Greytown Heritage Trust byline


Site of former Maxton's Store

1875 STORE

Greytown Sign Trail at 143 Main St Greytown
Greytown Sign Trail
Greytown Sign Trail

Samuel and Henrietta Maxton arrived in Wellington from England in February 1842. It appears that Samuel went into business partnership when he arrived with Charles Elmslie as Maxton and Elmslie, Bakers, Pipetea. However the partnership was short lived; New Zealand Colonist and Port Nicholson Advertiser advertised its dissolution, by mutual consent, in November 1842. For the next 30 years or so he ran a bakery on Lambton Quay.


Susannah Maxton's brother William Thomas Dunn bought what is now 143 Main St from Thomas Kempton in March 1874 and set up a bakers and confectioners business. In 1875 Samuel and Susannah and their children came across the Remutaka range to settle in Greytown, and took over William's business.


The photographs indicate the family probably lived in accommodation attached to the back of the shop. After Samuel's death in 1884, Susannah continued to run the business under the name S.M. Maxton & Sons, Produce and General Merchants, Wholesale & Retail. She was assisted in the store by her son Walter.


According to advertisements in local papers S.M. Maxton & Son also carried Boston watches in 1887, and in 1891 were selling Strohmenger pianos. Note that the address for 143 Main Street in 1886 was The Bridge, Main Street, Greytown.


On 11 May 1893, at around 3 am, fire destroyed the general store, bakery and dwelling-house. The fire appears to have started in the kitchen between the bakery and the shop. A quantity of goods and furniture was saved, thanks to the zeal of the Greytown Fire Brigade. Susannah's home was replaced by the current house, built in 1894-95.


Susannah died in 1916, aged 89 years. An obituary appeared in the Dominion of 5 April 1916 entitled  A NEW ZEALAND PIONEER (right).


At the time of its sale in 2017 the house at 143 Main Street was called 'Scarlet Oak Cottage'.


All photos courtesy of Wairarapa Archive.

Wairarapa Standard
20 May 1875

Wairarapa Standard 3 Dec 1884

Evening Post
11 May 1893


THE BRIDGE, Main Street, Greytown.


TEA. 75 boxes to be sold 15s;   50 ditto 21s 6d,   50 ditto 25s,   25 ditto 28s 6d,   25 ditto 80s.


SUGAR. 1 ton I.C., 401b bags, lls 6d.   1 ton I.W., 12s 6d.   5 cwt C., 10s.

CANDLES. 100 boxes Pyramid, 12s 6d.  50 boxes Wax, fluted, 19s 6d

CLOTHING AND DRAPERY AT THE Lowest Possible Prices, For Cash.

THE BAKING & CONFECTIONERY BRANCH of our Business is unsurpassed in the Provincial District.


We make WEDDING & NATAL CAKES a speciality. We also make BROWN BREAD, a speciality. Dr Gilbert declares it to be in every respect excellent, vide STANDARD of the 13th August, 1886


We are Purchasers of FARM AND DAIRY PRODUCE And give the Highest Market Price.

We have also in Stock -Oats, Chaff, Pollard, Bran, Wheat, Oatmeal, Potatoes and Flour.



THE BRIDGE, Main Street, Greytown.

Wairarapa Standard, Volume XIX,
Issue 2006, 17 December 1886

Site of former Maxton's Store

163 MAIN ST –



Thomas Kempton's home is featured on the Greytown Sign Trail
Mary Ann Kempton's home is featured on the Greytown Sign Trail

Searching through the Papers Past website reveals no report of a fire in c.1860 (SWDC date) or a fire related to a child's candle in 1872. However the Wellington Independent newspaper reported on a fire in 1872 that may be the fire of the 163 Main Street house (24th December 1872, p.2): "… A house belonging to Mr T. Kempton, sen., Greytown, had a narrow escape from being burnt down on Sunday. Some long grass around it took fire in some mysterious manner. By great exertions the house was saved. Householders would do well to cut and remove to a distance all grass and other materials of a combustible nature. By doing so they will lessen materially the danger from external fires."

Greytown Sign Trail at 143 Main St Greytown

Left: Kempton’s House photo supplied by Deidre and John Ellims. Probably taken before 1889 when Thomas Kempton, senior died. Note the glass-house on the north side of the house, and what appears to be the stable on the south side.

In 1856, the redoubtable Samuel Oates (below right) made the perilous trek from Wellington to the Wairarapa pushing a wheelbarrow. He was heading for a new farm at Parkvale that he had acquired through Carterton's founder, Charles Rooking Carter. It was a total distance of about 100 km. On the hill, he encounted a man recorded simply as Fairweather  (but possibly Richard Fairbrother, who later established a store in Carterton). They made the rest of the trip together.


Samuel was a big, strong man, quite used to the land construction work he had been doing in Wellington. Even so, the push across the Remutakas would have been brutal – it was still three months before a track was opened to carts. Most of the remaining approximately 10 km was a dangerously steep mountain path that usually only bullocks in the bush could negotiate. Richard (if it was him) helped to push through the treacherous terrain.


