Family designs their Cambridge home to harness solar and artist energy - 15th Feb 2021

A ruler collection artistically assembled on the wall of a Waikato home provides visitors with a hint about the owner’s passion in life.

Di Tocker is an artist and her four-bedroom home is a mixture of creative thinking and functionality.

The wooden ruler installation in the hallway was a head turner for people visiting the house, which was one of nine on the NZ House and Garden Charity House Tour in Cambridge on Friday and Saturday.

The rulers were collected from second-hand shops during holidays around New Zealand over a couple of years.

The black walls also draw attention while a large painting in the home’s main living space is by friend and painter Jennie De Groot.

There are also many other artwork features around the house by Tocker too, who is a glass artist.


She and her husband Mike built the house in 2016 for their family, two daughters Rubie and Hazel, to move into from Ōhaupo.

The pavilion-style house is on a lane and has a quiet courtyard which leads to the front door.

The house occupies most the property's footprint but there are many small, outdoor spaces created, following the shape of the building.

There are spaces “for every season of the year”, Tocker said.

“We didn't need a lot of outdoor room because when we open the French doors, you feel like you are outside.

“The big thing for me is form and functionality, to have spaces that have dual-purpose if possible, that’s all the way through the house.”

Tocker said the family “begged and borrowed” from home designs online before they came up with a concept plan for New Image Homes in Hamilton to start work on.

“One of the things we did was to use classic 1970s brick that you might see while driving around in Dinsdale [in Hamilton].

“We didn’t want the house to be ultra-modern, to be a house stuck in one particular era.

“But we did want it to be a nod to that classic period.”

There is a swimming pool with rural views at one end of the property and at the other end, near the lane, a studio was built for Tocker to focus on her career in art.

She has worked as a fulltime artist for 18 years and been in business for herself for about 14 years.

Most of her customers are home owners and she also supplies work to five galleries around the country.

NZ House and Garden Editor Naomi Larkin said Di Tocker’s house is all about colour and artwork.

“I’ve heard people come out and talk how they can see Di’s personality in the house. It has nice artwork ideas, Di has got her own style, which people have appreciated.


“The beauty of this tour is that we have got a great range of homes, everything from a modern-day castle, a house wrapped in corten steel, a relocated church and here, an artist’s studio.”

Larkin said the tour in Cambridge was one of the first to sell out. The last time the Waipā town was part of the tour was in 2015.

There were other tours this year in Dunedin, Christchurch, Kāpiti Coast and Auckland.

“Interest has been phenomenal, we had to increase the tour from one to two days for Cambridge.

“People have this intriguing, voyeuristic interest is seeing inside other peoples’ homes and we like to say it's a chance to have a first-person look inside the pages of NZ House and Garden.”

Larkin also said it was a show of support for the tour’s charity, Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

”The partnership we have allows these tours to provide a lot of funding each year.

”This year, it is a cash injection of $110,000 as well as a campaign public marketing package valued at around $120,000.

”The foundation is an organisation we think is really important to Aotearoa, the work they do is important to so many people and we’re really happy to partner with them.”

By Lawrence Gullery, Feb 14 2021
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