zealand art in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most notably as the residence of several influential artists. It was built and occupied by Edward Payton, the first principal of the Elam School of Arts - the earliest art school in Auckland Province - who was responsible for the teaching of a large numbers of students over a period of at least 34 years. He is also credited with the production of the first Fine Art engravings in New Zealand. The place was later the family home of John and Charles Tole, founders of the Thornhill Group. These artists spanned different approaches to art, from Payton's late Victorian interest in Maori culture and the New Zealand landscape, to John Tole's interest in Paul Cezanne's Post-Impressionism, and Charles Tole's involvement in the development of Early Modernist painting.

The place also has historical significance for its links with individuals who were prominent in the fields of architecture, business, and charitable administration. Its patterns of ownership and occupancy demonstrate the existence of interwoven social networks in late colonial society, encompassing the importance of family connections. This extended to involvement in the Auckland Society of Arts by many of its owners or occupants.

It is closely linked with the development of suburban living among the wealthy in late nineteenth-century New Zealand society, and the growth of Remuera as a prosperous suburb of Auckland in particular. It especially indicates the transformation of estate land to high-status housing during the economic boom period of the early-mid1880s in Auckland.

The place has aesthetic significance for its striking visual appearance, most notably the large double-level wrap-around balconies, and other ornamental aspects such as its entrance portico on the main residence. It also has aesthetic value for its setting, immediately surrounded by mature trees and with views out towards the Waitemata Harbour and Mt Hobson-Remuwera.

The place has architectural significance as a well-preserved grand residence of late nineteenth-century date. Its design may reflect American and broader colonial influences in New Zealand architecture of this era. Its well-preserved layout also reflects the relationship between architectural design and social status, with its service rooms and outbuilding being located in more confined spaces on the southern side of the house.

The place has some technological significance for its comparatively early and unusual and use of scoria concrete for the house footings and its basement walls.

The place has cultural significance for its connections with notable artists and the development of Fine Art in New Zealand. It is socially significant for indicating the extent to which social networks combining family and financial ties were an important part of colonial society in New Zealand, particularly among the wealthy élite.

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

The well-preserved nature of the place reflects representative aspects of New Zealand history such as the spread of wealthy citizens into the suburban hinterland of Auckland in the late nineteenth century. It also reflects the existence of geographically-focused social networks, including those involving family in late colonial Auckland.

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

The place has considerable significance for its associations with several individuals linked with the development of New Zealand art in the Auckland region and beyond, including Edward Payton, and John and Charles Tole. Payton has links with notable events in New Zealand, particularly the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886.

Wharema is also closely associated with other persons of significance, including the architect George Tole, chairman of the Northern Club William Read Bloomfield, and contributors to charitable institutions and other activities, Emily Payton and Mary Tole.

The place is also more loosely connected with other important members of colonial Auckland society, notably Kate and James Clark, and to a lesser extent James Williamson and William Grahame.

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

Due to the well-preserved nature of the main residence and its outbuilding, and the breadth of documentary information about its occupants, the place can be considered to have significant potential to provide knowledge about aspects of New Zealand history, particularly the lives and activities of Auckland's social and artistic élite in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

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

The place is a well-preserved example of late nineteenth-century residential architecture, with some significance for its visual design, including its prominent double-storey wrap-around balconies.

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

The place is a significant part of a broader historical and cultural complex on and around the slopes of Mt Hobson-Remuwera. This includes the pa site on Mt Hobson-Remuwera and numerous NZHPT-registered and other historic places in Westbourne Avenue, Victoria Avenue, Arney Road and Remuera Road. They include places of related interest to Wharema, including the home of James and Kate Clark at Kings College on the corner of Portland and Remuera Road, and other structures such as St Michael's Church, Remuera (NZHPT registration # 118, Category I historic place).

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Heron, George

George Heron (1835?-1917)

