Rahiri Lodge

Egmont Road, Egmont National Park

  • Rahiri Lodge, Egmont National Park.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Joanna Barnes-Wylie. Date: 23/06/2020.
  • Rahiri Lodge, Egmont National Park.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Joanna Barnes-Wylie. Date: 23/06/2020.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 9127 Date Entered 19th November 2020 Date of Effect 9th December 2020

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Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Legal Road and part of the land described as Sec 38 Blk VII Egmont SD (NZ Gazette, 1975, p.2185), Taranaki Land District and the building known as Rahiri Lodge thereon. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information).

City/District Council

New Plymouth District

Region

Taranaki Region

Legal description

Legal Road; Sec 38 Blk VII Egmont SD (NZ Gazette, 1975, p.2185), Taranaki Land District

Location description

Rahiri Lodge is located on road reserve at the intersection of Egmont Road and Forest Road (a paper road). The grid reference is NZTM E 1697060 N 5657914 +/- 5m.

Summaryopen/close

The picturesque Rahiri Lodge (1929) sits in the shadow of Mount Taranaki, at the North Egmont gateway to Egmont National Park. It is a prominent landmark at the gateway with pleasing aesthetic qualities due to its rustic ‘gingerbread house’ appearance and natural setting of farmland and native bush. Rahiri Lodge has strong historical value through its association with the formation and management of Egmont National Park, the resulting tourism and recreation industries which developed, and the need for appropriate roading infrastructure and safety to support them.

The creation of Egmont National Park in 1900 saw a steep increase in visitors to Mount Taranaki, aided by the introduction of motor vehicles and road improvements into the park. By 1908 the Park Board recognised the need to control motor vehicles arriving at the various mountain houses and in 1910 the Rahiri telephone office opened at the popular North Egmont gateway, connecting to Tahurangi House (the Camphouse). The first telephonist was John Williams, whose farm was adjacent to the gateway. By 1925 the four local Committees managing the park had introduced tolls as a means of collecting revenue, following a 1924 amendment to the Egmont National Park Act. The North Committee subsequently used the tolls and fees collected at the North Egmont gateway to help fund the remaking and sealing of the mountain road. In preparation for the road’s re-opening, they decided in 1928 to erect a ‘rustic lodge’ at the gateway, from which a permanent gatekeeper could collect tolls and control motor traffic.

The lodge was designed by the Park Board’s honorary architect Horace Victor Samuel (H.S.V.) Griffiths and constructed in 1929 by Boon Bros Ltd, a well-known New Plymouth building firm. Griffiths’ original design was for a stone Arts and Crafts style lodge comprising two rooms, bathroom and porch, but it was built in brick instead due to concerns about weather-tightness. The floor was tongue and groove timber and the gabled roof was clad with corrugated iron. The front porch was partially glazed and its timber posts were supported by a brick wall.

The Rahiri telephone office moved into the lodge in 1930 and subsequent weatherboard and asbestos board extensions in 1937 and 1941 in particular dramatically increased the building’s size. Tolls were abolished in 1946 when the Public Works Department became responsible for the road. From 1947 the lodge was occupied by Park Board and then Department of Lands and Survey staff who fulfilled the role of gatekeeper/telephonist (and designated traffic control officer from 1948-1955). In 1966 the Rahiri telephone office closed permanently but the lodge remained occupied. It was ‘completely refurbished’ in 1970 and from 1987- 1998 was home to Department of Conservation staff and a few private tenants. The lodge was vacated in 1998 due to seismic safety concerns but substantial upgrade works were undertaken in 2003 and it was re-occupied (with some periods of vacancy) through until 2013. In recent years Rahiri Lodge has once again been privately tenanted, helping to ensuring its ongoing preservation.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Rahiri Lodge has strong historical significance through its direct association with the formation and subsequent management of Egmont National Park, and the burgeoning tourism and recreation industries which followed, aided by the introduction of motor cars and improved roading networks. The lodge owes its existence to the park, and is intertwined with the history of the mountain road up to the North Egmont accommodation houses. It reflects the history of road construction in New Zealand, specifically the collection of tolls to help fund road building and maintenance, and the development of traffic control systems to ensure road safety.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

The rustic ‘gingerbread house’ style of Rahiri Lodge and its setting on the edge of farmland adjacent to the bush-clad lower slopes of Mount Taranaki combine to add picturesque appeal to the North Egmont gateway. The lodge is recognised as a reference point for this popular gateway into the Egmont National Park.

