We build wood-burning, cast-iron cooking stoves, here in Whangarei, New Zealand. Please see our Contact page for workshop location, email address and phone numbers, and stove pages for full information about our individual models.
We’re a family business spanning three generations – our founder David and his wife Penelope (grandparents), their son Zak and Janie (parents) and their five children: Zelda, Vera, Tilda, Gretel and William.
You can meet us all in this video from early 2020:
Originally a carpenter by trade, David has designed all the stoves in our range, starting design and patterning work on the Homewood Heritage in the late 1990s in the back shed of his farm, ‘Homewood’, where he and his wife Penelope built their home and raised their five children. You can learn more about the history of our business below.
Zak has been with Homewood Stoves since 2009, when he returned home to Whangarei with his wife Janie to start their family. Zak has been gradually taking over the day-to-day running of the company as David progressively retires.
Zak and Janie now have five children of their own (Zelda, Vera, Tilda, Gretel and William), and see Homewood as an inter-generational legacy to be carefully stewarded into the future.
Between the farm, house and garden, David has myriad other projects keeping him busy when not needed at the factory: stone and tiling work creating a courtyard, furniture-making, handcrafting doors for the house, boat-building, an impressive pizza and bread oven, fences and gates, and right now is building a pool for the whole family to enjoy.
Growing up on the beaches of Milford and Takapuna, David has always loved boating, and still enjoys sailing in his small wooden boats (when he finds the time!). Leaving Auckland behind as a young man, David first built himself a shack on the cliffs overlooking the Ngunguru estuary (20 minutes outside Whangarei) in the early 1970s: very much off-grid and primitive – no electricity, no plumbing, and just an open fire to cook on. Boundlessly creative, he also paints and in recent years has found joy in playing music: singing and songwriting.
David is grateful for the full and busy life God has granted him.
Penelope works alongside David with all their farm projects; keeps a house cow and cart horse; loathes plastic and supermarkets (and cellphones, and computers, and televisions, and cars, and- actually, it seems to be only begrudgingly that she uses any modern technology at all. She would have quite happily been Amish!); and feels blessed that all her children (and nearly all seventeen grandchildren) live in and around her home town. Her youngest daughter, Grace, lives with her husband and young family in a little cottage on the same property that is home to the original Homewood Companion model. You can see Grace cooking alongside Janie on this first Companion in our YouTube video, and Grace runs an Instagram page called ‘The Old Way’ that regularly showcases life on the Homewood Farm. Penelope loves getting to help out with their small children, and shares in a love of horses with Grace; particularly Western riding and natural horsemanship.
Highly musical, Penelope has sung her whole life (she’s who you hear singing and playing in our videos), recorded gospel music with her twin sister, plays for her church and still teaches violin. Penelope and David play folk music with two of their daughters, Grace and Hannah, in a group they call ‘Kinfolk’, and often host a country/folk evening out of their home. Penelope now gets to teach singing to many of her young granddaughters (including Zak and Janie’s older three!).
As a boy, Zak loved playing card and board games, and today very much enjoys modern board gaming (which you can see in the below video, or learn more about here). Though he may not be the carpenter his father is, Zak still enjoys getting to work with wood every now-and-then when pursuing various little personal projects. When not gifts for Janie and the kids (rocking horse, swan-swing, spice rack, mirror frame, boxes, shelves…), you can be sure that these will be somehow board game-related: dice tower, card holders, poker chip trays, and his most involved project – crokinole boards! He finds that occasional wood-working in his spare time makes for a refreshing break from always working with iron and steel.
Neither musical nor religious in the same way as his parents, Zak is nonetheless passionate about a somewhat-obscure genre of music: Gothic Americana; under-produced, alternative country(ish) songs seeped in hardship, loss, violence and apocalyptic imagery that has its roots in the Appalachian experience. Definitely not for everyone, Zak finds this music connects with him in a way that he can only describe as uplifting.
While not exactly a full-blown survivalist, Zak does believe our current way of life (since the Industrial Revolution) to be unsustainable, and that a reckoning is inevitable – one that will radically disrupt this age of borrowed prosperity and infinite growth – so has instincts toward prepping and homesteading that align well with what we do here at Homewood Stoves.
