Joe Whitham grew up beside the sea on a farm in the Bay of Plenty. And when he married Raewyn and they started a family, they wanted their children to enjoy what they considered a New Zealand child's birthright — to have a lot to do with the sea.

"We were living in Auckland and decided we would look for a section," says Raewyn.
That search brought them by chance to Hahei. "We saw the Hahei beachfront and it had the wow factor.

"We returned the following weekend and heard that some sections had been opened up at the eastern end of the beach."

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They tracked down the sections' owner and, after a few discussions, bought this section. "We absolutely fell in love with it at first sight."

The family spent many happy years at Hahei."We could sit on the deck and keep an eye on the children on the beach because they were within yelling distance," says Raewyn.

Raewyn and Joe bought the land in November 1970, put a small holiday cottage on it in December 1972, and moved from Auckland to the cottage in February 2002.

"We lived in the cottage until September 2003 when it was moved off to a different site in Hahei to enable our new purpose-built home to be built," says Raewyn.

The home's designer was Fraser Gillies, of Devonport, who specialised in waterfront houses. "Joe told him if he couldn't feel passionate about the site, we would find someone else. But Fraser did feel passionate about the house.

"The design was largely decided by the view, the shape of the section, because they are all long and narrow to give more people beach fronts, and the sun."

They look across the sea to Mahurangi island. "And we are at the end of the cul de sac so we are in a low traffic area."

The home is built of aluminium cladding, cedar beams and chevaline roof. Downstairs has the living and dining rooms, the Bosch-applianced kitchen, a study and bathroom/laundry, and access to the beachside deck or courtyard on the western side.

Two sets of stairs lead upstairs, one to the master bedroom suite and deck, the other to the other en suited bedrooms and a kitchenette.

Heating is provided by an open fireplace and underfloor heating in the kitchen dining room and lounge. Upstairs are panel heaters.

The Whithams chose decor to reflect their coastal surroundings — Resene Tea and Half Tea on the walls, sand-coloured Godfrey Hirst carpet, aqua detailing for walls, fittings and furniture — as almost every room has a view.

One of the two single garages on the property has been converted to a bedroom. Sue Munro, a local landscaper, used mostly succulents that can withstand the sea breezes and sand. Plants include aloes, yuccas, bungalow and ponytail palms, birds of paradise, black mondo grass and red fountain cordylines.

As well as their house being their family base (they have three adult children and eight grandchildren), Joe and Raewyn have also hosted guests.

"We called it a B&B but it was really more upmarket. We enjoyed sharing our house because it was chance that led us to finding the section and we thought why not let other people share it; 95 per cent of our guests were from overseas."

23 WIGMORE CRES, HAHEI
• 3 bedrooms, 4 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 736sq m, house 298sq m.
• Auction: 21 Nov.
• Inspect: By appointment.
• Schools: Whenukite and Mercury Bay.
• Contact: Bev Calder, Bayleys, 027 2794401; Sheree Henderson, 027 662 9558, oneroof.co.nz/1208168