Architectural Significance or Value

The original clinker brick portion of Rahiri Lodge has architectural value as a fine example of the Arts and Crafts style in relatively original condition, with possible influences from rustic architecture which was popular with the National Park Service in the United States at this time. It was consciously designed to create an aesthetically pleasing result given its prominent location at the North Egmont gateway into the park. This portion of the lodge is strikingly juxtaposed by the later vernacular additions to the rear, which in combination create an eclectic architectural form demonstrating the building’s ‘evolved heritage’.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

Rahiri Lodge directly reflects the development of the national park movement in New Zealand. This movement helped foster the growth of New Zealand’s tourism and recreation industries that are now so central to the economy, and has been central to the development of New Zealand’s ‘clean green’ image. The lodge also specifically reflects the history of roading infrastructure in New Zealand in the early 20th century, and the collection of tolls to help fund road improvements and maintenance. It is a rare and intact remaining example of a building associated with this aspect of our history.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

Rahiri Lodge owes its very existence to the creation of Egmont National Park in 1900. This was a significant event in New Zealand history, resulting in the second of New Zealand’s thirteen national parks. The creation of the park can also be seen more broadly within context of the developing conservation movement, particularly due to concerns about widespread forest clearance following more intensive Pākehā settlement.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

Rahiri Lodge serves as a landmark for the North Egmont gateway into the Egmont National Park, a route which can become extremely populated during the peak summer tourist season. The lodge is highly visible due to its prominent location right up against the roadside at the gateway. It has the potential for further public education about the history of Egmont National Park and the development of tourism and recreation activities, linking particularly to the Camphouse at the top of the road.

(g) The technical accomplishment, value, or design of the place

Rahiri Lodge has design value in its careful execution of a rustic Arts and Craft style lodge, deliberately designed with a focus on aesthetics and harmonisation with the environment given its prominent location at the northern gateway to Egmont National Park.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

Rahiri Lodge has rarity value as one of the few remaining toll houses in New Zealand which reflect the history of road construction in New Zealand and the collection of tolls to help fund roading improvements. It is the only remaining example associated with a National Park and the only toll house which also served as a traffic control point to help ensure the safety of road users.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural area

Rahiri Lodge is an integral part of the wider historic and cultural area of Egmont National Park, which includes a significant number of cultural sites and a few remaining historic building and structures associated with the development of tourism and recreation activities within the park. Within North Egmont specifically, these include the Ambury Memorial (1919) and the Camphouse, to which Rahiri Lodge was directly linked for many years via telephone communications.

Summary of Significance or Values

Rahiri Lodge is considered a strong example of a Category 2 historic place. It is historically important as a physical reminder of the development of Egmont National Park and its subsequent management to support the fledgling New Zealand tourism and recreation industries. It also reflects the development of New Zealand’s roads in the early 20th century, specifically the collection of tolls to help fund this development and the need to ensure road safety through traffic control measures. Its aesthetic and architectural values as a rustic lodge in the Arts and Crafts style help cement its status as a landmark at the North Egmont gateway to the national park.

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Griffiths, Horace Victor Samuel

Horace Victor Samuel (H.S.V.) Griffiths was born in Thames on 9 January 1883, although his family had relocated to New Plymouth, Taranaki by 1888. Griffiths was working as a draughtsman ‘in the employment of the Government’ in Wellington in 1906 but moved back to New Plymouth in June 1907. By August 1907 he had formed a partnership with Jas Sanderson, and together they designed a number of buildings for the Taranaki Education Board, as well as other commercial and residential buildings throughout the region. They were officially appointed as the Board’s architects in October 1908. The partnership of Sanderson and Griffiths was dissolved by mutual agreement in November 1915, with Griffiths carrying on the architectural firm in his own name.

In 1917 Griffiths formed an architectural partnership with Frank Messenger in 1917, working out of Messenger’s former premises at 61 Devon Street, New Plymouth. The firm of Messenger and Griffiths was responsible for a number of commercial, civic, agricultural and domestic buildings in New Plymouth and surrounds, including the Nurse’s Home at Barrett Street Hospital (opened in 1922), the Uruti Co-operative Dairy Factory at Uruti (1922), and the Ambury Memorial (1919) on Taranaki Maunga. Mr W. Taylor was later admitted into the partnership, which became Messenger, Griffiths and Taylor in 1920. Messenger, Griffiths and Taylor designed a large number of buildings in Taranaki from residential homes to commercial premises and civic buildings. Their work included the Opunake Cottage Hospital (1922), the Inglewood County Council Offices (1924), the Boon Bros. Ltd building on the corner of Gill and Gover Streets in New Plymouth (1926-1927), and the Pungarehu Hall (1930).

Griffiths also held the role of honorary architect for the National Park Board and designed Rahiri Lodge at the North Egmont Gateway in 1929. Messenger, Griffiths and Taylor was later dissolved and in 1930 Griffiths formed a new partnership with William Newton Stephenson, reputedly specialising in residential architecture and dairy factory work. In addition to his architectural career, Griffiths also held a prolific number of local governance, civic, commercial and church roles, and was mayor of New Plymouth from 1927 to 1933. He died in New Plymouth on 27 November 1952.

Source: Proposal Report for Rahiri Lodge, Egmont National Park, List No. 9127, 4 September 2020, Joanna Barnes-Wylie

Boon Bros. Ltd

New Plymouth building firm Boon Bros. Ltd was founded in 1895 by brothers John Walter Boon (1867-1929), Alfred Boon (1869-1941) and Josephiah Wedgwood Boon (1873-1942). The firm’s initial premises were on Currie Street, New Plymouth but in 1902 they moved to a new site on the corner of Gover and Gill Streets; they also had premises on Liardet Street. In 1901, Josephiah Boon left to form Jas W. Boon and Co., timber merchants, joinery and building contractors, based in Stratford. Boon Bros. Ltd was responsible for constructing hundreds of commercial and residential buildings in New Plymouth, and also undertook work in the surrounding areas. As the business grew, ‘it was able to gain more building work, undercutting or otherwise outcompeting other rivals and building a substantial presence in the city’. Buildings constructed by the Boon Brothers include the Stratford Farmers’ Co-operative Dairy Company’s Huinga Factory (1918) and in New Plymouth, their own premises – the Boon Bros. Ltd building (1926-1927) on the corner of Gover and Gill Streets; the Salvation Army Citadal (1927); St Andrew’s Church (1931-1932); the State Theatre (1935); and the Women’s Rest Rooms (1935). The firm also traded as timber merchants and became funeral directors in 1908. It remained ‘a major contributor’ to the New Plymouth economy through until the 1980s - the joinery section of their timber factory closed in 1978, with the timber department closing a few years later.

Source: Proposal Report for Rahiri Lodge, Egmont National Park, List No. 9127, 4 September 2020, Joanna Barnes-Wylie

Withers, Leslie

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Atkinson, Francis C.

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Cochran, Chris

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Forest Hills Construction

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Department of Conservation

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Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Rahiri Lodge sits in the shadow of the northern slopes of Mount Taranaki, and owes its very existence to the mountain - a place of outstanding cultural and spiritual importance to Ngā Iwi o Taranaki who regard it as a living ancestor. Māori tradition recounts that Pukeonaki (as the mountain was then known) originally lived with Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngāruhoe near Tūrangi at Lake Rotoaira, but fought with Tongariro to win the favour of the beautiful Pīhanga and was defeated. Thereafter he retreated with his companions to the North Island’s West Coast, towards the setting sun. His great weight carved out Whanganui riverbed as he fled underground, eventually entering the sea. Upon surfacing, Pukeonaki spotted Pouakai up the Hangatahua River. He remained there with Pouakai, with their offspring becoming the trees, plants, birds and rivers which run down their slopes. The mountain was later named Taranaki after Ruataranaki, the eponymous ancestor of the iwi Taranaki Tūturu. Numerous cultural sites attest to the long association with, and use of, the mountain by Ngā Taranaki o Iwi. These sites are mostly on its northern-facing lower slopes, usually just above the confluence of two streams, and include ovens, food storage pits, kāinga, pā, house floors, burials and the remains of ancient tracks.

