Maison Janisel at Pouébo
Designed by Roberto Lunardo, this new 110 XPF stamp issue shows the house built in 1908 by settler Maurice Janisel (1877-1963) at Pouébo, in the northeast of the Main Island.
Maurice Janisel, a bookkeeper at Epinay station in France, was inspired by a visit to the 1899 Paris Colonial Exhibition to make a new life as a settler in New Caledonia. He landed in Noumea in April 1901 and was attributed a 25 hectare plot located in Pouébo, which he developed and extended during his lifetime. He first erected a shack, then a brick-built house and threw himself into various crop-growing and food production ventures: coffee, coconut palms, corn, dried bananas, preserves... Maurice Janisel was tenacious, inquisitive and inventive, a hard worker who never ceased to experiment, even building a hydroelectric dam and taking up rice cultivation.
In April 1908, he married Odile Girold and began work on a large house rather resembling a railway station, which was built by convicts and Javanese labourers over a two year period. Constructed using blocks of stone and of coral, his 24m x 20m dual-purpose home and warehouse had thick walls, with three floors above a garden level: a ground floor serving as the living quarters, with an impressively high arched ceiling, and two floors used for storage, drying and stocking harvested crops. The building, which comprised two adjoining wings and spacious barns, had a total covered surface area of around 3,000 m², perfect for the practical needs of the farm estate.
Sold to the New Caledonia authorities in 1965, the property housed Pouébo Townhall and, until 1995, the Department of Public Works and the Vocational Training Centres. This North Province heritage site was badly damaged by cyclone Harry in 1990 and is currently in a state of dilapidation and dereliction.