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Homestead returned to former glory

Media Release from Manukau City Council
Restoration of Cambria House

Media Release 26 June 2003

Homestead returned to former glory

Manukau City Council is proud to announce the reopening of one our city's oldest houses. Cambria House in Puhinui Road, Papatoetoe, has been extensively refurbished and restored to its former glory with painstaking attention to detail.

Manukau City Council is very pleased with the results. Mayor, Sir Barry Curtis says, "It is important that the restoration was carried out in recognition of its historical significance under the Historic Places Act 1993. Furthermore the site, occupied since the 1870, is considered an archaeological site and is fully protected from modification damage or destruction and it is included in the Manukau City Operative District Plan."

One of the earliest properties in the area, Cambria House was built 119 years ago in 1884 on 176 acres on, what was then, an isolated rural settlement. Edward Price a wealthy businessman brought it in 1892 as a week-end retreat and carried out extensive alterations including establishing a horse stud on the property, which thrived until the 1940s.

A special train ran from Auckland to thoroughbred sales at the Estate. His family owned it for the next 80 years, until its sale in 1972 to North Island Wholesale Groceries Ltd. It has been tenanted ever since.

During the Second World War part of the estate was taken for defence purposes, with 6,000 United States troops living at a specially constructed Marine Camp from 1943 to 1944.

Sheep were farmed on the rocky land on the far side of the Puhinui Stream and school children came to see how a farm was run. During the 1960s there was a nine hole golf course on the estate.

In 1962 the Nestle Company built a large factory on the site of the United States navy camp. This marked the beginning of a new identity as an industrial estate, which endures today and gives the site a very different appearance from it original rural one.

Restoration on the building, carried out by architect Antony Matthews of Mathews and Mathews, a member of the Historic Places Trust, has been done faithfully, with attention to features such as choice of colours, materials and moulding in keeping with its original design.

And what does the future hold for the property? The House was always intended for a community facility, however the current site is an industrial area and may no longer be suitable for that purpose. Sir Barry says, "There is the option of leaving the House there or moving it to a more appropriate location nearer the heart of Papatoetoe.

"We anticipate carrying out community consultation to ask the residents for their thoughts before making any decision about its future use. I believe it is important we restore historic buildings such as this in order to safeguard the heritage of our city. Cambria House, which harbours the secrets of several past generations, will stand as a reminder of a by gone age for present and future generations to enjoy."

ENDS

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