In 1863, during the Taranaki Wars, the New Zealand government seized the mountain (named ‘Egmont’ by Captain James Cook in 1770) and a million acres around it from Māori under the powers of the newly established New Zealand Settlements Act 1863. This Act essentially enabled the government to confiscate land from ‘rebels’ and make it available to Pākehā settlers. Pākehā settlement of the area in the ensuing decades resulted in the clearance of vast areas of forest around the mountain. This was especially so on the fertile plains east of the mountain, with the development of Mountain Road in the 1870s enabling forest clearance in this area.

Egmont Forest Reserve

The widespread forest clearance following Pākehā settlement proved the catalyst for ‘protection of the mountain in its natural state’ and in 1875 the Taranaki Provincial Government established the Mount Egmont Forest Reserve around the mountain. The reserve was created under premier Julius Vogel’s New Zealand Forests Act of 1874, which had scraped through the House as conservationist ideals came up against deeply-held beliefs that forests were ‘an impediment to progress’. The following year the reserve became the responsibility of the Taranaki Land Board.

In May 1881 the mountain and land within a 9.6 kilometre radius around its perimeter became a temporary forest reserve ‘in recognition of the importance of the mountain for sustaining the fertile plans, timber and as a haven for wildlife and beauty’. The intent of the reserve, which became permanent in July 1881, was to ensure the ‘growth and preservation of timber’. The reserve was later divided geographically into four forest reserves, each controlled by a Board of Conservators, known as the North, East, South and West Committees respectively. The Committees were subordinate to the Taranaki Lands Board and in addition to their conservation focus, they also arranged for access and facilities throughout the reserve to enable public access. Tracks and roads were created and huts were built.

Formation of Egmont National Park

In 1900, the original forest reserve area and a further area, including the Kaitake Ranges, became New Zealand’s second national park under the Egmont National Park Act. The Act had its origins in a Bill drafted by the Taranaki Scenery Preservation Society who doubted that the Taranaki Lands Board would be able to withstand increasingly strong pressure to make more land available for farming. The creation of the park was also ‘strongly promoted by the local bodies surrounding the mountain’. The provisions of the Act included creation of Egmont National Park Board, New Zealand’s first park board. The Board was tasked with the overall control and management of the park with the four local committees responsible for the control, management and promotion of their geographic sections.

Development of the North Egmont Gateway and Rahiri Telephone Office

The development of the North Egmont gateway to the mountain pre-dates the creation of the national park by nearly 15 years. In 1886, local farmer Harry Peters discovered a new route to North Egmont which soon overtook other existing routes. An increase in visitors to the mountain meant that accommodation was needed to house them and Tahurangi House (now known as the Camphouse) opened in 1892.

The creation of Egmont National Park in 1900 resulted in a further steep increase in visitors to the mountain, aided by the introduction of motor cars, improvements to the three access roads (north, east and south) and growing popularity of the mountain as a ‘health resort’. Five years later the Park Board commented on the need for regulations to control the motor vehicles arriving at the various accommodation houses on the mountain, and the following year they guaranteed £13 for a telephone line from the Kaimiro (at the North Egmont gateway) to Tahurangi House. The telephone was a ‘vital tool’ for controlling traffic flow between the accommodation house and the gateway to the National Park because the road was unsealed and single-lane, meaning that motor vehicles could only ascend or descend once the way was clear.

The first telephonist was John Williams, whose farmhouse was located adjacent to the North Egmont gateway, on the western side of the road. Williams had acted as the North Egmont gatekeeper since the early years of the National Park and the telephone was installed at the gate, either in, or close to, the farmhouse. The Rahiri telephone office (as it was known by the Post Office) opened on 1 February 1910 and closed on 11 May 1926 when the Williams family left the district. The telephone was subsequently removed but later reinstated following discussions between the North Committee and the Post Office. It reopened (most likely in a public telephone box) on 1 October 1926, with the North Committee paying the £3 per annum to gatekeeper Mr Poingdestre for attending to the telephone. The telephone was moved to the farmhouse from August 1927.

