Homebush Station

2142 Homebush Road, Homebush Station, Darfield

  • Homebush Station.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Malcolm Duff. Date: 1/06/2009.
  • Aerial photograph of Homebush Station.
    Copyright: Kevin L Jones Archaeologist Ltd. Taken By: Kevin L Jones. Date: 2/11/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 9483 Date Entered 15th October 2010 Date of Effect 15th October 2010


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Lot 1 DP 2898, Sec 5 Res 1600 and Pt RS 10058 (RT CB34C/993), Pt Sec 4 Res 1600 (RT CB20F/1170) and RS 38156 (RT CB 637/95) Canterbury Land District and the buildings and structures known as the Apple House (former Laundry, Bakehouse and Dairy); Brick Bridge; Sheep Dip; Pig Sties; Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store Building; Woolshed; Shearers' Quarters/Whare; Cottage called 'The Bothy'; Mound Cottage; and the garden structure as laid out in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including water courses and associated reservoir, tunnels, and the area of the skating pond, associated with Homebush Station thereon, and its fittings and fixtures and a range of chattels. (Refer to Section 2.3 of this report for a fuller discussion on Chattels, and refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information on the physical extent of registration).. All the buildings on the Homebush farm as well as the land between the stables and the woolshed.

City/District Council

Selwyn District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 1 DP 2898, Sec 5 Res 1600 and Pt RS 10058 (RT CB34C/993), Pt Sec 4 Res 1600 (RT CB20F/1170) and RS 38156 (RT CB 637/95) Canterbury Land District.

Location description

The main access to the property is via a brick entrance gateway on the north side of Homebush Road.


Homebush Station complex, at 2142 Homebush Road, near Darfield, has clear and continuing links to pivotal early European settlers in Canterbury, the Deans family, and forms an outstanding example as a collection of early European settlement station buildings and structures in New Zealand.

Homebush Station was taken up in October 1851 by William and John Deans, the Scottish brothers who first farmed on the Canterbury (Port Cooper) Plains at Riccarton in 1843. When the settlement of Christchurch subsequently was planned by the Canterbury Association, the Deans’ exchanged some of their land as the city’s site for a large 33,000 acre run in the Malvern Hills, some under 38 miles (60 kilometres) from their Riccarton base. This was the first hill run to be allocated by the Canterbury Association and it was soon named Homebush by the Deans.

Rudimentary buildings were first erected by station workers in the early years and as the complex developed, a series of particularly fine buildings were built. Most of the latter are of red brick, at first made from brick from kiln-firing on site and later from the family owned brickworks, the Homebush Brick and Tile Works located nearby at Glentunnel. These somewhat grand brick buildings are complemented by timber structures and landscaping planted up gradually over numerous decades. Key surviving components of the Homebush Station complex are: Apple House (former Laundry, Bakehouse and Dairy); Brick Bridge; Sheep Dip; Pig Sties; Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store Building; Woolshed; Shearers’ Quarters/Whare; Cottage called ‘The Bothy’; Mound Cottage; and the garden structure as laid out in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including water courses and associated reservoir, tunnels, and the area of the skating pond. On the property are numerous Chattels that belonged directly to the Deans or to other family members associated with Homebush. The brick Homestead was severely damaged by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on 4 September 2010.

The continuing and unbroken ownership of Homebush Station by the Deans family since 1851 through to the present time tells an important story of early colonial settlement and pastoral history in Canterbury. Historic structures, set in a rural landscape with well established and noteworthy historic plantings, include a series of impressive brick station buildings as well as other features dating from the early 1850s onwards. The Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store Building within the group adds a special quality both as an unusual example as a building combination and for its rare (possibly unique) turbine. The Pig Sties also have rarity value.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The continuing and unbroken ownership of Homebush Station by the Deans family since 1851 through to the present time tells an important story of early colonial settlement in Canterbury. The first run to be allocated by the Canterbury Association, the station represents the emergence of pastoralism in Canterbury

Key historic features at Homebush Station constitute an important and comprehensive remnant of the significant pastoral history of the Canterbury region. The imposing buildings such as the Woolshed and the elaborate Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store Building reflect the size of the station they served and the dedication with which the Deans family developed their property. The developments at Homebush, especially in the 1870s, demonstrate the confidence of the owners at that time.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

Homebush Station has aesthetic value. As a group, the buildings and ruins, set in a rural landscape with well established and noteworthy historic plantings, has aesthetic value as an impressive early settler station. The aesthetic value of the place is something appreciated by both owners of and visitors to the place in writings, photographs, sketches and paintings over many years.

Archaeological Significance or Value

Homebush Station has archaeological significance. The place already has three recorded Maori oven site archaeological sites. The numerous pre-1900 buildings, ruins and other structures including paths and garden structure, chattels and artefacts together combine to give the place further archaeological significance. In addition, there is reasonable cause to suspect that the grounds of the property, especially the sites of nineteenth century structures that are no longer extant (for example, rudimentary farm buildings and accommodation places constructed from the early 1850s when the Deans first acquired the run, as well as the timber homestead built by manager Cordy) may hold archaeological material. The archaeology of the place therefore can contribute knowledge to enhance an understanding more of both the Maori use of the area and the lives of the Deans and their staff and of how the early farm operated.

Architectural Significance or Value

In New Zealand, brick was not favoured for the construction of farm buildings, since brickworks tended to be located in or close to towns. The distinctive Homebush Station buildings, however, are constructed using bricks which were produced either on site or at the brickworks established by the Deans family at Glentunnel in about 1870.

