In 1839, the New Zealand Company offered land for sale to the public.  The land in the Wellington area was sub-divided by the New Zealand Company into 100 acre sections. Section 23 and Section 24 are the Sections commonly associated with the history of The Halfway and the Halfway House.

In 1843, Section 24 was sub-divided into smaller blocks ranging in size between five and ten acres.

Book - Carman Arthur H, 1982 (reprint) Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road, 1840-1955 p73


Anthony and Susannah Wall family provided accommodation and food for people resting on their journey halfway between the settlements of Wellington and Porirua. Their home, on Section 24, became known as The Halfway House.

1842 letter - http://natlib.govt.nz/items/22364318

Book - Kay Barbara and Robin Kay, 1996. Anthony Wall, Settler of Porirua: The Papakowhai Story. Fielding: Organising Committee for the Wall Family 150th Reunion.



John Lodge and his wife and two children arrived by the first ship, The Aurora, on 22 January 1840.

Book -  Carman Arthur H, 1982 (reprint) Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road,1840-1955 p74


John Lodge is issued with the first “bush licence” at The Halfway.  Bush licences were issued for the sale of liquor without any rules for accommodation.

Book - Kay Barbara and Robin Kay, 1996. Anthony Wall, Settler of Porirua: The Papakowhai Story. Fielding: Organising Committee for the Wall Family 150th Reunion p39.


Map reference to The Surveyors Arms in The Halfway locality.

Editor note: Barbara and Robin Kay do not support the theory that "The Surveyor's Arms" is also the Wall's Halfway House.

 Book - Carman Arthur H, 1982 (reprint) Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road, 1840-1955 p74.

Book - Kay Barbara and Robin Kay, 1996. Anthony Wall, Settler of Porirua: The Papakowhai Story. Fielding: Organising Committee for the Wall Family 150th Reunion p40


John Lodge sells out to Captain William Barnard Rhodes in 1845.  Anthony Wall takes over the bush licence for one year.

Book - Kay Barbara and Robin Kay, 1996. Anthony Wall, Settler of Porirua: The Papakowhai Story. Fielding: Organising Committee for the Wall Family 150th Reunion p39


Walls move to Paremata (now known as Papakowhai). 

Book - Kay Barbara and Robin Kay, 1996. Anthony Wall, Settler of Porirua: The Papakowhai Story. Fielding: Organising Committee for the Wall Family 150th Reunion p39-40


8 March 1849

 John Ward McKain submits an application for a Bush Licence to sell spirituous liquor and ale "...having purchased the house and premises of Anthony Wall situated in the Porirua Road [unreadible] known as the 'Half Way House' is desirous of carrying in the business of the said Anthony Wall and whose Bush License expires on the twenty first day of March instant."

Source: National Archives, actual document.


23 May 1849

Colonial Secretary's Office, Wellington, 22nd May, 1849. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that the under mentioned Publicans' Special Licenses are now lying at the Treasury ready for issue : J. W. McKain, Porirua road. Hknry Birling, Rimutaka Range. James Brown, Mungaroa. By His Excellency's Command, Alfred Domett, Colonial Secretary.

Advertisements Column 1
New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian, Volume V, Issue 397, 23 May 1849, Page 4


28 August 1949

A sketch of the Halfway House is drawn by Martha King. Its caption reads “House we halted Halfway to Pororua August 28, 1849”. The art work is held in the Wall collection at the Alexander Turnbull Library. At the time, the house was owned by Harriet (nee Maynard) and John Ward McKain.

1849 pencil sketch - http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23075603


McKain provides accommodation and a regular coaching stop at The Halfway where horses are changed on the journey.

Papers - McKane The History and genealogy of the McKane family; McKane Volumes One Early Days Volume Three John Ward McKain


"The first licencee was John Ward McKain, who held a Bush Licence from May 1849 until 1855, when Joseph Clapham took over."

Editor note: McKain was not the first Bush licensee. John Lodge and Anthony Wall held licences prior to him. However, the fact McKain held a Bush Licence during those times is correct.

