The History

The Early Days History

The history of Orewa House shows it has stood beside the Nukumea stream at the northern end of Orewa for more than 150 years.


Built as a small cottage in 1856 by Captain Isaac Rhodes it has weathered many changes. Captain Rhodes came to New Zealand with the 58th Regiment and after leaving the army he bought land in Orewa where he decided to build a small cottage for himself and his Maori wife. By chance, at this time his regiment was being sent back to England but there was a delay and Captain Rhodes acquired 40 volunteers to pit saw the kauri growing on his land and help with the building.

Home Style Cooking

The best-known owners of Orewa House were Edward and Alice Eaves who bought the property in 1919. Guests loved the home style cooking and entertainment on offer, which included boating on the then pristine Nukumea stream, tennis parties, yachting regattas, gala balls and trips to the hot pools at Waiwera. Mrs Eaves donated the land behind Orewa House, now known as Eaves Bush, to the County for public enjoyment. In 1957 the house was sold to the Theosophical Society and leased out. Les Harvey (who created Parnell Village) bought the property in 1977.

Change of Owners

Some years later he moved to Thames and in 1868 the house and land were bought by Major Collings de Jersey Grut who had emigrated to New Zealand from the Channel Islands. Major Grut had originally bought land where the Chelsea sugar works now stands, where he had tried unsuccessfully to establish a farm. Three generations of the Grut family lived in the house until 1918. The cottage was extended and two gable roofs added.

A Postal Depot

Orewa House became a postal depot receiving mail for the surrounding area which arrived with goods and passengers for Orewa by steamer from Auckland. Major Grut organised a surf boat which met the steamers. Passengers climbed down a rope ladder into the boat and were then ferried close to shore where they transferred to a horse and cart which took them to dry land – quite an ordeal.


Orewa House was a busy place and travellers by sea or road were frequently accommodated at no charge. Originally most visitors were friends or family but by 1906 Orewa House had become a registered guest house running commercially. By the late 1880s the road north from Devonport was being used by wheeled traffic despite being only a clay road and almost impassable after winter rain. The planned new road north of Silverdale was supposed to go through Wainui, bypassing Orewa, but Major Grut and his sons cut a rough track over the hill to Waiwera and managed with some difficulty to drive a buggy through it. They convinced the government surveyors to build the new road through Waiwera. Their buggy is now owned by MOTAT.

Orewa House as we know it today

The Harvey family, who still own the building after such a long history, completed an extensive restoration in 1999 and the rooms in the house were leased out to various health practitioners.