I was introduced last weekend to what initially seemed a quaint but otherwise seemingly innocuous 95-year-old house in Puriri Park Rd in Maunu that was scheduled for demolition.
By the end of the weekend, however, a team of people had unearthed previously unpublished stories and photos of early Whangārei and the important role that the house played.
Local wisdom said the house was built in 1925 but by whom was the question. It turns out in 1917 the land the house sits on and 6 acres (2.4 hectares) was bought by William Hector McBeath, who was a plasterer.
He lived there with his new wife Ada (nee White) and their young baby Lawrence. They lived on the land in two canvas tents (the 1917 black-and-white photos are a treat) and eventually he built a small shack, before building the house.
In 1918 William was sent to London as part of the World War II effort, arriving at its conclusion. While he was there, art deco was popular and being a creative person, he brought some of those themes home with him when he eventually built the house in Maunu in 1925.
Small tile designs can still be seen inlaid into patterns around the outside of the house, although they are now painted over. This may well be some of the earliest art deco influence in Whangārei and certainly Maunu.
Newly discovered photos last weekend show maybe two or three structures in Maunu at the time and nothing obviously on the eastern side of the dirt road other than the tents William and Ada were living in.
It turns that William was no ordinary plasterer - he was actually very good.
Previously unknown journals, now revealed, describe William being asked to plaster Grafton Bridge in Auckland and the façade to the four banks in Bank St, Whangārei.
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His son Lawrence McBeath was also a plasterer of note. He served in World War II and was well known to the local RSA.
Lawrence died in 2012 at Selwyn Home, Maunu, 300m from his family home.
The house became even more interesting because it involved a famous Whangārei war veteran.
I spoke with the president of the Whangārei RSA and asked him who Whangārei's most famous war veteran was. He paused briefly before saying "Lloyd Trigg".
Lloyd Trigg is a Whangārei Boys' High School alumni who is the only service person in World War II to be awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery at the request of the enemy. His picture adorns a wall at Boys' High.
Lloyd's aunt was Ada McBeath, the wife of William who built the original home in 1925, and journals show Lloyd staying at the house many times, including for a year when his parents died.
This inconspicuous 95-year-old house in Maunu had revealed a fascinating story of early Whangārei times including notable plasterers, art deco, iconic Bank St buildings and a famous war veteran. The best part is that the newly revealed journals and photos from William's granddaughter document this story.
Here is what I think. This history may be too precious to be demolished. To that end, Heritage New Zealand is considering a historic listing and we wish them well.
• Dr Shane Reti is the MP for Whangārei.