Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

House in Hunt for the Wilderpeople to get a makeover

The rundown mansion at Hepburn St that appeared in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, is to get a major renovation. Photo / Michael Craig
The rundown mansion at Hepburn St that appeared in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, is to get a major renovation. Photo / Michael Craig

A run-down Freemans Bay mansion valued at $3.25 million that featured in Hunt for the Wilderpeople is set for a major makeover.

Consent has been granted to relocate the 1880s Victorian architectural gem on the property, allowing for a single-level addition. Consent to subdivide the land, and for a new family home is pending.

The house featured in Taika Waititi's Hunt for the Wilderpeople as the home Uncle Hec, played by Sam Neill, stayed at towards the end of the film.

Owner Simon Dunlop said the plan was to move in with his wife, Saffron Dunlop, and young boy, now 20 months old, once it was built.

"I've lived in the surrounding area for the past 15years. It's a house I've always admired and it's obviously got some architectural significance."

The once-glorious stately home has been a long-standing presence on Auckland's Hepburn St.

For decades it served as a home for young Maori women, before it was put up for sale in 2014 over mounting maintenance costs.

The years have taken their toll on the house's architectural facade, which now looks worn, its paint peeling and faded.

The interior of the home, which boasts many original character features, including a grand staircase, fireplaces, entry foyer, timber floors and high ceilings, also needs major renovation.

Dunlop said the plan was to give the whole place a facelift once all the consents were approved.

"We are restoring it," he said. "We want to retain the heritage of the area."

Despite its tired-looking architectural character, the mansion made a cameo appearance in Taika Waititi's film Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Dunlop believed the shooting, early last year, only took an afternoon.
Because the house is zoned Residential 1, resource consent is required for any demolition work on the site or other significant renovations for the former United Maori Mission hostel, which sold in 2014 for $3.4m - $150,000 above its CV of $3.25m.

Documents obtained from Auckland Council showed consent has been given for a 1.8m road boundary fence, made of stone and iron, to be built along the 1246sq m site.

Consents for the house to be moved on the property and for a single-level addition to be built to the east of the relocated house have also been given the go-ahead.

But resource consents were still pending for the land to be subdivided and for the new family home to be built.

"From the street it will look like a historic villa," he said. "We love villas and we love the area because of that."

The proposed new three-storey villa, designed by Jason Bailey architects, has a loft bedroom in the roof space, and a basement entirely underground.

The main level will feature a garage to the front, a small lounge and service areas, two bedrooms and gallery space for Dunlop's art collection.

- NZ Herald

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