The architectural design of the crenellated brick water tower is an unusual feature of note. The grand design of the Woolshed, echoed by the smaller and more modest Shearers’ Quarters or ‘Whare’ building, is a noted architectural landmark. The arched brick bridge close echoes a simple design of Roman bridges. The modest scale and materials of the two nineteenth century timber cottages, The Bothy and Mound Cottage, are typical of colonial cottages throughout New Zealand.

Technological Significance or Value

The turbine driven by water conducted from the dammed up stream in the homestead garden is an intriguing example of colonial technology. Considered possibly unique in the western world, the water turbine is of technological value. Still in working order, it is of particular interest to engineers.

Social Significance or Value

Homebush Station is one of the few historic stations in Canterbury that have never left the original owners’ family. It is associated with key figures in Canterbury history, beginning with the brothers John and William Deans who became the first Europeans to farm the Canterbury (Port Cooper) Plains when they settled in Riccarton in 1843. The marriage of John Deans to Jane McIlraith led to both the continuation of the family line through their son John’s offspring, and to the involvement of James McIlraith (Jane’s half-brother) in the running of Homebush and related affairs. John and William’s brother, James Deans, also became involved with developing the place.

The story of Jane (McIlraith) Deans tells a story many early settler women in New Zealand would have been familiar with. Although based in Riccarton, she visited Homebush from the mid 1850s and had to learn to cope with unknowns, including overseeing the management of both Riccarton and Homebush following the death of her husband.

The lives of subsequent owners and visitors continue to reflect social values of the property. Owner of the Homestead block following subdivision in 1906, Bob Deans is renowned for his sporting prowess as an All Black. Until his untimely death in 1908, he would have been actively involved in rugby training while at Homebush. Several years after Bob’s brother, James Deans, took over the property he married Lillian Holdsworth in 1913 and they had five children. All lived in the Homebush homestead and it was during this period that a two storeyed verandah was added on the north side of the house. The siting of the Deans’ boys in open air bedrooms on the upper storey addition reflected the genuine fear of tuberculosis at this time.

The Deans’ management of the property, including the employment of various managers, servants, married men and their families living in cottages on the property, and payment of others at shearing time, tells stories of social interactions typical of such labour intensive operations.

Homebush was a social centre from the outset, being a draw card for notable Canterbury Association settlers, and has continued as a place for visitation to this day, with social gatherings, and garden and historical tours. Winter skating parties in the past were fun social occasions.

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

The Homebush Station complex is largely representative of early cattle and sheep runs in Canterbury, integral to the story of the pattern of settlement in New Zealand. As a group, the buildings, structures and plantings form an important example of this type in New Zealand.

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

Homebush Station is strongly associated with the Deans family, and descendants of John and William Deans, the original owners, retain ownership of the place today. John and William Deans were pioneers as the first European settlers to farm on the Canterbury (Port Cooper) Plains in Riccarton. When they took up the Homebush Run in 1851, it was the first run allocated by the Canterbury Association.

The early day to day running of the Homebush run as a cattle station was the role of early Akaroa settler, James (Jimmy) Robinson Clough, and his ‘half-caste’ Maori sons. This reflects the involvement of and relationships within the early settler and Maori community in the practicalities of working the land.

Exports to Britain of wool (and later meat) resulting from the farm activities contributed to New Zealand’s strong agricultural and pastoral economy, the well recognised economic back-bone of the nation for some 150 years.

As well as being active on the farm, owners and managers at Homebush were heavily involved in brick and tile and coal activities in the area, reflecting both exploration and commercial developments happening elsewhere in New Zealand in the nineteenth century.

While numerous members of the extended Deans family are associated with the place, as a nation known for its rugby focus, many New Zealanders recognise the name of the early All Black, Bob Deans, who owned the property in the early twentieth century.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history

The suite of buildings, early exotic plantings and chattels at Homebush assist in providing knowledge of New Zealand history, notably pastoralism, colonial building, brick production, water power and turbine use, recreation, horticulture and plant breeding.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

Homebush Station is a well-known farm in the Malvern Valley. The property has been made open to the public on numerous occasions and both the buildings and plantings have been included in numerous publications.

There is a strong community association for Homebush Station generally. The Homebush Stables Historical Society, made up of members of the local community, was established in 1992 with the aim of restoring, maintaining and protecting the Homebush Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store Building. It operates a museum containing memorabilia from the Deans family and surrounding districts.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

Thousands of visitors, both national and international, come to Homebush every year and the place has a high potential for public education. Not only the buildings and structures themselves but the chattels and museum displays provide information about Homebush and the surrounding district.

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

The design of the buildings and techniques used in their construction demonstrate the use of locally available materials (including clay for the bricks and timber, some of which was brought from the other Deans’ base at Riccarton). The designs of the Woolshed and the Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store Building display architectural accomplishment.

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

The Pig Sties structure appears to be one of the very few survivors of what must have been a relatively common form of animal housing during the nineteenth century. The combined Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store Building is noted for being a rare combination of building types within the one building envelope and the turbine itself is believed to be unique in the western world.

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

Homebush forms part of a wider historical and cultural landscape which includes Maori occupation of the area and various named landmarks associated with early workers on the Homebush run. Remnants of tramways, coal mines and brickworks at Coalgate and Glentunnel are closely associated with the history of development of Homebush. Many blocks surrounding the present Homebush Station property have historical links with the original run and add to an understanding of the wider historical landscape of the area.

Summary of Significance or Values

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place.

