Majestic home steeped in aviation history

By Gemma Hartley

Mill House, which has breathtaking views across the Upper Waitemata Harbour, was valued at $1.69 million in 2014.
Mill House, which has breathtaking views across the Upper Waitemata Harbour, was valued at $1.69 million in 2014.

A historic home steeped in Kiwi aviation history on the former Hobsonville Airbase is up for tender.

Originally built for flight pioneers Doug and Audrey Mill, the majestic 4108sq m clifftop home was valued at $1,690,000 by the council in 2014.

The property features breath-taking views across the Upper Waitemata Harbour, five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a classical country kitchen, an informal breakfast dining area, a formal dining room, two lounges and a sunroom.

Designed by architect George Tole, Mill House is listed in notes on Auckland Council's Hobsonville Walk as having historical importance.

Paul Dixon of Bayleys, who is marketing the property, said the homestead reflected the Mills' standing in Auckland's society.

However, the property would need restoration work to restore it to its full former glory.

"While Mill House is in good condition for its age, it's certainly a restoration project to rejuvenate both the interior and exterior back to its former glory," he said.

"Mill House has been a significant landmark on the shores of the Waitemata Harbour.

"Over the decades it has seen the construction of the Greenhithe bridge, the motorway link, and most recently the redevelopment of the entire Hobsonville Point subdivision."

The Mills were key figures in the foundation of New Zealand's aviation industry, conducting the first aerial survey of the country in 1929, with Doug behind the controls and Audrey leaning over the side of the plane taking photos from the open cockpit.

The dashing couple with a passion for flying operated their air transport and survey business from a hangar at Hobsonville Point between 1927-1937.

They imported the first de Havilland passenger aircraft into New Zealand and assembled Gypsy Moth planes.

As Hobsonville Point grew as a military base, the Government decided in 1937 that it was no longer appropriate for a civilian to be operating an aviation business in the middle of a military installation, nor was it appropriate for a civilian to be living so close to an air force base.

The Mills reluctantly sold their home to the Government.

Towards the end of World War II, Mill House was used as accommodation for the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and nursing sisters with the New Zealand Army.

Hobsonville Airbase ceased operating as a military post in 2001 when ownership was transferred to the state-administered Hobsonville Lane Company.

Mill House has been let as private accommodation over recent years.

Now the building is being marketed for sale by Bayleys through a tender process closing on Thursday, July 7.

- NZ Herald

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