Old Government House is the third of four vice-regal residences in Auckland. The first one, a wooden house built by Captain William Hobson in 1841, burnt down in 1848. The second one, St Keven’s or Moleskin Hall was a rented residence. It too burnt down in 1857.
This one was built in 1856 by William Mason (1810-97). It is a large Italianate residence, was the main one for the Governor until the capital moved to Wellington, and then served as the secondary residence for Governors and Governors-General until it was taken over by the University of Auckland in 1969 for use as part of their campus. Recently it has been restored and is now used as a heritage venue for university events.
Old Government House was where the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh stayed during their Commonwealth tour, between 23 and 28 December 1953, and from here the Queen broadcast her Christmas day message. She also hosted a garden party and a children’s party in the grounds.
There is now a fourth Government House, Birchlands, built at Mount Eden in about 1920, and formerly the residence of Sir Frank Mappin (1884-1975), a well-known horticulturalist, and his wife, who presented it to the New Zealand Crown.
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