The historic features at Homebush Station form an outstanding example as a collection of early European settlement farm buildings and structures in New Zealand. The Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store Building within the group adds a special quality as an example of a particular building type that includes a rare (possibly unique) turbine. The buildings and structures, including the garden layout, all provide important information about station life in what was an early allocated run in Canterbury.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Collins & Harman

One of the two oldest architectural firms in New Zealand, Armson, Collins and Harman was established by William Barnett Armson in 1870. After serving his articles with Armson, John James Collins (1855-1933) bought the practice after the former's death in 1883 and subsequently took Richard Dacre Harman (1859-1927) into partnership four years later. Collins' son, John Goddard Collins (1886-1973), joined the firm in 1903. Armson, Collins and Harman was one of Christchurch's leading architectural practices in the early years of this century.

Notable examples of the firm's work include the Christchurch Press Building (1909), Nazareth House (1909), the former Canterbury College Students Union (1927), the Nurses Memorial Chapel at Christchurch Public Hospital (1927) and the Sign of the Takahe (1936). Their domestic work includes Blue Cliffs Station Homestead (1889) and Meadowbank Homestead, Irwell. In 1928 the firm's name was simplified to Collins and Harman and the firm continues today as Collins Architects Ltd.

With a versatility and competence that betrayed the practice's debt to Armson's skill and professionalism, Collins and Harman designed a wide variety of building types in a range of styles.

Guthrie, John Steele and Maurice James

'John Steele Guthrie (1883 - 1946) and Maurice James Guthrie (1891 - 1968) were one of Christchurch's most active architectural firms in the first half of [the twentieth] century. John, better known as 'Jack', trained in Christchurch with either J.C. Maddison or F.J. Barlow. By 1910 he was working in independent practice. In June 1919 his brother Maurice, who trained with Collins and Harman, joined the practice, although Jack remained the senior partner and designer. Their designs include 'Los Angeles' in Fendalton Road (1913), St Mary's Convent (1919), the now demolished Edmond's Factory (1920) and Christchurch Boys' High School (1926). The partnership was dissolved in 1929.'

University of Canterbury, 'Arts and Crafts Churches of Canterbury', [Christchurch], 1996, p.14

Lamport, Thomas

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The wider area that is occupied by Homebush Station was settled by Maori prior to European colonisation. Both the foothills and waterways were part of the close relationship between Maori and the land. Waterways such as the Hawkins and Waianiwaniwa Rivers were used for eeling, and moa are believed to have been hunted in the wider area. Whakaepa Pa was located on a sharp ridge at the junction of the Selwyn (Waikirikiri) and Hororata Rivers near Coalgate. Near the margins of the foothills with the plains, oven sites have been recorded near streams, particularly in the Homebush area. The Waianiwaniwa River and its tributaries weave through the Homebush area and are recognised as containing a number of indigenous and endemic species, notably the nationally endangered Canterbury mudfish and the Longfin eel.

Homebush Station was taken up in October 1851 by William and John Deans, the Scottish brothers who first farmed on the Canterbury Plains at Riccarton in 1843. The Deans family are early European settlers of note in Canterbury. William Deans had arrived in Wellington in January 1840 and spent the following two years exploring parts of the North Island before he was joined by his brother John Deans in October 1842. John and William Deans then determined to settle in the area they called Riccarton in 1843 and became the first Europeans to farm the Canterbury (Port Cooper) Plains. When the settlement of Christchurch subsequently was planned by the Canterbury Association, the Deans’ were urged to exchange some of their land as the city’s site for some elsewhere. Eventually, in 1851, it was settled that they should have a large 33,000 acre run in the Malvern Hills (Kakapotahi), between the Selwyn and Waimakariri Rivers, at the edge of the foothills, just under 38 miles (60 kilometres) from their Riccarton base. This was the first hill run to be allocated by the Canterbury Association.

The run was to be named Homebush. Soon after confirming the taking up of the run, William Deans set sail for Australia on the barque Maria to purchase stock for the new property. Tragically he drowned when the Maria sank in July 1851. John Deans undertook to continue with the farming ventures and gained financial support from his brother James Deans in Scotland. He employed James (Jimmy) Robinson Clough, a very early European settler closely involved with the Maori community at Onuku, and Clough’s ‘half-caste’ Maori sons to look after stock at Homebush. The first stock on the place was cattle. In 1851 there were over 350 and by 1873 the number had grown to 1,250. Clough established a garden and erected stockyards and rudimentary farm buildings. Grain and other crops soon became revenue generating. In 1852 Mr Rowe took overall charge of the stock, though Clough and his sons stayed on at Homebush for a time.

Homebush, one of the closest hill runs to the new settlement at Christchurch, soon became an attraction for notable pioneer settlers. Its list of early visitors reads like a ‘who’s who’ of colonial Canterbury: John Robert Godley, Edward Jerningham Wakefield, Hon James Stewart Wortley, James FitzGerald, Dr William Draper, Dr A C Barker, Humphrey Hanmer, Rev Henry Fendall, Mark Stoddart, Edward Templer, Isaac Cookson, John Watts Russell, Henry Cridland, Alexander Lean, Charles Torlesse, John Studholme, Thomas Cass, John Scott Caverhill and Henry Tancred. At times, these ‘pilgrim’ visitors stretched both the patience and the provisions of those trying to run Homebush.

The station employed stockmen, gardeners, shepherds, fencers, shearers, horse breakers, bullock drivers and harvesters. Where married couples were employed, the wife would often act as cook or servant. A number of pioneer settlers got their start working as farm workers at Homebush.

In 1854 the newly married John Deans died, leaving wife Jane (nee McIlraith) and infant son John at the Riccarton farm, with new manager John Cordy to run Homebush cattle station. Straight away Cordy built a new timber house at Homebush, since Robinson Clough’s simple whare was unsuitable for Cordy’s large family.

For a 20 year period the estate was under trust management until John Deans II came of age. Although she had little experience, Jane Deans proved capable and the trustees left administration of Riccarton farm and the Homebush run (which were operated as a single concern) largely in her hands. She made her first visit to Homebush in 1855.

Cordy not only managed the cattle but also leased part of the Homebush run for a dairy. The lease provisions allowed for a separate sheep operation, and in 1857 some 1,000 sheep for the new station were driven overland onto the property from The Levels. This new sheep station at Homebush was at the area to the north of the present Auchenflower Road, a part of the property that James Young Deans (brother of William and John) had arranged to acquire in 1852. It was leased to the McIlraith brothers from around 1855 until 1864 when the sheep station was taken over by the Deans estate trustees. James McIlraith, Jane Deans’ half-brother, took over the management of Homebush from Cordy in 1859. In 1864, James Deans arrived from Scotland to address some outstanding issues of the running of the station.

Around this time Homebush became known principally as a sheep station. Prices for sheep and wool were good and in 1876 almost all the cattle from Homebush were sold and replaced with Merino ewes. By 1878 there were 12,000 sheep, by 1880 this number had increased to 16,108, by 1889 it was 21,574, and by 1895 it was 26,000 sheep and lambs.

Initially leasehold, land was purchased as freehold at Homebush in a piecemeal fashion. In August 1874 the trustees of the Deans estate transferred the trust property to John Deans II. This inheritance included Riccarton and part of the Homebush run, the balance of the latter being with James Deans. In 1879 John Deans II married Edith Park and the subsequent birth of their 12 children ensured the continuation of the Deans line in Canterbury. John Deans II was actively involved in affairs at Homebush and, although they did not live there, the large family of John Deans II visited frequently from their Riccarton base.

James McIlraith, who managed Homebush between 1859 and 1895, was a visionary. During his time the place was extensively developed and most of the surviving structures at Homebush Station were built.

In 1863 Robert Smith and Frank Grump were engaged to build a new timber stable to replace an earlier stable which had fallen into decay. Around the early 1870s a major programme of building brick structures on the property was begun. Initially bricks had been made on the Homebush site itself but by circa 1870 a brickworks proper was established by the Deans at nearby Glentunnel.

In 1870 McIlraith replaced the old timber stables at Homebush with a grand brick complex which consisted of stables with nine stalls for draft horses, two separate stables for the riding hacks, a carriage house and a loft in which chaff and hay were stored.

In 1880 a water turbine with an 1859 patent was imported from Stout, Mills and Temple of Dayton, Ohio, and installed in a special turbine room adjoining the stables. An underground brick tunnel, 60 metres in length, was built to bring water from the dammed up Waianiwaniwa Stream down to a circular brick well in which the turbine sits. A similar tunnel, approximately 150 metres in length, drained the water away. The turbine is thought to be the only one of its type in New Zealand and may be the only one in the world. It drove a saw bench, chaff cutter, wheat mill, whetstone, seed dresser and other farm machinery housed in a workshop about a metre below ground level. A water tower was built outside the entrance to the turbine room, with the turbine operating a pump to deliver water to the homestead.

Other brick structures probably built in the 1870s include Pig Sties built to the south of the stables, a brick Sheep Dip and draining yards across the paddock, an arched brick bridge and a building by the original timber homestead which combined the laundry, bakehouse and dairy (now known as the Apple House).

In 1879 a 20 stand Woolshed was built by Thomas Lamport of Glentunnel. Many thousands of sheep have passed through the shed. In its first year of operation, 1880, 16,108 sheep were shorn. By the mid 1890s stock numbers peaked at 26,000 sheep and lambs. Both Maori and Pakeha were active in shearing gangs.

A brick Shearers’ Quarters called the ‘Whare’ was built to the north of the Woolshed, either at the same time as the Woolshed or a little later, and housed 20 shearers. It had a coal range, bread oven, copper and kerosene lamps for lighting.

In the 1880s foundations for a new brick homestead were laid to the east of the original timber homestead. However, financial restrictions meant that further work on the new house, which was intended to be single-storeyed, was delayed for some years.

John Deans II died in 1902 before he could see through the construction of the new homestead at Homebush. Jane Deans, his mother, lived until 1911, but after the death of John Deans II, the next generation took over Homebush. The Deans estate was subdivided in 1906 amongst Jane and John’s grandchildren and great grandchildren. John Dean III (known as Ian) chose to take over a portion of Homebush west of the homestead, bordering on the South Malvern Hills Road, and named it Kirkstyle. Robert (Bob) G Deans, next in line, took the homestead block (Homebush). Bob Deans was a bachelor who achieved national fame, playing in the first international All Black rugby tour in 1905-06, before dying tragically in 1908. James Deans had taken over the area north-west of the homestead block (Rowallan) and, after Bob’s death, he purchased Homebush from R G’s trustees and farmed it until the mid 1940s. James Deans married Lillian Holdsworth in 1913 and they had five children. All lived in the Homebush homestead.

