New era for Avon­lea home­stead

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - MIKEWATSON

Wai­hopai Val­ley his­to­rian Bernie Ma­son has been an ex­plorer and his­tory seeker most of his life.

As a boy liv­ing in the Avon Val­ley he combed old dump­ing sites on his par­ents Avon­dale prop­erty to fos­sick for Vic­to­rian era relics.

He scram­bled through the rub­bish dumps which dot­ted the fam­ily farm, 38 kilo­me­tres south of Blen­heim, un­cov­er­ing trea­sures such as stone and glass bot­tles, and Maori ar­ti­facts.

‘‘Al­though we never knew what we were go­ing to find, there was al­ways some­thing to take our fancy,’’ Bernie says.

‘‘On one oc­ca­sion we found a

‘‘Al­though we never knew what we were go­ing to find, there was al­ways some­thing to take our fancy.’’

com­plete sil­ver din­ner set which had been tossed in the dump, and a cou­ple of Maori adzes.’’

Bernie’s early ad­ven­tures sparked an en­dur­ing quest to learn about the his­tory of the re­gion.

His fam­ily have lived in the Avon Val­ley for 70 years, now Bernie is about to pass on the his­tory of the fam­ily farm to a new care­taker.

Bernie has put the Avon­lea home­stead, which has been used as a hunt­ing lodge and 2.7 hectare life­style block, up for sale.

He built the 350 square me­tre home­stead, af­ter the orig­i­nal Avon­dale Sta­tion build­ing was pulled down by his fa­ther, in the same Vic­to­rian style and qual­ity as the orig­i­nal home­stead.

Bernie milled old man pine, dou­glas fir, macro­carpa, eu­ca­lyp­tus, kanuka, and black po­plar from the farm, and added schist rock walls. The only as­pect of the orig­i­nal house which could not be recre­ated were the maids, but­lers, and chauf­feurs, Bernie says.

The pri­vate and tran­quil lo­ca­tion is set in a coun­try gar- den, with a ma­ture or­chard.

The house has been used as a base for guided hunt­ing trips and farm­stays.

Even though Bernie and his wife Jo are sell­ing they will not be go­ing far as they are only mov­ing 1km away.

His next project is to re­store the re­mains of the orig­i­nal home­stead, and fin­ish a his­tory of the Wai­hopai Val­ley, he says.

PHOTO: SCOTT HAM­MOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Avon Val­ley res­i­dent Bernie Ma­son has a fas­ci­na­tion for the re­gion’s his­tory

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