Janie left graduate studies behind in Auckland when moving north to start their family, and today is a mother and home-maker. She finds motherhood to be deeply fulfilling, rich in both rewards and challenges. Janie shares at least some of her mother-in-law’s dislike of modern disposable culture, and though it has meant a lot(!) of washing, none of our children have ever worn anything but cloth nappies. Janie is grateful to have had healthy pregnancies and to live in a place that allowed her to have all our five children at home (close to a hospital!) – with Zak even having to act as ‘midwife’ for Gretel who arrived before the actual midwife did (one of the more special experiences in Zak’s life!).
Janie inherited a love of gardening from her parents (they developed 7 acres of garden and parkland at her childhood home, Ngawai, on the Kapiti Coast – where Zak and Janie were married) and with many vets in the family a love of animals from them too. She loves hunting through local antique and second-hand shops for treasures, upcycling, knitting, crochet, sewing and coaching netball – all while maintaining a warm and loving home. Janie is excited as we begin to create our own space with farm animals and food forests; her love of garden, nature and the outdoors sees her have big goals and dreams as we establish our own homestead and farmlet built around permaculture principles.
The History of Homewood Stoves
We take our name from Homewood Station in Old Homewood Bay / Mary’s Bay, Pelorus Sounds, Marlborough, New Zealand. Established in the 1800s, Homewood was acquired by our ancestor David William Foote (third-generation Scottish settler) around the turn of the century, and was where he ran a sheep farm and guesthouse with his wife Laura. There they raised eight children.
David K. Foote (grandson of David W. Foote and founder of our company) recalls visiting Homewood with his father (Kenneth Foote) and grandfather in the late 1950s (sadly no longer in the family by that point), playing on the beaches and visiting the War Memorial set up by David W.
Connected only by boat, Homewood Bay has never had access to any kind of electrical grid (still true today!), and undoubtedly it is this culture of self-reliance and capability, forged by necessity through isolation and rugged terrain (a common thread that winds through much of the NZ experience) that heavily informed our own values here at Homewood Stoves.
When David and Penelope purchased their farm outside of Whangarei in the early 1980s, David named it ‘Homewood’ in memory of that special place where his father had been born and raised. With plans to build the ‘real’ house later, they ‘temporarily’ moved into and started doing up the run-down cowshed. Over the decades to follow, this cowshed instead went through a transformation – into the unrecognisable homestead it is today.
Homewood Farm is also where the Homewood Cabin was finally put out to pasture – the striking display cabin that David and Penelope would erect each year at the Mystery Creek field days when first starting out.
Wishing for a life-less-ordinary, David chose to spend his adulthood self-employed – building houses (including his own), boats, furniture and engaged in miscellaneous carpentry – so that he could pursue a wholesome lifestyle of self-sufficient farming, gardening and oil painting on his own land with his growing family.
It was here in the Northland countryside that Homewood Stoves began. In 1995, David experimented with building his first enclosed fire: a fabricated steel, custom insert designed to warm the concrete-walled lounge of his in-progress home. Capable of burning truly massive logs, this far exceeded expectations – establishing the pattern of things to follow. A few years later, he built a free-standing version of this fireplace for his sister-in-law’s home, and on the technical drawing requested by the local council, he labelled it ‘The Homewood’.
David and Penelope had become attached to the wood stove life, thanks to a Shacklock 501 (along with the Shacklock Orion, these were once ubiquitous across this country) in the kitchen of their previous home, and had installed an antique Nicholls Brothers No. 1 Orb coal range – firebox modified to ‘fit’ wood (even enlarged, Zak remembers having to constantly split tiny wood to keep it fed as a boy!) – into the cowshed at Homewood Farm while still believing it to be temporary accommodation. When it became obvious that the cowshed project was grander than just some stop-gap, they knew something bigger and more suitable was called for.
