Homestead a treasure for all to enjoy
Nestled in the heart of Hokowhitu and surrounded by beautifully manicured grounds, lies one of Palmerston North’s foremost event and conference venue - Caccia Birch House. The refurbished homestead has the flexibility to host a number of groups at one time with seven lovely rooms available. The garden is especially popular for wedding parties and birthday functions, where the entire house and gardens are available for guests to enjoy.
Caccia Birch House, overlooking the Hokowhitu Lagoon, is recognised as being a significant landmark in Palmerston North and is listed as a Historic Places Trust Category one property. The government was gifted the property by the Caccia Birch family for use in the war effort, and to walk through the property and grounds now one would be forgiven for thinking that Caccia Birch House had been lovingly cared for throughout its life. However, after a long period of neglect and dereliction during the 70s and 80s the house and grounds were taken over from the Government by Palmerston North City Council. The Preservation Society formed in the late 70s specifically to save the house had succeeded in highlighting the need to save such a significant property – something not everyone agreed upon at the time.
Following the purchase, PNCC set up a Trust Board. Plans to renovate began after the sale of sections on the newly formed Caccia Birch lane along with further fund raising including the Barber Hall Housie group and Lotteries.
Work began in the early 1990s and since then Caccia Birch House has been restored and renovated to her former glory for all to enjoy. This has only been possible through the support of PNCC, and the tireless endeavours of the Caccia Birch Trust raising funds through CET, ECCT, Lion Foundation and Pub Charity during the last 20 years.
The grandeur and historic nature of Caccia Birch House is only part of the story.
Caccia Birch manager Nicky Birch says when Palmerston North City Council took over the property from the government under a deed of trust, their duty was to preserve and protect the house as an historic feature of Palmerston North for use by the whole community.
‘‘When the trust board was formed it was felt that the best way to use this fantastic homestead was as a conference and function centre, which would be available for any one in the community to use. For this reason we try to keep our charges affordable whilst covering the operation costs and upkeep of the house and large gardens.’’
Anybody who hires Caccia Birch House may self-cater their event or utilise in-house services.
‘‘We have many groups who regularly use our facilities where we provide lunch, morning or afternoon tea and this includes regular garden tour groups that visit to enjoy the gardens and hospitality,’’ says Nicky.
‘‘We also like to encourage school groups or fundraising organisations to use the property for public events such as music concerts, art exhibitions or festivals.’’
While conferences and functions play a major role in the day-to-day activities of Caccia Birch, Nicky says that it is also important for the history to be preserved and promoted.
‘‘We are currently heavily involved in collating the documents and photos of the house and surrounding area,’’ says Nicky.
‘‘We have been developing the Coach-House as a visitor centre with all the historical information and this will continue with a new display planned. Whilst we have sourced much ourselves, it’s amazing what visitors will bring in. A lady who worked here as an 18 year old when this was a convalescent home for WW2 veteran nurses, brought in an album full of box brownie photos from her time here. She later attended the display opening with three friends who also worked here during the same period.
‘‘There is so much history from this era tucked away, and it is wonderful when people offer it to us so we can add it to the archives to share, making it available for everyone to see and learn about the history of this area.’’
You really don’t need an excuse to visit Caccia Birch House. The public are welcome to enjoy the magnificent homestead, the gardens and the history, but if you’d like tea and scones, the guided tour and a look back into the history, please give Nicky a call on 06 3575363 and she’ll make the arrangements for you.
After falling into disrepair in the 1970s (insert photo) Caccia Birch house and gardens have been lovingly restored to their former glory.