Kinder House

Kinder House in Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand. Featured in  Lonely Planet Guide based  on Merit from travellers' experiences.

Built in 1857, Kinder House is one of Auckland's most notable Catagory A Heritage properties and .Auckland Council listed Historic Building Category 1. on UP Schedule 14.1 as significant heritage site. The house was commissioned by Bishop G.A. Selwyn and designed by Frederick Thatcher, the architect of many Anglican buildings in Auckland.
Kinder House is the last & only Gothic Revival designed colonial 2 storey building of the 1850's residence and retains the original oak, totara & bay trees & other tree plantings of the time in the tree park grounds and has a house 'well' from the colonial past. The tree plantings are representative of the colonial relationship between European settlers and the tangata whenua Maori people, with the spiritual connections as seen in the dedication ceremony of original Colonial "Kinder House' with the plantings of the exotic Bay tree as designated European connection and the native Totara tree to symbolise the cultural links between the two peoples with the opening of the house at the time.

The Ground Floor rooms are devoted to the display of water-colours, photographs and sketches by John Kinder (1819-1903) and other temporary guest artistic exhibitions are on display at times. KHS volunteer guides do tours and the KHS is an independent trust incorporated organisation who are self funded and supported by members subscriptions, hireage, sponsors and grants in maintaining the property. The property operates under the Auckland Council property lease with covenant of a High Court Consent Orders of case Manning Q.C. v..A.C. restrictions.

Kinder House is open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday from Noon to 3pm with  Artist curator extended hours 10am-4pm with their exhibitions. It is closed over the Christmas and New Year holiday days and the official Easter day holidays and at times for private hire, renovations  and on-going maintenance. The property is available for hire for weddings, garden parties, birthday celebrations, seminars, meetings, displays, art exhibitions, fund raising events, musical performances, please note hire terms and conditions limitations are available from the Custodian, it is closed for private functions. Under the COVID 19 restrictions all meetings and group gatherings occur in the separated off tea room section so as to separate the public visitors from mixing so there is a barrier to any possible cross infections of people in the exhibition rooms. Most recently the Auckland Council funded a major capital works renovation programme to install and update the art gallery rooms with new display systems and support structures along with up graded public facilities, the Kinder House Society were most thankful for this work and has brought much improved scope for a wider display of Aotearoa artists and acknowledgement of the importance of our own indigenous story telling displays. 
It is FREE entry but a paper note donation is requested on entry. Various booklets, prints, cards,  DVDs and pamphlets on New Zealand Arts and Heritage are on sale. Extensive library collection available for researchers on Auckland Colonial Victorian history.

The building was commissioned by Bishop G. A. Selwyn as a schoolmaster's house for the first headmaster of the Church of England Grammar School, now long since demolished, but which occupied the site directly opposite Kinder House to the south, where shops are now situated.

The schoolmaster's house is of rubble construction, basically using scoria from Mt Eden, with dressed stone at corners and openings thought to have been quarried at Mt Wellington. Michael Dunn wrote an article in 1982 for the publication Art New Zealand which is available on the net at and incorporates a number of historic photographs. He notes that Kinder House was the grandest of three stone buildings constructed in Parnell by the master mason, Benjamin Strange, in 1857/8. It cost £1404.10.10, a considerable sum in those days. This was not surprising, as it was unusual to build in stone or brick at the time, particularly stone, there being a shortage of masons of sufficient skill. This is evidenced by structural difficulties which were experienced following the construction of a number of stone churches in the region at the time, namely the earlier St Thomas's on the corner of Kohimarama Road and the original St Stephen's chapel in Judges Bay.

The schoolmaster's house, on the corner of Ayr Street and Parnell Road, was sold by the church and remained in private ownership through to the 1970s. On the death of the then owner it became available on the open market.  Councillor Sheila Horton and Deputy-Mayor Dr Lindo Ferguson convinced the Council to purchase the property because of is heritage value.. The Kinder House Society (KHS) was formed to manage the property and operate it as an art gallery under the agreement of the Kinder Family arts and archives and for local contemporary art displays. The first Chairperson and driving force was Sheila Horton, and with support from Margaret Newman of Civic Trust Auckland who are commemorated by a sundial and bird bath in the park grounds..

Kinder House has been used by various non profit organisations for meetings, seminars, sermons, ambassadorial & business function gatherings, commemorations and celebrations for many years. These have include the Parnell Rotary Club, the Ex Libris Society,UNANZ Northern Branch, the NZ Founders Society, Royal Commonwealth Society, New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Auckland Civic Trust, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Painting classes, NZ History Federation, Auckland Heritage, NZ Hearing Society, Royal Foundation for the Blind, legal services & advice and mental health & ACC support groups. John Kinder House hosts Ambassador's functions and business groups through the Consul representatives in Auckland,plus provide support facilities at the same time.The Kinder House Society support the Auckland Council's Photographic Festival, Heritage Festival, and Art Week  programs with exhibition contributions.
The Kinder House Society has been fortunate to have exhibited private art collections for display that reflect the heritage of Auckland. They take group house & exhibition tour bookings outside official opening times. The education learning theme is expanded with the new History Curriculum with a focus on the Tamaki Makaurau, Maori settlements in the pre-European period.for children learn..
The house and gardens can be hired for private or professional use, for example small weddings and anniversaries, business functions, wedding photographs, fashion garment photographs, film location shoots and the like and the booking terms & conditions can be requested from the Custodian.
The volunteer Justice of the Peace service is offered by appointment on Mondays & Thursdays.

The KHS property with ACC staff  had under taken a major Landscape Development Plan of the property and have adopted a policy of non-toxic spray and drought resistance plantings to encourage the native birds, butterflies, bees,lady birds, lizards habitat; as a member of the Bee Regeneration Programme and the Eastern Bays Songbird Project with advice from the Auckland Botanical Gardens staff.. The grounds and house are disadvantage access designed and constructed for all types of disabilities persons. The landscape grounds are an important historic record of visual imagery photography of the property garden and park designs of the colonial period offering an unique insight into the difference grounds plantings over the colonial period of time until today with written documented plant landscapes details as a unique heritage botanical map of New Zealand landscape changes from the original 150+ year old oak tree plantings and various native trees on the property. This tree park landscape has attracted many native birds,insects and reptiles and offers a haven to our own Aotearoa past animal life patterns. 
Contact the Kinder House Society at  kinder_house@ for charges and other details.

Gary Russell,
Dec 3, 2018, 5:46 PM
Gary Russell,
Aug 8, 2018, 6:06 PM
Gary Russell,
Dec 3, 2018, 5:45 PM
Gary Russell,
Aug 8, 2018, 6:23 PM