Eckford’s Farm homestead alive again

Mike Lee (centre) with Rob Mouncey (left) and David Collings. Photography by Christel Kelly Moore

There was a good turnout at the re-opening of the newly restored Eckford’s Farm homestead on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Howick Local Board members including David Collings, Sharon Stewart, Dick Quax, Katrina Bungard, Adele White, John Spiller and Peter Young were there to witness the live day and official re-opening of the four-roomed Eckford’s Farm Homestead, originally built in 1851 at Maraetai.

Chair of Transport committee of Auckland Council Mike Lee spoke about his connection to Howick, and did the ribbon-cutting along with president of the Howick & Districts Historical Society, Rob Mouncey and chair of Howick Local Board, Mr Collings.

“The homestead that started its life as the home of Thomas Eckford and his family on their 368 acre farm, is a fine example of a farm homestead of the period and complements the mid late 1800s Fencible cottages, parsonage, church, schools, the grand Puhi Nui homestead and other buildings at Howick Historical Village,” said Mr Mouncey.

The Couldrey family bought the farm in 1877 and enlarged the original four-roomed cottage by adding verandas on three sides.

From 1888 to 1923, a small Post Office was added to the building to serve local families.
For performing this service, the Couldrey’s received a princely sum of 30 shillings a year. In 1911, the Couldrey’s sold the farm to JJ Craig, an Auckland merchant and ship owner.

The farm was then subdivided in 1916 and the house sold to Ian Strachan whose son Graham the Society is deeply indebted to for donating the house to the Society in 1977, said Mr Mouncey.

“The journey to get the building to its village site was a challenging one as no doubt David Edwards, Alan La Roche and other Society members can recall.

“David and Alan had to lower the height of the building the night before by taking the corrugated iron roof off in high winds and rain, all in the dark. I am pretty sure that this would not pass today’s Health and Safety regulations. It was amazingly moved in one piece all the way from Maraetai even wending its way through Howick’s main Cooke and Picton Streets in heavy rain the following day,” he said.

That apart, in the last two years the Howick Historical Village has received grants totalling $500,000 from Foundation North, Lion Foundation, Pub Charity, NZ Community Trust, Dragon Community Trust, Four Winds Foundation, First Sovereign Trust in addition to Mt Wellington Foundation and Freemasons, Rotary and Stevenson Village Trusts and Howick Local Board Grant rounds.

The grants give a fair indication of the financial resources required to operate and conserve history.