Original Filename: Pihautea_034___044.jpg ( not available for download )






Situated 8 miles South-East of Masterton on the Kahutara Rd.

Charles Robert Bidwill established the first sheep station in the Wairarapa, after he had travelled around the coast from Wellington and arranged to take up the lease of over 10,000 acres that had been offered to him by Manihera, the local Chief who was keen to have the support of settlers against other threatening tribes. He first built two totara bark huts, one for sleeping and one for cooking, alongside the Rumahunga River. He found that the site was subject to flooding, so he decided to build his first proper house, a single storey dwelling on a nearby mound. He married Catherine Orbell in 1851, and they had nine children, three sons and six daughters. The house grew as the family grew, but as most of it was made of white pine the ravages of borer made it necessary to re-build.

A new two storey, 20 room, homestead was built in 1876, which included the old kitchen and laundry at the back of the house as they had been built of superior materials. Shortly after it was completed Charles leased most of the property to his two sons John O. and William E. (Charles jnr. was still at school). In 1884 Charles senior died at age 64, John had married Sarah Marchant and built a house Te Marie on a nearby ridge.

In 1896 the 13,000 acre property which had by then been bought from the Government and Maori was divided between the three brothers, J.O. got the central and eastern block Pihautea, W.E. got the central and western block Rototawai, and C.R. got the northern block, Tawaha.

In 1919 John sold the greater part of Pihautea to the Government for Returned Soldiers settlement. He had the top storey of the homestead removed and later moved back to Te Marie. The remainder of the homestead burnt down in 1928.


NOTE: The information contained here is a result of Des De Stefano's own research and was current at the time he was working on the project.