Book -Carman Arthur H, 1982 (reprint) Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road, 1840-1955 p71.


Detail of 1849 Map

The Halfway House marked on an 1849 map signed by Captain A. H. Russell. Map drawn by surveyor Thomas Henry Fitzgerald. This map was to show the route of the new, upgraded road between Wellington and Porirua. In 1863 the part shown on this map as "Old Porirua Road" was renamed Stebbings Road after the Stebbings came to live there. In 1973, the first part of Stebbings Road was later renamed Glenside Road, after Glenside became part of Wellington City Council that year.

Editor note: Captain Russell's map shows the Halfway House on Section 23, and on the site/area of the existing Halfway House at 246 Middleton Road. The Wall family surmise that after the Wall's sold in 1849, the Halfway House operated from Section 23, not from the Wall's home on Section 24.

Alexander Turnbull Library Ref: MapColl-832.47gmbd/[1849]/Acc.460

See also:http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22334880?search%5Bpath%5D=items&search%5Btext%5D=thomas+henry+fitzgerald+1849 Ref: MapColl-832.47gmbd/[1849]


The 9 February 1850 jury list shows John Ward McKain as a publican with a hotel on the Porirua Road. This hotel was known as Halfway House as it stood halfway between Wellington and Porirua. His Special Publicans License was Gazetted on 22 May 1850.

The Ngauranga Road Assn. meet regularly at McKain’s Halfway House to progress the building of the Ngauranga Gorge road as an alternative to the Kaiwharawhara Road.

Book - Carman Arthur H, 1982 (reprint) Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road,1840-1955 p239


11 September 1850

Colonial Secretary's Office, Wellington, 31st Aug.,1850. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that a Pound has been erected near the "Half-way House," on the Porirua Road; and that, in conformity with the "Impounding Ordinance," 11th Vic. Sess. 8, No.6, His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor has been pleased to appoint the same to be a Public Pound for the purposes of the said Ordinance. NOTICE is further given, that Mr. John McKain, has been appointed to the charge thereof. By His Excellency's Command, Alfred Domett, Colonial Secretary.

Advertisements Column 1. Wellington Independent, Volume VI, Issue 513, 11 September 1850, Page 4


The Gorge road is completed in 1859.



6 May 1853

Half-way House. Porirua Road. TO BE SOLD, The Half-way House, Porirua Road for the residue of the Lease thereof. For particulars, apply to Mr. BRANDON, Lambton Quay.
May 6th, 1853.

Page 1 Advertisements Column 5
Wellington Independent, Volume VIII, Issue 802, 18 June 1853

(This advertisement ran in the Wellington Indepedent until 29 June 1853)


 13 August 1853

Country District
W. B. RHODES, Esq. J.P.

Mr. McKain's, Half-Way House; Mr. Calder's, Rainbow Hotel; Mr. Hoe's, Barrett's Hotel. The Committee meet every Evening, at 7 o'Clock.
August 12th, 1853.

General Assembly, Wellington Country District.
MR. W. B. RHODES will meet the Electors of the Porirua Road at Mr. J. W. McKain's, the Half-Way House, on Tuesday Evening next, the 16th instant, at 6 p.m.
Hon. Secretary.
Wellington, Aug. 12, 1853.

Page 2 Advertisements Column 1
Wellington Independent, Volume VIII, Issue 818, 13 August 1853.


27 August 1853

Wellington August 27, 1853. A PUBLIC MEETING will be held at 12 o'clock noon, on MONDAY, September 12th, 1853, at Mr. John McKain's, the Half-way House, to consider and adopt measures for opening a traffic communication between Ngahuranga and the most eligible point on the Porirua Road.
Wellington, August 25, 1853.

Page 2 Advertisements Column 4
Wellington Independent, Volume VIII, Issue 825, 7 September, 1853.


24 September 1853

On 24 September 1853 there is record of a John McKain arriving by the ship Australian, at Melbourne, Australia, having departed from Wellington, New Zealand for the Australian gold diggings. 

