Historic Ruatuna needs your help

Donate now to help protect this treasure.

Ruatuna by moonlight
Ruatuna. Image: Grant Sheehan for Heritage New Zealandexpand/collapse

Ruatuna is a nationally significant Category 1 historic place that tells the story of our early rural pioneering beginnings. It faithfully captures the very spirit that helped shape the rural traditions of the New Zealand we know and love today. 

And it is like a time machine – entering the building is like immediately stepping back 140 years.

Built in 1877, Ruatuna  is located in the heart of the Kaipara in Northland and was home to the second New Zealand-born elected Prime Minister, Gordon Coates.   

The site is extremely valuable for its links with the development of stock breeding in New Zealand and the introduction of new types of cattle and sheep.

Architecturally, Ruatuna is a rural treasure-box for its significance as a well-preserved 1870s structure, fusing Gothic and Georgian features.  It also incorporates an unusual domestic interior influenced by medieval approaches.

But by far the most mesmerising aspect of this wonderful place is the extent to which it has remained intact as a reminder of early pioneering life in New Zealand.  It is as if the original Coates family have only just moved out!

And it is this snapshot of early life that is under threat right now.

The roof framing and supports at the rear part of the historic homestead - the hip roof - are sagging. They are currently propped up with temporary stays to prevent further damage. But a combination of the age of the iron and nails, together with an increase in severe weather events, means that the condition will only get worse if we don’t act now.

Urgent restoration and repair is required.  Your support can provide a lifeline, ensuring this important part of our past – and its story - is preserved for future generations.

Please donate today

With your $50 donation, Heritage New Zealand can repair the roof by restoring the wooden framing and replacing the old corrugated iron.

Donations will also help ensure that the fragile interior fabric – which hasn’t changed since the homestead was built – is cleaned and protected from future leaks, especially at the rear of the homestead where the condition is worse.

See and hear more about the challenges and the restoration project from Heritage New Zealand volunteer, Mary Stevens.

Help Ruatuna now

Help preserve rural treasure chest, Ruatuna


  • Volunteer Mary Stevens

    Volunteer Mary Stevens at Ruatuna.  Image: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

  • Coates family at Ruatuna

    Edward and Eleanor Coates and their family before 1905.  Image: Ruatuna collection, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

  • China cupboard

    It's like steeping into a time machine - and the family have just gone out.  Image: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

  • Bedroom

    Your donation will help protect the fragile interior.  Image: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

  • Rusty roof

    An example of the rusting roof, filled with sealant.  Image: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga 

How to help 

The best way to donate is by credit card right now via our secure online donation form using your Visa or MasterCard. It is fast, secure and convenient, as you don’t have any paperwork to complete. 

It also means you can put your donation to work straight away.

But if you can’t make an online donation, don’t worry. You can ring us and make a credit card donation over the telephone (0800 802 010), complete it and post it back to us with payment.

However you choose to help, we’ll send you confirmation of your donation and a tax receipt, and keep you posted on how your donation is protecting the Mission buildings for the future.