Project Puhinui: Session Two – Puhinui House, Howick Historical Village

Session Two: 2nd April 2016  –  Duo overnight vigil by Barbara & Karen.

12400666_10153372138766951_8613230000479439131_nPeople have reported seeing the apparition of a woman walking up the stairs of the house.

The mirror in the main bedroom has been seen moving and sometimes swivels around overnight.

A friend of a staff member who was a sensitive reported sensing a woman in the upstairs bedroom.

During one of our early investigations of the village I had heard a man speak while I was in the hallway of the house and I witnessed a heavy full-length velvet curtain lift back and fall back (as if an unseen hand had picked it up and dropped it) while in the main lounge.

I also had a trigger object move in the nursery upstairs.

During the last investigation, video footage showed a torch being thrown down the stairs and significant noises and bangs were heard around the same time.

WEATHER CONDITIONS: It was warm and clear.

LUNAR CYCLE: Waning Crescent


As the building was so large it took quite some time to get temperatures of all areas.  Temperature readings were done at 9pm, 11.50pm and 1.30am.

At all times the temperature remained fairly constant with no rooms showing a major fluctuation.

  • 9.00pm 25.7°C (upstairs storeroom) – 24.7°C (maids room)
  • 11.50pm 25.6°C (main lounge) – 24.6°C (maids room)
  • 1.30am 24.6°C (main lounge) – 22.6°C (Downstairs hallway)

Oddly Karen reported feeling very cold in the main lounge throughout the evening  but the temperature remained constant and did not drop under 24°C.

TEMPERATURE OUTSIDE BUILDING ON ENTRY: It was a warm day and was still 23°C at 7pm

I had been in the building several times before, so knew the layout and of the ambience of the house.  No matter how many times I go into this building I’m always in awe of the craftsman who built this beautiful home.  The majestic, carpeted stairs with a polished pohutukawa stair rail,  and arched, coloured glass landing window are the first thing seen upon entry from the front door and draw you up the stairs to the bedroom/storage areas of the house.  I was looking forward to seeing the upstairs storerooms rooms, as they had been locked during all other visits and investigations of the house and this time Trevor (the caretaker) had agreed to open them all up for us.

I was shocked as we did our initial walk-through to find that one of the store-rooms, which had been locked for all previous investigations, had items in it that could have been used to make some of the sounds heard during those investigations.  I was a little worried that there could be someone either hiding in the house or who had access to get inside while we were there.  This nervousness intensified after Karen reported hearing what sounded like footsteps creeping around while we were doing a communication session upstairs.  (She was listening to the recording in real time via headphones but as I was conducting the session I did not have headphones on so therefore did not have the benefit of having all sounds amplified.),  After closely monitoring the DVR cams for an hour or so after these footsteps were heard, it became apparent that we were definitely the only people there so I felt reassured.  The lighting in the lounge was very low and felt really dingy so made the lounge feel a little creepy, but I was easily able to rationalise that.  The upstairs of the building definitely had a very different atmosphere to downstairs and I felt that if there was anything paranormal in the building that it was probably upstairs (although I had nothing at all to back this feeling up)

The House

The house is huge!!!  Upon entering through the front door is  an entry hall with a hallway leading to the rear of the house, a very grand stairway, a door to the left which goes to the main lounge and a door to the right which opens to the dining room.  Off the end of the dining room is the study.  The hallway at the front door leads to the rear of the house where it turns right and runs along the back of the building.  Off this hallway are doors leading to the main lounge (has two doors-one off front hallway and one off back hallway), the public toilets, the kitchen (with a small modern kitchen/tea making room at the rear left and a small back entrance area with a back door at rear right), the dining room (also has two doors-one just inside front door and one off back hallway, opposite the kitchen), and at the end of this rear hallway is a very small maids room.

If I went up the stairs from the front door there was a small landing half way up with a large arched window edged with coloured glass.  The stairs continued up to a large landing at the top.  Off this landing was the main bedroom, a work/store room to the right and a room set up as a nursery, and a short passage to the left.  Off the short hallway were two store/work rooms to the left and another at the end of the hallway.

