A chance meeting about 10 years ago gave rise to a mammoth
project for a Dalefield couple, who last weekend celebrated
the history of the family who once lived in the building they
used to use as a woolshed.
Descendants of Alexander and Mary-Jane Brown (nee Wilson)
gathered at Lower Shotover Rd for a Scottish-themed evening,
reminiscing about the family and the history of the now
restored cottage, built in 1889.
Owners Chris and Ted Cassidy bought the former Islay Farm at
Lower Shotover, which included the historic cottage, in 1990
and built a home on a hill behind it, using the cottage as a
Mr Cassidy said he had been working overseas, in Borneo, when
his brother noticed an elderly man standing at the property's
"He had tears in his eyes and said he used to live in the
cottage," Mr Cassidy said.
The man was the late Ian Brown, the grandson of Alexander
"I got home and that started the whole thing," Mr Cassidy
"We thought it would be a shame to lose it forever."
The Cassidys tracked down Alexander Brown's
great-grandchildren Isla Trapski, of Hamilton, and Warren
Brown, of Te Anau, who provided information on the history of
the family and the cottage.
Alexander Brown, an assisted immigrant who was from Islay,
arrived in Bluff with his sister Jessie, also known as Janet.
"She's still a mystery," Kirsten Smith, Alexander's
great-great-granddaughter, of Gore, said.
Alexander made his way to Queenstown, where he met and
The couple's only surviving child of four, John Brown, later
married Annie Brown and their son, Ian, was the one who set
the the restoration in motion.
The cottage had been built as a home, but was moved to a
neighbouring section and then back, eventually becoming a
Mr Cassidy said the couple began lodging resource consent
applications in 2004 and a resource consent hearing in the
Environment Court in 2005 finally enabled the project to
Although the cottage was not listed with the Historic Places
Trust, the Cassidys had worked closely with conservation
architects John Gray, of conservation architects Oakley Gray
Architects in Dunedin, and Maurice Orr Architecture in
Arrowtown, largely from exterior photographs of the original
George Page, of Page Construction, in Arrowtown, was
responsible for the rebuilding, and stonemason Dougal
Penetito recreated the original stone fence.
Mrs Trapski said there were "no words" to describe the end
result of the restoration.
"It's just amazing. My only sorrow is my mother [Ellie-May
Brown] and my uncle could not be here to see it."