1 Tui Street And St Leonards Drive, St Leonards, Dunedin

  • Aorangi.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2139 Date Entered 2nd July 1982 Date of Effect 2nd July 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 8 and Pt Lots 6-7 Deed Plan 109 (RT OT9B/1463), Otago Land District, and the building known as Aorangi thereon. The registration does not include the adjoining new lodge building, constructed in 2001.

City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 8 and Pt Lots 6-7 Deed Plan 109 (RT OT9B/1463), Otago Land District


Aorangi is a substantial brick residence built for engineer John Cook in 1907. The Mason and Wales design is oriented to make the most of the view from the prominent site at St Leonards in Dunedin, which overlooks Otago Harbour.

The house is a generous residence for a man who had made his way in Dunedin’s business world. Glasgow-born Cook served an engineering apprenticeship in Glasgow with Barr and Thomson, before going to sea and serving on the ships of the Anchor and Cunard lines. He came to New Zealand in 1875 as chief engineer aboard the steamer Taiaroa. In 1877, Cook came ashore and worked as attending engineer for the Union Steam Ship Company. He held that position until 1903 when he left to join Stevenson and Cook’s engineering company.

Aorangi was designed by prominent Dunedin architectural partnership Mason and Wales. The practice is New Zealand’s oldest, begun in 1863 by William Mason and Nathaniel Wales. When Mason retired, Wales became the sole partner. Wales’ son Patrick joined the firm in 1891. The firm designed many important buildings, including public and commercial buildings, as well as private houses, some substantial, like Aorangi. J. Wood built the house for a contract price of £2,302.

John Cook died in 1927. His widow Jessie stayed on in the house. On her death in 1936, Dunedin warehouseman John Ross bought Aorangi. Through the later years of the twentieth century Aorangi has been a comfortable private residence. Ross owned the house until 1951 when the house was bought by Dunedin businessman Peter Orr Smellie. University lecturer Geoffrey Jowett bought Aorangi in 1964. Since that time, Aorangi has had several changes of ownership. In 2000 Aorangi was transformed into a boutique hotel known as St Leonard’s Lodge.

In 2015, Aorangi still provides guest accommodation.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mason & Wales Architects Ltd

Mason and Wales Architects Ltd is the oldest architectural practice in New Zealand, having been founded by William Mason (1810-1897) in 1862 Dunedin. Mason was born in England, studied under Peter Nicholson and worked under Thomas Telford and Edward Blore. In 1838 he immigrated to New South Wales, and came to New Zealand in 1840. Having spent 22 years in Auckland he went to Dunedin at the time of the gold discoveries and was elected the first mayor of Dunedin in 1865. He was active in politics as well as in architecture.

Mason was in partnership firstly with David Ross (1827-1908) and William Henry Clayton (1823-1877) and he took in N.Y.A. Wales (1832-1903) when Clayton left the firm to become Colonial Architect in Wellington. Wales had worked as a clerk of works and was very competent in all aspects of construction.

The firm was responsible for many of Dunedin's early important buildings such as the Post Office (later known as the Exchange Building), Princes Street (1864-68), the Exhibition Building (later the Dunedin Hospital), Great King Street (1864), St Matthew's Church, Stafford Street (1873), and the Wains Hotel, Princes Street (1878).

Mason and Wales designed the Abbotsford Farm Steading (1871) at Outram, Otago (NZHPT Reg. No. 7579). This farm steading was designed for James Shand, a prominent land owner, politician and businessman in the area. Mason and Wales designed another farm steading for Shand at his property Berkeley in 1881 (demolished 1981). In 1881, Mason and Wales also designed a plain concrete Chicory Kiln (NZHPT Reg. No. 3359, Cat II) at Inch Clutha, South Otago for Gregg and Coy.

Mason and Wales continues today. N.Y.A. Wales (b.1927) is a fourth generation director of the firm.

WALES, Nathaniel Young Armstrong (1832-1903)

Wales was born in Northumberland, England, and educated at Jedburgh, Scotland. He immigrated to Australia in 1854 and found employment as a carpenter working on the buildings for the first exhibition held in Melbourne.

He arrived in Dunedin about 1863, and was a clerk of works for William Mason on the old Bank of New Zealand Building (1862-64), the Post Office Building (1864-68) and the Port Chalmers Graving Dock (1868-72).

Wales entered partnership with William Mason in 1871. The firm of Mason and Wales was responsible for many fine buildings in Dunedin including Bishopscourt (1873), St Matthew's Church (1873), Government Life Insurance Building (1897) and Wains Hotel (1878).

Wales had military and political interests and was a Member of Parliament for some years. He occupied a seat on the Dunedin Harbour Board and was a Dunedin City Councillor. In 1895 he was elected Mayor of Dunedin. In 1900 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Wood, John

Built the Blue Cliffs Station Homestead (1889).

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1907 -

1952 -
First floor room converted to a flat for the gardener

2001 -
New lodge building erected

Completion Date

18th March 2015

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand.