434 High Street, Dunedin

  • Moata, Dunedin.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 12/02/2019.
  • Moata, Dunedin .
    Copyright: Philip Tilson. Taken By: Philip Tilson. Date: 17/03/2009.
  • Moata, Dunedin.
    Copyright: Philip Tilson. Taken By: Philip Tilson. Date: 17/03/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2195 Date Entered 2nd July 1982 Date of Effect 2nd July 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Secs 26-28 and Pt Sec 36 Blk II Town of Dunedin (RT OT122/114) and Pt Secs 26, 36 Blk II Town of Dunedin (RT OT122/115), Otago Land District, and the building known as Moata thereon.

City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Secs 26-28 and Pt Sec 36 Blk II Town of Dunedin (RT OT122/114) and Pt Secs 26, 36 Blk II Town of Dunedin (RT OT122/115), Otago Land District


Moata, an ornamental red brick two–storied house at 434 High Street in Dunedin, was built in 1900 for local businessman Leslie Wolford Harris (1873-1950). It is historically significant as the home of Harris, part of the Bing Harris business empire, and because of its unusual Flemish facades which are prominent in the streetscape of High Street, a thoroughfare that is a continual reminder of the most fashionable place to reside in 19th century Dunedin.

In 1900 Harris bought a large block of land in High Street. Architect James Louis Salmond (1868-1950) designed the house and in April 1900, advertised for tenders for the purchase and removal of the existing house on the site. The following month Salmond advertised for tenders to build the Harris home. Crawford & Watson were the successful tenderers. The house was finished at a cost of £2,500 and the family were in residence by 1901. Leslie was involved in the long-lived family business, Bing, Harris and Co. His father, Woolf Harris (1834-1926), was one of only five Jewish businessmen living in Dunedin prior to the discovery of gold in 1861.

Constructed of tuck-pointed red brick with decorative plaster, with a marseilles tiled roof, the street facing elevations of Moata feature two Flemish gables topped by decorative ironwork. The first-floor corner has been cut back at a 45-degree angle to the hipped roof which overhangs it. This portion of roof is supported by heavy decorative eaves, profiled with a tear-drop moulding at the corner. Architectural commentator Hardwicke Knight described the house as comparable to ‘Olveston’ in expressing the ‘influence of the fashionable residential architecture in England at the turn of the century’. The windows are simply treated with occasional lead-lighting or stained-glass work. Knight makes particular note of the picturesque stairwell window, characteristic of the art nouveau period. Depicting long stemmed flowers with unfolded buds, this window was designed to allow light in through a restrained colour palette. The effect would have created a light and airy transition between floors in the house by way of the sweeping staircase accessed from the large foyer. Original fixtures and fittings included a black and white marble-tiled floor in the foyer, highly decorative zinc and plaster moulded ceilings and leaded doors. The Harris family were an influential and generous family who often entertained; their home was part of the thriving social scene of Dunedin’s elite. Parties were a regular event, sometimes involving bridge tournaments. During the Harris residency the house was known as ‘Delmonte’.

In 1913 the family left for London and Delmonte was rented to Sir Henry Lindo Ferguson, an early Dean of the Otago Medical School. In 1920 the Harris family sold to James Milne (1868-1956), a partner in Milne and Bremner Ltd, wholesale wine, spirit and grocery merchants. It was the Milnes who bestowed the name ‘Moata’, meaning morning sun. In 1922, Milne contracted Mason and Wales to design a garage which was influenced by the Flemish style of the gable ends of the house. The Milnes remained at Moata until their deaths in 1956. Since then the house has passed through various hands, including local architect Kingston Knight Sedgefield. A 1957 a roughcast addition to the house was constructed by Thompson & Ogg and contained a sunroom on the ground floor with a bedroom above. The former servants’ wing was converted into a self-contained flat, and the side porch was extended and glassed in. in 2019 Moata remains an outstanding part of the High Street streetscape.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Salmond, James Louis

James Louis Salmond (1868-1950) was born in North Shields, England. He was educated at Otago Boys' High School and began his career articled to Robert Arthur Lawson (1833-1902). Salmond initially practised on his own account but later rejoined Lawson in partnership. Salmond took over the practice when Lawson died in 1902.

Salmond was the architect of over 20 churches in Otago including the Presbyterian churches at Roslyn, Kaikorai, North Dunedin and the Wesleyan church at Mornington. He designed many private residences including Watson Shennan's house at 367 High Street, as well as those at 114 Cargill Street and 14 Pitt Street, all in Dunedin.

Salmond was president of the Otago Art Society, and also served a term as president of the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

His son Arthur joined the firm having studied in London and his grandson John continues to work in the firm today. It is now known as Salmond Anderson Architects.

Crawford and Watson

Builders of the dwelling "Moata", Dunedin 1900-01

Source: Summary Report for Moata, DUNEDIN, List No. 2195, 13 Jun 2019, Sarah Gallagher.

Thompson & Ogg

Builders of the roughcast addition to the dwelling "Moata", Dunedin. C. 1957

Source: Summary Report for Moata, DUNEDIN, List No. 2195, 13 Jun 2019, Sarah Gallagher.

Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

See "in the light of the past' Phillips & Mclean, pp.65 et al.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1900 - 1901

- 1906
Addition made to the house

- 1910
Addition made to the house

Additional building added to site
- 1922
Garage designed by Mason and Wales

- 1957
Alteration to the house

- 1962
Stairs replaced and porch altered

Completion Date

13th June 2019

Report Written By

Sarah Gallagher

Information Sources

Knight, H. & N. Wales, 1988

Hardwicke Knight and Niel Wales, Buildings of Dunedin: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to New Zealand's Victorian City, John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1988

Phillips, 1983

J Phillips & C Maclean, In Light of the Past, 1983

Galer, 1984

L Galer, Further Houses and Homes, Dunedin, 1984

Ledgerwood (2013)

Norman Ledgerwood, R.A. Lawson: Victorian Architect of Dunedin, Historic Cemeteries Conservation Trust of New Zealand, Dunedin, 2013

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.