Perhaps equally as important as telephone communications between Rahiri and the North Egmont mountain houses (a second house, the North Egmont Hostel, opened in 1912) was a suitable road between both places. Despite the popularity of the North Egmont gateway, access to the mountain houses was difficult and road improvements were expensive. Fortunately, the 1924 amendment to the Egmont National Park Act gave the Park Board the powers of a Domain Board, enabling them to pass by-laws, including a by-law to make charges for admission of persons, horses and vehicles to the National Park. The amendment also altered the composition of the Park Board, so that it was comprised of two members from each local committee, alongside the Commissioner for Crown Lands for the Taranaki District and two Governor-General appointed members.

The Committees soon introduced tolls as a means of collecting revenue and in the year ending 31 March 1926, the tolls collected at the North Egmont gate totalled £165.9s.9d, with various charges set for buses, motor vehicles, motorcycles, horses and occupants and riders thereof. The tolls and fees collected at the North Egmont gate were subsequently used to help fund the remaking and sealing of the road to the northern mountain houses following written advice from the Minister of Public Works to the North Egmont Committee. The Minister advised that half of the cost could be raised by one of the constituent local bodies passing a resolution to raise the funds by way of a loan, and the tolls and fees could be pledged to provide a sinking fund. The government raised a loan to cover the remaining half of the road cost, with the tolls acting as security for the loan.

Construction of Rahiri Lodge

In preparation for the opening of the upgraded road, the North Committee decided in 1928 to build a lodge at the entrance gate, from which a newly appointed permanent caretaker could control the gate. The Park Board’s honorary architect Horace Victor Samuel (‘H.V.S.’) Griffiths (also New Plymouth mayor at the time) was asked to furnish suggestions ‘for a rustic lodge containing two rooms, bathroom and porch’. The design brief was likely a conscious decision to ‘add picturesque appeal to the road entrance as part of the campaign to promote tourism in the North sector’. The North Committee subsequently applied to the Inglewood County Council for permission to erect the lodge on one side of the chain of road (temporarily closed) adjoining the National Park. They had decided against erecting the gatekeeper’s lodge inside the National Park for various reasons, including the fact that its construction would require felling of valuable native bush. In December 1928 the Committee terminated the employment of existing gatekeeper Mr Balsom who leased the Williams’ farm at the gateway, with his wife working as the telephonist.

In April 1929 Griffiths submitted a £308 estimate for construction of the lodge in stone. He indicated that the building firm Boon Bros Ltd of New Plymouth could erect it for that price, and the North Committee decided to proceed with construction, with their building committee responsible for determining the exact site. The building material later changed from stone to clinker brick with cavity walls as Boon Bros Ltd. could not guarantee that cobblestone walls would be weatherproof.

The North Committee appointed Ernest W. Taylor as the new permanent gatekeeper around this time and the newly sealed road was opened in May 1929 by Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward, initially just covering the top five kilometres between the park’s perimeter and the North Egmont Hostel. Taylor lived at the gateway in a tent through the winter of 1929; a miserable existence for his wife and family. In mid-1929 Taylor wrote to the Secretary of the Park Board, seeking information on when construction of the lodge would commence, noting that ‘it is getting terribly cold in the tent just now and if they don’t start to build very soon I shall have to send my wife and children home as the tent is too cold for the little ones’. The lodge appears to have been completed later that year on the road reserve, and by January 1930 the North Committee asked that boulders be placed around the lodge to protect it from motor traffic.

In May 1930 the Rahiri telephone office closed following abandonment of the Williams’ former farm, but it reopened on 20 June 1930, having been moved 80 metres back to a location close to the lodge. In August 1930, Taylor asked for the public telephone to be shifted inside the lodge as he often had difficulty reaching the North Egmont Hostel on his small phone on busy days, and had to run across to use the public telephone instead. Later that year Taylor’s gatekeeper appointment was cancelled after a shortage of tickets and cash was noted during an inspection of the lodge by the government auditor. The North Committee wished to obtain as lenient treatment as possible for Taylor though, who wrote to the Park Board seeking a second chance and the opportunity to pay back the money, noting that if he was dismissed he and his family would be destitute with no ability to ‘make good to the Board’.

The North Committee subsequently re-appointed Taylor (who was convicted of theft in the New Plymouth Court), but took out a Fidelity Guarantee Policy to cover the person collecting money on behalf of the Committee. In addition to free accommodation, Taylor received a weekly salary of £2.10s.0d for a seven day working week, though this was reduced by ten percent in 1933 in line with government policy as the Depression worsened. That same year, the cottage was connected to electricity and four lights were installed. Taylor remained in post until January 1937, when Leslie Withers was appointed gatekeeper.

