At the end of November 64 members enjoyed the drive out in the countryside for our annual Christmas coach trip. Even though the weather had forgotten it was supposed to be summer, we had a most enjoyable day. This year we visited the historic former home of the well known Ormond family, “Wallingford”, near Waipukurau. We were treated to a delicious lunch, with guided tours of the homestead continuing throughout the day.
The homestead was originally built by “the Master” the Hon J D Ormond (1831 – 1917). In December 1847 before either Canterbury or Otago were colonised (aged 15) J D stepped ashore in Auckland from his home of Wallingford Berkshire in England as the secretary to E J Eyre, the Lieutenant-Governor of New Munster. By 1852 JD had settled Wallingford Station, he built the homestead around 1853-54.
By 1905 Wallingford was a prosperous and well-developed sheep and cattle station of some 34,000 acres. The village, which existed mainly to complement the farm, consisted of a blacksmith (the village centre), a boarding house, a telephone exchange (set up and paid for by the Hon J D to assist his work on the Legislative Council) and a school. In 1905 Wallingford was still an important stopping post on the journey from Porangahau and the coast and was linked by a daily horse-drawn coach to Waipukurau. Third Generation - (Sir) John Davies Wilder Ormond, (second eldest of the twelve children) chaired a number of boards in New Zealand including the NZ Meat Producers Board, the Exports and Shipping Council and the New Zealand Shipping Line, the latter established by the Kirk Labour Government.
The Homestead has three wings -The Nursery Wing, The School Room Wing, The Rarotongan Wing. For many years Rarotongan families were employed to cook and tend the gardens. That is why one wing of the homestead is called the Rarotongan Wing.
Now, after 160 years and four generations in Ormond ownership, the estate has been sold. The property has been bought by Gareth Dunkerley, and his partner Chad Hebberly. Gareth, an Auckland-based vet grew up in Hawke's Bay and is fulfilling a childhood dream of buying the homestead. They plan to continue the heritage and have developed the homestead's potential as a luxury lodge.
It was an exciting day for one of our new members Karola Brackenbury, who is a descendant of this family. Not only did she receive her New Zealand Founders Membership Certificate from Branch & New Zealand Founders National President Paddy Bayley, Karola won the first prize in the raffle.
Photo 1 – Wallingford Homstead
Photo 2 – Descendant of Ormond family Karola Brackenbury receiving Raffle 1stprize from Branch Vice President Kath La Rooy.