Book - Angelini, Henry J.,  McKane Volume One Early Days

Inward Overseas Passenger Lists (Foreign Ports). Public Record Office Victoria, North Melbourn, Victoria.


28 December 1853

At a numerous and influential meeting held on Monday last, at the Half-way House, it was unanimously resolved, that this meeting not being satisfied that Mr. Roy's sections of the Nghauranga new branch road the best that can be obtained, respectfully requests his Honor the Superintendent to cause a correct survey to be made as soon as possible of the proposed line. Also, that this meeting deeply regrets the present unsafe state of the bridges on the North Western road, and that so little has been done by the Government since they have had the repairs under their immediate control, and beg to recommend that all roads and works be done by contract.

Wellington Independent, Volume VIII, Issue 857, 28 December 1853. Page 3.




18 April 1854

A PUBLIC MEETING to be held at The Half-way House, Porirua Road, on the 24th instant, at 3 o'clock, for the purpose of requesting his Honor the Superintendent to bring the Road Bill into force in this district.
Porirua Road,
April, 18th, 1854.

Wellington Independent, Volume IX, Issue 890, 22 April 1854. Page 3.



At some time during 1855, Joseph Clapham takes over the McKain Halfway House. However, it would appear it is still operating under the management of McKain in the early part of the year, as the following newspaper advertisements indicate.

17 January 1855

Extensive Land Sale.
begs to inform intending Purchasers of
That he will offer for Public Competition,
At Mr. McKain's,
Half-way House, Porirua Road, at an
early date, of which due notice will be given,
A NUMBER of CHOICE and VALUABLE Section, of COUNTRY LAND in the following Districts and neighbourhoods viz.:
No.5 Kinapoura
No. 30 Kinapoura
No 44, Porirua
No. 37 Porirua
No 10. Kinapoura
No. 50 Karori

Proprietors wishing to dispose of any properties in the above districts, will oblige by sending particulars to the Auctioneer as early as possible. Plans will be deposited at the Half-way House, and at the office of the Auctioneer.
Titles-Crown Grant J. H. Wallace,
Land and Estate Agency Office,
Lambton Quay.
Jan. 12, 1855.

Wellington Independent, Volume X, Issue 967, 17 January 1855. Page 5.


19 January, 1855

Election for the Country Districts. MR. ALLEN proposes to meet the Electors of the Wellington Country Districts at the Half-way House, Porirua Road on Thursday evening next, the 25th January, at 1/2 past 7 o'clock, and at the School House, Karori, on Friday tbe 26th inst. at the same hour. 19th January, 1855.

Wellington Independent, Volume X, Issue 970, 27 January 1855


William Thomas Clapham has the licence for the Halfway House.

Book - Carman Arthur H, 1982 (reprint) Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road,1840-1955 p72]


 21 September 1857


Doctor Curl opened the proceedings by giving an account of the business transacted by the Wardens during the past year.

It was proposed by Mr. Robinson and seconded by Mr. Angell and carried unanimously that the Accounts of the Wardens, for the past year be received and submitted to Audit.

It was moved by Mr. Angell, seconded by Dr. Curl, and carried unanimously, that Messrs. Rhoades, Clapham, and Robinson, be elected Auditors.

The Auditors having examined the accounts and submitted their report to the meeting.

It was moved by Mr. Robinson, seconded by Mr. Rhoades, and carried unanimously. That the Wardens accounts be received and passed. It was moved by Mr. Robinson, seconded by Mr. Clapham, and carried unanimously.

That the sum of three-pence per Acre, per annum granted for the past year be continued for .the year ensuing ending 2lst September, 1857.
WM. Best. Chairman.

 Wellington Indepdendent, Volume X, Issue 1229, 23 September 1857, Page 3.



TENDERS are invited for the erection of two Bridges (near the Half-way House) Porirua Road. Specifications and Plans may be seen at the Engineer's office, Wellington, and at the residence of Mr Clapham, Porirua Road. Tenders addressed to the Provincial Secretary will be received until noon of Wednesday, April 13, 1864.
Acting Provincial Secretary. Provincial Secretary's Office,
March 30, 1864.

