Watercolour on paper
445 x 905mm
This watercolour is primarily a landscape painting, but the central positioning of the house no doubt indicates the artist’s interest in depicting the incongruous placement of such a building in a remote landscape. Otekaieke Station, not far from Oamaru, was the home of Berkshire-born landowner Robert Campbell whose holdings in 1877 amounted to 85,000 acres of pastoral lease and 17,000 acres of freehold on which he ran 115,000 sheep. He was a member of the House of Representatives and later of the Legislative Council where his contribution is said to have been marred by his heavy drinking. In 1877, Campbell built a highly fashionable Scottish baronial castle at Otekaieake containing over thirty rooms and distinguished by castellated gables and turrets.
There being no surviving drawings, the architect for the house remains unknown. Having created a spacious English garden, Campbell entertained on a lavish scale, but he died in 1889 aged 46 and his wife less than one year later. A nephew came out from England to manage the station, which by 1908 had dwindled to 17,000 acres. In that year, the New Zealand Government bought what from then on became known as Campbell Park School, a school for boys needing special tuition.