Te Rauparaha Memorial and Jubilee Monument

Te Rauparaha Street And Hadfield Street, Otaki

  • Te Rauparaha Memorial and Jubilee Monument.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 2/01/2002.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 2/01/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 4103 Date Entered 16th November 1989


City/District Council

Kapiti Coast District


Wellington Region


The Te Rauparaha Memorial and Jubilee Memorial were originally erected in 1880 as part of thanksgiving celebrations commemorating the arrival and continuation of the Anglican Mission in the Kapiti/Horowhenua region. The first Church Missionary Society mission was established by Rev. Octavius Hadfield at the Te Atiawa pa of Kenakena, at Waikanae, in December 1839. At that time Te Atiawa and their allies Ngati Toa, under the leadership of the rangatira Te Rauparaha (?-1849) and his nephew Te Rangihaeata (?-1855), dominated the coast and the lucrative whaling industry and associated trade. During the 1840s the shifting political situation, which eventually resulted in the return of Te Atiawa to their traditional lands in Taranaki, led the mission to concentrate its work on the Ngati Raukawa settlement of Otaki. Here Te Rauparaha, with the help of Hadfield, directed the construction of the church Rangiatea (completed in 1851, destroyed by fire 1995). Although Te Rauparaha was never baptised, he encouraged his friends and his foes to become Christian. When he died in November 1849 he was initially buried in Rangiatea's churchyard; it is believed that his remains were later re-interred on Kapiti Island.

Over the next few decades, the settlement at Otaki grew into a large Maori township. In February 1880 commemorative celebrations were held to mark the arrival of the mission to the area. A weekend of festivities was highlighted by a special service at Rangiatea, which was attended by Maori from all over the region, as well as the Bishop of Wellington and many other clergy. After the service the congregation formed a procession which marched to an area of fenced land across from the church, where the two memorials had been erected.

The first memorial was made from a large totara tree, 12m (40 feet) high, and 2.7m (nine feet) across at the base, tapering to around 15cm (six inches) at the top. Starting at the base and forming a spiral up the trunk to the top were the carved numerals for each year between 1840 and 1880. The figures symbolised 40 years of Christianity at Otaki. On top of the pole was a Greek cross. The pole was painted white with the dates painted black. When the congregation arrived at the enclosure, 40 large stones, also painted with the years 1840-1880, were placed around the base of the pole. These stones were intended to 'signify the lasting nature of the commemoration, for while the wood may decay, the stones will never.' [New Zealand Mail, 21 February 1880.]

The second memorial was erected to Te Rauparaha, who had died 31 years earlier. This consisted of a marble bust on a plinth. The bust had been carved at the instigation of Te Rauparaha's son, Tamihana Te Rauparaha, following his father's death, and had been until this event. When the formal part of the ceremony had finished (which included the singing of a hymn and the reading of the Lord's Prayer), a cloth covering the bust was removed, and 'a rush was made to the front to "have a look"' [New Zealand Mail, 21 February 1880.]

In 1927 the totara monument, which had by then severely decayed, was taken down and replaced with the present concrete obelisk. The two monuments were then enclosed with the existing concrete and iron fence.

The Te Rauparaha Memorial and Jubilee Memorial have huge commemorative significance. The former is the only public carved likeness of Te Rauparaha and its siting alongside the Jubilee Memorial and in front of what was the church of Rangiatea shows how much the spread of Christianity in the lower North Island owed to Te Rauparaha, despite his warlike reputation. The present Jubilee Memorial demonstrates the importance that the local community, in 1880 and then again in 1927, placed on commemorating the coming of Christianity to the region.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1880 -

Information Sources

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Steven Oliver, Te Rauparaha (?-1849), Volume 1, 1990, pp. 504-507; June Starke, Octavius Hadfield (1814?-1904), Volume 1, 1990, pp.169-170.

New Zealand Mail

New Zealand Mail

21 February 1880

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.