Born in 1833 or 1834, George Heron is believed to have emigrated to New Zealand from Great Britain, arriving in Auckland in 1858. After military service in the Waikato in the 1860s, he went to work on the goldfields in Otago and Thames. Heron subsequently established himself as a builder and contractor in Auckland, working until the late 1880s or early 1890s. Based in prosperous Remuera, he was member of the Newmarket Borough Council and the Auckland Club, and in 1895 was instrumental in forming the Newmarket Club. He is believed to have constructed Wharema in Portland Road, Remuera.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The site lies on the northeastern slopes of Mt Hobson-Remuwera, a hill occupied by Waihoua peoples in the early 1700s. Initially known as Ohinerangi, the settlement is said to have been renamed Remuwera after the killing of a high-born female visitor by Waihoua, a contributory factor in the eventual takeover of lands on the Auckland isthmus by Te Taou, a sub-tribe of Ngati Whatua, in the mid 1700s. After Ngati Whatua migrated south some eighty years later in response to incursions by Nga Puhi, Remuwera marked the division between lands held solely by Ngati Whatua and those held in association with other iwi. In 1844, a large convocation of Maori gathered at its base to discuss land sales with the colonial government, underlining the power of Waikato tribes in particular in the Auckland area. Attended by over 4000 individuals from seventeen tribes, the discussions were accompanied by a feast said to have been one of the largest ever held in Aotearoa New Zealand. The hill was formally renamed Mt Hobson by the colonial authorities, although the growing colonial settlement around its lower slopes continued to be known as 'Remuera'.

Due in part to its fertile nature, land surrounding Mt Hobson was sought by wealthy settlers soon after Auckland's foundation in 1840. In 1854, the area currently occupied by Wharema formed part of a thirteen-acre Crown Grant to William Grahame, a native of Richmond, Surrey, England, who accumulated other property nearby. Grahame was a significant early merchant, whose bond store on the Auckland waterfront was one of the first stone buildings erected in the colonial capital. In 1870, Grahame sold the land as part of a 32-acre accumulation of his holdings to James Williamson (1814-1888) for the considerable sum of £5000. By the mid 1880s, the land formed part of a large estate incorporating a house, garden, orchard, lake and stream, as well as several outbuildings such as a summerhouse and possible gatehouse. Its eastern boundary along Portland Road was hedged.

The estate owner, James Williamson, was a prominent landholder and financier, who helped to found the New Zealand Insurance Company (1859), the Bank of New Zealand (1861) and the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company (1865). He was also a member of the House of Representatives (1862-1867) and the Legislative Council (1870-1888). From the late 1870s, his main residence was at the Pah in Hillsborough, considered to be one of the grandest private residences in the Auckland region. Much of his fortune derived from land speculation, including the subdivision of a large estate at Surrey Hills on the outskirts of Auckland in the 1870s. He was also heavily involved in land purchase in the Waikato following the Third New Zealand - or Waikato - War (1863-1864).

Williamson's suffered a dramatic financial decline in the late 1880s, coinciding with a downturn in the Auckland economy. His difficulties may have contributed to the decision to subdivide and sell the Remuera estate in 1885, by which time the area had become desirable suburban land. With its harbour views and associations with genteel property ownership, Remuera was particularly attractive to members of Auckland's élite families, who were increasingly withdrawing from the colonial city centre. In the late 1880s, it was described as 'the wealthiest and most highly ornate suburb of Auckland' where most of the 'commercial magnates' lived. By February 1885, the estate had been surveyed into 52 separate lots, mostly between a quarter and half an acre in size. A contemporary advertisement suggests that the lots were offered at auction at the Opera House, Auckland on 21 January of the same year.

Construction of Wharema (circa 1886)

Lot 46, on which Wharema was constructed, lay in the eastern part of the former estate, bounding Portland Road to the front and the newer Eastbourne Road to the rear. Portland Road appears to have been a major colonial thoroughfare, providing access from Auckland via the Waitemata waterfront. In June 1885, the lot was purchased by Kate Clark (née Woolnough, 1847-1926), a wealthy patron of the arts, and an author and artist in her own right, who resided at 'The Tower' on the opposite corner of Remuera and Portland Road to the estate lands. The lot was half an acre in size.

Interested in the colony's natural and cultural history, Clark may have been one of the earliest women writing about New Zealand to have had books published overseas with A Southern Cross Fairy Tale in 1891, Persephone and Other Poems in 1894 and Maori Tales and Legends in 1896. She was also an important figure in charitable organizations in Auckland such as the Girls' Friendly Society, and together with the influential British socialist Beatrice Webb (1958-1943), represented the National Council of Women of New Zealand at the London meeting of the International Council of Women in 1899. Her husband, James McCosh Clark (1833-1898), was a director of the New Zealand Insurance Company and the Bank of New Zealand, and a close business associate of Williamson's. He was also mayor of Auckland from 1880 to 1883, and president of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce from 1879 to 1881. Like his wife, James Clark was closely connected with the arts, being president of the Auckland Society of Arts for a seven-year period from 1881 to 1888.

