Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Historical villa disappears

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Image of the house from The History of Howick and Pakuranga by Alan La Roche.

A key piece of history has disappeared from Bucklands Beach.

Oliver’s Homestead at 203 Bucklands Beach Road was built in 1868. It was named after the Oliver Family who ran a dairy farm in the area.

In Alan La Roche’s book The History of Howick and Pakuranga, the house is mentioned in conjunction to Bucklands Beach and Farm Cove symbolising the importance of its place in the community and its historical status.

In early July Shirley Curtiss heard that the house had been relocated. “I was shocked and upset,” she says. “We didn’t even know where it’d gone.”

Shirley and her husband moved into the property in 1976. For nine months, they completely renovated the house, restoring without removing its colonial authenticity. “We were passionate about restoring it with modern amenities,” Shirley says.

In the backyard they discovered century-old bottles at the bottom of a well there.

“We lived in that house for 22 years,” Shirley says. “Our two children went to the local primary and intermediate schools.”

They sold the house in 1998 however they still feel strongly attached to it.

Shirley describes the homestead as incredibly “warm”.

“It had an exceptional character that modern houses lack because of its significant history.”

Another important piece of history for the house was the stone the Oliver’s used as a back doorstep.

“It was a large stone retrieved from Pigeon Mountain,” Marin Burgess, President of the Historical Society, says.

It is said the talisman has been used as a shrine or temporary resting place for the atua (spirits) who looked after the crops.

The Oliver family gifted it to Geoff Fairfield. It ended up at Owairoa Primary School.

Now it resides at the Howick Historical Village.

“The stone is another part of the homestead’s rich history,” Shirley says.

With the house’s recent relocation, Shirley feels like it’s “the end of an era and area”. It was an anchor within the Bucklands Beach community because it gave it a sense of history, she says.

As of July 16 the house has been located on a farm in Waiuku. “A young family is about to move in,” Shirley says. “We are thrilled.”

However Shirley and Marin think it’s an ongoing issue within communities; significant villas and pieces of history being removed and/or demolished.

Media reported that with the recent proposal of six-storey apartments, villas might be at risk.

Auckland councillors have mixed views about the plan to “allow intensification in heritage suburbs”.

“This is a wide-spread problem, the destruction of historical properties,” Shirley says.

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