header hwhouse


Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796-1862), of England, "was embroiled in plans to colonise New Zealand. He played a leading role in the setting up of the promotional body, the New Zealand Association, in early 1837 and in its battle with the Church Missionary Society and the Colonial Office, who thought colonisation was contrary to the well-being of the Māori. With the reconstitution of the association into the New Zealand Company in 1839, Wakefield, probably fearing that the Crown would annex New Zealand to protect Māori interests and shut the company out, organised the dispatch of the company's preliminary expedition to New Zealand on the Tory in May 1839. The tradition, fostered by Wakefield himself, that the sending of the Tory drove an unwilling government to annex New Zealand and so saved it from the French is now rejected by historians."

Miles Fairburn. 'Wakefield, Edward Gibbon', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1990. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1w4/wakefield-edward-gibbon 

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


In 1843, Section 24 was sub-divided into smaller blocks by F Johnson, 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 Wall and his friend and John Whitehouse were both able to buy land from early settler Frank Johnson.

“Their eight acre bush-clad strips of land alongside 'the track' to Porirua were next door to each other. These sales were not registered until 23 March 1843, but agreement to the sale would have been in place before the family moved in."

Book - Kay Barbara and Robin Kay, 1996. Anthony Wall, Settler of Porirua: The Papakowhai Story. Fielding: Organising Committee for the Wall Family 150th Reunion. p34.


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 became known as The Halfway House.

Title: Dowdeswell family : Letter to my dear sisters / S Wall Reference Number: MSI-Papers-4267. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Date: 18 Dec 1842

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.

Newspaper - Secker, W.H., Kapi-Mana News ,18th April, 1979, p8

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

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



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 



Porirua Road progress.

"We have been much pleased at the progress made upon the Porirua Road. Mount Misery has ceased to realize its name. By a gradual ascent the summit level is arrived at; the horse shoe turn, with all its ups and downs, ins and outs, avoided, and with half the labour, and much more satisfaction, the pedestrian finds himself unexpectedly at Frank Johnson's section. Let us now pay a passing tribute to the difference between residents and absentees. Frank Johnson's section, inhabited, cultivated, and bearing the name of its original owner, stands out a guide and a beacon to the Government of the colony, calling upon it to make some distinction between the resident owners and absentees. Frank Johnson's section will, we trust, hand down the name of its original as one who threw open his his land to the reach of the working man, and reaped a reward, of a better kind than pounds, shillings and pence, in seeing an English village rise up around him. The remainder of the road has been skilfully carried out under the supervision of Captain Russell, and we may truly say, that those who wish for a change, will now find less labor in reaching Porirua, whether on horse or on foot, than they hitherto had in reaching Half-way House. 

The Wellington Independent, Volume II, Issue 123, 16 December 1846, p2


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. Henry 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, p4


28 August 1849 

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 Stebbings came to live in the area and in time, the part shown on this map as "Old Porirua Road" was renamed Stebbings Road. In 1973, the first part of Stebbings Road was 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.

30 October, 1850 The Ngauranga Road Assn formed.

A public meeting will be held at Mr John McKain's Half Way House, Porirua Road, on Monday the 11th Instant, at 7 o'clock in the evening, for the purpose of adopting, in addition to those already adopted, such further and other measures as shall seem requisite for carrying out the proposed plan of constructing a new branch line of Road, to commence at Ngauranga, on the Hutt Road and to terminate at a certain point at or near Johnsonville on the Porirua Road, and for the further despatch of business connected therewith. '- October 30, 1850.

Wellington Independent, Volume VI, Issue 528, 2 November 1850, Page 2

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

The Gorge road is completed in 1859.


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, p4


18 November 1850

Donald McLean, Chief Land Purchase Commissioner "left Wellington late in the evening, calling on his friends the Camerons of Kaiwarra, who gave him a supply of home-made socks. He stayed at Halfway House where he got comfortable quarters at 5s for bed and breakfast and feed for his horse. He got to Porirua in the forenoon. Here he met Rev. Richard Taylor and daughter Mary. ...At Porirua he attended a meeting of the Ngatitoa in connection with the sale of land and spent the evening with Drs. Gordon and Basilgate of the 65th Reg."

Book - Wilson J G, (1951) The Founding of Hawkes Bay. p5.



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.

Wellington Independent, Volume VIII, Issue 818, 13 August 1853, p2


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, p3



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, p3



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, p5


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


11 March 1857

A public meeting of the inhabitants of Porirua Rd. was held at the Halfway House on Wednesday evening, 11 March 1857, for the purpose of considering the desirability of eastblishing "a Wellington Farmers Club" etc. 30 or 40 principal settlers present. Presided over by Wm. Best with his usual ability and impartiality."

NZ Spectator 14 March 1857


 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, p3.



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, p2



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 Brown aka 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 S. 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


c1880 New Halfway House built

A new house is built by Brown beyond the 'old' Halfway House. The new house is given the name "Gowan Bank" however the name Halfway House is used by the local community.

Editor note: The internet 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".


