Last weekend I was invited to have High Tea.
It was to be at Oruawharo Homestead, a large double-story wooden homestead built in the 1800's.
The homestead is in Takapau in the Central Hawke's Bay and originally was the heart of the 17,726 acres it sat on.
The High Tea was for a friends daughter who opted to have tea and cakes rather than the more traditional bridal shower.
This is the homestead not long after it was completed in 1879. Twenty years later the owners built more bedrooms on plus a large billiards room on the left hand side.
A contemporary reporter of the time described Oruawharo as having “everything that administers to domestic comfort and convenience”, “baths with hot water apparatus”, “culinary departments with apparatus of the most approved kind”, and three staircases.
(I can actually hear that being said)
So, let me show you around.
When the current owners bought the homestead, it was in a bad state of disrepair. The outside of the house was covered in thick ivy, there was little paint left on the house and many of the wooden timbers were rotting. Some of the out buildings had collapsed and the grounds were overrun.
In the early days the family kept 12 domestic staff and 8 gardeners and in 1886 over 28,000 sheep were shorn.
Today the servants wing has been removed and there are only 12 bedrooms, and it costs $70,000 to give the outside of the house a paint. Several million dollars has been spent on it so far, and there is still a lot of work to be done.
Inside the front door the ceilings had been restored.
All but two of the photos have been taken without a flash using the natural light.
The above ceiling panel was painted in pale green and pink.
The ceiling panel below had been beautifully restored too.
There were large fireplaces in most rooms, including the bedrooms and two were blazing and not at all out of place.
When we arrived we were greeted by the owner and given a short history of the building. He also told us that we were welcome to explore the rooms in the homestead while we were waiting for our tea and cakes.
I peeked into this room which was the billiards room. It was often used for balls and special functions and has the most amazing wooden ceiling. The owners bought a specialist in from Europe to restore it.
And when we are invited to explore the house, and a grand sweeping staircase beckons,
well, what's a girl to do?
This was the main bedroom. It had 3 rooms off it, one which was a nursery complete with cots and a passage way which led to a back bedroom and a wee bathroom.
Oruawharo belongs to the International Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) Association and is a frequent destination for its members from all over the world.
I noticed a slight slope on the floorboards. Imagine all the dusting, and sweeping that would need doing!
Nice views, I could see Miss Elizabeth Bennet crossing the lawn,
-not quite up to Mr Darcy's standards tho.
In 1965 the homestead and 62.5 remaining acres were gifted to the Catholic Church so that
the house could be used for a Preparatory School for boys. However, it was deemed not suitable and
it passed into several different hands, none that could afford to repair or restore it and so
was eventually left for ruin.
In 1911 the homestead got it's first telephone.
I was pretty impressed by all the quilts. One for every bed.
When the Catholic Nuns left the building in the 1970's they had a huge sale and sold off anything and everything. All the chandeliers sold, the brass door plates and handles, all the furniture and fittings.
The building was left bare.
The present owners have collected pieces of furniture for a long time. This piece interested me. Does anyone know what it was used for or called, with this little padded seat in the middle?
I passed by this passageway, it was dark but the light from a window highlighted a rocking chair and a wee basket for a dog at the far end.
But then it was time for tea. So into the dining room we went.
And I'm sorry, I got totally carried away by all the lovely china, there were huge sideboards full of stacks of plates and cups that I snapped only this one photo. This is the top plate of three tiers.
Then it was time to take a walk outside and explore the grounds.
This is the stables. It has been restored and has several bays inside and a couple of rooms. At the moment it is used for storing timber.
The vege garden is new and laid out beautifully.
I was taken by all the seats.
The Dannevirke Hunt Club uses the property twice a year to hold their hunts, complete with hounds.
It also holds lots of functions, vintage car club rallies, weddings.
There were peony gardens and rose gardens and a fence-line of beautiful lavender.
And the rich pink of this rose invited one to walk further.
A very happy situation indeed.
And here we all are getting ready to say goodbye to Oruawharo after a lovely afternoon.
If you get the chance to visit, it's well worth it.
Hope you enjoyed your visit.