Lewis Ackers story is a fascinating one. Born into a well-to-do family who possessed a large estate in New York, Lewis decided society life was not for him. His family agreed to let him go to sea, in the hope that it might teach him some discipline and end his wild behaviour. Little did they know they would never see him again. He came to New Zealand as a harpooner on an American whaling ship in about 1831 and fell in love with the southern region. After being employed at shore whaling stations he turned to boat building and eventually settled at Stewart Island with his Māori wife, Mary Pi, after purchasing 600 acres of Stewart Island land off of Chief Tuhawaiki. There he built Ackers cottage, one of the earliest stone houses on the island - although it is still not determined exactly where he sourced the stone from to achieve this feat!
Acker and his wife lived in this cottage until the late 1850s. Since that time it has been used as a smithy, storeroom, brewery and workshop. It has since been placed on the Heritage New Zealand list of historic places (Category I) and has been restored by Heritage New Zealand and the Department of Conservation as an example of an early vernacular building.
- Culture & Heritage
- Historic Building