Northern Suburbs Heritage Trail


Heritage Trail Booklet.

arrow bullet   The Trail as described in the ‘Heritage Trail’ booklet enters Tawa from Johnsonville via Middleton Road, once the old Porirua Road.   Just before Middleton Road becomes Willowbank Road, is the historic cottage – Greer House – visible from the Road.


Greer House, 420 Middleton Road

In 1853 Francis and Agnes Greer and seven of their eight children set sail from London for a new life in New Zealand.   The came to live at section 33 on the Porirua Road.   They named their property Clarence Farm.   Son Francis, a builder, built the present Greer house about 1865, before his marriage.   It was extended about 1908.   The farm building south of the house is believed to have been originally a flourmill complete with loft and grain chute and a nearby millpond.


arrow bullet   Drive to the end of Willowbank Road and cross Main Road into Boscobel Lane.   Look out for the distinctly shaped tree in front of you.


The Bucket Tree

The Bucket Tree – actually five clipped macrocarpa – was planted about 1860 and is one of Tawa’s most enduring landmarks.   It is adjacent to the site of the homestead built by William and Elizabeth Earp who arrived in Wellington in 1854 and were one of the early European families to settle in Tawa.   The Earps used to climb the tree and have picnics on the top.


arrow bullet   Continue along Boscobel Lane and turn right into Main Road.   Turn right at the shops into Oxford Street (formerly old Porirua Road).


Old School Cottage, 14 Oxford Street

This house was originally the first school built in Tawa.   The land was initially leased from the Bartlett family, whose own house still stands a little further down Oxford Street.   The school opened on New Year’s Day 1860 with 20 children on the roll.   The teacher initially lived in the rooms at the back of the schoolroom.   As the roll expanded, additional rooms were added at the rear.   A new school was build further down Oxford Street in 1879 and this house was converted into a family home, which it remains today.


Bartlett Homestead, 26 Oxford Street

This house was built in 1862 by Nathaniel and Sarah Bartlett, who arrived in Wellington in 1842.   They moved to Foxton in 1871 and left the property to their son Joseph, who died in the house in 1877.   At one stage the house was used as a clubhouse for the Ranui Golf Club which operated a 146 hectare golf course here for seven years in the 1930s.   It then reverted to a family home as housing in the area increased.


arrow bullet   Continue down to the end of Oxford Street and park at the entrance to Grasslees Reserve.


Elsdon Best Memorial

Grasslees Reserve is named after the former farm of Elsdon Best (1856–1931), farm worker, soldier, sawmiller, health inspector, ethnologist and writer.   Elsdon Best spent his first nine years in Tawa and his ashes are interred in the memorial, which was dedicated in 1960.   The foremost ethnologist of his time and a prolific writer on Maori history and mythology, his best known work is probably Tuhoe: the children of the mist, published in 1925.


arrow bullet   Return back along Oxford Street and turn right into Surrey Street.   Turn right into Main Road and about 700 metres on the left is the tiny, and obscured, Tawa Cemetery.


Tawa Cemetery, Main Road

Tawa Cemetery contains the remains of some of Tawa’s most important families and local identities.   The cemetery was established in 1867, on land gifted in 1861 by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the founder of the New Zealand Company.   An Anglican Church, St. Peter’s, was constructed on the site in 1866.   Most of the graves date from prior to 1900 because the church was moved to Porirua two years later.   Burials did continue sporadically, but the cemetery finally closed in 1978.

For a listing of burials at Tawa Cemetery see here.

[Northern Suburbs Heritage Trail Part 2: Following the Old Porirua Road. Onslow and Tawa Historical Societies/ Glenside Progressive Assn./WCC/ et. al. 2nd edn. 2004. Booklet 99mm by 211mm, foldout maps.]

Wellington City Council is a member of the New Zealand Heritage Trails Foundation.