Anderson House

2538 Pipiriki-Raetihi Road, Pipiriki

  • Anderson House. Original image submitted at time of registration.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: Unknown.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 951 Date Entered 11th December 2003


Extent of List Entry

Extent of registration includes the land described as Sec 8 Blk V Town of Pipiriki (WNB4/555), Wellington Land District, and the building thereon known as Anderson House

City/District Council

Ruapehu District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Sec 8 Blk V Town of Pipiriki (WNB4/555), Wellington Land District

Location description

Pipiriki is 74km upstream from Wanganui City, on the banks of the Whanganui River.

It can be reached by vehicle from Wanganui on the Wanganui River Road or from Raetihi on the Raetihi-Pipiriki Road (about 25kms). 4-wheel drive is recommended after periods of rain or during the winter months.


Located a short distance from the banks of the Whanganui River in Pipiriki is Anderson House, a fine example of residential colonial architecture.

Anderson House is a small, two-storey cottage. Constructed in the 'saltbox' style, the building has a gable with a built in lean-to at the rear. The steeply pitched roof of corrugated iron is decorated with finials at either end. The upper storey has twin dormer windows and the front of the structure is embellished by a verandah that gives the house a deceptively grand appearance. The building has four rooms downstairs, plus two small storerooms. A steep staircase extends to the upper storey into three, tightly domered bedrooms.

The exact date of the construction of the cottage is uncertain. It was definitely constructed by 1905, as it appears in photographs of the Pipiriki township taken in that year. The style of the building suggests it constructed much earlier, and is one typical of New Zealand cottages constructed between 1850 and 1860. However two features of the house may suggest a later date of construction. The house has boxed corners, which were popular in the 1870s, and it is clad in rusticated weatherboards, which were introduced in Wellington in the 1860s but did not become fashionable until the 1880s.

The development and history of the town suggest that the house may have been constructed around the 1850s or 1860s. Pipiriki, a Maori settlement traditionally used as a meeting place for iwi of the upper and lower river, expanded rapidly in the 1850s, as settlers began arriving in the Wanganui district. Maori planted European crops on the riverbanks and produced a significant proportion of the district's agricultural produce. However, some Pakeha settlers established farms in Pipiriki during this period. In 1865 Reverend Richard Taylor recorded that a Richard Booth was farming the area where Anderson House now stands.

The New Zealand Wars had a severe impact on the Pipiriki settlement, and its population declined sharply. In 1866 the Reverend Richard Taylor noted that there was 'no voice of welcome, the place all overgrown with grass'. In the 1890s, the settlement revived and passengers travelling by riverboat used Pipiriki as a landing site. In 1892 an accommodation house was constructed adjacent to what is now known as Anderson House. Seven years later the spot became a fashionable tourist destination when Alexander Hatrick constructed Pipiriki House, one of New Zealand's grandest hotels, on the site of the accommodation house built in 1892. Pictures depicting Pipiriki House show Anderson House immediately adjacent to the hotel.

While the architecture of Anderson House suggests a construction date between 1860 and the 1880s, the first identified owner or tenant of the building was Reone Te Maungaroa, who was Chairman of the Pipiriki Native School Committee in 1898. It is unclear when Reone Te Maungaroa commenced living in the structure. When Te Maungaroa died in 1906, the property was passed on to his son Ngarino Te Maungaroa, who lived in the house until his own death in 1935. The house then passed to his daughter Noke Te Maungaroa. Noke was related by marriage to the Anderson family, and when she died two years later, Andy Anderson (1895-1958) who had grown up in Pipiriki, settled in the house with his wife Emma Whitianga Ratana of Ngati Tuera and Ngati Pare. Emma became the cook at the adjacent Pipiriki House and Anderson, who had grown up in Pipiriki, continued to serve as one of the Whanganui riverboat captains. Anderson remained in the house until his accidental death in 1958, and it is in memory of him that the house received its colloquial name.

When Emma Anderson died, the house was taken over by Anderson's brother, Arthur Anderson, who remained in Taumarunui but used the house during the holidays until 1966, when it was sold to the Proprietors of the Pipiriki Township. In 1975 the building was leased to the Wanganui River Scenic Board (WRSB), who intended to establish a museum in the building. In that same year, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust granted $1,500 to the Board to assist with the cost of restoring the house. Restoration began early the following year and was completed over a period of twenty months. During the restoration, the house was re-roofed and re-piled and a number of weatherboards were replaced. The brick chimney was removed and a new one constructed in a different location, and several parts of the front verandah were replaced with materials sympathetic to the originals. It was formally opened as a museum on 3 December 1977 and continues to function in this capacity.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Anderson House is historically significant as a rare remaining example of a form of housing once typical of Pakeha settlements between the 1860s and 1880s. The house retains much of its original character and is in an excellent condition. The cottage is physically significant for the insight it provides into early colonial building techniques. Its history is linked to the growth of the Pipiriki settlement and the building is one of the few colonial style homesteads constructed in the area still remaining. The site on which it stands is linked to the New Zealand Wars, and the cottage itself may have been used as a mess by the Imperial troops garrisoned in the area. The building is also linked, through proximity, to Pipiriki House, an elegant tourist hotel, which was destroyed by fire in 1909. The house is associated with numerous well-known figures, including the Chairman of Pipiriki Native School Reone, Te Maungaroa, and the last riverboat captain on the Whanganui River, Andy Anderson. The history of the house, and its current use as a museum, lends the house considerable social importance in the Pipiriki area. It remains a popular tourist attraction and a valuable educational tool and is held in high esteem by the local community.

