Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

03 January 2010

N.Z. House & Cottage 37. Terrace Station, Hororata

I wrote and illustrated ‘New Zealand House and Cottage’. It was published in 1997. It’s a snapshot of some historic New Zealand homes - both grand and modest - as they were preserved at the end of the 20th century. I have decided to share some of the entries from the book from time to time on this blog.

Memories of Terrace Station in the 1960s: dining surrounded by leather-bound volumes; sleeping in ‘Little Jericho’, one of two bedrooms at one extreme of the rambling house; skating on a farm pond wearing borrowed Victorian skates from a room full of old tennis racquets, croquet mallets and hickory skis; and riding in the 1911 Clement-Talbot that was bought new and is still at the house.
Our hosts in those days were Godfrey and Peggy Hall and I particularly remember my delight when, after I had spent some shivering time drawing the house from the same angle as in my watercolour, Peggy swapped two home-spun, hand-knitted sweaters for the sketch. I still have them; I can still smell the lanolin in them, the smell of the old sheep runs of the South Island.
Since then the Halls’ daughter, Kate, and her husband, Richard Foster have taken over and farmed the land and raised a family while labouring mightily to restore and maintain Terrace Station homestead and to document and preserve its history.
The house grew piecemeal but the earliest part, pre-fabricated in Australia, was built for the Studholmes (of Te Waimate fame) in the mid-1850s. John and Rose Hall bought Rakaia Terrace Station in 1862. A pragmatic Yorkshireman, he’d arrived in Christchurch in 1852 and became so deeply involved with local and colonial affairs that he later became prime minister - from 1879 to 1882. He and Rose extended and altered the house greatly to meet the needs of their family and by 1868 the house had doubled in size, including the distinctive three front gables.
Posterity might almost have lost the homestead but, fortunately, an economic depression dissuaded Hall from building a new house and led instead to a series of practical additions that culminated in 1890 with a superb, native timber refit of the entrance hall by Samuel Hurst Seager, the eminent Christchurch architect. John Hall was knighted in 1882 and died in 1907 whereupon Terrace Station passed to his son, Godfrey, then grandson Godfrey and, now, Kate and Richard Foster. In their hands the work goes on, while, in the entrance hall, an elegant watercolour time-table (artist unknown) reminds us that life in the home of statesmen-farmers, their families and descendants requires certain daily disciplines.


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By Don Donovan