Story: Natural environment

Pāua-shell house, Bluff

Pāua-shell house, Bluff

Fred Flutey and his wife Myrtle achieved fame with their house clad in pāua shell (Haliotis iris), in Bluff, at the bottom of the South Island. The transformation of their ordinary bungalow began one day when Myrtle decided to put a few shells around the living-room mirror. Fred liked the look of them, and over the years they added more shells, until even the outside walls were plastered. The house, now a museum, also contains a collection of pāua knick-knacks. In the era of smoking, New Zealanders often used the shells as ashtrays, particularly in holiday homes. Broken pieces are also made into earrings or encased in epoxy and moulded into souvenirs. In traditional Māori carving, paua pieces were used as gleaming eyes in carved figures.

Using this item

Private collection
Photograph by Emma Dewson

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Carl Walrond, 'Natural environment - Coasts', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/2658/paua-shell-house-bluff (accessed 24 May 2019)

Story by Carl Walrond