Bushy Park Homestead - History



The Early Days

The Bushy Park Farm was established in the mid 1860's at Kai Iwi, a farming district north of Wanganui on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island.

In June 1863 James Moore from Lerwick in the Shetland Islands arrived in Auckland on board the Warspirit in company with his sister Emma. After visiting his sister in Christchurch he came to Wanganui and purchased Kells Store.

In about 1865 he and future brother-in-law James Currie founded the Bushy Park farm. The Moore/Currie partnership ended during the 1880's.

The farm prospered and by 1890 was a significant property but during the 11 years from 1891 to 1902 all the family died, leaving the youngest son, George Francis (Frank) Maitland Moore as the sole survivor. ​​

Frank commissioned C.Tilleard Natusch to design a house and what is now the Bushy Park Homestead was completed in 1906.

Frank never married, but is remembered for a lavish and generous life style.

While the main part of the farm continued under management, Frank had a focus on racehorses and hereford cattle.

He died in 1962 aged 85 after gifting his house and the attached forest to the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.

Open To The Public with Wanganui Forest and Bird

Following the death of Frank Moore, ​the operation of Bushy Park became the responsibility of the Wanganui Branch of Forest and Bird who tackled the task of preparing the property for public visits.

Furnishings befitting the period had to be found, walking tracks had to be defined to the notable points in the forest and informative signs had to be created and erected.

Over time teas and light meals became available and the accommodation was brought into line with the different useage it now had. Teams of volunteers took control of the never-ending maintenance of the old house, while others looked after the extensive grounds, lawns, hedges and tracks.

The first custodian was Frank Moore's handyman, Ernie Paulger. After his retirement in 1964 there were a number of custodians and managers over the following thirty years.

During this time, the major part of the upkeep was being carried out by an organising committee under the eye of the Wanganui Branch of Forest and Bird, with some financial support from the central office.

Increasingly, the role of the Homestead was being questioned and eventually the decision was made to re-configure the administration of Bushy Park.

The forest was retained by Forest and Bird while the Homestead was transferred to a new Trust. The new system took effect from 1995.

The Trust And A New Direction

The formation of the Bushy Park Homestead and Forest Trust - a registered Charitable Trust - allowed access to new forms of funding, leading to some significant developments.

The Trust was successful in securing funding under the LEOTC (Learning Experience Outside The Classroom) and a teacher was based at Bushy Park for nine years. The funding application was not successful in 2009 and this very popular programme ceased.

During the time LEOTC operated at Bushy Park, tens of thousands of children of different ages from schools all round the lower North Island were able to benefit from the experience of a safe visit to a stand of virgin New Zealand rainforest.

The construction of a predator proof fence saw the successful removal of all manner of predators from the forest, which in turn allowed the re-introduction of saddleback (tieke) and the start of the involvement in Operation Nest Egg.

In the Homestead fundraising saw the improvement of the water supply and the installation of a fire sprinkler system. Over time progress has been made on work to make the house warmer.

The way the Homestead is operated also changed. The early management saw the catering upgraded to bed and breakfast. In due course the the employment of managers and custodians came to an end as administration of the Homestead went to the first lessee.

The current lessees are Theo and Vivienne Perry who are in their eighth year at Bushy Park.


791 Rangitatau East Road Wanganui new zealand   Ph +646 342 9879 Your hosts are viv and theo perry