Famously, Samuel had among his load of goods a dozen gum tree seedlings that were to be planted there; three of the seedlings were stolen from the wheelbarrow on Charles Carter's land. The story has it that after Samuel and his companion emerged on the Wairarapa side of the ranges, they rested at the Rising Sun Hotel in Greytown.


While there, three seedlings were stolen from the wheelbarrow. Samuel carried on to Parkvale and planted the gum trees, but found that three were missing. Not easily concealed once they became mature, they grew prominently in Greytown.


A tree that grew to an enormous size on West Street was cut down in February 1939. Another on East Street was felled in the 1960's. The trees planted on Charles Carter's land had been cut down when Carter's line was widened – which left one of the three famous Greytown trees. It was planted about 1860 (after being hidden in a Greytown garden) at St Luke's Anglican Church on the main road in Greytown. It is now more than 160 years old and continues to flourish. As for Samuel Oates, he settled down with his wife Jane and their family on the Parkvale farm. He died in August 1892 at Alfredton, and was buried next to Jane in the family cemetery overlooking the old Peach Grove homestead.


Written by Ian Carson, ID Media Ltd

Site of former Maxton's Store


Samuel Oates

Beard House on 126 Main St



The building known as the Beard Building was constructed for Mr W. G. Beard, a solicitor, who set up practice in Greytown in 1874. In 1881 the owner was Mrs Webster and it contained the office of A. Webster, Commission Agent. Between 1882 and 1892 it also served as the Borough Council Chambers. In 1886 Mr R. W. Tate, solicitor, bought both the building and W. G. Beard's practice. It remains a legal premises to this day. Mr W G Beard is regarded as the founder of the present legal firm that occupies the premises. Mr A Webster was Town Clerk in 1881. In 1892 the Borough Council Chambers moved from the Beard Building to the Wairarapa Institute Building.


New Zealand born Mr Robert Ward Tate, as well as having his own legal practice, was acting manager of the Permanent Investment and Loan Society in 1902. In 1890 he was a member of the Licensing Committee of Greytown and in 1912 was Borough Solicitor for Greytown. He also acted for the Small Farms Association, The Greytown Trust Lands Trust, The Waiohine River Board and was solicitor for many early settler families, whose descendants still have WCM Legal as their lawyers today. He was Worshipful Master at the Greytown Lodge of Freemasons for a time, and President of the Greytown Beautifying Society, founded in 1935.

Greytown Heritage Sign Walk, Colonel R W Tate

Colonel R W Tate

Adjutant-General to the Forces

He is thought to be responsible for a small group of trees planted at 19 Jellicoe St (previously Great Frederick St) and also for exotic trees planted at Tate's orchard in Mole St. He served in WW1 and was deemed a hero. He attained the rank of Colonel and was awarded the CMG and CBE. From 1919 to 1923 Colonel Robert Ward Tate, local solicitor and the son of a founder Greytown family, was NZ Administrator in post-war Western Samoa. He gifted the R. W. Tate Memorial Scenic Reserve to the town.

Mr Izard, one time Mayor of Greytown, was his partner in the legal business.

Beard House on 126 Main St




By Don Knight


Back in the late 60`s & 70`s the 1900 Greytown residents were administered by a Borough Council, had a Post Office,  police constable and traffic officer, a permanent BNZ and ANZ staff visiting from Featherston twice a week, a library, three pubs , the Working Men’s club, the Trust Lands Trust, Bouzaid & Ballaben, who were making underwear years before  Coronation Street , several orchards,  and plenty of  locally grown tomatoes and berry fruits.


Apart from the support of the Greytown Trust Lands Trust, the other avid  benefactor of those years was Stella Bull, a small bundle of endless energy who was President of the Greytown Beautifying Society and a member of both the Royal Forest and the Bird Society of NZ. It is significant that up to the date of her premature death in 1972, Stella had a major role, whether it was financial or just plain hard work, in all three and that major role is one of the reasons that I am so belatedly passionate about revisiting a Jaycee resolution of that year to have her contribution to “Cobblestones” recognised. In 1969 the Tully property had been subdivided into a house and stables lot, and a further seven sections, two facing Main Street and five East Street.


I was the office person at Solicitors Thompson Tate and Cullinane and Stella was a frequent visitor to the office mainly to talk about Greytown matters with Jack Tate. During one of those visits I spoke to her about the historical significance of the Tully property and how it could possibly be acquired and developed for the benefit of Greytown. We walked down to 169 Main Street and after looking at the prominence of the stable and yard we immediately thought of the name “Cobblestones”.

South Main St, Greytown Heritage Walk

A proposal was then put to the Greytown Jaycees on the basis that it could only go ahead with the security of financial support from the Greytown Trust Lands Trust. Subsequently from October 1969 to February 1970 there were many discussions with the Trust Lands and at their meeting on 11.3.70 I presented the Trust with a report outlining the purchase and development of the property, and planned Jaycee fund-raising activities. The total purchase price was $11,300 and the suggestion was that Jaycees purchase the house lot for $6,800, and the Trust the seven sections for $4,500. The Trust then resolved to purchase the sec-tions and lease them to the Jaycees for an Annual rental of $225. The pur-chase was settled on 15 May 1970 and “Cobblestones” became a reality.

