Her enormous traditional bungalow in One Tree Hill with 11 bedrooms and numerous lounges and sitting areas has given Christine van Gisbergen an opportunity to be generous to many less fortunate than herself. "I have been so privileged to live here," she says. She believes the house's good vibes come from its beautiful history of kindness passed from one person to the next.
Christine is not sure of the home's original history. It was built sometime in the late 1920s and a block at the side was added in the 1960s, she says. But in the 1970s Captain Smith bought it for the Assembly Maori Girls Hostel. It was a home for up to 30 Maori girls coming from the country to the city who needed help learning city ways.
A newspaper photograph from 1977 on an upstairs wall shows the Captain and some of the girls sitting in the expansive lounge on the swirling emerald green 1960s Axminster carpet that Christine wouldn't think of replacing.
As the Onehunga retailer steps from the wide entry that she added to make the "old lady" feel more welcoming, she explains, the well-proportioned lower level lounge was until recently the New Zealand office for the Child Rescue charity. Christine was closely associated with the organisation that rescues children caught up in the sex trade in Asian countries.
Since she bought the house 16 years ago for herself and her daughter, she has happily shared it with others, not for making money but for giving back, in line with her Christian principles.
"I have the philosophy, everything that's mine is not my own. You get more value by sharing what you have with other people."
At one stage Christine used the home as a "home away from home for adult students" and had many Chinese, Korean, a Russian doctor and someone from Switzerland staying.
"There were about 12 of us cooking together in the kitchen. I had 16 hobs back then and four or five smaller tables in the large dining room."
Adjacent to the main lounge, the dining room opens off the modernised kitchen serviced by a deck and a large walk-in pantry.
Rather than creating modern bathrooms and ensuites, Christine has retained the original collections of separate bathroom, toilet and laundry facilities upstairs and down. She has maintained them in pristine condition and has never found cleaning such a large area arduous. "When people come to stay, I set up duty rosters for the tasks. It makes them feel as if it's their home," she says.
That's been her main aim. To welcome guests, along the drive she planted cherry blossoms under-planted with rows of spring bulbs, a colourful display that is instantly uplifting. But now it's time to downsize. Christine wants to continue her charitable work — on a slightly smaller scale.
69 MARIRI RD, ONEHUNGA (ONE TREE HILL BORDER)
• 11+ bedrooms, 3+ bathroom, 1 parking spaces.
• Land 1270sq m, house 446sq m.
• Price: CV $2.025 million.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 1-2pm.
• Set date for sale: 4pm, Thurs, Oct 4.
• Schools: Onehunga Primary, Royal Oak Intermediate, Onehunga High School.
• Contact: Sally Dawson 021725590 Chris Moreton 021335021, UP Real Estate, oneroof.co.nz/1191036
*Plus 6-plus OSP