Recently we went on a trip to Kawau Island which lies about 8 km off the coast north of Auckland. In 1862 Kawau was purchased by Sir George Grey, one of New Zealand’s best-known governors,  as a private residence. He transformed the mine manager’s house — manganese and copper were both mined here — into the stately mansion you can visit today. The grounds of Mansion House were turned into a beautiful garden with plants and animals imported from all over the world. By British aristocracy’s standards, Mansion House is relatively modest, but for New Zealanders it was, and remains, one of the country’s most notable residences. The photo of my daughter was snapped while she was admiring the splendid view from Sir George Grey’s bedroom. It must have been a marvellous way to start the day, to the sound of birdsong and crowing peacocks, taking breakfast on the balcony with its peaceful views over the bay. Not an email or text in sight or earshot to bother the Governor of this far-flung colony on his private island paradise.


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