Visitors receive a rare insight into the private world of New Zealand’s most colourful and enigmatic grand dame of the arts.
Dame Ngaio’s powerful presence is found everywhere - from the green chair that she wrote longhand in, to her personal art collection, first edition books, clothes and travel trunks. It was where she entertained her many guests, including artists, writers, upcoming actors and Hollywood greats.
Originally known as Marton Cottage, the house was built for Dame Ngaio’s parents in 1906 by noted Christchurch architect Samuel Hurst Seager, a cousin of Dame Ngaio’s mother Rose.
The house is listed by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga as a Category 1 Historic Place of special or outstanding historical or cultural significance or value.
“From the beginning we loved our house. It was the fourth member of our family and for me, who still lives in it, has retained that character: it has been much added to but its personality has not changed.”
Dame Ngaio from her autobiography Black Beech and Honeydew
Dame Ngaio particularly enjoyed the terraced heritage garden, which she largely designed and supervised the maintenance of herself.
This beautiful garden is a feature of your tour. There are wonderful views on a clear day across Christchurch to the mighty Southern Alps.
"The house has been kept in its original condition and all the pieces of furniture, pictures and memorabilia give a great sense of how Ngaio Marsh lived her life."