Category of historic place (section 23(2)): Category II

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

Anderson House is a rare remaining example of a house style popular in Pakeha settlements in the mid to late nineteenth-century.

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

It is associated with events and persons of importance. The site on which it stands is connected to the New Zealand Wars during the garrisoning of Pipiriki by Imperial troops led by Major Brassey in 1865. The house itself is connected to Reone Te Maungaroa, Chairman of the Pipiriki Native School, and also to his descendants, including Andy Anderson, the well-known figure who was the last riverboat captain of the Whanganui River.

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

Now used as a museum, the potential of Anderson House to provide knowledge of New Zealand history is two-fold. As an early example of Pakeha architecture the structure provides insight into colonial building techniques and the growth of the Pipiriki settlement in the mid-nineteenth century, while its function as a museum assists to bring the early colonial era alive.

(d) The importance of the place to tangata whenua:

The house has been owned and occupied by tangata whenua and extended whanau and is linked with the history of the Pipiriki Native School. It also reflects the history of Pipiriki, which is a town of significance to local Whanganui River iwi.

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

When the building was being restored the community rallied, supplying labour and materials for the project. The house has been furnished using donated furniture and chattels from the appropriate from the appropriate eras in which the house was occupied.

(f) The potential of the place for public education:

Anderson House is a fine example of an early Colonial residence. As such, those who visit gain an understanding of the construction and layout of residences of this period. Its educational role is assisted by its use as a museum and information centre.

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

The construction materials and furniture for this house were originally transported from areas outside of Pipiriki. Constructing any building at Pipiriki presented technical problems. There is very high rainfall in the winter and very dry summers, so either the river was in flood or too low to allow anything other than canoe transport.

Anderson House is a rare remaining example of a form of housing once typical of Pakeha settlements in the mid-to-late-nineteenth-century. The house retains much of its original character and is in an excellent condition. The cottage is physically significant for the insight it provides into colonial building techniques.

The restoration of the building appears to have been fairly invasive. With the exception of the relocation of the chimney, however, it appears that considerable effort was made to ensure that materials were replaced with those similar to the ones removed.

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

Anderson House is a rare remaining example of a form of housing once typical of Pakeha settlements.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

Anderson House is a two-storey residence with a steeply pitched roof of corrugated iron. It is painted 'Indian Ivory' with olive green trim. The roof is painted green. It has twin dormer windows in the upper storey and a verandah along the front. The dormers are 'half dog-house' dormers with double-hung sash windows. The verandah was restored using recycled totara for the bearers and posts, and recycled heart rimu (from the Feilding High School) for the remainder. It gives the house a deceptively grand appearance, and extends beyond the ends of the building to cover two small storerooms. The interior features a steep staircase from the kitchen and a trapdoor, which opens up into three, tightly dormered bedrooms.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1860 - 1880
Possible period of construction

1976 -
Repairs carried out: weatherboards repaired, verandah recreated, roof replaced, building repiled, walls relined, floor replaced, chimney replaced (Ray White and Lester Clark, with Norm Hubbard and others)

Construction Details

Anderson House is constructed around a timber frame, and has a weatherboard exterior (200mm timber weatherboards), with a corrugated iron roof. The weatherboards are rusticated and the corners of the dwelling feature boxed corners. The piles are constructed of concrete at the ground level with totara from concrete to house bearer. The chimney is made of brick. Timber picket fence added in 1976. The flooring is made of recycled heart matai. The windows are double-hung, quad-pane sash windows.

Completion Date

11th December 2003

Report Written By

Karen Cheer with Rebecca O'Brien

Information Sources

Alexander Turnbull Library

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

MS Papers The Wanganui River Trust and its Work, working papers of the author A. D. Mead, M&A

Archives New Zealand (Auck)

Archives New Zealand (Auckland)

BAAA1001/462a Maori Schools - Building and Site files, Pipiriki, 1894-1901)

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

M. T. Simon, 'Anderson, Andrew 1895-1958',, updated 31 July 2003

Downes, 1915 (1998)

T. W. Downes, Old Whanganui, Hawera 1915 (reprinted 1998)

Downes, 1921

T. W. Downes, History of and Guide to the Wanganui River, Wanganui, 1921

Reid, 1967

A & D Reid, Paddle Wheels on the Wanganui, Auckland, 1967

Reid, 1976

Hilary Reid, 'St Andrew's Church, Symonds St, Auckland', Buildings Classification Committee Research Report, Wellington, 1976 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

Salmond, 1986

Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen

Voelkerling, 1986

R. Voelkerling and K Stewart, From Sand to Papa: A History of the Wanganui County, Wanganui, 1986

Other Information

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

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.