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History of Te Kiteroa

The Lady on the Hill

The Te Kiteroa Lodge story begins in the late 1800’s somewhere in the high country of Canterbury when wealthy station owner Allan McLean employed Mrs Emily Phillips as his housekeeper for his Waikakahi estate.

Allan McLean was known for being a rather eccentric figure. He came from humble beginnings in the Isle of Coll in Scotland, never married and frequently wore a plum-coloured suit, bow-tie and white socks. A well to do bachelor, he was also known for his philanthropy, his generosity to the poor and particularly to widows and those less fortunate than he.

Allan Mclean - baptised on 24 May 1822, the seventh of nine children of the Isle of Coll, Scotland. Died at Holly Lea, Christchurch on 12 November 1907.

His Waikakahi,estate became one of the finest stations in Canterbury. It was renowned for its excellent cropping and stock with the station flock rising to 69,000 sheep in 1895. However by the end of the century the Liberal government was encouraging the break-up of large freehold stations, by compulsory purchase if necessary, under the Land for Settlements Act 1894. The Waikakahi run of some 48,000 acres was bought for about £320,000 in 1899. There was intense demand for the 130 farms, 14 runs, and 47 village sections in this, the second-largest government settlement in Canterbury. Allan McLean was distressed at having to part with Waikakahi, and never returned to the district.

McLean built Holly Lea in Christchurch – a fifty three room Jacobean inspired mansion. Naturally a woman’s touch was necessary to complete the interior furnishings, and as such was Mrs Philips’ status as house keeper she was sent to England to personally select the best fabrics and furnishings for the mansion.

Mrs Emily Phillips, portrait sat for at Holly Lea, Christchurch. 

Mrs Phillips remained a loyal employee of McLean until after his death in 1907 at Holly Lea (also known as McLean’s Mansion) in Christchurch. Bequests were left to his relatives and servants, including Mrs Phillips, who was also given the right to live in Holly Lea for the rest of her life.

She was left an annual pension of 3000 pounds by McLean, which allowed her to return to the Waimate district in style. Thanks to McLean’s generosity she too became a lady of money and means, which allowed her in 1913 to leave Holly Lea and build her own home of grandeur - Te Kiteroa Lodge, plus the two detatched cottages for her own Chauffeur and Gardner.

Emily Phillips remained at Te Kiteroa until her death in 1921. 

"Chum" Higgins, driver employed by Emily Phillips during her years at Te Kiteroa. He and his family were housed in a cottage built on site which still stands today.

Emily Phillips - front row, third from left with white shawl in her lap.
(Group and location of photograph unknown)