A waterfront farm block on the shores of the country's first marine reserve is for sale for the first time in 155 years.
The block was first settled around 1860 by Angus Matheson, the patriarch of one of Northland's first pioneering families, and is still owned by direct descendants. The land overlooks Goat Island, near Leigh. It features three separate sites, including a three-bedroom farmhouse, with a combined CV of $1.575 million.
Angus' great-grandson, Don Matheson, 72, was born and bred on the land. His family, which included eight siblings, lived in an old homestead that has since been demolished.
"We only got power down to the house and cow shed in about '54. The old homestead survived on candles, a couple of batteries, copper outside boiling up for a bath and a long drop. I tell my grandchildren this and they think I'm a dinosaur."
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The Matheson family owned most of the land on the Leigh Peninsula - breaking in the bush and scrub and converting it into a sheep and beef farm. The nearby village of Leigh was established in 1858, named after missionary the Rev Samuel Leigh.
Angus and his wife Jessie landed at Waipu, just north of Leigh, after sailing from Nova Scotia. With a loaded horse-drawn wagon, the couple travelled south in search of land suitable for Angus to establish his boat-building business. They settled in the uninhabited bay which would eventually bear the Matheson name.
Numerous landmark references on the Leigh Peninsula - including buildings, parks and streets - are named after the family. Over the past 155 years each generation has sold off part of the original Matheson land holding - with the last remaining three sites now up for sale.
Angus and Jessie are believed to have produced 62 grandchildren. Angus' great-grandson, Rodney Matheson, still lives on one of the three sections.
Don Matheson said it was sad to be parting with land which held such strong attachments for the family.
"But the family is getting older and it has to come to an end, I guess. The decision has been made that now is a good time to sever the last links with the land which Angus broke in, and share the proceeds while we're still all young enough to enjoy it."
Bayleys Warkworth agent Kellie Bissett said the three sites overlooked the Leigh Marine Laboratory established in 1964, and the Goat Island Marine Reserve which opened in 1975. The Mathesons sold the marine laboratory land to Auckland University in the 1960s. Covenants ensure neither the beach frontage strip nor Goat Island are built on. The sites include a 3766sq m section with a three-bedroom farm house, a 9922sq m site, and a 3.5ha holding.Tenders close on November 4.