This little brick building was erected originally
about 1855 on a block of 3334 acres
purchased in 1848 by Ranulph Dacre, an "adventurer
merchant" who operated trading vessels between Sydney and New Zealand carrying livestock,
produce and timber. The land formed part
of a 20,000 acre Weiti block originally sold to Henry Taylor by Maori chiefs of
the Ngati Whatua; Ngati Poa; and Ngati te Matua tribes.
By 1842 when the land claim had been verified, Henry
Taylor had sold more than half of the block to H.B. Sparke of Sydney. Captain Dacre purchased the land from
Sparke but did not settle on the land. Dacre's sons, Henry and Septimus, farmed
the block as a cattle station. The cottage was constructed of bricks that were
believed to have been used as ballast in Dacre's sailing vessel,s and
originally had a shingle roof which was later replaced by corrugated iron. The
Dacre family farmhouse was built nearby, (south of where the large Norfolk Pine
now stands), and the little brick building was used as an abattoir when the family
moved into their farmhouse.
In the 1980s it had deteriorated through neglect and vandalism. Members of the Auckland Committee of the Historic Places Trust took over the job of dismantling and rebuilding it, with materials similar to those originally used, donated by Auckland firms. Restoration was completed in 1984 by voluntary labour. The roof beams (80% of which are original), were constructed using the mortise and peg system (i.e. without nails), and the restored roof was clad in timber shingles as was the original structure.
Since 1984 the care and maintenance of the cottage has been carried out by members of the Dacre Caretaker Management Committee. The Dacre Historic Reserve was established by the Rodney District Council, and since the establishment of the Karepiro Bay Marine Reserve, the Okura Bush Walkway has been developed. Under the Reserves Act 1977 the Rodney District Council has a Management Plan for the area that is reviewed at regular intervals. The toilet block on the Marine Reserve was built by members of the Dacre Caretaker Management Committee using materials supplied by the Rodney District Council.
Over the years since the cottage was rebuilt, it has suffered from the activities of vandals, particularly since the walkway has become more popular. There is little of value kept in the cottage and burglars and vandals have gained nothing from their repeated onslaughts. The Caretaker Management Committee is developing a restoration programme and is looking for assistance with funding and labour.
This little cottage is an important part of Auckland's colonial history and is worth preserving for future generations to enjoy. We need more volunteers to assist in looking after this important Heritage site. One of the remaining historic gems on the Hibiscus Coast, a historic reserve within a marine reserve. If you, too, feel that the preservation and care of Dacre cottage is a worthwhile project, we would be pleased to welcome you on board. Donations of money, materials and/or labour would be most welcome.
Please phone Dacre Cottage Management Committee members:
For more details phone either of the following:-
Pete Townend on 09 473 0797, mob: 027 452 9255