Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Sale of Waipu property closes the book on 150 years of Alison family history

The proposed sale of a colonial Waipu homestead will put an end to the connections one of the town's founding families have to the riverfront property, which was their home for 150 years.
The proposed sale of a colonial Waipu homestead will put an end to the connections one of the town's founding families have to the riverfront property, which was their home for 150 years.

The proposed sale of a colonial Waipu homestead will put an end to the 150-year connection one of the town's founding families has had with the riverfront property.

The 3.05ha lifestyle block with its four-bedroom 1930s bungalow in the small Northland town has been in the Alison family since the town was first settled by Scottish migrants in 1865.

Its first owner, Duncan Alison, was one of several hundred Gaelic farmers who made the sea journey from Scotland and made the tiny town, 121km north of Auckland, his new home.

Great-granddaughter Sharron Sorenson, 68, remembered turning up to the character home many years ago as the scent of baking bread wafted across the stretch of farmland.

"When our nana was alive she used to make the most beautiful bread ... you could smell them from the gate."

Sharron Sorensen with some of the historic ancestral photos that were once on display in the family property which is now up for sale.
Sharron Sorensen with some of the historic ancestral photos that were once on display in the family property which is now up for sale.

Another outstanding memory was catching a 20-pound (9kg today) snapper in the estuary.

"We used to spend holidays out there and weekends out there and my brother and I used to go fishing out in the river."

Sorenson has a lot of other great memories of visiting the home over the years, but said after Duncan Alison's last two direct descendants, "Aunty Alice and Aunty Peggy", passed away, the family weren't able to maintain the house or land.

"The saddest part is it has been part of the family for so long, but we've got to be practical about things you know, you can't live on dreams."

Because neither aunt had children, the estate was being sold and the proceeds were to go to their nieces and nephews.

The property, which had a CV of $120,000 in 1989, had almost quadrupled in value to a CV of $430,000 in 2015.

Homes.co.nz, which provides a range of property data, estimated the property could sell for $585,000 in today's market.

The property, which was once used as a large dairy farm, sits on the outskirts of Waipu, a small town with the population of 1,671 at the last census in 2013.

Despite its size Sorenson said it was the "big boom place" of the North, with a number of subdivisions being developed on the town.

Bayleys real estate agent Fin Higgins, who was marketing the property to be sold through a tender process closing on February 3, said the home would be perfect for someone with a love of history.

He said stepping into the home was like taking a step back in time, with most of the furniture in its original native state and the original brass handles on most doors.

"Outside the back door is the original wash-house complete with concrete basin and the wood-fired copper used to heat up the water.

"It's the sort of thing you only read about in history magazines ... it's the first time I've ever seen a house with this many links to the past."

Included as part of the chattels being sold with the home was an assortment of early-1900 period furniture, including wardrobes, salt storage tins and a deep cast-iron claw-foot bath on the back lawn, and even a 1960s-era gramophone.

Higgins said with the right touch it could become "as good as you'd find anywhere in New Zealand".

"It just needs new owners with vision and passion - but with an eye to the heritage of the past."

- NZ Herald

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