The Clarks may have purchased the land for Kate's sister, Emily Woolnough (1857?-1920), to whom the property was transferred in December 1885. Social networks combining family and financial ties were an important part of colonial society in New Zealand, particularly among the wealthy élite. Emily was also an artist, born in Ipswich, England, like Kate and another sister Ellen. In later life, she was closely identified with the Society for the Protection of Women and Children, the Red Cross and Patriotic Associations. She was also a vice-president of the Ladies' Hockey Association, a committee member of the Croquet Association and, like her sister, on the committee of the Auckland Society of Arts.

The house is likely to have been erected at around the time of Emily's marriage in August 1886 to Edward Payton (1854-1944), an Auckland-based artist who had trained at the Birmingham School of Art. Edward Payton is recorded as residing in Remuera in mid 1886, and one of his sketches dated April 1887 is entitled 'View from The Whare, Portland Road, Remuera', indicating that the dwelling had been erected by this time. The house appears to have initially been called The Whare by the Payton family, although a copper nameplate found on the property indicates that it was also known as Wharema.

The large timber dwelling was constructed in the southern part of the lot, with its impressive double-storey balconies facing north and west, towards both the Waitemata Harbour and Mt Hobson-Remuwera. Of combined Regency and later Victorian style, possibly bearing American influences, its size and design marked it out as a prestigious building. The two-storey house incorporated a parlour, dining room and service quarters downstairs, and a dressing room and four bedrooms upstairs. One of the latter is believed to have accommodated a governess. Its grounds encompassed a circular driveway, screened from Portland Road by a belt of large trees. An area to the south of the service quarters was enclosed by a corrugated iron fence, effectively creating a separate service yard.

The building's designer is uncertain, although Emily Woolnough's father, Henry, is known to have been an architect in Britain. The builder appears to have been George Heron, whose name has been found on joinery in the house. This may be the Remuera-based contractor, George Heron (1835?-1917), who had travelled to Britain and America, and was a member of the Auckland Club. Alternatively, it may be George Andrew Heron (1857?-1925), recorded as a builder of Bell Road, Remuera in the early 1890s. Unusually for its period, the building was erected on scoria concrete footings, although these were evidently built directly on top of the contemporary topsoil rather than dug into the ground, perhaps reflecting a lack of familiarity with the material. Other specifications were conspicuously generous, with the house incorporating a kauri timber superstructure, a slate roof and reeded timber lining throughout.

Occupation by Sarah and Edward Payton (circa 1886-1887 and 1895-1901)

The Paytons are believed to have occupied the house in 1886-1887, at which time Edward Payton achieved prominence as an artist. From a well-to-do family in Warwickshire, England, Payton had arrived in New Zealand in 1883. Two years later, he embarked on a pioneering journey through the King Country with photographer Alfred Burton (1833-1835?-1914) and surveyor John Rochfort, recording the scenes that they encountered. In 1886 he travelled to Rotorua to record the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Tarawera, the resulting engravings being sufficiently accomplished to be published in The Graphic of London. His first exhibition was held in Auckland in 1887, by which time he may have been promised a role as the first principal of the Elam School of Arts, the earliest art school in Auckland Province and the only private art school in the country. Like his sister-in-law Kate Clark, Payton held a strong interest in Maori culture and New Zealand's natural landscape, potentially reflected in the name and location of his home in Portland Road.

While awaiting preparations for Elam to open, the Paytons returned to England for two years, where Edward gained a teaching certificate at the National Art Training School in South Kensington. When in Britain, he published an account of his journey to the King Country, Round about New Zealand (1888). On his return in 1889, Payton made a number of etchings of Auckland and Rotorua, published in a portfolio considered to have been 'possibly the first of its kind in New Zealand'. Payton took up his job as the inaugural principal of Elam in 1890, a post he retained until retirement in 1924. During this time, he worked with other prominent teachers such as the photographer Edward (Clas) Friström (1864-1950), and oversaw the teaching of numerous New Zealand artists, including Anna Lois White (1903-1984) and Connie and Olive Lloyd. Adept at both photography and other visual arts, his images include portraits of Maori such as Makerati Papakura (1873-1930) - a guide, ethnographer and Tuhourangi woman of mana - and Pakeha pioneers including the Reverend Arthur Purchas (1821-1906), an early missionary and member of the Scenery Preservation Society.