Wellington Independent, Wellington Independent, Volume XVIII, Issue 2042, 31 March 1864.  Page 2.


William and Elizabeth Edward advertise accommodation in the Wellington Almanack from 1866 to 1868 at Edwards Hotel, Half-way House, Porirua Road - noted for its "excellent quality of its Wines, Spirits and Ales, as well as for the comfortable accommodation it affords to travellers. Good stabling."

Book - Carman Arthur H, 1982 (reprint) Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road,1840-1955 p63


Alexander Sandy Brown and wife Margaret arrive at The Halfway from Dunedin and manage an accommodation house and stables. Brown is a recognised good horseman. He introduced the double shaft wagon to New Zealand.

Brown's descendants say that Alexander operated a hostelry (public inn and accommodation) and way station (place for checking goods in transit) for stage coaches passing along the main road.

Book - Carman Arthur H, 1982 (reprint) Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road,1840-1955 p72

Oral history local resident Len Stebbings

Oral history descendant Stanley Purvis



30 November 1880

The Halfway House is referred to in a newspaper advertisement (below) as the "Old Halfway House."  

FOR IMMEDIATE SALE, a Dairy Farm about 8 miles from Wellington, containing 100 acres, with 6-roomed House, and stock of Milking Cows, together with a Fire wood business; will be sold a great bargain to an immediate purchaser. Apply to Martin & Wall, on the premises next to Mr. Brown, Old Half-way House, Porirua Road.

Page 3 Advertisements Column 5
Evening Post, Volume XX, Issue 280, 30 November 1880



A new house is built by Brown behind the 'old' Halfway House. Brown leaves in 1890 for Hawera where he dies at the age of 67 in 1900. He is returned to Johnsonville for burial. The new house is given the name "Gowan Bank" however the name Halfway House is used by the local community.

Book - Carman Arthur H, 1982 (reprint) Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road,1840-1955 p72

Hawera and Normanby Star, 17 November 1900

Editor note:The internet (Gowan name meaning) informs us that Gowan is from a Gaelic word meaning "iron worker" or "metal worker" and is from the Gaelic 'Govha' meaning a blacksmith. This is interesting when considering The Halfway was a coach stop for resting horses. Presumably there was a blacksmith. Gowan also refers to a yellow or white field daisy. The book "A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland" (1846), pp. 586-588 describes a village called Gowan Bank in the parish of St Vigean's, County Forfar. No link has been yet been established between the Brown's, who were Scots, and this village. Also of interest is the May family of Peterhead, Scotland, who came to live at The Halfway in 1886. Their daughter Barbara Henderson May married Thomson Bruce (also from Peterhead, Scotland) in 1894 and moved to Paremata and called her new home "Gowanbrae".



The old Halfway House, used by McKain, the Clapham's, Edward's and Brown, burns down.

"A four-roomed dwelling, known as the Half-way House, near Johnsonville, was totally destroyed by fire early yesterday morning. The house was owned and occupied by Mr Archibald Smiley. The building and contents were valued at £100, and were uninsured. The fire is supposed to have been caused by a defective chimney."

New Zealand Times, Volume LII, Issue 9357, 28 July 1891


"A tenement known as Half-way House, situated near Johnsonville, was burnt down early yesterday morning. Constable O'Farrell informs Inspector Thomson that it was owned and occupied by Mr. Archibald Smiley, and, together with the contents, was valued at £100. There was no insurance. A defective chimney is alleged to be the cause of the fire."

Evening Post, Volume XLII, Issue 24, 28 July 1891



19 November 1898

Sandy Brown's house is for sale. 

WANTED to Sell, Halfway House (freehold), 99 acres 25 roods, being part Section 25 on plan of Porirua District, and all land in certificate of title registered at Wellington in volume 54, folio 248. Apply John Orr, City Buffet Hotel, Lambton-quay.

Evening Post, Volume LVI, Issue 122, 19 November 1898, Page 1