Baring Head/Ōrua-pouanui in Te Whanganui-a-Tara is a place with a long and diverse history of human occupation. It has traditional significance as the den or resting place of the ancestor Pouanui and is located within a wider landscape replete with archaeological sites associated with tangata whenua. It has outstanding historical significance as the site of the first fully electrified lighthouse in Aotearoa New Zealand and represents the beginnings of the modern lighthouse system. The nearby defence structures connect the place to one of the most significant events of the twentieth century, the Second World War, and the presence of the globally important NIWA CO2 monitoring station on the site links it to the beginnings of modern climate change research. The lighthouse complex is very intact, providing excellent insights into a way of life now passed, and its contemporary social value is highlighted by community efforts to ensure its retention and restoration. The lighthouse itself is a landmark structure and has architectural significance for its streamlined Moderne form and technological significance as an exemplar of early automation. Te Whanganui-a-Tara was named after Tara, son of Whātonga, captain of the migratory waka Kurahaupō. Tara’s brother Tautoki is associated with the ancient pa Parangarahu, which was near Ōrua-pouanui. This place is unlikely to have been a place of permanent settlement but was close to known settlements, such as a kāinga also named Parangarahu in nearby Fitzroy Bay. The cave after which Ōrua-pouanui was named was used as a shelter during food gathering expeditions, and the cliff above the cave was the final resting place of a woman. When Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed in 1840, Ōrua-pouanui was within the rohe of Te Ātiawa and was owned by the iwi until 1914. It was subsequently part of the Riddiford family’s large farm and Eric Riddiford gifted the site to the Crown for lighthouse purposes. The lighthouse, first lit in 1935, was Aotearoa New Zealand’s first fully electrified lighthouse, and it replaced the country’s first lighthouse, built at nearby Pencarrow in 1859. The lighthouse was manned, and the complex consisted of two keepers’ houses and associated outbuildings, a powerhouse (the lighthouse’s power source) and a garage. In 1935 Baring Head/Ōrua-pouanui became part of the country’s coastal defence network with the construction of an observation post and barracks, brought into service on the outbreak of the Second World War five years later. In 1972 a CO2 monitoring station was set up in a surviving component of one of the defence structures, and this was instrumental in confirming the negative impact of human activity on the climate. The lighthouse was fully automated and remotely operated in 1988 and the last lighthouse family left in 1989. The Greater Wellington Regional Council took over management of the keepers’ houses in 1992. In 2010 a consortium led by Greater Wellington purchased land adjacent to the lighthouse complex, including the defence structures, and it became part of the East Harbour Regional Park. The keepers’ houses were saved from proposed demolition following a community campaign and are now managed by Greater Wellington with support from the Friends of Baring Head Charitable Trust, which also fundraised for the ecological restoration of the wider landscape. The lighthouse managed by Martime New Zealand remains a vital part of the country’s marine safety network.
List Entry Information
Detailed List Entry
List Entry Status
Private/No Public Access
6th June 2023
Date of Effect
7th July 2023
Extent of List Entry
This historic area consists of an area of land that contains a group of inter-related historic places. The identified historic places that contribute to the values in this historic area are the Baring Head lighthouse station comprised of the lighthouse, the lighthouse keepers’ houses and outbuildings, the powerhouse, the garage, the rockery, barbeque and shelter belt, the defence site comprised of the observation post, the wireless room, the engine room and the ruins of the barracks and ablution block, the pumphouse, the WAAC barracks foundations, the NIWA clean air station and archaeological sites R28/37 (cave with midden), R28/36 (burial) and R28/48 (lighthouse and radar station). The area of land that encompasses these historic places, includes (the land described as Pt Lot 1 DP 72418 (RT 556278, NZ Gazette 1995 p.8), Lot 2 DP 72418 (RT 40D/367), Lot 4 DP 59276 (RT WN42B/597, NZ Gazette 2011, p.3957, NZ Gazette 2013, p.2310), Pt Parangarahu 1A3 (RT 920719, NZ Gazette 1995, p.1364), Wellington Land District.
Pt Lot 1 DP 72418 (RT 556278, NZ Gazette 1995 p.8), Lot 2 DP 72418 (RT 40D/367), Lot 4 DP 59276 (RT WN42B/597, NZ Gazette 2011, p.3957, NZ Gazette 2013, p.2310), Pt Parangarahu 1A3 (RT 920719, NZ Gazette 1995, p.1364), Wellington Land District.
Additional Location Information GPS S 41 ⁰24.45 39’ E174 ⁰52.2975’