Utilising the 1880s foundations, from 1904 the new Homestead was built using the Homebush factory bricks to the designs of well-known Christchurch architectural firm Collins and Harman. The grand two and a half storeyed house had, on the ground floor, a large foyer, living room, billiard room, dining room and kitchen, as well as a maids’ sitting room at a small room on the north side of the house. On the first floor were four large bedrooms and two smaller ones, the latter being for maids. In the attic were bedrooms initially used to accommodate the Deans’ children when they holidayed at Homebush from Riccarton. There was also accommodation at attic level for servants. A second stage was completed in 1909. A balcony and verandah was added in 1923. James’ and Lillian’s four sons slept on the first floor of the open verandah throughout the year, as the open-air bedrooms were considered a deterrent to contracting tuberculosis. The house was lit by gas and a small corrugated steel gas house was built immediately to the north-west of the homestead. A new kitchen-dining area was added on the western side of the homestead in 1981, incorporating an existing concrete block quarters which had been built in the 1950s to accommodate a cook and cowman/gardener.

As well as the large brick homestead, over time seven cottages were built for farm workers. Of the three constructed of timber, two were abandoned in the 1950s and became derelict and the third has been lived in continuously and added to over the years. One of the derelict cottages no longer survives but the other, situated approximately mid way between the homestead and the stables, was restored in 2005 and renamed ‘The Bothy’. While weatherboard on the exterior, its walls are made of cob and it may have originally had a thatch roof. It is believed to have been constructed in the 1850s (possibly 1853), most probably by James Robinson Clough, who specialised in sod or mud and lath house construction. In the 1950s two new workers’ cottages were constructed of concrete block.

In the 1920s the purpose-built laundry, bakehouse and dairy building was converted to become the Apple House and it is still referred to as such. When the current owners converted the building from an Apple House to become a self-contained sleep out in recent years, they removed shelving for storage of apples.

The Garden

The structure of the garden demonstrates the development of Homebush. An extensive programme of tree planting was begun from the earliest years after the run was taken up in 1851. A circular garden planted out in the 1850s alongside Cordy’s (later James McIlraith’s) timber house comprised a vegetable garden and fruit orchard as well as a tree nursery. In her memoirs, Jane Deans describes how they transformed the garden from fern, flax, toe toe (toi toi) and tussocks into a garden full of fruit and vegetable plants and trees.

From 1905 onwards James and Lillian Deans, working with two gardeners, extensively planted out the garden with trees and a notable flowering garden principally comprising rhododendrons and azaleas. In 1913 James Deans planted out the driveway in Atlas Cedar (cedrus atlantica).

Around the early twentieth century, the Waianiwaniwa Stream was diverted to reduce the flow of water by fifty percent in order to protect the homestead and garden from floods.

A skating pond was formed to the north of the house, providing winter entertainment. When frozen, ice skating on the pond was a very social affair. A brazier was lit by the skating pond for skaters to warm their hands.

Around the property, especially around the Homestead site and Apple House, are various items of pottery, bricks and tile work which have come from the Homebush Brick and Tile Works.

Other business (mining and brick works, outside the extent of historic place registration)

Homebush Station, like the Riccarton farm, had to weather many storms, including financial ones. In an unusual expansion of the business, in Canterbury terms at least, Homebush was involved in coal mining. The Malvern Hills coalfield, lying along the foothills between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers, includes the Homebush Mine which opened in the early 1870s. The original John Deans knew of the existence of coal on the land and early Canterbury Association settlers were considerably excited by its prospects. Dr Julius von Haast carried out a geological survey of the Malvern Hills in 1870 and 1871, and he publicised that there were excellent seams of coal in Surveyors Gully on the Homebush property. Later James McIlraith became heavily involved with the mining. The peak of the mine was 1907 and thereafter it showed a steady decline.

Associated with the mining operations, a brick-making enterprise was established by James McIlraith at what was then called the Glen and later became Glentunnel, as it was the terminus for the Homebush coal train. The Homebush Brick and Tile Works was established at Glentunnel in 1873. John Deans III formed a private company called the Homebush Brick, Tile and Coal Company Ltd in 1913 to run both Bush Gully Mine and the Glentunnel brickworks. The factory was sold in 1927 to McSkimmings and production ceased in 1980 and it was dismantled from this time. The sites of these brickworks and coal mining areas is outside of the extent of registration of the Homebush Station but their history is relevant because of the close association with the Deans and McIlraiths and because much of the brick used in construction of the buildings at Homebush Station as come from the Glentunnel brickworks.

The Earthquake

In the early morning of 4 September 2010 a major earthquake, measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, struck the Canterbury region. Its epicentre was very close to Homebush. The Homestead suffered severe damage. Dramatic images of its standing core, stripped of large parts of its external brick walls and with a drooping roof, were beamed by media across the world. Incredibly, the occupants Jim and Louise Deans and their daughter and her partner managed to escape unharmed. The remains of the building will be taken down to ground level for the time being.

All other brick structures at Homebush Station remain intact, though some have suffered cracking. Timber structures such as the Bothy and Mound Cottage were largely unscathed by the earthquake.

Physical Description

Homebush Station is situated approximately 60 kilometres due west of Christchurch, ten kilometres west of Darfield. Now comprising 1,350 acres, Homebush Station skirts around and over the Malvern Hills, with the rear boundary being in the Waianiwaniwa Valley. Extensive exotic woodlots mark the junction of the plains and downlands of the Canterbury foothills. Beyond are the alpine peaks of Mount Hutt, Big Ben and Torlesse ranges.

The wider area of the Homebush Station includes various buildings and other structures relating to the mining era, such as at Glentunnel and Coalgate, as well as buildings and plantings associated with the subdivision of the Homebush property, for example at Kirkstyle and Rowallan. A number of features in the landscape are named after individuals involved with Homebush, such as a lookout area above Glentunnel known as Abner’s Head and another, Jimmy’s Knob.