I was really interested in the upstairs rooms as it was upstairs that not only Haunted Investigators, but also staff and the general public had reported most of the activity.  The apparition of a woman has been seen moving up the stairs, people have reported the mirror in the main bedroom being moved, trigger objects have been moved in the nursery, noises heard and at the investigation before ours a flat torch was somehow moved from a chair at the beginning of the small hallway and thrown down the stairs.  It was really interesting to be able to get into the store/work rooms which we had never had access to before, especially when we discovered that in one room was a large heavy case, a metal bucket and a chair all of which we used to replicate loud and obvious sounds heard from upstairs during the last investigation while the investigator slept.  The main bedroom was also of interest to me as presumably this room would have been the master bedroom and was very possibly where some of the owners of the home spent significant amounts of time.  Interestingly the light to this blew shortly after we arrived at the house while we were setting up so further investigation of the room and our attempts at communication sessions had to be done by torchlight.

A lot of what we thought may have been paranormal we were able to be debunked either a little later during the investigation or during review of the audio and video footage.  A light seen on the wall, followed by the sound of footsteps seems to be caused by a torch shone in the front door or window followed by the sound of someone walking along the front deck of the house.  This is very clear when listened to on a recorder using directional speakers although at the time they sounded like they were inside.  We also noted that there appeared to be an odd light (orb like), which came and went in one of the upstairs store rooms.  After watching for about an hour to determine that we were not about to see an apparition form I went upstairs to check it out.  It appeared that the “activity” was caused by the infrared cam trying to film a reflective surface as, once the camera was moved slightly the activity ceased.   Apart from these occurrences there was nothing that I would consider paranormal.

Karen heard footsteps somewhere in the house during a communication session and upon checking the dvr footage there was nothing to be seen.  She also woke me very early in the morning and reported that she had heard someone walking quietly in the room that was above us.  I didn’t hear anything as the activity had ceased by the time I was fully awake. (Upon review of the audio footage I feel that what she heard was actually someone walking up the front steps and back down again and that it was possibly the caretaker or security guard.)

Cold spots, Temperature drops:

It was extremely warm in the house all night.  There were no cold spots noted at any time during the investigation!  Karen did report feeling very cold in the early hours of the morning but the thermometer did verify this when I checked the air around her, nor could I physically feel any cold air.

Trigger Tests:

Several trigger tests were set up on the stairs and in the nursery.  Careful note was made of all equipment left around the house (including photos being taken of each piece of equipment) in case any of these items were moved during the investigation.  All items and trigger tests remained unmoved.

Communication Attempts:

We did several communication sessions.  We did one in the upstairs bedroom, one on the stairs and several in the downstairs lounge.  I also used the spirit box for one of the sessions and seem to have got a few answers in response to questions asked.  We asked the usual type questions i.e. “What is your name?”  “Why do you stay here?”  “Do you know why we are here?” etc. but also just talked with any spirit who might be there.  The actual EVP sessions didn’t really capture any EVPs but during the session in the upstairs bedroom Karen heard footsteps in the house.  I did however record several voices on the upstairs recorder while we were conducting communications sessions downstairs.  These voices and whispers seem to be quite close to the audio recorder.

One in particular is really intriguing as it sounds like Mark Wallbank speaking and saying something about pumps, however Mark had left the building over an hour beforehand.    At this stage I can offer no explanation for that voice as at the time there were only two female investigators in the building.


I enjoyed our investigation of Puhinui House.  While it was supposed to be a quiet, laid-back style of investigation where we planned to let the spirits come to us (as was the case in the last investigation at this house) Karen and I ended up being quite busy.  Because the house was so large even the initial walk-through checking to make sure windows and doors were locked, investigating the rooms which had previously been locked and attempting to recreate some of the sounds that had been heard during the previous investigation took a good couple of hours.  By the time we then set up videos, 12 DVR cams and several audio recorders  and taken baseline temperature and EMF readings throughout the whole house it was close to 11pm.  After investigating a light sighted on the wall at the front of the house and subsequently doing a communication session on the stairs it was almost midnight and time to attempt a communication session in the upstairs bedroom.

