House's rebirth draws woman home

HOME AGAIN: Gillian Peren, daughter of Sir Geoffery Peren, vice chancellor, grew up living in Tiritea House.
HOME AGAIN: Gillian Peren, daughter of Sir Geoffery Peren, vice chancellor, grew up living in Tiritea House.

There's a tree so tall outside Massey University's Tiritea House that from a few metres away, you have to tilt your head back and shade your eyes to look at the top.

Gillian Peren, daughter of Sir Geoffrey Peren, founding principal of Massey Agricultural College, remembers leaping over that tree as a game at one of her birthday parties.

Ms Peren returned to Tiritea House, once the principal's residence and a place she called home for the first 30 years of her life, yesterday to witness its rebirth as the new home of Massey's Alumni and Heritage Centre.

Tiritea House began life in 1902 as part of a 24-room mansion for a bank manager and his family on the site now occupied by the Sir Geoffrey Peren Building. In 1924 it was cut in two and shifted. One half became the principal's residence, known until this year as Tiritea House, while the other became what is now known as Old Registry.

Partial restoration of the house was funded in part by the Massey class of 1958 alumni, who collectively donated about $73,000.

The historic homestead is now a place for visiting alumni to reconnect with old friends and view some of Massey's heritage, including artworks and writing collections.

Ms Peren, who now lives in Auckland, was born in the house in 1929, and lived there until 1958, and is thrilled that it is to become a place for alumni to spend time.

"I love this house, and loved living here - it was cold, but it was home and we had a lot of fun here."

Fiona Conway, whose father William Riddet was vice principal of the college, also attended the ceremony.

She had distant memories of the house, but didn't spend a lot of time there.

She did however, spend a lot of time in the grounds, and remembers rolling down the hill out the front.

The reopening of the house is part of Massey's celebrations as it marks 50 years since the agricultural college became a university and 21 years since it established its Albany campus on Auckland's North Shore.

It is also 50 years since Massey offered the world's first degree in food technology.

Manawatu Standard