Wharema was leased to the solicitor William Read Bloomfield (1861-1914) while the Paytons were abroad. Bloomfield was from a wealthy landed Gisborne family, later becoming a director of several companies, a member of the Council of the Auckland Chamber of Mines and chairman of the Northern Club, one of Auckland's most élite establishments. His lease evidently extended beyond the Paytons' return as the latter are listed as residing in Devonport in the early 1890s. Together with their two young children, the Paytons moved back to Wharema in 1895 or early 1896, where they remained until 1901. It may be during this period that a stables and washhouse was constructed, as the structure does not appear to be visible on early photographs of the house. A door in the southern wall of the stables, noted during recent alterations, suggests that horses were kept in a paddock immediately to the south. A flat area of ground to the north of the house may also have been converted for recreational purposes such as tennis or croquet.

Subsequent occupation and use

In 1901, the house was purchased by Matilda Colbeck, wife of John Colbeck, accountant of Auckland. It may have been at this time that the house was renamed Wharema, as the Paytons appear to have transferred the earlier name of The Whare to their new residence elsewhere in Remuera. The Colbecks could have been prior acquaintances as Matilda took out a mortgage with Edward Payton in 1903. She was the third of a succession of female owners with comparatively well-to-do husbands to purchase the land, perhaps reflecting attempts to spread ownership within members of élite families to protect assets during periods of boom and bust.

In 1907, the land was transferred to Mary Augusta Tole (née Smales, 1863?-1943), the widow of Daniel Tole (?-1904), a former Commissioner of Crown Lands and Provincial Surveyor who had gained the New Zealand War medal for service in the third New Zealand - or Waikato - Waikato War (1863-4). Born in Hobart, Tasmania, Mary Tole became a prominent member of the Catholic community after arriving in Auckland, serving as vice-president of the Catholic Women's League and as a member of the ladies' committee of the Blind Institute in Newmarket.

At the time of her occupation of Wharema, Mary Tole was a mother to eight children - most of them still at a young age - of whom several would achieve artistic and other prominence. These included the architect George Tole (1896-1972), who designed numerous significant buildings in Auckland and gained the NZIA Gold Medal in 1933 for the design and supervision of St Michael's Church, Remuera with Horace Massey. He was also President of the Tree Society for three years. His elder brother John (1890-1967) assisted him on some projects, becoming a well-known lawyer and artist, and winning the Bledisloe Landscape Medal in 1953 for his painting 'Beyond Taihape'. Another brother Charles (1903-1988) gained a reputation as an even more significant artist, producing paintings such as 'Landscape' and 'Road to the Quarry', and receiving the Serjent First Award in 1970. Influenced by American Modernism, Charles has been considered one of the dozen leading artists in New Zealand in the 1950s and early 1960s, and was referred to at his death as 'one of New Zealand's most distinguished artists of the older generation.' Both John and Charles formed, and exhibited with, the Thornhill group of Auckland painters in the 1940s and 1950s, with Charles in particular being associated with the development of Early Modernism in New Zealand. John was also a foundation member of the Auckland Catholic Repertory Company and a long-term member of the Auckland Society of Arts.

The Tole family occupied the house for ten years, selling it in 1917 to the merchant Arthur Tattley (1885?-1935). Tattley made several alterations, including the insertion of fashionable leadlight windows, a bay window to the parlour and numerous three-panel doors. Many of these elements dated to December 1917. An extension to the stables may have been erected at a similar time, to encompass the building's likely conversion into a garage. On Tattley's comparatively early death in 1935, the property was placed in the hands of the New Zealand Insurance Company Ltd., perhaps indicating that his wife and children were unable to meet ongoing costs. In 1941 the gardens to the north and west of the house were subdivided, before yet further subdivision occurred immediately next to the northern elevation of the house in 1951-52, by which time front stairs to the ground floor verandah had been added. Ensuing alterations included internal modifications to the main building in 1965 and 1968. During this period, the building was successively converted into a boarding house, a rooming house and then into four flats.

In 1980, the property was purchased by its current owners, Bryan and Annette Ferneyhough for conversion to a family home. An extensive programme of repair and conservation was carried out, lasting into the 1990s. Alterations have included replacement of the external concrete basement walls and base plates, removal of twentieth-century partitions and doors, replacement of the lean-to scullery with a bay window, and the insertion of a rear porch in space previously occupied by part of the lower floor balcony. Part of an 1880s wall dividing the original pantry from a maid's bedroom has also been removed.