Not terribly excited about any of the options available at the time (there was no longer any New Zealand manufacturer of cast-iron cooking stoves), David put his decades of design and crafting experience into creating a new stove. This time, being a cooker, he knew it would be cast iron, and require pattern-making – something that the craftsman in him had been keen to try his hand at for a long time (ever since his imagination had been sparked seeing the patterns for a band-saw that a childhood friend had made). He began in his garden shed: handcrafting all the casting patterns himself.
David incorporated all the ideas and efficiency improvements that his many years of hands-on cook stove use had given him, while still holding to the New Zealand tradition of cooking stoves that are also used for home heating. He wanted something big: with a large firebox that could take large logs, burn through the night and not need constant refuelling. Feeding the growing family was important, so he wanted a generous oven that could fit large roasting dishes. He wanted glass windows so that the fire could be both enjoyed and monitored.
Less-excited about the often overly-ornate, dainty decorative flourishes found on many of the small antique stoves (particularly those out of America), David went instead for a more robust, timeless aesthetic. He wanted something that looked like it could fit into the 1800s, without being held back by it. Something that wouldn’t look at all out of place or time in a Victorian boiler room, but that would still fit in a contemporary kitchen.
The Homewood Heritage was born.
By June of 2001, he had the very first model cast, assembled and installed in his own kitchen on Homewood Farm – and its first lighting (once again) far exceeded all of David’s expectations. Transcribed from Penelope’s journal that same evening:
What a wonderful night! David and I are sitting in front of a beautiful Homewood woodstove. We’ve had a hot milk milo, Holly is purring on Dave’s knee & we are listening to the Michael Hill world violin competition in front of the fire.Penelope – 6th of June, 2001
David struck the match to light the stove for the first time at about 6 pm & it is going beautifully!! What a clever man he is. The stove looks wonderful & all the controls work so well & responsively. It’s almost hard to believe it is finally in and going. David has taken it quietly & is gradually letting it heat up. The thermometer now says 300 F, and in David’s words ‘nothing untoward has happened’ – quite the contrary – everything is working perfectly!! 🙂 I am so thrilled for David – he has worked so hard & for so long on it & he now has his reward.
I can’t stop watching the flames. When it’s closed down the flames are so languid & lovely!
So begins the next part of the journey…
Home from university on a study break, Zak was on hand to help get it into place and got to witness the success.
Today, more than 20 years later, the original Homewood Heritage remains the heart of the farm kitchen – and Penelope is coming up to her
5,000th, 6000th, 7000th(?) loaf of bread cooked, and countless meals shared with family and visiting friends!
In 2003, Homewood Stoves Limited was officially incorporated, and we have been in business ever since, up at the Old Money Factory, just before Onerahi, Whangarei.
We have been growing steadily since the beginning, and now have a long list of satisfied customers (you can read some of their experiences here), with our map of New Zealand now dotted from top to bottom with Homewoods – including out to some of the near islands.
David almost immediately began development on the Homewood Matriarch – now believed to be the largest cast-iron stove still in production anywhere worldwide today – and this was completed in 2006, with the first model finding a home in a local bed and breakfast.
When Zak came home in 2009, he took over marketing and sales while learning the ins-and-outs of stove manufacturing, installation and testing. One of the first things he did was coax David in front of the camera to talk about his stove – producing our videos that have now been seen many millions of times and connected with people all across the world. Soon thereafter he encouraged David to continue pursuing development of a model he’d already prototyped – a littler stove that would better suit those with smaller homes; one that would also suit the increasing number of people searching for replacements for their old Shacklock, Champion or Nicholls Bros stoves – and in 2010 the first Homewood Companion was put together.
In 2016, we sent out our first export: a Homewood Heritage direct to an end customer who installed it in a beautiful stone cottage in the south of France. Since then, we have sent many more (all models): to islands in the Pacific, to Australia, to the United States, and just this year our very first has been sent to the United Kingdom. Given that historically our main competitors in the NZ-market had been stoves with internationally-recognised names being imported from the UK, this is a monumental achievement far exceeding any modest ambitions that David may have dared dream as he first embarked on this ‘little project’, back in that garden shed.