1930s and 1940s Additions and Occupancy

In August 1937 the North Committee resolved to purchase building materials and windows for an urgent addition to the lodge, and their balance sheet for the year ending 1 March 1938 notes that the lodge was valued at £180, with additions to the value of £65.9s.6d. The weatherboard addition (completed by Wither) was to the east of the lodge where the bathroom lean-to was located, and included a dining room with coal/wood range and an additional bedroom. The addition resulted in an alteration to the roof life of the lodge, which originally met symmetrically over the chimney.

Mr and Mrs Francis C. Atkinson were appointed gatekeepers in May 1941, the same year that the need for a new bath was identified, along with bathroom accommodation, and repairs and renovations to the copper and washhouse. Mr Atkinson had undertaken the necessary renovations by June 1941, resulting in the asbestos board portion to the east of the weatherboard addition, excluding the third bedroom which was a later addition, dating to circa late 1946 – 1948.

In 1945 Atkinson was also employed by the Inglewood County Council to work one day per week on the road and he purchased a light truck for transport between the lodge and North Egmont Hostel. He sold his truck and resigned from his post at the end of March 1946, but appears to have stayed on in the lodge, acting as gatekeeper and telephonist. Mr A.L. Mace was then appointed to the role of park caretaker-guide, and was responsible for collecting tolls and park fees until the Public Works Department took over the maintenance of the roads, resulting in the abolition of all existing tolls and park fees.

In 1947 the lodge became the responsibility of the Park Board and the following year the gatekeeper also became a designated traffic control officer, given part of their role was to regulate the flow of traffic up and down the mountain road. Atkinson is recorded as the telephonist through until September 1948, and then Alfred Jenkins became the telephonist and traffic control officer. He and his wife shared the responsibilities, which could last ‘24 hours a day seven days a week if necessary’ - in the six years through to 1954, 38 000 cars passed via the lodge into the park (averaging nearly 35 per day). When the Inglewood County Council made the road two-way in 1955, the position of traffic control officer was terminated, resulting in the temporary closure of the telephone office. The office re-opened in May 1956 when Park Ranger Bruce Harris took up occupancy of the lodge, followed by W.E. (‘Wally’) Sander from September 1958 to May 1963. The telephone office closed again at this time though the equipment was left in place for emergency search and rescue use until July 1966 when it was removed upon permanent closure of the telephone office.

Later History (mid 1960s – 1990s)

Colin Taylor moved into the lodge after Sander, and remained there for six years. In 1968 he built a stone buttress to the left of the lodge’s front door after the building ‘fell off its piles’ one evening when he was watching television, enlarging the crack under the front window and creating a new crack down the chimney. Kelvin Dombroski moved into the cottage with his wife circa 1969-1970, and in 1970 the lodge was ‘completely refurbished inside and out’. The refurbishment was part of extensive upgrading of the North Egmont gateway so that it presented a ‘pleasing approach to the park’.

After Dombroski, a succession of park staff and other Lands and Survey staff occupied the lodge, including tenant Tom Rouse who enclosed the back porch in 1980. In 1987 the future of the North Egmont gateway complex was in doubt, as recent changes in park management such as the establishment of workshop facilities in New Plymouth had ‘made the total facility virtually redundant’, and it was considered an eyesore. A final decision was made to retain the lodge and garage/store shed, but the neighbouring workshop, ranger station and associated store sheds were demolished. The lodge continued to be occupied by DOC staff, as well as other private tenants. Heritage consultant Michael Kelly prepared a heritage inventory for the lodge in 1993 and conservation architect Chris Cochran prepared a repair specification in 1995. In 1997 minor remedial works were undertaken on the exterior of the lodge but it was vacated in 1998 due to seismic safety concerns with the brick portion.