Before internal walls were gibbed, samples of wallpaper and linen backing were taken, indicating the high quality and visual appearance of the early décor of the house. A kitchen extension was added in 2002. Modifications to the washouse have included the removal of a copper in its southwest corner and the insertion of a large window in its western elevation. The latter came from a demolished structure in Russell.

In 1998, land to the north of the house was repurchased, and a building on its site replaced by a timber structure in keeping with the nineteenth-century style of Wharema. Retaining much of its early fabric, the main house and washhouse/stables remain in use as a private dwelling.

Physical Description

Context

Wharema is located in Remuera, an inner eastern suburb of Auckland. The property lies on the northeastern slopes of Mt Hobson-Remuwera with extensive views looking out towards the Waitemata Harbour. The site adjoins Portland Road, a long north-south thoroughfare connecting Remuera Road with Hobson Bay. Encompassing approximately 994m², the site incorporates a main dwelling and a former washhouse/stables in confined grounds surrounded by mature trees. The land slopes down moderately from southeast to northwest.

The main house is set back from the road, with a front garden containing a circular driveway accessed through a timber gate. The detached washhouse/stables lies immediately to the south. The gate is supported on gateposts, which are believed to have formed part of the nineteenth-century arrangement. A raised garden bed survives to the south of the driveway and a circular bed is enclosed within the driveway beside the main house. A recently-erected dwelling on land immediately to the north has been designed in sympathy with the nineteenth-century house.

Numerous places of heritage significance lie in the immediate vicinity, including the pa remains on Mt Hobson-Remuwera, and several dwellings and other buildings registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in Westbourne Avenue, Arney Road, Victoria Avenue and Remuera Road. Nearby places of related significance include St Michael's Church (Catholic) in Beatrice Road, designed by George Tole with his architectural partner Horace Massey (NZHPT registration # 118, Category I historic place), and the former home of Charles and Kate Clark at The Tower (now Kings College) on the corner of Portland and Remuera Road.

Main house - exterior

The main house is two storeys high, with a basement that lies above ground on its northern and western sides. Overall, the building combines a mixture of styles including Regency and aspects of later Victorian design. American influences for its appearance have been suggested, mostly notably for the prominent and highly decorative wrap-around balconies on its northern and western sides. The building is clad with rusticated weatherboards and has a complex hipped roof with a central gutter. The roof is covered with slate.

The eastern frontage to Portland Road contains the main entrance, enclosed beneath an imposing portico. The latter forms the main decorative element in the façade, which is otherwise comparatively plain. An exception is a bay window near its northern end, which is a recent addition.

The northern frontage has offset bay windows at both levels towards its western end, but is dominated by a broad balustraded balcony, two storeys high, with chamfered returns. The balcony also extends at both levels along the northern part of the western elevation. External access to the basement is below the balcony on this side. The southern elevation is comparatively plain, apart from a recently-inserted bay window, which replaced an earlier scullery.

Main house - interior

The house is of rectangular plan, with a central hall arrangement providing access to most rooms. Large halls at both levels present an imposing appearance. The main reception rooms are located on the ground floor on the northern side of the house, comprising a living room (the former parlour) nearest the main entrance and a dining room to the rear. A kitchen next to the dining room is a comparatively recent modification.

To the south of the hall are the former service quarters, once consisting of a kitchen, scullery, pantry and maid's bedroom. Apart from the scullery and pantry - which have been removed - these have been converted into a study and a guest room. Access into this part of the house is via a small lobby from the hall, an original feature. The door to the lobby from the hall was sprung, as shown by surviving patent brass 'Smith' settings. A broad staircase to the upstairs area contains an ornate newel post, similar to those displayed in catalogues of the Kauri Timber Company.

Internal toilet and washing facilities are reached from the back of the stairs. Above the toilet was a large cistern in the roof-space, now removed. Access to the basement is also via a narrow staircase behind the main stairs. The basement is subdivided by narrow scoria concrete walls, some bearing signs of doorways and windows. Two large brick chimney stacks also have scoria concrete bases. Timber joinery, as noted in the basement, is morticed and tenoned.

Upstairs, an L-shaped hall provides access to four bedrooms. A further room, now an ensuite bathroom, was probably originally a dressing room. Both this and the upstairs hall contain unusual built-in cupboard joinery, with rounded ends. Access to the roof space is through a narrow hatch in the side of the chimney breast in the southwestern bedroom. This room also contains the only nineteenth-century fireplace furniture and hearth tiles to survive in the house.

