The Te Kiteroa Lodge story begins in the late 1800’s somewhere in the high country of Canterbury when wealthy station owner Allan McLean employed Mrs Emily Phillips as his housekeeper for his Waikakahi estate.
Allan McLean was known for being a rather eccentric figure. He came from humble beginnings in the Isle of Coll in Scotland, never married and frequently wore a plum-coloured suit, bow-tie and white socks. A well to do bachelor, he was also known for his philanthropy, his generosity to the poor and particularly to widows and those less fortunate than he.
His Waikakahi estate became one of the finest stations in Canterbury. It was renowned for its excellent cropping and stock with the station flock rising to 69,000 sheep in 1895. However by the end of the century the Liberal government was encouraging the break-up of large freehold stations, by compulsory purchase if necessary, under the Land for Settlements Act 1894. The Waikakahi run of some 48,000 acres was bought for about £320,000 in 1899. There was intense demand for the 130 farms, 14 runs, and 47 village sections in this, the second-largest government settlement in Canterbury. Allan McLean was distressed at having to part with Waikakahi, and never returned to the district.
McLean built Holly Lea in Christchurch – a fifty three room Jacobean inspired mansion. Naturally a woman’s touch was necessary to complete the interior furnishings, and as such was Mrs Philips’ status as house keeper she was sent to England to personally select the best fabrics and furnishings for the mansion.
Left to Right: Mrs Emily Phillips sitting for a portrait photograph in Christchurch while residing at Holly Lea c.1900 | Chum Higgins the Chauffeur for Mrs Phillips | The Chauffeur's Cottage constructed as part of the Te Kiteroa estate c.1913
Mrs Phillips remained a loyal employee of McLean until after his death in 1907 at Holly Lea (also known as McLean’s Mansion) in Christchurch. Bequests were left to his relatives and servants, including Mrs Phillips, who was also given the right to live in Holly Lea for the rest of her life.
She was left an annual pension of 3000 pounds by McLean, which allowed her to return to the Waimate district in style. Thanks to McLean’s generosity she too became a lady of money and means, which allowed her in 1913 to leave Holly Lea and build her own home of grandeur - Te Kiteroa Lodge, plus the two detatched cottages for her own Chauffeur and Gardner.
Emily Phillips remained at Te Kiteroa until her death in 1921.
The story of Te Kiteroa Lodge continues with many a twist and turn long after Emily's passing ... but for that story you will need to book a night's stay and settle in with hosts Ann and Gary Dennison over a glass of Pinot Noir!