Subsequent Improvements and Use

A conservation plan was prepared for the lodge in 2002 which included a detailed specification for upgrade works by conservation architect Chris Cochran, to make the building more suitable for current requirements and enable a new use. A market analysis was also undertaken to assess the rental viability of the lodge. Significant upgrade works were completed by Forest Hills Construction in 2003 to the cost of $75,400. They included: repair of internal linings; alteration and upgrade of ablutions, installation of a new sewerage system, relocation and modernisation of the kitchen; electrical rewiring; reduction of earthquake risks; partial re-piling of the lean-to area; and repainting of the roof and some of the interior. New timber joinery was also installed; namely two new windows and six new vertical tongue and groove doors (levelled and braced).

The lodge was tenanted again from August 2003 to September 2004, during which time landscaping improvements were undertaken, including construction of a picket fence and gates. In December 2004 Gary Ogle was awarded the concession to lease the café at the North Egmont Visitor Centre, and run the Camphouse and Rahiri Lodge. He subsequently marketed the lodge as a bed and breakfast, a venture which proved unsuccessful, particularly given the ‘exorbitant’ nightly fee.

Further remedial repairs and paint works were undertaken in 2008 by Department of Conservation staff and in 2010 the lodge and picket fence were bombed by taggers. The lodge’s windows were smashed in March 2012 and in April 2012 the lodge was broken into, and all the furnishings and chattels were taken. Thereafter, a change in Mr Ogle’s concession agreement enabled the lodge to revert to a rental property under a tenancy agreement. It was tenanted through until November 2013 then remained vacant for several years while its future management was under review. The lodge is once again privately tenanted, and in 2020 it remains a picturesque landmark for visitors entering Egmont National Park via the busy North Egmont gateway.

Physical Description

Current Description

Setting

Rahiri Lodge is a key element within the historic and cultural landscape of Egmont National Park which centres on the sacred Mount Taranaki, and includes built structures such as the Camphouse (1892) and Ambury Memorial (1919) at North Egmont, the Dawson Falls Power Station and numerous sites of significance to Māori. The lodge is positioned in a bush clearing on Egmont Road, at the boundary between farmland and the North Egmont gateway to Egmont National Park. A low stone wall topped with a concrete ‘Egmont National Park’ sign with bronze lettering is situated to the north of the cottage, and there is a carpark to the south. There is a double garage/shed across the road from the carpark entrance, set slightly back from the road. The cottage property is demarcated by a white picket fence along Egmont Road and to the south, separating the cottage from the neighbouring carpark. There is a stone buttress in the northern corner of the cottage.

The Cottage

Rahiri Lodge was originally built in 1929 as a diminutive clinker brick bungalow-style lodge. Its quaint ‘gingerbread house’ appearance is reflective of the Arts and Crafts style, and of the movement at the time to create attractive and fashionable buildings at the gateways to New Zealand’s scenic attractions to help boost the developing New Zealand tourism industry. It has similarities to architect Samuel Hurst Seager’s Sign of the Bellbird (1914), Sign of the Kiwi (1916) and Sign of the Packhorse (1916-17) in Christchurch, all built in stone and designed to blend seamlessly with the surrounding natural landscape. The design of Rahiri Lodge may also have been influenced by rustic architecture which was popular at this time in the United States, particularly within the National Parks Service for their buildings. The original clinker brick portion of the lodge is strikingly contrasted by subsequent vernacular weatherboard and asbestos board additions, which saw it become nearly three times its original size. These additions are currently painted in a green colour scheme, to help the building blend in with its natural surroundings. The physical layout of the lodge reflects this ‘evolved heritage’.

1929 ‘Clinker Brick’ Lodge

The front portion of the cottage facing Egmont Road is the original two-roomed ‘clinker brick’ lodge, with entrance porch supported by timber posts atop a brick wall. The roof is timber-framed and clad in green corrugated iron. The front door (timber panels with a glazed top panel) opens into what was a living room, currently used as a fourth bedroom. The brick fireplace is located in the northern wall, with a single window either side. There is a further window in the western wall comprising three side-opening casements with top-hinged windows (‘toplights)’ glazed with obscure glass. The internal face of the exterior masonry walls is strapped and lined with painted hardboard and two inch battens. The floor is tongue and groove native timber and the ceiling is gypsum-based board and batten. There is a concrete hearth in the north-eastern corner of the room which likely denotes the position of the original wood/coal range.

The interior wall which divides off the second room (currently a bedroom) is timber-framed and lined with timber weatherboards. The native timber flooring continues in this room but the roof is covered with ply (presumably over top of the original board and batten ceiling). There is a double casement window in the southern wall which otherwise matches that in the western wall of the original lodge.