Washouse/stables

The former washhouse/stables is a single-storey timber building, L-shaped in plan. Both elements are clad with rusticated weatherboards and covered by a corrugated iron roof.

The gabled washhouse lies at the western end of the structure, with its main axis running north-south. It extends slightly north of the attached stables, and has an external access door in its eastern elevation. The washhouse comprises a single room with exposed studs on three walls, timber floorboards and a covered hole in the southwestern part of the corrugated iron roof, where an outlet for the copper used to be located. A large window has been inserted in the western elevation of the room, while an early gas fitting survives midway up its eastern wall. The washhouse is currently used as a workroom.

The attached stables has its main axis running east-west and is gabled at its eastern end. The low pitch of its roof suggests that it was covered with corrugated iron from the time of its construction. Its interior is currently lined with gib board, concealing an earlier door in its southern wall. A timber floor at its eastern end has been replaced with concrete, possibly at a similar time that the structure was extended prior to 1941. The external cladding and fenestration of the extension are similar in design, although the timber used for the extension is of inferior quality. A door of similar style to that in the washhouse is located near the western end of the north elevation. A larger, more recent door takes up most of the eastern elevation. This part of the structure is currently used as a garage.

Architectural comparisons

Visually, Wharema lies between the grandiose scale of estate houses of the very wealthy and the dwellings of the urban well-to-do. Among the former are residences such as that of James Williamson at The Pah, Hillsborough (also known as Monte Cecilia, NZHPT Registration # 89, Category I historic place), which is of imposing Italianate design. Large urban dwellings include several two-storey villas of 1880s date in Symonds Street, Auckland and another in nearby Alfred Street (Former Merchants' House, NZHPT Registration # 7275, Category II historic place).

Unlike these structures, Wharema exhibits a stronger classical influence in its architectural appearance. It has been said that Italianate designs of the 1870s among the very wealthy gave way to a greater emphasis on classicism for more fashionable landowners in the ensuing decade, while Gothic Revival styles were retained by the more conservative. One of the main features of Wharema is its broad two-storey wrap-around balconies, which have been linked to American influences in New Zealand architecture during the nineteenth century, although themselves developed from broader colonial currents in the Caribbean and beyond.

Such balconies appear to have been comparatively unusual in domestic dwellings in the Auckland region, although found in houses linked by ownership or occupancy to Wharema such as The Tower, home of James and Kate Clark, and at Opou Homestead in Manutuke, Gisborne (NZHPT Registration # 7170, Category I historic place), which was built in 1882 by close relatives of William Read Bloomfield.

Other large houses with broad wrap-around double-balconies include Marivare, Epsom; Franklynne, Mangare East (NZHPT Registration # 685, Category II historic place); Clark House, Hobsonville (circa 1901-03, NZHPT Registration # 126, Category I historic place); and Riverina, Warkworth (circa 1901, NZHPT Registration # 498, Category II historic place).

Notable Features

Main house, detached washouse/stables, driveway, circular garden bed, eastern boundary wall and fence, and gateposts.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1886 -
House

Original Construction
1900 -
Washhouse/Stables

Modification
1917 -
House: internal alterations and bay window added to E frontage

Modification
-
Stables: extension

Modification
1965 -
House: new internal w.c.

Modification
1968 -
House: internal alterations

Modification
-
House: removal of scullery on S façade, and addition of porch on west façade. Also new bay windows on S and E façades and internal alterations. Eastern boundary wall: reinstallation of earlier gatepost.

Modification
2002 -
House: kitchen extension

Construction Details

Main house: Scoria concrete footings, timber superstructure and cladding, slate roof

Washouse/stables: timber superstructure and cladding, corrugated iron roof; concrete and timber floor

Completion Date

15th January 2007

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Chan, 1996

Chan, Teresa and Cheung, S.H.L., scale drawings of Ferneyhough House, 1996, NZHPT Auckland

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

McCallum, Janet, 'Clark, James McCosh 1833 - 1898; Clark, Kate Emma 1847 - 1926', updated 7 April 2006, URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/

Elam Archive

Elam Archive, acc. no. 03-013, Fine Arts Library, University of Auckland

Rotorua Art and History Museum, 1994

Rotorua Art and History Museum, 'Payton's Place in New Zealand Art History', Rotorua, 1994

Stone, 1995

R. C. J. Stone, James Dilworth, Auckland, 1995

Auckland City Council

Auckland City Council

34 Portland Road, Auckland, Auckland City Environments, Property file

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region Office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.