The historic buildings and structures that comprise the Homebush Station complex itself are sited on flat land adjacent to the meandering Waianiwaniwa Stream. Dry river beds are evidence that the Waianiwaniwa has changed course over time. The key historic features at Homebush Station are spread out and while many are connected through vistas and viewshafts, not all can be seen at once.

The main access to the property is through a brick entrance way on the north side of Homebush Road. A planted driveway makes an avenue up to a bridge. Over the bridge the road splits into two, one leading to the farm sheds and the other leading to the Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store Building and to the site of the brick Homestead through a ‘tree tunnel’ created out of oak trees. The Homestead site is located amongst a well established garden. Approximately 20 metres to its west is the brick ‘Apple House’ which now functions as a sleep-out. Just in front of the Apple House is a small garden with reused ceramic tiles and bricks (from the local Homebush factory) lining the borders. This small garden marks the site of the original timber homestead built by Cordy and later used by James McIlraith. To the east of the Homestead site lies the front lawn, from which there is a vista to the Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store Building approximately 120 metres to the south and beyond to the Woolshed located approximately one kilometre to the east of the Stables.

The impressive brick Woolshed is visually close to the road and is a landmark. The brick Shearers’ Quarters, called the ‘Whare’, is sited approximately 50 metres north of the Woolshed. The restored timber cottage called ‘The Bothy’ is situated mid way between the Woolshed and the Stables. Restored Pig Sties are situated some 25 metres to the south of the Stables, located beside a modern implement shed close by to the east. Ruins of the Sheep Dip are located beside the channelled Waianiwaniwa Stream some 150 metres to the south of The Bothy.

A small road heading west from the main entrance driveway leads to the dilapidated remains of a timber bridge over the Waianiwaniwa Stream known as Soldiers Bridge. Further to the west a brick round arched bridge over the stream is intact. Mound Cottage, a single storeyed timber cottage constructed in various phases during the nineteenth century and beyond, is located some 400 metres to the west of the Stables complex. The Mound, a geological hill feature is situated 50 metres to the south of Mound Cottage, hence its name.

Individual key components of the Homebush Station complex are described as follows:

Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store Building

The Stables portion of the building is an oblong block with pitched roof. Constructed of bricks manufactured on site, the main stables area has a brick paved floor, with some pebble cobbles, and corrugated steel roof. A carriage house, open to the roof at the north end, has a concrete floor. The Stables area at the southern end of the building contains three storage areas for the chaff. A loft now houses a domestic museum, which was established in 1993 as a tribute to the pioneering history of New Zealand. All the items on display come from the area, though not all from Homebush itself.

Immediately to the north of the Stables block is a brick Water Tower. The tower has a tapering rectangular base and an upper section, containing the tank, with decorative borders utilising intricately laid bricks to form a crenellated top. The Water Tower contains an iron tank into which water was pumped from a stream and piped to the homestead.

At right angles to the main Stable block is the Turbine House with, alongside, a semi-basement storage area for implements and hardware and a seed store over it. The Turbine sits in a brick-lined well and has large bevelled pinions supported on kauri beams and is driven by water conducted from a dammed-up stream in the homestead garden. The Water Tower is linked to the Turbine House by a brick enclosed surge chamber. Beneath the buildings a three foot (one metre) diameter tunnel takes the water out some 100 metres distance into a paddock where at one time it fed the Sheep Dip.

A two-storeyed processing room addition at the west end of the building now functions as a restaurant. It has a kauri floor on the first floor and concrete on the workshop floor below.

A lean-to on the south and west sides of the Stables and Turbine blocks is partly open and is constructed of timber with a corrugated steel roof. A room in the lean-to addition west of the Stables wing is known as the ‘Deans Room’ and houses sporting artefacts and paraphernalia associated with the wider Deans’ family sportsmen and women as well as others associated with the property.


Laid out in a symmetrical T-plan, the Woolshed’s walls are of triple-brick. The red bricks are locally made bricks, stamped with Homebush on the frog, while quoins and window openings are decorated with a white-yellowish brick stamped with W Neighbours on their frog. The roof is cross-hipped and constructed of galvanised iron, laid on uprights of matai, with trusses of rimu and Douglas fir.

To the north-west of the building are three remaining external brick walls that form pens, marking the separate exit points for the sheep of the paired shearing facilities. To the north-east and south-east the ground is ramped at the points where sheep would be brought into the building through sliding doors located on the north and south ends of the building. At the north end is a brick wall for guiding sheep up the slope.

The interior space is divided with double-brick walls into four areas. A central area has wings to the north, south and west. The floor level is set approximately one metre above the ground outside. The main entrance on the north side is reached via concrete steps and a loading dock. The floor is kauri, supporting 20 stands. These are lit by large arched windows and aired by cast iron ventilators.

Half-height timber partition walls, constructed of Homebush-grown macrocarpa, separate the shearing stands and sheep pens in the north, south and central wings. Stalls for sorting wool in the packing area are also constructed of part-height timber walls, and these feature graffiti from a range of periods.

Restoration work in recent decades has included the reinstatement of bricks, repair of the roof, windows and some beams. Some of the kauri floorboards are covered over.

Shearers’ Quarters/’Whare’

A brick house (barrack for shearers) is located approximately 50 metres to north of the woolshed and is constructed of brick, terracotta and iron. Its door and window details echo those of the woolshed building, but the style is more modest and the bricks themselves more red in colour. With a L-shaped plan, its west elevation is approximately 11 metres in length. The roof is hipped. A small lean to on the east side of the building contains a copper.

