Matapouri: A piece of history

By Estelle Sarney

A handful of covetable sections on the Northland coast come from a family farm with a fascinating history.

The Dunes, Matapouri.

The Ringer family may have created a small subdivision at idyllic Matapouri beach in Northland, but there's one piece of their land they'll never part with.

It's a grassy knoll holding one of two houses left on their remaining 22ha of land. It's right on the beach, in front of the subdivision.

"We still get up there as often we can," says John Ringer. "And it's just to relax - we don't have to work the farm anymore."

The farm has been in John's family since 1912, when it was bought as a 40ha property by his grandparents, Jock and Molly Morrison. They ran sheep on it, in the days when scows would pull into Matapouri Bay or nearby Whale Bay to deliver supplies and take out wool. A road to the bay was built during the depression, but electricity didn't reach the area until the 1940s.

John's father, Bob Ringer, arrived as a young schoolteacher and boarded with the Morrisons. He married Jock and Molly's daughter Mary, and John was one of their four children. John grew up largely on the farm, which switched to dairy in the 1950s, and went on to run it with beef cattle, flowers and veges until changes in New Zealand's agricultural fortunes made it uneconomic.

He now lives in Auckland and runs a computer programming business.

The 2.5ha subdivision is named after the house on the Matapouri beachfront which was built for the Ringer family's great-grandparents, William (Bill) and Ruby Coates, in the early 1940s. There were originally 19 sections, now 12 remain. A private walkway allows each section access to the safe swimming beach, and other beaches within walking distance include Whale Bay, Pebbly Bay and Cabbage Tree Bay. Woolleys Bay and the popular surf beach, Sandy Bay, are a few minutes drive away.

For boaties, there is a 220-berth marina at nearby Tutukaka. Off the coast is some of the best diving and fishing in the world. Whangarei is only 30 minutes away. Matapouri is a small community with a general store and post office. About 200 people live in the area, the rest of the houses are holiday homes.

This is the kind of place where Aucklanders go to holiday, then decide to make a massive lifestyle change and move there to live. John Ringer might have done things the other way around, but he can understand why those city folk fall in love with the place.

Vital Statistics

SIZE: 12 sections varying in size from 648sq m to 1101sq m.

PRICE INDICATION: Upwards of $350,000. Auction November 26.

INSPECT: Agent on site Sat/Sun 1-3pm.

CONTACT: Julie Pepper, Ray White, ph 09 470 2222, 021 854 406.

FEATURES: Flat sections with access to the beach by private walkway. Power and phone lines supplied, ducting for future broadband cabling provided. Reticulated sewerage. Water tank installation or bore drilling will be required. Tar sealed roads. Minimal covenants.

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