Teschemakers, set in seventy acres of beautiful rural North Otago, is situated east of the main road with the turn-off from the North at Fortification Road, about 10 minutes drive south of Oamaru; and from the South at Teschemakers Road, about 3 minutes drive North of Maheno.
The Teschemakers property was originally part of the Taipo Estate purchased by William Teschemaker, an English gentleman of Dutch descent, in 1860. His brother Frederick gave it the name Teschemakers (Old Dutch for table-maker).
In 1862 the homestead was built of Oamaru stone and surrounded by lawns and plantations of English trees. William Teschemakers, being ‘a studious and retiring man’, died in 1888 at the age of fifty-nine.
Patrick and Peter McCarthy, who were of Irish descent, bought the property in 1905, but in 1911 they gifted the homestead and approximately twenty-five acres of land to the Dominican Congregation of Sisters, and on March 24 1912 the grand opening of St Patrick’s School was celebrated. Over the years the college grew until it could cater for one hundred and forty girls.
Electricity was installed in 1913, the telephone in 1918, water was laid on in 1920, the convent was extended in 1923, a new laundry was built in 1951, the swimming pool was opened in 1955, new classrooms were added in 1959, and after the old dormitory burnt down in 1962, a new three story dormitory was erected in 1963.
The small numbers that could be accommodated and the isolation of the school resulted in a decision to close the school in 1977, the remaining boarders attending school at St Thomas’ in Oamaru. The hostel at Teschemakers finally closed in 1979. In 1980 six Dominican Sisters opened the Teschemakers Retreat and Conference Centre.
From April 1994, the Centre was run and managed by a co-operative of nine people, including three Dominican Sisters. The Centre was a venue for retreats, healing, prayer, contemplation, study and reflection, as well as developing ways of living in balanced harmony with the land, encouraging arts and crafts, promoting ecumenism, advancing the equality of men and women, addressing justice and peace issues and honouring the Treaty of Waitangi.
Dr Ochi purchased Teschemakers from the Dominican Sisters in 2000, with the intension of turning it into a University. He refurbished the main building and when nearly completed it burnt to the ground in 2003. He then had it rebuilt but passed away in 2007 and his dream died with him.
John and Joy Murdoch purchased Teschemakers in 2011 and have now opened it as Teschemakers Wedding and Conference Venue.