Pompallier Mission and Printery

Pompallier Mission - a saintly enclave in the most sinful site of the southern seas, where Catholic brothers translated religious texts into Maori, printed them, and bound them into beautiful books. Learn how to tan a hide, bind a book and more.....

Pompallier Mission
Pompallier Mission printeryexpand/collapse

Located only five minutes’ walk from the Russell wharf, on the waterfront in the stunning Bay of Islands, Pompallier Mission is New Zealand’s only surviving pioneer printery and tannery in New Zealand.  Here French Catholics translated Church Latin into te reo Māori at the time the country was becoming a British colony.

Built in 1842 in a traditional French rammed-earth style (pisé de terre), it is within this unique building that you can get hands-on with history of the lives and times of pioneer missionaries caught up in British treaty-making and war between Māori and European settlers.

In what is one of the best heritage tours in the country, our knowledgeable guides will take you through each step of printing and book-binding as it was done by courageous French missionaries living in this tiny outpost, once known as the Hellhole of the Pacific, over 150 years ago.

Help us restore this treasure

Pompallier Mission urgently requires around $45,000 of exterior restoration to protect the fragile equipment and items that have endured for almost 200 years. Find out more about how you can help

NZ Gardens Trust

Explore the award-winning heritage garden, in the magnificent beachside setting with wonderful views across the Bay to Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

Help Pompallier

Help restore our oldest industrial building


A saintly sanctuary in the once-sinful southern seas.
  • Gaveaux press

    Pompallier Mission and Printery - where Catholic brothers translated religious texts into te Reo Māori, printed them and bound them into beautiful books.  Image: Steve Burgess

  • Tea and Tour

    You're sure of a warm welcome - why not join one of our guided tours?  Image: Heritage New Zealand

  • Pompallier Mission and Printery

    Created in 1879, the garden is a wonderful example of Victorian and Edwardian planting and design. Image: Heritage New Zealand.

  • Printery tools

    Go through each step of leather and book-making - from tanning a hide to binding a book.  Image: Steve Burgess

  • The garden setting at Pompallier

    The Pompallier garden and surrounds are perfect for exploring, from the beautifully planted flower borders to the orchard and hillside woodland.  Image: Heritage New Zealand


  • The Strand
  • On the waterfront
  • Russell
  • 0202

Contact Information

Opening Hours

  • Daily, November-April, closed Christmas Day
  • 10am - 5pm
  • Daily, May-October
  • 10am - 4pm
  • Daily guided tours
  • 10.15am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm*, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm* (* summer only)


Guided tours includes printery and garden $10 adults, $7 tertiary students, accompanied school-age children free Access to the printery is by guided tour only to help preserve this precious building. Please understand that surcharges may apply at times of special events