Apple House

Now used as a self-contained sleep-out, the corrugated steel roof for this single storeyed brick building was replaced in 2001. The original three rooms of the building have been altered so that it now contains a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and sitting room. The bricks used in the construction of the Apple House are not marked with the Homebush stamp.

Site of brick Homestead

The two and half storeyed triple-brick-constructed Homestead was severely damaged by an earthquake on 4 September 2010. Its remains will be dismantled to ground level, leaving the earlier c1880 foundations and cellar below for the time being.

‘The Bothy’

The Bothy is a small single storeyed cottage with a floor plan approximately eight metres by four metres. It has timber studs, with lath and mud or cob infill, timber floor boards and a modern galvanised corrugated steel roof. It was restored in 2005 after having become in a very dilapidated condition over five decades of disuse.

Brick Bridge (‘Roman Bridge’)

A brick bridge with a round arch similar to those of the Roman era in Europe is located over a deep gulley from the old river bed west of the Homestead site, approximately 100 metres to the east of Mound Cottage. The bricks on the west and east faces of the bridge are laid in rows of stretcher and header bond, and the upper surface of the bridge is grassed.

Sheep Dip

The Sheep Dip and associated features comprise a sluice gate and metal slide feature in the Waianiwaniwa Stream, a brick line draining channel, and the remains of a near-rectangular structure of approximately 13 metres by four metres. The bricks of the main walled structure are laid in stretcher bond and do not have Homebush stamped on them. The walls of the main structure are less than a metre high. To the south of the brick structure is a wider concrete lined channel.

Pig Sties

Constructed of brick and concrete, and with a corrugated steel roof over part, the Pig Sties comprise a series of sties and a pig house. The windows of the pig house are bricked over. Four of the pig sties are roofed, while others are open. Small ‘food holes’ or troughs are concrete lined. Until recently this structure was in a dilapidated condition, but recently it has been restored and partly reconstructed. Bricks used in the original component of the Pig Sties, like those from the Sheep Dip and Apple House, do not have Homebush stamped on them.

Mound Cottage

Mound Cottage, approximately ten metres by eight metres in plan, is built of timber and has a corrugated steel roof. Some of its foundations are rock. The north elevation shows it has two gables, of the same height but of slightly different widths, and it is thought that the easternmost of those gable wings may form the original core of the building.

Clearly it has been altered and extended in many stages, as evidenced by straight joins, varying weatherboard cuts, sizes and alignments. The sash windows in the house are typical of late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, and fixed and casement windows possibly even later. On the interior, the core of this building has wide kauri floorboards similar to those found in ‘The Bothy’. The hallway of the house has scrim covering.

An old timber and corrugated steel wash house is located immediately to the north-east of the cottage and contains an old copper and mangle.

Dam, Sluice gates, Tunnels

A dam or reservoir, which is dry for much of the year, is located approximately 50 metres to the west of the Turbine block. It is the site where the Waianiwaniwa is dammed before going through an underground brick tunnel, 60 metres in length, to bring water to a circular brick well in which the turbine sits.

A similar tunnel, approximately 150 metres in length, is sited at beneath the ground and runs away from the Turbine in a south-easterly direction towards The Bothy. After some 100 metres it opens into an open unlined channel, over a metre wide, which continues in a straight easterly direction before turning a dog-leg near The Bothy and running in a southward direction down to a sluice gate for the Sheep Dip.

Garden structure and related features

Plantings at Homebush date from the earliest occupation of the run in 1851 and have been added to by each generation living at the station. Extensive tree varieties include pine, cedar, redwood, Douglas fir, macrocarpa, poplar, larch, oak and ash.

There are numerous paths and planting areas around the Homebush Homestead site. To the south-west of the Homestead site is a ‘circular garden’, bounded by holly planted by Jimmy Robinson Clough in the early 1850s. Whereas in Clough’s time this ‘circular orchard’ contained vegetables to feed those working at the station, it has now been planted out by the present owner, Louise Deans and contains numerous old fashioned roses.

To the east of the Homestead site lies an expansive lawn, and to the north-east is a rectangular depression alongside the Waianiwaniwa Stream which was used in winter as a skating pond. Immediately east of the skating pond is a well established garden including a black poplar planted in circa 1851.

To the west of the Homestead garage and immediately east of the Apple House is a small garden which is located on the original site of the timber homestead occupied by Cordy and later McIlraith. The garden is marked by original terracotta pieces brought out from Glasgow in Scotland by Samuel Hurst-Seager for the Homebush Tile and Pottery Works to make moulds from.

Further to the west of the Homestead site, west of a 1950s timber bridge, is an old orchard containing old species of apple trees. Here also are mature rhododendrons and azaleas including hybrids bred at Homebush and named after various family members. There are, for example, varieties called Lillian Deans and Elizabeth McIlraith.

Beyond the orchard, further to the west is an area of very tall mature trees, known now as ‘the Cathedral’. Some of these trees date back to the establishment of the station, such as the giant Wellingtonias planted in the 1850s.

Various driveways and paths are cut through the Homebush property. The original road running to the south of the Homebush property has been moved further to the south, but its original line can be identified by a brick entrance wall now partly in ruins.


Although not key elements in the registration, there are a variety of features within the extent of the Homebush registration that add to an understanding of its operations.

For example, a 1950s timber bridge to the west of the house is an indicator of earlier bridges in this location. The existing bridge is probably the third such bridge to be built in this location. Stone revetments on the bank indicate supports for an earlier bridge. Another dilapidated timber bridge, known as the Soldiers Bridge, is sited between the arched Brick Bridge and the 1950s timber bridge.