27 August 1887

The Brown’s fifth daughter, Margaret Anna Brown died at "Gowan Bank" aged 13.

"DEATH. BROWN - On Saturday, 27th August, at Gowan Bank, Porirua Road, Margaret Anna, fifth and much beloved daughter of Mr Alexander Brown, aged 13 years."

New Zealand Times, Volume XLX, Issue 8175, 29 August 1887



In 1890 the Brown's moved to Tawhiti Road, Hawera. The property was managed in his absence by Mr J Orr, of Johnsonville, owner of the Wellington City Buffet Hotel. 

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


1891 Old Halfway House burns down

In 1891, the old Halfway House, previously used by the McKain's, the Clapham's, Edward's and Brown's, 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



Meanwhile, Gowan Bank was being leased for kennels, and the best bred collie dogs in the Colony were to be found here.

17 October 1895


"The written authoritative report by Mr Morton Campbell on the New Zealand collie, which I stated last week had been promised me, is not yet forthcoming, and I fear that in lieu thereof we shall have to be satisfied with the following extracts from a report of an interview by 'Fancier,' of the New Zealand Mail."

"Mr Fred Rogen's (Johnsonville). Mr Campbell said of the Gowan Bank kennels - The first thing that struck me was the excellent position of these kennels. The kennels are situated on a bank, which ensures good drainage, and the position is well sheltered from the wind, and gets plenty of sun. If the dog can't live and be healthy here they will not be able to live anywhere. The dogs, which are in the pink of condition, reflect great credit on both Mr and Mrs Rogen and their man, all of whom are most attentive to the dogs' wants."

 “The kennels themselves are well built and perfectly arranged. First Shot (by Newmarket Ruff - Newmarket Faith) was the first dog brought under my notice. I thoroughly examined him, and I have no hesitation in pronouncing him the best dog I have seen in the colony. He is a grand young dog, with good legs and feet, good expression, well carried ears - in fact, a grand "ranking" dog, who should make very well. His coat was, as far as I could judge, good, though he was rather out of coat at the time."

"First Gun (by Newmarket Ruff - Zealandia) is rather on the small side. A showy sable and white, short in face, good on feet, with the best of legs."

"Newmarket Faith, an imported bitch, is an excellent brood bitch, but as she was heavy in pup, she was looking her worst. I cannot, therefore, pass judgment on her."

"Great Gunner is a nine months old dog, a trifle on the " bitchy " side, although he has a great deal of quality. Others in the kennel I had not time to take I notes of, but there were some good ones."

 Mr F. A. Kibbell's (Wellington). Mr Campbell said - Newmarket Ruff by the well-known champion Great Gun (of England) out of Newmarket Gem is very much like champion Christopher. Having seen his stock I know that he is most valuable for stud purposes. He is a dog I would breed from. The white about this dog's head, makes it look coarser than it really is, but beyond doubt the dog carries his ears better than any other dog in the colony."

Otago Witness, Issue 2173, 17 October 1895, p32



2 January 1897

"TO LET. At Johnsonville, the nice Family Residence known as Gowan Bank House, containing eight rooms, bathroom, p.w.c, copper built in , and water laid on, and about four acres of land ; also, a good fowl run. For further particulars apply at City Buffet Hotel, or to Mr. J. Orr. Johnsonville."

Evening Post, Volume LIII, Issue 1, 2 January 1897, p1


20 February 1897

"At Johnsonville, the nice Family Residence known as Gowan Bank House, containing eight rooms, bathroom, p.w.c, copper built in, and water laid on, and about four acres of land ; also, a good fowl run and stable ; situated 1 ½ miles from Railway Station on Porirua-road. For further particulars apply at City Buffet Hotel, or to Mr. J. Orr, Johnsonville."

Evening Post, Volume LIII, Issue 43, 20 February 1897, p1



19 November 1898

Sandy Brown's house, Gowan Bank, known as The Halfway 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, p1



In Hawera, it was reported in the Hawera & Normanby Star, that on the 4 July, 1900, Alexander Brown’s daughter Isobel, married W. D. Taylor of Napier. Four months later, the same newspaper reported that Mr Brown had died, age 67. His body was brought back to The Halfway and he was buried in Johnsonville.


4 July 1900

"TAYLOR-BROWN.— At Hawera, on 4th July, 1900, by Rev T. McDonald, W. D. Taylor, Napier, Isobel, daughter of Mr A. Brown, Tawhiti road, Hawera, late of Gowan Bank, Johnsonville."

Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume XXXXI, Issue 7009, 5 July 1900, p2


16 November 1900

"DEATH. BROWN. On Friday, November 16, 1900, at his residence, Tawhiti road, Hawera, after a long and painful illness, Alexander Brown, late of Gowan Bank, Johnsonville; aged 65 years."

Hawera and Normanby Star, 17 November 1900

Alexander Brown's body was brought back to Johnsonville and he is buried in the grounds of  St John Anglican Church, Plot E40, with his daughter Margaret Anna Brown.

St John Anglican Church records.