Turangawaewae House / Maori Parliament Building
2 Eyre Street And Waingaro Road, Ngaruawahia
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 1
Private/No Public Access
21st September 1989
Allots 574, 577 Town of Newcastle (CTs SA512/53, SA2A/182), South Auckland Land District
Turangawaewae House was erected in 1917-1919 as a kauhanganui, or parliament building, for the Maori King movement. It represents an important assertion of Maori identity and resistance to Pakeha-dominated political structures in the early twentieth century. The Kingitanga, or King movement, had been founded in the 1850s to counter the growing spread of colonial settlement in the Waikato and beyond. It consisted of a broad federation of tribes, including many descended from the Tainui canoe. Forced to move from its base at Ngaruawahia after the third New Zealand - or Waikato - War (1863-1864), the movement set up a parliament in 1891 in response to the under-representation of Maori in the country's electoral system. Initially meeting away from the main centres of Pakeha settlement, the parliament marked a return to its original heartland by constructing a new assembly house at Turangawaewae in Ngaruawahia. The building was erected in the centre of what had become an established colonial town, in an area of symbolic and spiritual importance for Kingitanga. In particular, it lay within the site of the papakainga where kingship had been invested in Potatau Te Wherowhero (?-1860) and his son Tawhiao (?-1894), who were the earliest leaders of the movement. It was also located close to Potatau Te Wherowhero's initial place of burial, and the site of an earlier assembly building abandoned in 1864.
The purpose-built structure was of grand construction, affirming the movement's mana through its appearance as well as location. Designed by the Hamilton-based firm of Warren and Blechynden, the structure combines Maori and Pakeha forms in an unusual fusion of cultural traditions. The concrete and stucco building includes a symmetrical façade, with dormer windows in its taller central element and single-storey wings on either side. Its general Arts and Crafts style can be seen to acknowledge the European origins of the parliamentary idea as well as the residential nature of its immediate Pakeha neighbourhood. Maori identity is asserted through prominent carvings by Te Motu Heta on its porch and gables, while its interior includes a painted assembly hall once known as the 'throne room', whose raised dais was draped with feathers and flax for a royal chair. The building was opened in the presence of tribal representatives from throughout the Auckland province in March 1919 but was rarely, if ever, used for parliamentary gatherings as disenchantment with progress on political representation grew. In 1920, it housed meetings that planned the foundation of a more traditional group of buildings at nearby Turangawaewae Marae, which took over as a focus of political and social activity. Empty for long periods of time, the building was employed as a pioneering health clinic in the 1940s and by the Maori Land Court in ensuing decades. The Tainui Maori Trust Board occasionally met there after being set up in 1946 to deal with compensation for tribal land confiscated after the third New Zealand War. The building's mana and purpose were restored following refurbishment in the 1980s, when it became the first permanent home of the board.
Turangawaewae House is nationally significant for its associations with the King movement, and the development of Maori protest at New Zealand's political system. It is important as one of the earliest surviving Kingitanga buildings in its Waikato heartland, with strong connections to prominent Maori leaders such as King Tawhiao, King Te Rata (?-1933) and Princess Te Puea (1883-1952). The building is architecturally valuable for its unique fusion of Arts and Crafts and traditional Maori styles, and for being one of the earliest official Maori structures designed by an architectural firm. It contains important carvings and painted interior details, including a unique pattern designed for King Tawhiao in 1870. The building is unusual as a major historic Maori structure in an urban setting, and may be considered a precedent for the modern urban marae. It is an important reminder of the long association Maori have had with Ngaruawahia, and significant for its association with health and land rights as well as ongoing Tainui cultural and political affairs. A striking component of the local streetscape, the building has additional value for its proximity to other historic structures and places of cultural significance. These include the Waipa and Waikato rivers, which are of great spiritual importance to Tainui, and a monument marking the original burial place of Te Wherowhero.
