64 6 327 7280 john@historichomes.co.nz

The Architects

C T Natusch

Charles Natusch, (4 October 1859 – 16 July 1951) was a noted New Zealand architect and quantity surveyor, known particularly as a builder of fine houses for wealthy clients.

Born and raised in London, England, he trained there as an architect. In 1886, he departed with his wife and their first two sons for New Zealand.

For the next 30 years, Natusch established himself between Wellington and Hawke’s Bay particularly as a builder of fine houses in a variety of styles. These ranged from those that displayed an Italian influence, such as Bushy Park (1905) near Wanganui, through Tudor style like Maungaraupi (1906) in Marton. 

F deJ Clere

Frederick de Jersey Clere was born at Walsden, Lancashire, England, on 7 January 1856. Frederick was educated at St John’s School, Clapton, and then at the age of 16 articled to the architect Edmund Evan Scott of Brighton. From 1875 to 1877 he was chief assistant in the London office of Robert Jewell Withers.

Clere emigrated with his family to New Zealand in 1877, arriving at Wellington on the Hurunui on 12 December. After working briefly in Wellington, he practised in Feilding from 1879 to 1883 and in Wanganui from 1883 to 1886. He married Mary Goodbehere at Feilding on 18 April 1883.

The scope of Frederick Clere’s work illustrates his versatility. From 1883 to 1888 he was architect to the Wanganui Education Board. He designed large country homes, such as Overton near Marton, and many houses in Wellington. 

J.W. Chapman-Taylor

James Chapman-Taylor is one of New Zealand’s most important domestic architects of the early to mid-20th century, and Wellington’s best known proponent of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Chapman-Taylor was born in London in 1878 and moved to New Zealand with his family two years later. He grew up in Taranaki where he was apprenticed to a Stratford builder and studied architecture by correspondence.  In 1905 he set up practice as a builder-architect in Wellington. His distinctive Arts and Crafts style houses were produced after a visit to England in 1909 where he met the leading practitioners of the day including Voysey, Parker, Unwin and Baillie Scott.

Over the course of his career Chapman-Taylor specialised in fine houses in the English Domestic Revival / Arts and Crafts style. Of the over 80 houses built mainly in Wellington, Auckland, Taranaki and the Hawkes Bay, many featured inglenooks and panelling, hand-forged hinges and door latches, hand-adzed beams and timberwork, and handcrafted furniture. 

G F Allen

George Frederic Allen was born in London, England, on 15 February 1837, the son of Maria Day and her husband, George Allen, an eminent architect. After training as an architect and surveyor, he was appointed engineer to the Great Barrier Kauri Timber and Copper Mining Company in New Zealand. The venture proved disastrous and Allen returned penniless to Auckland 18 months later. There he secured a position as assistant master at the Church of England Grammar School.

After a few months Allen began practising architecture and surveying in partnership with J. O. Barnard. The partners won a competition for the design of St Matthew’s Church and afterwards William Fox offered them positions as district surveyors for the Wellington provincial government. They accepted, and in July 1862 moved to Wellington. In November Allen was transferred to Wanganui and Barnard to Wairarapa.

After more than three years working under the district surveyor, David Porter, Allen set up in private practice, but then, due to the unsettled state of the district, found himself out of work and opened a private school. 

In 1867 he had drawn up the plans for Trenton House, Oneida, the home for J. A. H. Burnett, and he designed St Stephen’s Church, Marton. He then surveyed large blocks of land in the Waitotara valley and on the Wanganui River. 


Nga Tawa

Russell & Bignell

Russell and Bignell were designers and builders in Whanganui from 1891, and built many grand villas in the period before WW1.

Puketiro on Durie Hill, and Otairi homestead  Hunterville, for the Duncan family, and Pukemarama , Clydesdale for J McKelvie, date from this period.

Bushy Park, Kai Iwi was also built by the firm –to the  design of C T Natusch.

They had the contract for the  rebuilding of Whanganui Hospital [since demolished]  and the Grand Hotel Whanganui, was designed and built by them.


W T Higgins


William Higgins was an English architect who practised in NZ between 1912-26. He lived most of that time in Marton and was accomplished in the Georgian Revival style.

His early work included the Patea Town Hall 1913 [sadly demolished in the 1970.s] Lethenty, Bulls 1915 for Sir James Wilson, and Nga Tawa School  Marton 1925.

As well he left many commercial  buildings in Marton, and houses in the town and rural areas.


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