School of Radiant Living

Page 4 – Peloha

Peloha - the home of Radiant Living

'On yonder hill you will pitch your tent' prophesied the daughter of Golden Dawn founder Robert Felkin to Herbert Sutcliffe, as she pointed towards Te Mata Peak. It was about 1940 and Sutcliffe was staying at her home, Whare-Ra, in Havelock North. Within a couple of years he had bought a large house, Swarthmoor, on the slopes of Te Mata Peak and set about turning it into a health retreat and teaching centre. He named it Peloha for the first two letters of the words PEace, LOve, HArmony.

The house had a fascinating history. It was built in 1904 for John Holdsworth and his wife, Margaret Chambers. Margaret's family were major landholders in the area and prominent Quakers. The large two-storeyed house in extensive grounds was named Swarthmoor after the English Quaker headquarters. It later belonged to a relation by marriage, Walter McLean. Sutcliffe bought the house with 26 acres from McLean's estate. Peloha's grounds, with its large citrus orchards and organic gardens, made the property almost self-sufficient. Areas of the property were named after other Radiant Living schools, such as the Providence Lawn. Radiant Living Summer Schools, Easter services and October Council Conferences were held at Peloha and for additional income it also functioned as a health retreat.

By the late 1980s, after the deaths of Sutcliffe and his wife, Peloha was no longer economic to run and was sold to Weleda, makers of herbal and homeopathic medicines in the Steiner tradition. Proceeds went to Victoria University of Wellington for the Herbert Sutcliffe Scholarships and other educational groups such as the local Hohepa School for children with special educational needs.

How to cite this page

'Peloha', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2012