Duart House once a horse farm

Rose Chap­man is a re­tired librarian and was res­i­dent care­taker of Duart House from 2008-2013. While liv­ing there she be­came fas­ci­nated with the old house and the McLean fam­ily who lived there, and is writ­ing a book about their lives.

Havelock North Village Press - - News -

It is not gen­er­ally known that the en­vi­rons of Duart His­toric House, in Duart Road Have­lock North, were once pad­docks dot­ted with thor­ough­bred horses.

In 1882, when Duart was built, the es­tate cov­ered more than 60ha. Over the years, this land­scape, with its healthy air and views, has been sub­di­vided many times. To­day, the gar­dens of Duart House cover only about 1.2ha.

Duart House was built for a Scots­man, Al­lan McLean (1833-1898), who came to Hawke’s Bay in the late 1860s via the gold­fields of Aus­tralia. He man­aged Waimarama Sta­tion for Mein­ertzha­gen and Camp­bell un­til he bought Tuk­i­tuki Sta­tion in 1870. This 4250ha property stretched along the eastern river bank from about where Red Bridge is now, to Clive Grange (Te Awanga). That same year, “Tuki” McLean, as he was known, mar­ried Han­nah, the el­dest child of John and Mar­garet Cham­bers of Te Mata Sta­tion and their first seven chil­dren were born at Tuk­i­tuki.

Although Tuk­i­tuki was pri­mar­ily a sheep sta­tion, Al­lan McLean be­gan breed­ing thor­ough­bred horses from about 1875, trav­el­ling to Mel­bourne to pur­chase stud an­i­mals, as well as buy­ing and sell­ing lo­cally. Horse­breed­ing and rac­ing were al­most oblig­a­tory for the wealthy run­hold­ers of Hawke’s Bay, and race meet­ings were im­por­tant so­cial and sport­ing events.

By the late 1870s, the Tuk­i­tuki River, then un­bridged, was prov­ing a se­ri­ous ob­sta­cle to at­ten­dance at race meet­ings, espe­cially in floods. He made the de­ci­sion to move across the river, build a grand house, and set­tle se­ri­ously into mak­ing large sums of money from his horses. The fact that the chil­dren were grow­ing up and needed bet­ter school­ing was an­other con­sid­er­a­tion.

The sta­bles, with staff re­cruited lo­cally, were lo­cated not at the house, but near the cor­ner of Te Mata and Duart Roads. Well-known train­ers Chaffe, and Ewart were em­ployed, and when a news­pa­per cor­re­spon­dent vis­ited Duart for a tour of the sta­bles, he was in­vited for lunch where the ta­ble-talk was all of “horses, horses, horses… even the sauce was horse­rad­ish!”.

Some of Tuki’s most suc­cess­ful horses in­cluded Pa­tri­arch, The Mute, Javelin, King­fisher, Louie and many oth­ers. Their prog­eny were much in de­mand, and McLean, although bad-tem­pered and ar­ro­gant, was a re­spected man in the equine com­mu­nity, do­nat­ing valu­able prizes and giv­ing money (at least once) to char­ity.

Af­ter his death in 1898, all his stock and a large part of the Duart Es­tate were sold off — his sons wanted to be en­gi­neers, not horse­men.

To­day, Duart is owned by Hast­ings District Coun­cil and man­aged by the Duart House So­ci­ety. The house, with func­tion rooms and colo­nial­style museum up­stairs, is open to the pub­lic from 10am un­til noon on the first Sun­day of each month, or by ar­range­ment with the care­taker. The gar­dens, beau­ti­ful all year but espe­cially in spring, are open dur­ing day­light hours.

■ If any read­ers have im­ages of the horses in this ar­ti­cle, or of Al­lan McLean, please con­tact Rose ki­wirose@hot­mail.com

Duart House in the early days.

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