Te Waimate Mission is the site of our nation’s first European farm and an understated heritage gem.
Set up by the Church Missionary Society in 1830 to recreate the English pastoral landscape, Te Waimate Mission is unique in that it wanted to promote the ideals of Western civilisation to local Māori by teaching British farming practices. The Society built a model village that included three Georgian style mission houses, a flour mill, printery, carpenter’s shop, brickworks, blacksmith, school and church. It was Northland’s fourth mission.
Perhaps not surprisingly the attempts to impose European culture on Māori in this way eventually failed – but not before making history along the way.
Serving as a midpoint between the Bay of Islands and Hokianga Harbour, Te Waimate played host to a number of local and international visitors, including famous Victorian scientist and evolutionist Charles Darwin.
He spent Christmas here in 1835, waxing lyrical over Te Waimate’s "English farm house and its well-dressed fields, placed there as if by an enchanter’s wand.” As one of our country’s first bicultural settlements, Te Waimate also hosted the second signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on the 9th and 10th of February 1840.
Luckily one of the three original mission houses survives to this day, now protected as our second oldest building in the country. It functions as the mission’s museum, open several times a week to explore on a self-guided tour. You can also stroll around the adjacent historic cemetery and church, relax in the heritage gardens, have a picnic in the shade of a giant oak, feed the Pitt Island sheep and play old-fashioned lawn games.
Te Waimate Mission is located just 20 minutes from Kerikeri via one of our oldest roads. The property is proudly cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and is recognised as a Tohu Whenua, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most treasured heritage places.