Bankwood House

660 River Road, Fairfield, HAMILTON

Quick links:

Bankwood House was built in 1892 on what was the then rural hinterland to the north of Hamilton as the residence for gentleman farmer and English immigrant, Matthew Farrer. The expansive farm was established from the many one acre allotments granted after 1864 to members of the Fourth Regiment of Waikato Militia. These one acre allotments were part of the 1.2 million hectares confiscated from Tainui after the 1863 and 1864 conflicts. Bankwood House was constructed facing west, on the edge of an upper terrace of the Waikato River. This substantial villa was designed by local architect, Thomas White, who took advantage of the landscape to enhance its impressive style. Bankwood House is a rare surviving example of a homestead built for a large pastoral farm in the Waikato. The house is representative of a significant period of development in the rural economy in the Waikato in the late nineteenth century. The house was originally connected by a covered way to an earlier house built by John Blair Whyte (MRP for Waikato) which served as the kitchen and additional accommodation until circa 1900 to 1915. After its purchase by John Gordon in 1907, the house was sympathetically altered and enlarged and a kitchen included, with the earlier cottage possibly removed around this time. The house has undergone successive alteration up to and following its purchase in 1929, for the expanding Waikato Diocesan School for Girls. Bankwood House has strong associations with two influential men in the agricultural industry, John Gordon a manager of the Eureka (Woodlands) Estate, and William Goodfellow, a founder of the New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company. From 1929 the building has played an important part in the development of a successful Anglican private girls’ school with staff and students both past and present having a strong esteem for the place. Bankwood House has architectural significance being designed by prominent Hamilton architect, Thomas Henry White. The place has historical significance due to its links to early European settlement of Hamilton with the farm created from Fourth Waikato Regiment militia land grants. It is also significant for its association with the development and prosperity of the Waikato in the late nineteenth century. Several of its owners have played substantial roles in the development of agriculture in the Waikato and in the burgeoning dairy industry. Bankwood House has social significance for its role in education, having been part of the Anglican School for Girls since 1929. Bankwood House has archaeological significance as it sits on land confiscated from Tainui. The property is surrounded by archaeological sites which relate to the extensive occupation and farming of the land by Maori.

Bankwood House Front View | Mike Vincent | 22/04/2008 | NZ Historic Places Trust



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 2


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

12th December 2011

Date of Effect

12th December 2011

City/District Council

Hamilton City


Waikato Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 3 DPS 54638 (RT SA46578), South Auckland Land District and the building known as Bankwood House thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. The extent includes a 1.5 metre curtilage around the footprint of the building. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information.)

Legal description

Lot 3 DPS 54638 (RT SA46578), South Auckland Land District

Location Description

Bankwood House is part of the campus of the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls. The building can be accessed through the main gate and is situated on the right hand side of the driveway.

Stay up to date with Heritage this month