Historical Significance or Value
The historical significance of the Turangawaewae House derives from the words of Tawhiao as he passed through Ngaruawahia following the 1863 battle at Rangiriri: 'Ka tu te ra i te ra o toku mokopuna ko te Turangawaewae o te Kingitanga Maori'. (There will come a day in the days of my grandchildren when this will become the seat of Maori Kingship). A whare whakairo or 'Parliament House' built there by Tawhiao between 1857 and 1863 was destroyed by fire. Later, Mahuta set aside money for the purchase of land at Turangawaewae for a kauhanganui building. A fund raising campaign initiated by Te Puea was supported by the Waikato-Maniapoto people and by Ngati Kohatu of Kaipara. The house was envisaged as a place where all Maori could meet and speak with one united voice. Work on the building was commenced in 1911, and it was opened with great celebration on 18 March 1919. By the early 1920s the building was largely abandoned. In 1942, again at the initiative of Te Puea, the building was refurbished and used as a Maori health clinic for several years. It then became the venue for meetings of both the Tainui Maori Trust Board, and the Maori Land Court, despite its neglected and dilapidated state. In 1963 its ownership was finally settled on the Tainui Maori Trust Board. After a further period of uncertainty and deterioration, the building was refurbished in 1980, and in 1986 it became the administrative headquarters of the Trust Board, an occasion commemorated by Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, who presented the Board with the original foundation stone, which had been kept in Mahinarangi House since the 1920s.
This is one of the major buildings at Turangawaewae. It encapsulates the political and social aspirations of the Tainui people. For over a century it has been closely associated with the major figures of the Kingitanga movement.
This is a valuable example of the work by Warren in adapting a European building style to suit a Maori purpose. Architectural elements of both cultures are skilfully blended in the construction, suggesting a close co-operation between the European architect and the Maori clients.
A significant building in the Turangawaewae complex.
Warren & Blechynden
Warren was a prominent Auckland architect who had an architectural office in Hamilton from the late nineteenth century until c.1920. His partner was engineer J Blechneyden and their commissions were largely for commercial buildings.
The practice was also responsible for some remarkably individual designs such as Kauhanganui, (the Maori Parliament Building) Ngaruawahia, (1919), which is significant for its combination of Maori decorative features within a European architectural idiom. Warren was also responsible for the design of Henry Greenslade's house known as "Wairere", Hamilton (1911-12).
ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION (STYLE):
This domestic free style building is eclectic in its use of architectural prototypes. The pitch of the roof and the long dormer windows show the influence of English Domestic Revival architecture. The projecting wings are more straightforwardly Victorian in their derivation. There is also an influence from the Californian bungalow idiom with the horizontal emphasis of the structure and its large open porch. Maori design elements are prominent, with the use of decorated barge boards and Maori figures on the chimney stacks.
1979 Major renovations.
Registration covers the building, its fixtures and finishes. It also includes recent modifications.
Maori decorative embellishments to the European style building.
1917 - 1919
Construction of Turangawaewae House
Repairs and modifications
1979 - 1980
Refurbishment, including provision of new facilities
Concrete with stucco facing. Marseilles tile roofing.
20th November 2001
Report Written By
Cecil Badley, 'Turangawaewae House 1919-1989', Tainui Maori Trust Board typescript, 1988
Pei Te Hurunui Jones, Turanga-waewae: Souvenir of Golden Jubilee 1921-1971, Taumarunui, 1971
Michael King, A Place to Stand: A History of Turangawaewae Marae, ed. Isla Nottingham, University of Waikato, 1981
pp.6-8 & 36
Michael King, Te Puea: A Biography (2nd ed.), Auckland, 1982
pp. 101-107 & 222
A.M. Latta, Meeting of the Waters: The Story of Ngaruawahia, Ngaruawahia, 1980
New Zealand Historic Places
New Zealand Historic Places
John Wilson, 'The Maori Struggle for Mana Mohutake', No.30, Sept. 1990, pp.26-29
New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)
New Zealand Historic Places Trust
'Maori Parliament Building: Turangawaewae House, Waingaro Road, Ngaruawahia', Buildings Classification Committee Report, Wellington, 1989
William J. Phillips, Carved Maori Houses of Western and Northern Areas of New Zealand, Wellington, 1955
This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.
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.