Naumai House is on the market again. The Category 2 Heritage listed home was built around 1914 by William Kirk and was last sold in 2018.
Currently situated on a private lane, 1 Winslow Place (off Winchester St), this is in what was the original Suburban Block 48, according to Heritage Horowhenua.
"This was a block of 10 acres purchased (at auction) by John O'Connell for 40 pounds on 4 March 1892.
"It went through several hands including W Salmons, D Smart, F O Smart. Joseph P Smith had 7 acres of it from 1920 to 1925.
"William James Kirk had 2.2 acres from 1914 to 1918. The 2.2 acres was then purchased by John Kebbell.
"According to his grandson Graham, John Kebbell lost all heart in Te Rauawa following his son's death at Gallipoli. In 1920, the estate was broken up into 11 blocks and auctioned on 15 June on the account of F.S. Easton. Initially, five were sold and six passed in, their reserves having not been met.
"John and Mary moved into Levin, purchasing from the Kirk family a grand villa at 74 Winchester St, with a workshop in the yard and surrounded by substantial grounds with some fine trees.
"It was named Naumai, and still stands today. An extensive and colourful garden, well maintained, was for many years one of Levin's show places. It's now entirely surrounded by new smaller homes lining Winslow Place which was built on the homestead's southern side.
"Winslow place is a derivation of the name of the street. According to developer Murray Low it was named by Sue Walsh who liked Rattigan's play The Winslow Boy as well as being a play on the words Win (from Winchester St) and Low (the developer)."
Sales records show the house was sold in 1998, 2003, and then in 2017. The house has been renovated, with a new kitchen installed in 2010.
The house has been listed with Heritage New Zealand since September 5, 1985 because of its architectural significance.
Naumai House represents "transitional residential design of the type that bridged the closing period of villa architecture and the approaching one heavily influenced by the California bungalow and, to a lesser extent, the English cottage.
"The steeply pitched roofs and half-timbering solidly places Naumai in the latter category and the house and its once far more extensive garden also have some historical significance as the frequent setting of social gatherings of note in the community.
"Levin was one of a string of towns founded along the Wellington and Manawatū Railway line, completed in 1886. The sale of town sections to Pākehā settlers began in 1889. Its early prosperity was based mainly in agricultural products, while later this industry was also joined by successful businesses in manufacturing.
"The house known later as Naumai was built on a spacious section in Winchester St circa 1914. The property was owned by William James Kirk and it is assumed that he constructed the house, which can be architecturally described as a 'transitional' design.
"By the time the house was built, the sustained popularity of villas, the mainstay domestic form of the Victorian and Edwardian periods, had effectively ended. In their place were houses influenced by the California bungalow and the English cottage, the latter of which seems to be the inspiration for this house, having steeply pitched roofs and simplified gable half-timbering.
"The Kirks did not occupy the house for long as it was sold in 1919 to John and Mary Grace Kebbell, prominent Ōhau farmers who relocated to Levin after selling their farm 'Te Rauawa' in 1918.
"It is not presently known whether the Kirks also called the house 'Naumai', which means 'welcome', however as early as June 1919 the moniker was in use by the Kebbells.
The Kebbells made alterations and expanded the house, possibly in two stages in 1928 and again in 1931-32, which might have resulted in the loss of an original porch, and also added a garage around the same time.
"During its ownership by the senior Kebbells and, subsequently, by their daughter Marjorie Kebbell Kirkcaldie, Naumai became associated with hospitality and sociability, in particular garden parties held on its expansive grounds.
"In 1971 the property was sold to Roderick McKenzie, a Levin builder, and his wife and under their ownership they subdivided the property.
"The McKenzies created four sections fronting onto Winchester St (two to either side of the new drive accessing the historic house and garden) and built two pairs of flats.
"Most of the remainder of the garden acreage was subdivided further by subsequent owners, with a new street, Winslow Place, created to access the now interior sections.
"Naumai retains the exterior character-defining features of the transitional English cottage house; however, the interior has been subject to much alteration.
"The most recent changes occurred around 2012, reconfiguring rooms at the back of the house."
Property Brokers' Murray Doreen is marketing the house and said, "The current owner fell in love with the property on her first viewing. She was searching for a home her parents, who had settled from China, could move to as they were in their advanced years and spoke limited English. The owner admits the decision to buy Naumai was a case of her 'heart over-ruling her head'. "
The 270sqm homestead, sited on almost half an acre (0.2ha) of landscaped grounds, proved to be rather daunting for her parents so they never took up residence.
It is now three years since the home changed hands and while the owner would love to keep this piece of New Zealand history in the family, her own work commitments make it unrealistic.
An ancient tapestry fills almost the full length of a wall in the grand hallway, it came with the house and the owner wants it to remain with the house.
With a new roof, and exterior paint, Naumai is now going to enter the next phase in its' long history when the deadline sale concludes on 23 September 2021.
The property is being marketed by Murray Doreen from Property Brokers, Levin. The final open home is on Sunday, September 19 at 1pm.