Bright eyed and Bushy Park

Lit­tle touches make Bushy Park a home

Whanganui Chronicle - - Front Page - Jesse King [email protected]­i­

It’s all about the lit­tle things you can do to make a place feel like home, says Dale Pullen, the lat­est cus­to­dian to take on the Bushy Park Home­stead.

Pullen has hung ev­ery pic­ture on the right hook and placed ev­ery piece of fur­ni­ture in the right place in the build­ing 9km from Kai Iwi.

He has been there for over three months and is run­ning the home­stead as a home­s­tay, func­tions and events cen­tre.

Pullen says he wants to make the in­side of the build­ing as good as the out­side fol­low­ing ren­o­va­tions made by Shane Stone Builders.

“I want to make it a very homely en­vi­ron­ment so when peo­ple come to stay, it’s warm, it’s wel­com­ing and it’s their home while they are here.

“It’s about the aes­thetic and lit­tle things like putting cush­ions along the win­dows so peo­ple can sit down or putting fresh flow­ers from the gar­den in­side the rooms.”

Pullen has been do­ing this type of work all his life. He is a mil­i­tary stew­ard by trade and spent 19 years be­tween the army and the air force.

For 10 years he was the house man­ager at the Royal Welling­ton Golf Club and for the past five years he man­aged the Sword­fish Club in the Bay of Is­lands.

Pullen says it was the large amount of tourism that drove him south from the bay and down near Whanganui.

“I couldn’t take the huge vol­umes of peo­ple. I re­ally en­joy tourism, but I like to be able to give things a per­sonal touch and I couldn’t do that there any­more,” he says.

“As soon as I came up the drive­way and saw the house here, I just fell in love with it. It’s a mag­i­cal place. I’m priv­i­leged to be the cus­to­dian here.”

As well as the homely vibe, the home­stead has a real fam­ily fo­cus.

Graeme Pullen is Dale’s brother. He is an army-trained chef who used to be the ex­ec­u­tive chef for Malaysia Air­lines and is now the head cook at the home­stead.

“He does a Kiwi and Asian fu­sion-style of cook­ing and he can be quite clas­si­cal as well,” Pullen says.

“A stan­dard meal would be a main and a dessert, but I can do any for­mal oc­ca­sion that can in­clude up to seven cour­ses.”

Graeme is also aided by Dale’s son Nick. The two of them work four days a week and of­ten help Pullen out un­til he is set­tled in his work be­fore de­part­ing.

Pullen en­cour­ages peo­ple to get to­gether at the home­stead, with a rou­tine of drinks at 6.30 and din­ner in the din­ing room with a ca­pac­ity of 16 at 7pm.

Frank Moore com­mis­sioned C. Til­leard Na­tusch to de­sign the Bushy Park Home­stead and it was com­pleted in 1906. Moore was the sole sur­vivor of his fam­ily, who all died be­tween 1891 and 1902.

The Bushy Park farm was orig­i­nally founded by James Moore and his fu­ture brother-in-law James Cur­rie in 1865, a part­ner­ship which ended in the 1880s.

It is that older style of the home and the rich his­tory that made the spot so ap­peal­ing to Pullen, but it wasn’t with­out its wor­ries.

“I don’t think I would have taken the busi­ness on had the work not been done be­cause it was in a pretty rough state,” Pullen says.

“It was very cold, the man­ager’s bed­room — you couldn’t live in it. The win­dows were com­pletely rot­ten, the glass was bro­ken and fall­ing out.”

That was just one of the problems that the Bushy Park Trust had iden­ti­fied as far back as two years ago and had been sourc­ing fund­ing for.

Board mem­ber and pro­ject man­ager Wilf Em­mett says the build­ing had been in a bad state.

“The roof slumped very bad in the Kaik­oura earth­quake, a lot of the flash­ings at the chim­neys were miss­ing and it leaked. You had to give the clients rain­coats.

“They had to re­move the roof, take all the tiles off and put the iron on. We had to com­pletely scaf­fold the build­ing, it cost a for­tune.”

Whanganui Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion, Eleanor Burgess Trust, Four Re­gions Trust, Lot­tery Grants Board and Whanganui Her­itage Trust pro­vided $500,000 worth of fund­ing for the work which is on­go­ing.

The home­stead is be­ing made wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble, hav­ing a rot­ten win­dowframe re­moved from R and E Tingey’s de­sign and the bath­room is be­ing re­designed.

The last time it had any work done on it was when a team of vol­un­teers un­der­took tasks such as paint­ing the build­ing over a three-year pe­riod in 1992.

The trusts also con­trib­uted to a fur­ther $270,000 which has been raised to up­grade the sta­bles and con­vert them into an in­ter­pre­ta­tion area.

“It’s like a mu­seum re­ally, it will give vis­i­tors all the his­tory, fore­sight into the forests and birds,” Em­mett says.

“It will help peo­ple to un­der­stand what the for­est is all about be­fore they go and visit it.”

The area is set to fea­ture in­ter­ac­tive tele­vi­sion screens and one of the first en­gines in the area used to run a power plant.

Shane Stone Builders’ work is hoped to be com­pleted by April 2019.


Dale Pullen is the new cus­to­dian of the Bushy Park Home­stead. He wants to make it warm and wel­com­ing for vis­i­tors.

The home­stead has been un­der­go­ing roof re­pairs due to dam­age caused by the Kaik­oura earth­quake and will be made more wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble.Wilf Em­mett stand­ing in­side one of the old sta­bles which is set to be­come an in­ter­pre­ta­tion area.

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