Stoddart Cottage

18 Purau Avenue, Diamond Harbour

  • Stoddart Cottage.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Nicola Jackson. Date: 1/01/1998.
  • Stoddart Cottage. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Francis Vallance. Taken By: Francis Vallance. Date: 30/09/2012.
  • Stoddart Cottage. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Francis Vallance. Taken By: Francis Vallance. Date: 30/09/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 3088 Date Entered 15th February 1990 Date of Effect 15th February 1990


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 4 DP 304811 (RT 19080), Canterbury Land District and the building known as Stoddart Cottage thereon.

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 4 DP 304811 (RT 19080), Canterbury Land District

Location description

Located directly opposite 15-17 Purau Avenue, DIAMOND HARBOUR

GPS coordinates: E1579120 N5169586 (taken 13 April 2015, in front of cottage)



Stoddart House was the home of Mark Stoddart, an early prominent Canterbury settler, and his family. Stoddart was the youngest son of Admiral Stoddart of Edinburgh. Born and educated in that city, Stoddart trained at a military academy before emigrating to Australia in 1837. There he farmed livestock in Victoria for about twelve years until drought and boredom encouraged him to sell up and start anew. Leaving his station in the Victorian Pyrenees Stoddart joined his friend, E.M. Templar, who had chartered the Australasia to take two thousand sheep to New Zealand. The two men arrived in Lyttelton in January 1851 while the First Four Ships were still at anchor; bringing with them not only sheep, but also the expertise necessary to farm them.

Nicknamed 'shagroons' by the Canterbury pilgrims, Australian squatters such as Stoddart and Templar arrived in Canterbury in increasing numbers during the 1850s.

On his arrival in New Zealand, Stoddart took up land on the north bank of the Rakaia River. Now known as the Rakaia Terrace Station, this run was sold to Sir John Hall in 1853, whereupon Stoddart became the managing partner in an enterprise which established Glenmark Station. Three years later he became sole owner of about five hundred acres in Banks Peninsula on a bay which he named Diamond Harbour. This property was managed by Stoddart's cousin, Mark Sprot, for some years, and in 1858 it produced the first crop of lucerne in Canterbury, if not New Zealand.

By 1861 Stoddart had taken up residence on the land, and during a stock-buying trip to Australia bought the cottage which was assembled in time for his wedding to Anna Barbara Schjott (1835-1911), the daughter of a Norwegian clergyman in February 1862.

Stoddart had a keen interest in native flora and fauna, and when he reluctantly agreed to serve on the Provincial Council (1863-5) he was particularly concerned with acclimatisation and the conservation of the natural environment. Together Stoddart and his wife had seven children, six of which survived infancy, and their second daughter Margaret (1865-1934) became one of New Zealand's leading painters. The family lived at Diamond Harbour until 1877, at which time the property was sold to Harvey Hawkins and the Stoddarts went to Scotland for several years. Returning in about 1880, Mark Stoddart bought a house in Christchurch and died there in 1885.

Perhaps the most well known aspect of Stoddart's Cottage is that it is the subject of one of Margaret Stoddart's best loved paintings. 'Old Cottage, Diamond Harbour' was painted in 1913 as a 'farewell' to the house in which the artist had been born.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Stoddart House is one of a number of important colonial dwellings in an area of great historic interest. It is closely associated with one of Canterbury province's prominent early citizens Mark Stoddart and also with his painter daughter Margaret Stoddart. Mark Stoddart was also an important figure in early European agriculture in Canterbury and a very early advocate of conservation of the natural environment.


Stoddart House is the oldest in Diamond Harbour and an excellent example of colonial prefabrication. The cottage stands near Godley House, built by Harvey Hawkins in 1880. [Godley House was demolished following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-11]. The two houses vividly illustrate the dramatic changes that occurred in Banks Peninsula and Canterbury within a very short time period. It has come to be regarded by many as the quintessential colonial cottage in Canterbury.


Standing on a knoll above the Diamond Harbour Domain, the cottage commands an excellent view of the harbour. It is sheltered by Australian gum trees planted by Mark Stoddart and is ideally placed to be seen and admired in conjunction with Godley House which stands nearby.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


ADDITIONS: Mark Pringle STODDART (1819-85)


Mark Stoddart, an important early Canterbury settler, most likely added to a simple colonial cottage he bought, prefabricated, in Australia.


The cottage is a modest colonial structure which originally contained four rooms and a hall with a sleeping loft above the kitchen at the rear. The lean-tos were probably added by Stoddart; the larger of the two faces west and contains two bedrooms, whilst the southern one served as a storeroom. Twin gables shelter the original part of the house which has a lean-to verandah at the front. The cottage rests on large rocks and the lack of adequate foundations has resulted in the subsidence of the rear section. Multi-paned sash windows light the rooms. A window in the loft has been removed [it is now visible]. The narrow staircase to the loft has also been removed but the lower ceiling height in half of the kitchen provides evidence of its existence [there is now a stair to the loft again]. The kitchen has French doors set into the east wall.


c1870? Lean-tos added

post 1970 Entrance hall removed, staircase to loft removed

Notable Features

A relatively rare prefabricated colonial structure.

Construction Dates

1870 -
Lean-tos added

Post 1970 - Entrance hall removed, staircase to loft removed

Original Construction
1861 -

Construction Details

Timber (possibly Australian hardwood), with a slate roof. Rear lean-to and north face of back gable clad in corrugated iron. Clay infill between outer and inner wall linings.

(Dr Miles Lewis's has suggested that Stoddart's cottage may have originally been imported to Australia from Europe or California to provide housing during the gold rushes of the 1850s. If so, this raises the possibility that the cottage is not built of hardwood. Scientific testing would be necessary to ascertain the timber used.)

Information Sources

MacDonald Biographies

G.R. MacDonald, Dictionary of Canterbury Biographies, Canterbury Museum, n.d.

Star Midweek

Star Midweek

January 3 1987, p6

February 7 1987, p21


The Press

October 2 1954, p9

September 23 1970, p4

November 1 1980, p15

Porter, 1983

Frances Porter (ed), Historic Buildings of Dunedin, South Island, Methuen, Auckland, 1983.


Gardener, 1971

A History of Canterbury, Volume II; General History, 1854-76 and Cultural Aspects, 1850-1950, ed. W.J. Gardner, Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd, Christchurch, 1971


Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.