Fyffe House – Wai O Puka

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Overview

Maori had been hunting the Southern Right Whale more than 600 years prior to the arrival of the Europeans. 1792 saw many whalers and sealers from Scotland come to New Zealand to visit and then eventually settle here, as the area was found to be abundant with whale life. The Europeans used the rendered down blubber from the whales as fuel for lamps and as a lubricant. Robert Fyffe’s first visit to New Zealand came in 1836. And by 1842 Robert Fyfe had established the Whaling Station at Kaikoura, which was built on the foundations of whale vertebrae the home was to be of significant cultural importance. There was fresh water, a sandy beach, access for launching whaleboats, flat rocks for flenching of the whales and the high hills of the peninsula as an observation platform. A two roomed wing was the original building built for Robert’s Cooper (a cask builder; of which casks were used to store whale oil in) at Fyffe House. After the death of Robert, George Fyffe, Robert’s cousin took over the running of the station and added to Fyffe House by adding on in two stages. George married Catherine in the early 1860’s and during this time Fyffe House was excavated resulting in the two storey wing being built. A human skeleton, axes, and the largest Moa egg ever discovered in New Zealand were found during the excavation. The Moa’s egg measured at 30.5 centimetres and is held at the Museum of New Zealand/Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington. Joseph Wilkinson Goodall, the district constable transferred to Kaikoura in 1865. Joseph and his wife bought Fyffe House and the surrounding property. It is believed that the couple established the flower garden, enclosed the verandah and wallpapered the home for the very first time. Fyffe House then went on to belong to James Johnston in 1920, and shortly after in 1922 James gave the house to James Johnston Jnr. Jimmy Johnston sold the house to Joseph Soutar in 1935, and left the house to his Aunt Maud Low (known as Granny Low) in 1943. By 1951 Maud left Fyffe House to her youngest son, George Low. By 1980 Fyffe House had been bequeathed by George Low to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
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Location & Maps

62 Avoca Street, Kaikoura, Canterbury, New Zealand (Direction)

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