Meeting Allan McLean - The start of a legacy in Waimate

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

How Mrs Emily Phillips came to build her impressive residence Te Kiteroa is a story that begins in the late 1800’s. Somewhere between the high country of Canterbury and Christchurch when wealthy station owner Allan McLean first employed Mrs Emily Phillips as his housekeeper for his Waikakahi estate. This estate was centred not far from Waimate and his land holdings at one time covered most of Canterbury and Otago.

Allan McLean was known for being a rather eccentric figure. A bachelor and philanthropist. He came from extremely 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.

At the time he crossed paths with Mrs Phillips the two forged a working relationship that lasted until his death in 1907.

Such was Mrs Philips’ status as house keeper to Allan McLean she was often sent to England by ship to personally select the best fabrics and furnishings for his properties over the years.

Even after his death in 1907 Mrs Phillips was taken care of in the highest regard by Allan McLean! 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 in her retirement - with the impressive Te Kiteroa built up on the hillside overlooking Waimate!

Yet despite this wealth, grand lifestyle, and success there still remained a hanging mystery around WHO Mrs Emily Phillips was. Our family hunted for photos, portraits, records of her life as the wealthy lady who built such an impressive home in Waimate. Unfortunately each attempt at finding an image of this incredible woman came up with a dead end. 

Little did we know it wouldn't be a descendant of the McLean OR Phillips family who would finally solve the mystery for us...

- Stay tuned for the continuation of our journey to discovering Mrs Phillips -

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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