Tamahunga Trio

Sue Hatton is a successful Ponsonby real estate agent, so my first question, safe in the knowledge that she has marketed and sold more homes than most of us ever will, was, ‘are real estate agents immune to the emotion that is usually the deciding factor for purchasing a home?’ Sue throws back her head and laughs.

“Of course not, I fell in love with this house and bought it whilst out on a Sunday drive!”

The 268 square metre home was designed by local architect Rob Earley and built in 2012. It is the last house on Tamahunga Drive and enjoys a stunning north facing aspect with views of beautiful rolling countryside. Sue points to a rosemary bush just outside the window.

“That’s where my neighbours property is where I live in Ponsonby. It’s the best of both worlds, I love the feeling of space and tranquillity here, while still being connected to the community in Ponsonby and Herne Bay.”

The home has been clad in a mixture of weatherboard and Shadowclad. It is remarkably unobtrusive considering the natural beauty of the surroundings. This has been achieved by creating a multi-level interior to follow the land's natural sloping contour. The long and low mono-pitch roof maintains a constant gradient, much like the surrounding hillsides. North facing glass catches the sun, keeping the house warm even in the depths of winter.

Sue lives with her partner Sam and mum Maureen.

“Not including my mum was never an option. My grandmother lived with us when I was growing up and was a huge part of my life. I think the trend, especially with European families is to live separately, but we are all really close.”

Maureen has the entire western end of the house with a separate lounge and her own bathroom, complete with claw-foot bath. At 76 and retired from the dairy industry she has a jam packed social life and is very happy with the living arrangements.

“I absolutely love this place and I don’t feel the need to travel overseas anymore, as we live in a beautiful part of the world,” Maureen says.

The kitchen complete with handy butler's pantry, is the focal point and a big part of the couple's decision to buy the property. Sam originally hails from South Africa and loves to cook. She has an array of spices to rival a Moroccan bazaar and apparently her slow cooked ribs are divine. At Christmas the couple take time out and enjoy entertaining their friends, who are keen to escape the city and get a taste of the Matakana Coast lifestyle. The house definitely lends itself to entertaining, with large open spaces and a cosy lounge area. Outside, the covered decks promise poolside R and R with a few lazy vinos in the heat of summer. Situated on just over a hectare there is also the opportunity to keep busy with chickens, bees or the cottage garden. Sue commutes to open homes on the weekends and stays in Auckland several days a week. Monday is work from home day and the light and airy office overlooking the neighbour’s row of olive trees would de-stress even the most arduous of workloads.

Art plays a pivotal role in the interior décor and Sue has been a keen collector of New Zealand artists since her twenties. She buys art that resonates with her and is very well schooled on the artists.

“Art inspires me and I was also inspired by many of my clients selling up in Auckland and moving to this area. We are so pleased we joined them and have a great community here. They’ve dubbed us the TCWI; Tamahunga Country Women’s Institute!”