1937 Addition

A single concrete step leads down from the original lodge portion into the dining room (currently used as a living room) of the two-roomed 1937 weatherboard addition. The step is onto a concrete pad – thought to be the floor of the original lean-to bathroom demolished upon construction of the addition. The concrete pad extends slightly into the bedroom of the addition and the rest of the flooring throughout the two rooms is timber tongue and groove. The sloped ceilings are board and batten. The bedroom walls are covered in wallpaper, with paint on the walls of the dining room. The western wall dividing the dining room from the original two-roomed lodge features built-in timber cabinetry and a cast iron range, still in use today. There are two casement windows in the northern wall of the addition, which are mirrored in the southern wall. The door to the bedroom dates to the 2003 upgrade works (replacing the existing door).

1940s Additions (with subsequent modifications and upgrade)

There are two further doors in the eastern wall of the dining room, both also added during the 2003 upgrade works. These lead into the 1941 asbestos board addition which previously housed a bathroom, kitchen and porch area. The southernmost door leads into what is now the laundry/back porch area and bathroom, both of which have linoleum floor coverings. One of the windows in laundry/back porch area (to the north of the back door) was recycled from the dining room during the 2003 upgrade works. Doors (dating to the 2003 upgrade) divide the laundry from the bedroom at the southern end and the laundry/enclosed porch area from the bathroom at the northern end. The bedroom has tongue and groove timber flooring with lined and painted walls and ceiling. There are double casements windows in the western wall of the bedroom, along with a second door (dating to 2003) connecting through to the bedroom in the 1937 addition. The water tank is located atop a pump/equipment shed to the east of the bedroom.

The northernmost door from the dining room into the 1941 asbestos addition leads to the kitchen; installed in the former laundry as part of the 2003 upgrade. The kitchen features modern cabinetry with tongue and groove timber fronts (designed to match the cupboards in the dining room), in-built wooden shelving and linoleum flooring. There is a large wooden awning window in the northern elevation which has been designed to ‘mimic’ four casement windows from the exterior, and was added in 2003. The western end of the kitchen has a double casement window, also added in 2003.

In contrast to the other doors of the cottage, the back door is glazed with four equal-sized panes of clear glass, arranged vertically. From the door, two wooden steps lead down to a concrete slab adjoining five courses of concrete block. The verandah partially covering this area was added during the 2003 upgrade works. There is a door at the northern end of the verandah which provides access to the storeroom (former toilet) at the eastern end of the kitchen.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1929 -

Addition
1937 -
Weatherboard extension

Addition
1941 -
Asbestos board extension

Addition
-
Third bedroom

Addition
1968 -
Addition of stone buttress to front of lodge

Modification
-
Refurbishment of lodge

Demolished - additional building on site
1971 -
Corrugated iron car shed

Additional building added to site
1971 -
New garage and store shed

Demolished - additional building on site
1987 -
Workshop, ranger station and store sheds

Modification
2003 -
Significant upgrade works

Modification
2004 -
Landscaping works

Modification
2008 -
Minor remedial repairs and painting

Construction Details

Clinker brick, timber (tōtara, radiata pine), corrugated iron, asbestos board, glass

Completion Date

4th September 2020

Report Written By

Joanna Barnes-Wylie

Information Sources

Department of Conservation

Department of Conservation

Department of Conservation, Rahiri Lodge Conservation Plan, Department of Conservation – Wanganui [sic] Conservancy, 2002.

Cochran, 1995

Chris Cochran, Rahiri Lodge, North Egmont: Repair Specification 1995

Pishief, 2015

Elizabeth Pishief, ‘Heritage Assessment: Rahiri Lodge’, Unpublished Report for the Department of Conservation, 2015.

Thom, 1987

David Thom, Heritage: The Parks of the People, Auckland, Landsdowne Press, 1987.

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero 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.

Archaeological sites are protected by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, regardless of whether they are entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero or not. Archaeological sites include ‘places associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand’. This List entry report should not be read as a statement on whether or not the archaeological provisions of the Act apply to the property (s) concerned. Please contact your local Heritage New Zealand office for archaeological advice.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.