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New lease of life for Auckland’s oldest house

24 April 2013

New lease of life for Auckland’s oldest house

Auckland’s oldest house has undergone a major restoration, thanks to a joint effort between its owners and Auckland Council.

Parnell’s Hulme Court was built in 1843 and is believed to be Auckland’s oldest house on its original site. It has been home to a number of key figures in Auckland history.

Its current owners bought the property in mid-2011, and in discussion with Auckland Council heritage experts and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, started restoration in January 2012.

The Mayor is visiting Hulme Court this afternoon to acknowledge the personal contribution of the owners to Auckland heritage and the work of the project team including Auckland Council heritage staff.

“Hulme Court is a stunning example of joint stewardship, combining private funding with council expertise and assistance, and recognising a shared commitment to the preservation and restoration of our heritage,” says Len Brown.

“Aucklanders are passionate about both our built and natural heritage, which is recognised with the proposed heritage overlays in the draft Unitary Plan. Urban design and regulations have an important part to play in protecting our heritage, but so does financial investment.

“Auckland Council is committed to our Built Heritage Acquisition Fund, our heritage schedule and our heritage programme. But equally important is working directly with private owners, providing advice, expertise and grants. It is partnerships like this, with owners and the NZ Historic Places Trust, that have the potential to have a powerful impact in protecting our treasured heritage.”

Parks, Recreation and Heritage chair Sandra Coney says, “"The restoration of Hulme Court ensures that this uniquely important house and Parnell landmark will be here for future generations to enjoy. It is one of the most historic and beautiful houses in New Zealand. The restoration is a wonderful example of how Auckland Council can provide its support and expertise to private owners of historic heritage and work in partnership with them and NZHPT."

Notes:

• Hulme Court is the oldest known house still standing on its original site in the Auckland region.

• The house was built in 1843 for Frederick Whitaker who later became Premier of New Zealand.

• Whitaker rented the house to Bishop Selwyn for three years, after which Colonel William Hulme (Commander of British troops in New Zealand) bought the property.

• Hulme Court stood on three acres of land up until 1863 when Thomas Russell and William Aitken bought the property and subdivided it.

• Francis Dillon Bell (Minister of Native Affairs and advisor to Governor Grey) bought the house from Russell and Aitken and sold it in 1872.

• The house was also used temporarily as Government House by Governor Thomas Gore-Browne.

• Hulme Court is one of the best examples of Regency architecture in New Zealand despite some interior alterations and is the finest example built in permanent materials (plaster over 300mm-thick bluestone walls and slate roof).

• It shares many of its formal features with earlier mission houses, such as its hipped roof, the verandah tucked well under the eaves and the 'Union Jack' balustrades.

• It is registered as a Category 1 house of 'outstanding historical significance ' in the NZHPT Register, and Category A in the district plan.

• This restoration has been funded by private owners. It will not be open to the public, but will be rented out to commercial or residential tenants.

• Auckland Council's input included built heritage specialists providing advice and assistance with consenting process; making introductions between the project manager and the NZ Historic Places Trust; and conservation architects working on the project

• The restoration team has tried to retain as much of the original fabric of the building as possible.

ENDS

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