Explore the collection at Pompallier

The collection at Pompallier Mission consists predominately of archaeological material, relating to all periods of occupation on the site, both religious, industrial and domestic. Non-archaeological material makes up the remainder of the collection, including items relating to the Mission period printed works from the Gaveaux Press, reliquaries and Marist medals, and other items relating to Bishop Pompallier.

Gaveaux press
The Gaveaux printing pressexpand/collapse

Stephenson and Greenway family possessions, including furniture and books, are also represented.

Gaveaux printing press

The Gaveaux press (pictured) at Pompallier is one of New Zealand’s most interesting and important historic artefacts, with more than 30,000 books printed on it between 1842 and 1850.  These were not only some of the first books made in New Zealand but also some of the first books in Maori.

The press continued to print Catholic literature till the Northern War broke out in March 1845, when the printing equipment was moved for protection.  At the conclusion of hostilities the following year printing resumed at the Kororareka/Russell printery.

In 1850 the missionaries were relocated to the new colonial towns of Wellington and Auckland. The printing equipment was packed up and eventually sold or given away.

In 1857 Waikato Maori asked Bishop Pompallier to send them a printing press. The Gaveaux press was despatched, but exactly when, and how, remains unclear.

King Tawhiao used the Gaveaux press when he began publication of Te Paki o Matariki in 1891.  After 1933, when commercial printing of this newspaper began, the press remained in the Waikato as a taonga. From 1950 it was stored in a special building on Turangawaewae Marae.  In 1967 Queen Te Atairangikaahu gave permission for the Gaveaux to return on loan to its own turangawaewae at Kororareka/Russell.

Please note that due to conservation reasons not all objects may be on public display at any one time. If you are interested in viewing an item, please contact the Property Manager.  

Heritage New Zealand manages its collection of historic objects in its properties from a central database.  You can find out more about the how the Heritage New Zealand collection is managed, including donating items on this website.

To see further highlights from the collection online, search for Pompallier  at New Zealand Museums