We spent time upstairs trying to build a rapport with any spirit that might have been present and attempted to communicate and get EVPs or some form of intelligent response from any spirit or energy that may have been present.  Karen had her headphones on as she was monitoring the session in real-time in case we did receive some form of communication.  She then reported that she could hear footsteps that sounded like someone was creeping around the house.  I must admit that I was concerned about this as when I had heard the noises that had been recorded during the last investigation my initial thoughts were that the noises were being made by someone who was hiding in one of the locked upstairs rooms. (Subsequent discussions have made me rethink that opinion as I don’t really think anyone would be silly enough to make loud noises and then come out of the locked room and throw things around, knowing that the area was set up with cameras).

Once we finished the communication session, we went downstairs where we monitored the DVR cams carefully to ensure there was in fact no person creeping  around the house.  It was during this time that we noted an  orb-like light appearing then disappearing in one of the upstairs storerooms.  We watched it on the monitor for quite some time hoping that we were maybe about to see and capture on film a spirit manifesting itself,  and wanting to allow time to observe what was happening fully.  Upon checking we discovered that the shiny surface of a lamp stored in the room may have been causing a lens flare effect with the infra red light of the camera.  I moved the camera to a different angle and the orb-like light  effect immediately ceased.

We did several walk-throughs of the house through the night and held two further EVP communication sessions and a spirit box session in the main lounge.  At the time we appeared to not have got any responses from the EVP sessions but a spirit box session did appear to get some possibly intelligent responses.  Interestingly, we did seem to get some good possible EVPs captured on the upstairs recorder while we were conducting communication and spirit box sessions downstairs.

I think the investigation went well.  I was pleased we were able to get some sleep, as I was aware that the activity and sounds that Mark videoed  during the prior investigation of the building occurred when Mark was asleep, and I wanted to recreate similar conditions.  Upon reviewing my audio I have found noises and voices which may have been made by people outside and as there is a public  walkway beside the house it is almost impossible to eliminate the possibility that at least some of our audio “captures” may be real people.

I took baseline readings throughout the house using my EMF meter upon arrival.  There  were no high  readings, which in a house of that age is unusual, so I presume that the whole building has been rewired to  modern standards when it was moved on-site.  I conducted several scans of the building and no unusual EMF activity was noted.

As we were aware that activity had occurred at the last investigation while Mark was asleep we made sure to be asleep by 3am.  Just as we were going to sleep at about 2.40 I thought I heard a female voice say something and both Karen and I heard a bang.  Karen and I could not agree on what the bang was but did agree that it had come from the room we were in.  Karen thought it was the sound of a drink bottle popping and I felt it was caused from a bang on the window.  I wondered if someone was outside and trying to scare us.  Karen and I had a brief discussion on what the noise had been but we were tired and it did not seem to be paranormal so we were soon asleep.  Oddly when I reviewed the audio from that night I was unable to find that noise or the brief discussion that followed!

At just before 6am Karen woke me saying that she had heard footsteps walking softly across the floor of the room above us (master bedroom).  I did not hear anything and we both listened for a few minutes while observing the DVR monitors but saw and heard nothing further.  We went back to sleep and  awoke about 7.30am.  Upon review I feel that what Karen heard was actually a security guard or maybe the caretaker coming to the front door.

We were disappointed that no extraordinary activity had occurred during the night but were hopeful of seeing or hearing something upon reviewing the evening.  Upon review,  the extensive DVR footage revealed nothing of note however there were some very interesting EVPs which seem to indicate that we were perhaps not alone in the house that night.  If we had not had  all areas of the house covered by the infrared DVR cams I would have seriously considered the possibility of someone else being in the house with us and talking into the upstairs recorder, however I am certain there was no-one else there.  I am therefore at a complete loss to explain the voices heard on the audio recorder.

I can only conclude that there is (in my opinion) a strong chance that the house is haunted although at this stage I cannot decide if it is an intelligent or a residual haunting.

It would take more research to make that judgement.

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