The Mystery of Mrs Philips

“I’m looking for any information you might have on Mrs Phillips of Waimate, she built Te Kiteroa in 1913”

- Join us for our blog series taking you on a journey to finding Mrs Phillips, a path that took more than 20 years to put together -

This phrase echoed out to silence for the best part of 20 years. Like a private detective... Sleuthing with a handful of leads, some rather abrupt dead ends, and only fragments of detail about the woman who had commissioned and built one of the grandest homes in the district.

How was it possible that for a woman of such incredible wealth there were no photos, no traces, no events recorded that she attended, just shadows of a past mystery.

Taking you back to 1987 my parents, Ann & Gary Dennison almost stumbled into ownership of Te Kiteroa. On a visit to family in Waimate, they had seen a sign on the fence line 'FOR SALE". After enquiring in town, they discovered the Lodge had just been sold after standing empty for many years and it was they hill block behind the Lodge that was for sale. The Te Kiteroa owners Tom and Zeta turned the Lodge into a fine dining restaurant with accommodation and Ann and Gary used to dine at the Lodge on their annual visit to Waimate. My parents were living and working overseas but always dined at Te Kiteroa and got to know Tom and Zeta well...but it was still a surprise when in 1990 they received a letter with the suggestion that my parents might be interested in acquiring Te Kiteroa as they were ready to move on. As my parents were always intrigued by this grand old house with mysterious history, with panoramic views at the top of a dead end road.

What they didn’t realise was that moment when they took hold of the keys to Te Kiteroa would launch them into a historical puzzle that took over 20 years to come together… 

In this blog post series, you’ll step back in time to discover a little more of Te Kiteroa’s fascinating history standing proudly overlooking Waimate over the past 100 years. 

And of course if you are just as interested to find out the incredible story that we now know about the elusive Mrs Phillips, then make sure to book your ticket for our special event series of “The Housekeeper - Who was Mrs Emily Phillips?” running from late November to December 2019! CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND SESSION TIMES

Rose is one of the current custodians of Te Kiteroa alongside her parents Ann & Gary Dennison. She is the author of this series of features into Te Kiteroa’s history over the past one hundred years. You can connect with Te Kiteroa online for more behind the scenes and special events updates through Facebook and Instagram


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