Kerikeri Mission House

218 Kerikeri Road, Kerikeri

  • Kerikeri Mission House (aka Kemp House) at twilight.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Grant Sheehan. Date: 7/02/2017.
  • Kerikeri Mission House (aka Kemp House). CC Licence 2.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: russellstreet. Taken By: russellstreet. Date: 24/10/2011.
  • Kerikeri Mission House (aka Kemp House) on the right. Taken from drone.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Grant Sheehan. Date: 7/02/2017.
  • Kerikeri Mission House (aka Kemp House) from the rear with the Honey House Cafe on the right.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Grant Sheehan. Date: 7/02/2017.
  • Kerikeri Mission House (aka Kemp House) interior .
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Grant Sheehan. Date: 7/02/2017.
  • Kerikeri Mission House (aka Kemp House) interior.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Grant Sheehan. Date: 7/02/2017.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 2 Date Entered 23rd June 1983 Date of Effect 23rd June 1983


City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 1 DP 29562 (RT NA35B/34), North Auckland Land District


The Kerikeri Mission House is New Zealand's oldest standing building, and an important remnant of early contact between Maori and Pakeha. Also known as 'Kemp House', it was erected in 1821-1822 by the London-based Church Missionary Society (CMS), which had been formed to provide indigenous peoples with religious and practical education in Africa and the 'East'. Kerikeri mission was the second CMS settlement in New Zealand, having been founded in 1819 under the protection of Hongi Hika (1772-1828), the most influential Maori leader in the Bay of Islands. The timber mission house was built for the Reverend John Butler (c.1781-1841), the only ordained minister in the settlement at the time and the first person to use a plough in New Zealand. Built by both missionary carpenters and Maori sawyers, the dwelling was of significantly better quality than those erected for other members of the mission, and incorporated roof shingles from Australia as well as native timbers. The two-storey structure is of simple Georgian design, with a hipped roof and symmetrical fa├žade. Initially only one room deep, the dwelling included an enclosed front verandah with rooms at either end for guests or lodgers. It was erected close to the shoreline in full view of the Maori village at Kororipo pa, where Hongi Hika had a house of similar materials erected by missionaries in 1824.

Used by other missionaries after Butler's departure in 1823, the house was occupied by the CMS storekeeper and blacksmith James Kemp (1797-1872) and his wife Charlotte (1790-1860) when the adjacent Stone Store was under construction from 1832. James and Charlotte had a large family, and while raising them Charlotte provided domestic training and other tuition for Maori children, including the daughters of chiefs Hongi, Rewa and Wharerahi. In the 1830s a series of lean-tos were added to the rear, incorporating an attached kitchen and possible accommodation for Maori girl boarders. The enclosed verandah and its associated rooms were replaced by an open verandah in 1842-1843, thus creating a more conventional family dwelling. Although the mission station eventually folded in 1848, the Kemps continued to live in the house, operating a kauri gum business from the Stone Store. The dwelling and gardens were passed down through the family until Ernest Kemp generously gifted them to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust/Pouhere Taonga in 1974. Little changed from its early form, the building was affected by a large flood in 1981, which damaged the interior and the garden. After a programme of repair, including extensive modification of the garden, the house was re-opened to the public and continues to be run by the Historic Places Trust/Pouhere Taonga.

Kerikeri Mission House is of national and international significance as the earliest surviving building in New Zealand, predating the country's formal foundation as a British colony by nearly twenty years. The earliest domestic dwelling and missionary structure in the country, it is a tangible link with the activities and ambitions of the CMS. It is particularly valuable for its associations with early nineteenth-century contact between Maori and Pakeha, illustrating the nature of early colonial relations through aspects such as its location, means of construction and style. It is linked with prominent personalities of the time, including Hongi Hika, the Kemp family and the Reverend John Butler, who is credited with important developments in New Zealand agriculture. The building is unique in New Zealand for demonstrating construction techniques and materials employed in the 1820s, as well as colonial domestic arrangements of the time. Its layout, appearance and functions illuminate issues of gender and race, as well as the role of family life and religion. The building is significant for its association with buried archaeological deposits and a broader historic landscape that includes nearby buildings, Kororipo pa and natural features. It enjoys high public esteem as a cradle of nationhood, due to its association with early contact between Maori and missionaries. It has considerable significance for its aesthetic and educational value, attracting large numbers of local and international visitors during nearly three decades of New Zealand Historic Places Trust/Pouhere Taonga ownership.



Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

Registration covers the structure, its fixtures and finishes. It also includes recent modifications. The building is associated with extensive buried archaeological deposits.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1821 - 1822

1830 - 1834
Rear lean-to added in stages, including attached kitchen

1842 - 1843
Original side rooms and front verandah removed, replaced by wraparound verandah built

- 1869
Verandah modified, including narrowing of width and lowering of roof

1925 - 1926
Bathroom and corrugated iron roof added

1957 -
Lean-to and bathroom modifications

1978 -
Corrugated iron roof replaced by shingles

1981 -
Flood damage

1982 -
Verandah rebuilt

Public NZAA Number


Completion Date

2nd November 2001

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Clunie, 1998

Fergus Clunie, Historic Bay of Islands: A Driving Tour, Auckland, 1998


Easdale, 1981

Nola Easdale, 'The Mission House, Kerikeri', unpublished report for NZHPT, 1981 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

Pickmere, 1994

Nancy Pickmere, Kerikeri: Heritage of Dreams, Russell, 1994

Pickmere, 1986

Nancy Pickmere, Whangarei: The Founding Years, Whangarei, 1986


Sedcole, 1930

A.J. Sedcole, Early New Zealand Ecclesiastical Architecture, Auckland, 1930

Sheet No.11

Porter, 1983 (2)

Frances Porter (ed.), Historic Buildings of New Zealand: North Island (2nd edn.), Auckland, 1983


Other Information

The Kerikeri Mission House is part of a cultural site considered to be a high priority for immediate world heritage listing and which has been included on New Zealand's Tentative World Heritage List.

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.