Since Robin and Bill Kermode made the difficult decision to put their magnificent Epsom home up for sale, they've discovered a treasure trove of information about its history, long before their own 24 years in residence.

"It was originally built for the Uptons, who were hardware manufacturers," says Robin. "It was part of the St Leonards Estate."

She understands it stayed in that family until 1969, when it was sold to rugby legend Sir Wilson Whineray.

He had just returned from studying for an MBA at Harvard and was about to launch into a successful post-All Blacks career in the business world. He and his wife owned it for 18 years.


The Kermodes' three children attended local schools, including Auckland Grammar and Epsom Girls Grammar.

Robin says though she and Bill have introduced some modern elements most of the rimu and cedar interior is original, yet still looks practically new.

23 Cedar Rd, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
23 Cedar Rd, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

She especially loves the cedar panelling in the formal lounge, with its open fireplace and hidden access to a special "secret" room beyond.

The elegant staircase with intricately carved banisters is another of Robin's favourite features.

"People have asked me if I'd ever thought of painting all the woodwork but I would never dream of doing that because it's just beautiful as it is."

The huge kitchen, dining and family room is also on the ground floor, facing the sun. With its high ceilings and warm wooden floors it's a lovely room.

French doors open to the terrace with the pool beyond, and a large green Astroturf area offers a number of possibilities.

There are five bedrooms with one on the ground floor — a peaceful, serene space, and three upstairs.

23 Cedar Rd, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
23 Cedar Rd, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Robin and Bill's two sons shared a large sunny bedroom while their daughter's room is smaller — with a cute study nook.

The master suite has its own bathroom and two large wardrobes. It too has a very tranquil atmosphere.

Because of its size the house has proved very versatile. "We used to host post-ball and post-school-production parties and it was great having so much room," says Robin, who put on a seated dinner party here for her 50th birthday, a few years ago, with 80 guests.

"It could easily have been 100, if we'd had tables on the terrace as well."

With their children being music-mad, Robin and Bill decided to turn a basement space into a studio. One of the boys was a drummer so it needed to be soundproof and this was achieved by having double thickness doors. It has its own bathroom, plus a kitchenette and is fully self-contained, with a fold-down bed.

23 Cedar Rd, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
23 Cedar Rd, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Robin says it was the live-in gardener's quarters back in the 1930s.

These days the garden is easy care and at the rear is another surprise feature: a practice putting green for golfers.

With their family having long left the nest, the Kermodes are finding the property a little large and are going to try a downsized lifestyle.

Robin has recently put a lot of time and effort into making sure that every little detail is perfect because she and Bill are rightfully very proud of the property.

"We've taken great care of it — always respecting its history, and the time's come for it to move into a new stage, with a new family."

• 5 bedrooms, 4 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Floor: 343sq m, land 1502sq m.
• Auction: Weds 10 April, (unless sold prior).
• Inspect: Sat/Sun, noon to 12.30pm, or by appointment.
• Schools: Epsom Normal School, ANI, AGS, EGGS.
• Contact: Cathy Roselli, Ray White, 021 750 454.
*Plus 2 OSP