A stand of mature pine trees and a hefty helping of foresight on the part of Norman Reid went on to pay handsome dividends for his future generations.

In the late 1970s, when Norman and his wife Dawn and their four children were farming near Wellsford, Norman chopped down his pine trees. He knew they wouldn't sell for much so he decided he'd be better off using the milled, treated timber for building a new home.

Dawn, now in her late 80s, remembers being unimpressed with her first view here when they went to see a section that their son had told them about.

She refused to get out of the car because the section was so steep, but when her son found a "for sale" sign with an Auckland phone number lying in the waist-high scrub, they decided it was worth following up with a phone call.


"We phoned to see if the people wanted to sell and that was the first inkling I had that I'd be disappointed if they'd said no," she says.

They agreed to sell, and on March 5, 1979, this contoured section that was perfectly suited to a level entry into a double-storey home became the Reid family's project.

Back then, the trip from Wellsford to Mangawhai was on a rough metal road and the neighbourhood was beginning to sprout large houses.

"You can't imagine what it was like, compared with today," she says of the popular community.

Norman and his boat builder son drew up the plans for this house together. Construction began in 1981 and in July 1984 they moved here permanently.

"Norman was much more forward-looking than I was and he knew we would not always be on the farm," says Dawn. "He said 'Well, if you're going to build by the sea then you've got to get a view and just put up with the wind'."

Views and privacy have been equally important to Dawn.

"My only input into the house was that I wanted the kitchen window to be small. I didn't want to look into the neighbours' and that was the best thing I did. I see the sky and the beautiful views of the Southern Cross at night. I love looking out here. I see the moon come up, I know when the tide comes in and I'll run into the conservatory and watch the boats coming in."

This house has been the gravitational centre for Dawn and Norman's four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

She talks of the echo of the children's running feet coming from the basement garage beams that are the pine from Norman's trees.

"It feels as if you were part of it all from the start," she says.

This home is its original form with deck side living, bedrooms and main bathroom upstairs and a shower room, laundry and rumpus room downstairs.

The integrity is in the detail, from the lounge pelmets, kitchen cabinetry and wallpapered bedrooms and bathroom to the interior rimu doors.

A year before his death in 2004, Norman told his wife that he didn't want her to hang onto the house just because he had built it.

But Dawn saw no need to change anything about the house that her sons have kept well-maintained for her.

Now she has settled on a shift down to Tauranga way to be closer to her family. She spotted a retirement complex built in a similar gold brick to her home here and that felt like a good sign.

"I feel quite positive," she says. "It feels familiar."

On the web link