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Restoration Draws On Pioneer Willpower

Taranaki Regional Council media release

18 February 2008

Restoration Draws On Pioneer Willpower

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WORK IN PROGRESS: Under the exposed beams that are a hallmark of Chapman-Taylor's work, the restoration project is well under way.


An unusual refurbishment project in New Plymouth is being guided by the wishes of two prominent and strong-willed men - both of them long dead.

Builders are busy renovating the stylish house at Tupare, one of Taranaki's iconic public gardens. And sure to be watching closely are the ghosts of James Chapman-Taylor and Sir Russell Matthews.

Chapman-Taylor, the renowned "arts and crafts" architect, designed the house for Matthews in 1932. Unusually for the architect, though, he relinquished control of its construction to Matthews, who had firm ideas about what he wanted.

The result was a unique stately home with the unmistakeable Chapman-Taylor stamp but also reflecting the dreams and aspirations of the innovative Matthews, whose accomplishments included laying the first bitumen road in New Zealand.

The current refurbishment is all about recapturing this blend of influences, says the Taranaki Regional Council's Regional Gardens Manager, Greg Rine.

"We're taking out some of the later influences that have crept in over the years," he says. "When the work is complete, visitors will get an authentic insight into the work of James Chapman-Taylor, the vision of Sir Russell Matthews, and the lifestyles of their era.

"It will really cement Tupare as a cultural and historical attraction."

The work on the house is part of a wider project at Tupare, which also includes major restoration work in the hillside property's landscaped garden containing majestic trees, a water feature and extensive plantings in different settings.

The project also includes a new car park and gatehouse, new paths and lookouts and a new glasshouse.

The project extends to the Taranaki Regional Council's other heritage property, Hollard Gardens near Kaponga on the southern flank of Mt Taranaki. There, the extensive plant collection is being catalogued and the property is getting a new gatehouse, as well as an events pavilion.

Both properties remain free to visit while the work continues. They are open from 9am to 5pm daily.


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