The History of Gift

Olveston, and its collections were gifted on trust to the City of Dunedin by Miss Dorothy Theomin following her death in 1966.

The decision to accept the gift was not taken lightly. Advice sought recommended to council of the day they go beyond the narrow legislative interpretation of the wording of Dorothy Theomin’s Will and instead endeavor to meet the spirit of her desires and intentions.

Having examined and worked through practicalities of the terms of the gift with its advisers, the Dunedin City Council on behalf of the city accepted the property on trust. A Trust Deed was executed in 1967 (and revised in 1995) to form the governing document for the gift.


The day-to-day operations at Olveston are undertaken by the Olveston team to ensure the house is maintained in a manner befitting of the Theomin family’s wishes..

As such, Olveston is maintained in the spirit of the family home occupied by the Theomin family from 1906 to 1966. The “lived in” atmosphere of the house is preserved through an honest presentation of its contents including the significant artworks and domestic collections, in a manner which encompasses an understanding of the Theomin family’s tastes, interests and general domestic way of life.

Olveston is a family home of architectural and historical quality listed by the NZ Historic Places Trust. It is presented to visitors as a unique social history experience, a reflection of David Theomin’s drive for success and recognition, the home of a family strongly involved in the community and successful in their business ventures in early twentieth century New Zealand.

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Olveston Historic Home.