Casa Nova 160th highlights stunning restoration

Rosemary Baird sees inside Casa Nova as the Category 1 listing, impressive refurbishment, and 160th anniversary of this Ōamaru stone mansion are celebrated.

Katrina McLarin shows Marian Hobbs the feature Ōamaru stone wall in one of the bedrooms
Katrina McLarin shows Marian Hobbs the feature Ōamaru stone wall in one of the bedroomsexpand/collapse

Casa Nova House and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga joined forces to celebrate the category 1 listing and 160th anniversary of this Ōamaru stone mansion on 20 December 2021. The guests including HNZPT staff, the Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, tradesmen, and former residents marvelled at the transformation wrought by Katrina McLarin and Brenda Laverick.

HNZPT Chief Executive, Andrew Coleman welcomed and thanked all involved, in particular, Katrina and Brenda, whose determination, hard work and passion have resulted in an incredible restoration. HNZPT Board Chair, Marian Hobbs and Gary Kircher then unveiled a heritage plaque.

In less than two years, Katrina and Brenda have landscaped the garden, fixed structural damage, restored windows and the roof, as well as totally redoing the interior. With little original interior left, Katrina was free to create a modern interpretation of Victorian decor with colourful wallpapers, carpet and art.

The highlight was a tour of the tapas restaurant ‘1861’ downstairs, as well as the upstairs Bed and Breakfast rooms where each room has original elements of the Ōamaru stone in wall features and display cases. The house retains a strong connection to the people who have lived and worked in it, with each room named after individuals who contributed to the house’s history.

Katrina’s enthusiasm and attention to detail in every aspect of managing the project is inspirational. In spite of tight time frames, due to Covid and lending restrictions, Katrina painted the majority of rooms in the house herself and found skilled Ōamaru craftspeople and tradespeople to make the project possible.

It was a wonderful chance for Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga to celebrate two amazing heritage owners who, like many others around the country, do so much to keep our heritage places alive for the next generation.

- Rosemary Baird