Friday, 6 September 2019


John C. Adams, September 4 1923
Mounted silver gelatin print by Elliott and Fry, Baker Street, London
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 25560
This large house lies on the east side of the Te Papa peninsular at the end of Fifth Avenue. There had been a Maori pa in the area called Taiparoro, but it was long gone before John Cuthbert Adams built his house. He was born in Kettering in Northamptonshire the son of John Watts Adams, a merchant and his wife Sarah (nee Cocker) and arrived in New Zealand in September 1874 on the City of Auckland, with his first wife who unfortunately died within a year.

He married Helen Edwards the daughter of John Edwards, an English storekeeper in Raglan in 1882 the year he built the house. Her mother was Rakapa Ngawai of Te Awamutu. This marriage produced ten children. Agnes Graham, who married John Cuthbert Adams’ brother in law John H Edwards, was the sister of Margaret Graham, Mrs. Henry Brabant, linking the Adams and Brabant families and the historic places Taiparoro (Heritage NZ register no.4564, the Adams Cottage (register no.4570), Maungawhare (register no.4571), and Woodhill (register no. 795). John Adam’s interests in Maori artefacts and culture were expressed in his collection which is now part of the Tauranga Museum collection, and included paintings by Horatio Gordon Robley. Adams and Robley corresponded for many years after the latter’s return to England.

Taipororo, undated photograph
Courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 02-515
The Carpenter Gothic house is built of kauri in a gabled style with verandahs on two sides. Due to the size of his family Adams added extra bedrooms and extended the living room to thirty feet, and the kitchen was enlarged. By 1905 corrugated iron had replaced the original shingle roof. On the right was a small sitting room and to the left were two bedrooms and a short straight staircase to the small upstairs rooms with their sloping ceilings and dormer windows. Next to the sitting room was the big living room with a parquet floor made of native timbers, with two more bedrooms at the far end. Curtains hung from brass rods over the doors and the wallpaper had a bold Victorian pattern. The original kitchen design included a kauri bench top and a wood burning stove. The original holding was of two acres which included gardens with kauri, titoki, karaka, and a copper beech tree, a tennis court, and a horse and cow paddock. The stables had a fodder loft and accommodation for a gig and a spring cart. Ownership of the house by a well off family was obvious by the quality of the decorative fittings of the house with coloured glass windows and doors, a rose fretwork centre piece in the sitting room ceiling, finely decorated barge boards on the gable ends, and the trusses in the hall archway. Etched into the transom light above the front door is the name ‘Taiparoro.’

Taipororo, 1997
Courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 00-587
The house was busy with the activities and social life of the large Adams family who held tennis parties, and dances in the long living room. Taiparoro provided an example of the way social life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century revolved around the homes of the people rather than in community provided facilities. The living room was large enough for the wedding reception for Evelyn Alberta (Eva) Adams to Archibald Ernest Clark in 1911. The last members of the family to live in the house were Miss Bertha Adams and her brother Lionel who had returned to join her after retiring from his teaching career. Family ownership ended in 1973. Since then Taiparoro has provided bed and breakfast accommodation.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting - I hadn't seen these images of Taiparoro. I have a great photo of this house from the road - pre sealing! and also the wedding breakfast table (beautiful flowers, crystal ware, heavy velvet curtains over the doorway, parquet floor, carved chairs, lace curtains)....It must have been a wonderful occasion. From private family collection.