Friday, 20 March 2015


Maungawhare, Otumoetai, c 1910s
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 03-385
John Conroy built Maungawhare, one of the most attractive old houses in Tauranga, in 1878 for Henry Stainforth Brabant (1844-1926), the brother of Herbert William Brabant Resident Magistrate and Commissioner of Lands in early Tauranga. Brabant first named the house Woodhill and later used the same name when he moved to his second house, which is still known as Woodhill in Grange Road. Having arrived from England on the Cashmere in 1863 he took up farming and fruit growing in Tauranga after farming in the Waikato.

Tennis party at Maungawhare, Otumoetai, the residence of Mr & Mrs W.J. Baigent, circa 1910
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 99-607
The house became too small when his family reached eleven, hence the move to a larger home. Brabant had married Margaret Graham the sister of Agnes Graham who married John Cuthbert Adams one time Mayor of Tauranga and linking the historic places Maungawhare, Woodhill, Taipororo (Adams home in 5th Avenue) and the Adams Cottage in Mount Maunganui.

Pony and trap at Maungawhare, Otumoetai, c 1910s
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 03-435
Maungawhare is the work of Hamilton architect Isaac Richardson Vialou. It is an elegant two story timber house with steep gables mounted by finials and the delicate design of the verandah brackets give the house an appearance of lightness. Brackets on the bargeboards secured canvas screens to enable people to sleep on the verandah in the summer. There have been interior modifications to the house.

Henry Brabant chaired the Tauranga Horticultural Society and his interest in trees can be seen in the magnificent plantings in the garden. Some trees are mentioned in SW Burstall’s Great Trees of New Zealand and it is believed that the taller ones were used as navigation aids for ships entering the harbour. There have been several owners of Maungawhare with the present family owning the property since 1939.


  1. Maungawhare is my family home. I also know Greenhill well. My Father Kristian Revfeim purchased it as a deceased estate. My daughter Annemarie Cambie's detailed information is available at Tauranga Library.

  2. Maungawhare Library was removed in the 1930's and taken to 13th Avenue where it is now part of Oaklands Retirement Home.

  3. Mr Brabant organised private schooling for his and friends children at Maungawhare. He initiated the Otumoetai primary school need
    After 17 years of lobbying the school opened 1895
    Brabant was Board Chair man for 10 years