Harrison Story

Harrison Story

Rewriting History:  the Missing Link in Stoneycroft’s fascinating past.

Having a valuable collection of photographs brought to the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank earlier this year [2014] by the Harrison family of Hastings, was the impetus for piecing together the mystery of the missing years of Stoneycroft’s prominent past.

It transpires that William Creed Harrison and his wife Jean Dalziel Harrison (nee Bell) occupied the home during the years 1924 – 1942, along with their children James, Joan and Richard (later to become Sir Richard).

William suffered a brain tumour  that required specialised treatment overseas, and during 1921, sailed with Jean to the UK and Canada for a period of two years.   After his treatment, William suffered the effects of a stroke and became partly paralysed on his left side.

During their parents’ absence, James and Joan were cared for at Turamoe by Jean’s sister Esther and her husband Archibald MacIntyre, along with their children Duncan, Hamish, Sheila (Mary, Esther (Min) and Rhoderick were born later.)   Esther was known as “The Aunt”.

Baby Richard (or Dick as he became known) was left  in the capable care of a Mrs Aitcheson who lived in Clive.

Upon their return from overseas, William and Jean Harrison very likely stayed at Turamoe before taking up residence at Stoneycroft in 1924.  Turamoe was inherited by Esther MacIntyre on the death of her father James Bell, who had owned other farms as well as 1200 acres at Twyford.   Turamoe was severely damaged in the 1931 earthquake and rebuilt in a very different style using timber salvaged during the lean Depression years.  Today it is occupied by Rhoderick and Jane MacIntyre.

William Harrison had earlier sold a farm in Takapauhowever during the Depression, the debt was not repaid and the farm was returned to him.

Richard (Dick) Harrison married Margaret Agnes (nee Kelly, from Dunback Otago), in 1948 and later owned a farm in Takapau, “Springfield”, part of the original 1700 acres of the former “Tasma”, the farm owned by William Harrison.

James (known as Pod) and Margaret Fanny Harrison (known as Poll) also had part of the farm and retained the name Tasma”.

Joan Harrison (sister of James and Dick) and her husband Hugh Grigg had the remaining portion known as “Otaha”. Joan and Hugh were married at Stoneycroft on 12 October 1940.

The Harrison and MacIntyre cousins regularly spent time together and often stayed at each other’s homes.  Their grandmother Jean Harrison had a Christmas tradition where all families were expected to attend the festivities.  After William Harrison’s death in 1939 at the age of 55, Jean sold Stoneycroft and moved to Havelock North in 1942.

The number of acres belonging to Stoneycroft is unknown, though an early map shows a larger property than it is today.  It is not known how William farmed the land, or whether he had hired help as a result of his affliction.

Mrs Edmonds who bred racehorses purportedly on the eastern side then purchased the property.  The outbuildings remaining today were likely used during this period.

In 1954 the property was sold to Dr and Mrs Allan Ballantyne, who were the last occupants until their deaths in 1984 and 2003 respectively.  With no children of their own, the Ballantynes had three or four god-children to whom they bequeathed many of their possessions.  Some of these furnishings have recently been returned to Stoneycroft, which Mrs Ballantyne loved to decorate with beautiful pieces.  She also made all the curtains for her home, and was very proud of the magnolia trees and rose gardens.  Note the massive magnolia still growing today in front of the entrance to the house, very likely planted by earlier owners.

Rhod MacIntyre (son of Esther and Archibald) has fond childhood memories of playing in the piles of leaves from the many well established trees surrounding the house.  Nowadays, Rhod and Jane’s son Peter is married to Claire Beamish, whose forebears owned Stoneycroft in very early years.

Sir Richard Harrison was an elected National Party Member of Parliament from 1963 until 1984.  He became Speaker of the House in 1978, receiving the distinction of a knighthood in 1980.  He may have been instrumental in assisting Dr Ballantyne with research into the heritage of Stoneycroft and subsequent correspondence with Historic Places Trust.  Duncan MacIntyre, while a Member of Parliament is also believed to have been of assistance in this regard.

Sir Richard died in 2003 and is survived by his wife Lady Margaret and their four children: William, Hugh, Mary and Robert.

The Harrison family were regular visitors to Stoneycroft during the ownership of Dr Ballantyne and his wife Joyce who was elected Hastings’ first woman city councillor.   Although the beginning of the men’s relationship has not been established, Robert wonders if his father (Dick) and Dr Ballantyne had been comrades in the army during the war, and had become friends because of the Stoneycroft connection.  And probably, the Harrisons were patients of Dr Ballantyne.   Later, Dick became a trustee of the Ballantyne Trust.

During 1970, a young kauri tree was planted by both families in the grounds of Stoneycroft.  After this tree died, it was replaced in 1997 by another kauri which is still growing steadily today.   The assumption is that Dr and Mrs Ballantyne who both enjoyed their substantial gardens wanted to preserve a piece of long-lasting history, thus choosing the kauri.

No news clippings of either event have been uncovered, although photos taken at the time show several family members, including Esther MacIntyre (known as “The Aunt”) along with Dr and Mrs Ballantyne.

And note the letter written by James (Pod) Harrison to Mrs Ballantyne on 30 September 1997 referring to the tree planting day.  He mentions a rimu tree, though it is more than likely that he is referring to the kauri.

Original digital file


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Written after Harrison Open Day, 4 October 2014

Format of the original

Computer document

Date published


Creator / Author

  • Robyn Warren


  • Mrs Aitcheson
  • Dr and Mrs Allan Ballantyne
  • Claire Beamish
  • James Bell
  • Mrs Edmonds
  • Hugh Grigg
  • Hugh Harrison
  • James (Pod) Harrison
  • Jean Dalziel Harrison
  • Joan Harrison (Grigg)
  • Lady Margaret Harrison
  • Margaret (Poll) Fanny Harrison
  • Mary Harrison (Bielski)
  • Sir Richard Harrison
  • Robert Harrison
  • William Harrison
  • William Creed Harrison
  • Archibald MacIntyre
  • Duncan MacIntyre
  • Esther MacIntyre
  • Esther (Min) MacIntyre
  • Hamish MacIntyre
  • Jane MacIntyre
  • Mary MacIntyre
  • Peter MacIntyre
  • Rhoderick MacIntyre
  • Sheila MacIntyre

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