A corrugated steel henhouse is located approximately half way between the Homestead site and the Stables. The small corrugated steel Gas House immediately to the north-west of the Homestead site is a utility associated with the house.

Contextual Analysis

Homebush Station includes some rare building types and plantings of note. The Stables, Water Tower, Turbine and Grain Store building is particularly unusual in that it encloses these four building types within the one building envelope. The Homebush Pig Sties, too, are rare survivors for New Zealand. Although piggeries were relatively common on nineteenth century farms, it appears that remnants of early sties are now rare.

In New Zealand, brick was not favoured for the construction of farm buildings, since brickworks tended to be located in or close to towns. Many of the Homebush Station buildings, however, are constructed using bricks which were produced either on site or at the brickworks established by the Deans family at Glentunnel in about 1870.

The use of concrete along with brick in some of the structures at Homebush such as the Sheep Dip and Pig Sties reflects a move in experimentation with concrete as a building material in New Zealand in the nineteenth century.

Numerous sheep dips and associated holding yards survive in various states of repair in New Zealand. There are, for example, remains of sheep dips at the Grampians (Mackenzie Basin), Mt Nimrod (near Timaru), Woodbourne (near Blenheim), Hakatere (near Mount Somers), Muller Station (Awatere Valley) and Blairich (Marlborough). In the nineteenth century, numerous sheep runs, especially in the north of the South Island, suffered from the serious issue of the sheep disease ‘scab’. As a preventive method, sheep dips were installed to dip sheep immediately after shearing. The brick and concrete sheep dip at Homebush was an integral part of the sheep farming operations.

Various plantings at Homebush have particular recognition. A stand of conifers and macrocarpas, located behind the Woolshed, is regarded by foresters as a model for the species. Various other trees on the property are deemed to be the tallest examples of their variety in the world.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1850 - 1859
First plantings, houses and farm buildings [‘The Bothy’, various trees and garden structure survives from this period].

Original Construction
1870 - 1879
Stables, Laundry-Bakehouse-Dairy (‘Apple House’), Sheep Dip, Pig Sties.

Original Construction
1879 - 1880
Water Tower, Turbine House, Brick Tunnels, Water Reservoir/Dam, brick Woolshed, Shearers’ Quarters/Whare (?)

1880 - 1889
Foundations for new Homestead.

Original Construction
1904 - 1909
Construction of new Homestead.

1923 -
Addition of verandah to Homestead

1920 - 1929
Laundry-Bakehouse-Dairy building converted to Apple House.

1950 - 1959
Concrete block Cowman’s house built immediately to the west of Homestead

1981 -
Cowman’s house incorporated into new kitchen and dining area at north-west corner of Homestead

1980 - 1999
Apple House converted to Sleepout

Construction Details

Brick, timber, glass, iron, steel, concrete, sod, mud, cob, lath and plaster.

Public NZAA Number




Completion Date

13th October 2010

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Acland, 1975

L.G.D. Acland, The Early Canterbury Runs, 4th ed., Christchurch, 1975

Deans, 1995

Jane Deans, Letters to my grandchildren, 3rd edn, Christchurch, 1995

Department of Conservation

Department of Conservation

Challis, Aidan, Ka Pakihi Whakatekateka o Waitaha: the Archaeology of Canterbury in Maori Times, Science & Research Series No. 89, Department of Conservation, Wellington, 1995.

Department of Conservation

Department of Conservation

Reed, Peter, Kate Schoonees and Jeremy Salmond, Historic concrete structures in New Zealand: Overview, maintenance and management, Department of Conservation, Wellington, July 2008.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Locke, Elsie. 'Clough, Abner 1840 - 1910'. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007

McIntosh, 1940

A D McIntosh et al (eds), Marlborough: A Provincial History, Marlborough Historical Society, Blenheim, 1940

Taylor, 1952

W A Taylor, Lore and History of the South Island Maori, Christchurch, 1952

Thornton, 1986

Geoffrey Thornton, The New Zealand Heritage of Farm Buildings, Auckland, 1986

Bretts, 1883 (reprinted 1902)

Bretts, Colonists Guide & Cyclopedia of Useful Knowledge, Auckland, 1883 (reprinted 1902)

Burstall, 1984

Burstall, S W and W V Sale, Great Trees of New Zealand, Wellington, 1984.

McIntyre, 2007

R McIntyre, Historic heritage of high-country pastoralism: South Island up to 1948, Department of Conservation, Wellington, 2007

Porter, 1983

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

Eldred-Grigg, Stevan, ‘The Aristocracy of the Plains’

Ogilvie, 1996

Gordon Ogilvie, Pioneers of the plains: the Deans of Canterbury, Shoal Bay Press, Christchurch, 1996.

Archifact Limited, 2006

Archifact Limited, ‘Draft Conservation Plan: Homebush Woolshed, Homebush Station, Darfield’, January 2006.

Deans, 1989

Charles Deans, Deans Family 1840-1990: Sesquicentennial Commemorative Booklet, October 1989.

Deans, 1964

John Deans, Pioneers on Port Cooper Plains: The Deans Family of Riccarton, Christchurch, 1964.

Deans, 1997

John Deans III (ed), Pioneers of Canterbury: Deans Family Letters 1840-1854, Christchurch, 1997.

Deans, 2009

Louise Deans and Doc Ross, Homebush, Christchurch, [c2009].

Deans, 2008

Louise Deans, Restoring the Old Homebush Whare, Christchurch, 2008.

Knowles, 1990

Margaret E Knowles, Picks & Bricks: Tales of South Malvern, 1990.

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region office.

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.