Beard House on 126 Main St



Frank Fyfe & Wakelin House

Written by Gareth Winter


Frank Fyfe was an Australian-born polymath – he had wide interests in music and history.  As well as being a noted folk singer and folklorist, he was very interested in journalism, printing and newspapers.

When he came to Greytown in the 1970s, living first in West Street, he was delighted to find connections to Richard Wakelin, one of New Zealand’s pioneer newspaper men, editor of a number of Wellington newspapers, and proprietor of the Wairarapa Standard.


Fyfe wrote a number of articles about Wakelin, including a booklet he called Richard Wakelin – the Father of Journalism. He must have been delighted when he searched the title of the house he later bought in Main Street and found there was a connection to the Wakelin family.  He called his property ‘Wakelin House’, a name now used by the restaurant that occupies the site.


Ironically, the Wakelin family never had a house on the site.  There is a connection to the family, but it is not to the journalist and editor Richard Wakelin, but to his older brother, the carpenter Thomas. Both were the children of the Warwickshire-born Joseph Wakelin and his wife Mary. Their paternal grandmother was Sarah Shakespeare, reputedly a relative of William Shakespeare.  Perhaps she was the wellspring of Richard’s literary interests. Other members of the family were renowned artists and wood carvers.


Thomas was born at Barnacle Hall, near Coventry, and was described as a widower when he married Jane Miles in 1845. They had one child, the first of their three daughters, when they arrived in Wellington in 1849. Both Thomas and Richard Wakelin moved over to Greytown, where Thomas was a member of the Small Farms Association.  He drew the one acre town section 53 (where Wakelin House stands) and the 40-acre rural section 19, between Wood and Humphries streets. He was responsible for some of Greytown’s earliest buildings, including the first school.


Unfortunately he was not to live very long in Greytown – he died aged only 51, in November 1863. Jane outlived him for nearly 30 years, dying in 1891, about the same time that the current house was built.

Shortly before Thomas died he sold his land in Main Street, and after a number of transactions it ended up in the possession of Richard Bright junior, who bought it in 1890. The following year he sold it to Elizabeth Brunton, the wife of William Brunton and the Bruntons built the house that is now known as Wakelin House.

Richard Wakelin

Elizabeth was the eldest daughter and one of 15 children of early Greytown farmer John Judd and his wife Catherine Thomas.  She was born in Greytown in 1862 and married William Brunton in 1891, that year she bought the Main Street property.


William was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1868 and came to New Zealand as a five-year-old with his parents, William and Isabella, arriving in Canterbury on the ‘Canterbury’ in 1874.  On Greytown electoral rolls Greytown he is listed as a saddler, staying there until shortly before World War One, when he and Elizabeth moved to Rongomai, near Eketahuna, where he was a farmer.  Together, William and Elizabeth had 11 children. The family later shifted to the Whangaehu district near Masterton, where William was still farming in 1934 when he died. Elizabeth died in 1949.


Greytown historian Malcolm Sutherland remembers the house at 123 Main Street being occupied for many years by the Peterson family, Harold, Verna and their children.  Harold was a painter and decorator, who also ran a small taxi business, and operated school buses.  He and his family lived in the house from the 1940s into the 1980s.

Beard House on 126 Main St



Kouka Cottage at 113 Main Street is one of the earlier cottages built in the township circa 1860s, and with its verandah and brick chimney is typical of early colonial cottages of the era.


In 1997, the cottage was sold to the then Greytown Community Heritage Trust for $1, with the trust committing to undertaking its restoration and preservation. The cottage exterior was refurbished by the trust from a derelict state. It is listed as a heritage item in the District Plan and remains of historic, technical and townscape significance.


In 1994 the verandah was repaired and re-piling took place. This work included removing an addition at the front and reinstating the verandah the full width. Kouka Cottage has significance not only as an original and early example of a worker's cottage but because of motorcycle legend Tui Morgan's association with the building. Its location next to his garage (now the White Swan site) is also a reminder of work-life patterns of earlier times.


[Source: 2007 Conservation and Maintenance Plan for Kouka Cottage and Old Library Building (Accent Architects)].



In association with Greytown-based architect and trustee Gina Jones, the trust undertakes regular maintenance checks on the cottage. The trustees have an ongoing, rigorous maintenance programme for Kouka Cottage and keep a watchful eye on its structural integrity. Painting of the exterior started in early autumn, but has been interrupted by the need to prioritise roofing and joinery repairs. These will be completed by early June and exterior painting will resume in the springtime.




Miriam Hill's sketch of Kouka Cottage fundraising for Greytown Heritage Trust


Kouka (Cabbage Tree) Cottage was built c.1860 and was purchased by the Greytown Heritage Trust in 1997. You can purchase these delightful items in Greytown at Grand Illusion, and Hall & Saunders on Main Street.

Kouka Cottage gifts

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