Expansive Ponatahi House, near Martinborough, sits on 9.04 hectares of land in the established farming area of Ponatahi and within the reputable Wairarapa wine region.
The meticulously-planned and designed family estate is centred on a substantial main residence that is known in design circles as “The House Wrapped in Literature”.
The 120 glass panels forming a rectangular skin around the upper level of exterior walls, windows and terraces are etched with a specially-commissioned poem by 2005–2007 New Zealand Poet Laureate, Jenny Bornholdt.
The typography is by acclaimed artist Catherine Griffiths, best-known for the Writers’ Walk installations around the Wellington harbour.
The property as a whole has seven bedrooms and six bathrooms, with the high-specification 543sqm main residence spanning two levels with multiple formal and casual living spaces including a 6.5-metre high stud living room, expansive kitchen and scullery, and private courtyards.
This is complemented by a self-contained 76sqm guest house, a 101sqm office/business centre with kitchenette and entertaining areas, pavilion, swimming pool, spa pool, tennis court, gymnasium and belvedere viewing platform among the trees. The large formal lawn also acts as a helicopter landing pad.
Extensive landscaping around the home enhances the century-old native plantings on the land which was originally part of the wider farm holding of the Jury family, who have farmed in Ponatahi since the early days of Wairarapa’s European settlement and still do so today.
Plans for Ponatahi House were conceived when the vendors were living and working in London in the early-2000s and looking to escape the stresses of corporate life and the city.
“We wanted to create a simpler, sustainable environment for our family to grow, breathe and benefit from the fresh air and freedom rural New Zealand encompasses, without compromising on the quality of residence we had been fortunate enough to enjoy in large cities,” said the vendor.
“Hence we assembled a team of specialists within the highest echelons of the New Zealand construction industry to design, build and project manage our dream rural residence.”
Awarded architect Stuart Gardyne, director of the Wellington-based firm, Architecture Plus, designed Ponatahi House.
Gardyne is respected for his work on high-profile commercial, residential and civic projects around the Wellington region and was the recipient of the 2015 New Zealand Institute of Architects' Gold Medal.
He said Ponatahi is a strongly individual property that sits comfortably in the landscape. Describing the main house as the lead actor with the other buildings playing supporting roles, Gardyne said the text-driven artwork speaks to the sense of place and has cultural relevance to the site in referencing the hills and the river.
Marketed by David Bayley, Bayleys Auckland Central and Andrew Smith, Bayleys Wairarapa, Ponatahi House is for sale by tender closing 4pm, Wednesday 30 June.
Bayley said with expats returning in droves and New Zealanders coming to terms with the post-COVID world, high-end real estate is capturing attention.
“Now that international travel is constrained, and health and well-being are paramount, this country’s lauded safe haven status has been thrown into sharp focus,” he said.
“There’s also a strong emphasis on family, connection and resilient working arrangements.
“Properties that have the capacity to multi-task, provide a sense of escape and yet still be within easy reach of main centres are in demand.”
Furthermore, off the back of the global pandemic, there has been a consolidation of wealth in New Zealand in line with overseas trends.
“In its recent Wealth Report, Bayleys’ global real estate partner Knight Frank found that around the world, the number of ultra-high net worth individuals has grown through the last year.
“The report also noted a global uptick in demand for rural properties with abundant open spaces, as a direct response to the pandemic which has forced people to evaluate what they want from life.
“Some of the key factors aiding growth in luxury residential buying across the world include low lending rates, a universal hunt for real estate in relatively remote – yet easily-accessible – locations, the work-from-home boom, and wellness.
“These fundamentals mean that Ponatahi House is likely to resonate with those seeking a certain quality of life in a resort-style property, where modern day convenience meets rural serenity and where there is potential for multi-generational living.”
While acknowledging the appeal of Ponatahi as a legacy property for a family, Bayley said it also had potential as a commercial venture, with the ability to effortlessly morph into a day spa, team-building/corporate retreat, cooking school, IT studio or creative hub, given the scale of the property.
This thinking is endorsed by Andrew Smith of Bayleys who said the Wairarapa is coming onto the radar of well-resourced New Zealand businesses looking for options close to Wellington.
“Advances in technology and an increasingly-digital world, coupled with learnings from the pandemic situation which fast-tracked innovation and benefitted those businesses with an agile model, means that people can pretty much work from anywhere.
“Ponatahi House’s flexible layout, its adaptable spaces like the guest house and highly-functional office/business hub, and superior level of recreational amenities, makes it a strong contender for a forward-thinking business owner that thinks outside of conventional boxes.”
Smith also echoed the potential for Ponatahi as a wellness retreat, citing the current popularity of mindfulness, yoga and self-improvement practices and the greater emphasis on health and well-being in society – and corporate New Zealand – today,
“There a very special energy at Ponatahi – you certainly get the sense that it’s a much-loved property and the words etched in glass serve to underscore this,” he said.
“The text includes reference to ‘home-coming’, ‘leave-taking’, 'sit down to rest' – words that apply both to personal life and work.”
Ponatahi is 10 minutes’ drive from Martinborough, and a 75-minute drive or a 15-minute helicopter ride from Wellington CBD.