Kathy Green's kauri villa on Devonport's waterfront parade has a storied past — about bears.

There's no mention of Goldilocks or bowls of porridge but a plaque on the front of the house tells another story. "The plaque 'Forebears' is a reference to the bears," says Kathy.

"Back in the 1880s, I'm told that the owners kept bears — real, live furry bears — in the garden and people used to come over on the ferry to see them.

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"In the 1930s and 40s the big house was chopped into four flats. By the time I bought it, it was just the main house and one flat that my mother could live in."

That was 15 years ago. Kathy was used to old villas, having lived in Grey Lynn. But, despite a long family association with the navy, she'd not considered Devonport — until she had an epiphany in a Devonport park.

"I sat with my back against the tree, and thought this is it. I enquired about property, and here this was."

Now she's an evangelist for the lifestyle in the seaside suburb — the village, the parks, shops and coffee places, the art and culture.

And, of course, there's the pleasure of watching the busy harbour from her kitchen and living rooms, something Kathy and her guests never tire of.

When Kathy and her former partner moved in, the original kitchen was a mess, so they set about building an entertainer's kitchen, with dark-stained timber, stainless steel benches, and a dining table with views.

The whole house has been insulated, new windows at the front and side have double glazing and there's infinity gas heating and heating panels in the bedroom, plus a full security system.

The living room is everyone's favourite — it has a wood burner, and offers reflections of city lights on the harbour at night.

The high ceilings and generous wall spaces have been perfect for Kathy's extensive collection of modern New Zealand art. There are two generous double bedrooms, each with bay windows and original leadlights.

The master en suite bathroom has a soaking tub as well as a shower; the second bedroom has a smaller shower.

The wide hallways have made room for a wine cellar and a double wine chiller, as well as storage closets and a laundry.

Informal living is at the back of the house, where a covered deck leads to the garden. Kathy has carved the yard into several zones, landscaped mostly with easy-care hibiscus, queen palms and bromeliads that thrive in the sub-tropical micro climate.

Glass doors slide from the family sitting room to the terrace, perfect for summer. What was a once a shed is now an office, complete with a covered porch for the barbecue.

A couple of steel and stone sculptures — one a water feature — keep guard over the dining patio. Tucked around the back are more storage sheds, raised vege beds and a utility area for the compost bins. An automated irrigation system makes maintenance a breeze.

The one-bedroom flat, complete with a small kitchen and smart bathroom, has views to the city. With firewall, separate door and its own meter, it can be let out.

17 QUEENS PARADE, DEVONPORT
• 3 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 1* parking spaces.
• House 190sq m, Land 531sq m.
• Price: Similar waterfront houses have sold for more than $3 million.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 1-2pm.
• Deadline treaty: August 28, 4pm (unless sold prior).
• Schools: Devonport Primary, Belmont Intermediate, Takapuna Grammar.
• Contact: Peter Restall, Harcourts, 021 808 808, harcourts.co.nz/DP9856