Tūrangawaewae House / Māori Parliament Building

2 Eyre Street And Waingaro Road, Ngaruawahia

  • Turangawaewae House / Maori Parliament Building, Ngaruawahia.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Aranne Donald. Date: 15/01/2002.
  • Turangawaewae House / Maori Parliament Building, Ngaruawahia .
    Copyright: Heritage New Zeaand. Taken By: Aranne Donald. Date: 15/01/2002.
  • Turangawaewae House / Maori Parliament Building, Ngaruawahia. Detail.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Aranne Donald. Date: 15/01/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4170 Date Entered 21st September 1989 Date of Effect 21st September 1989


City/District Council

Waikato District


Waikato Region

Legal description

Allots 574, 577 Town of Newcastle (RTs SA512/53, SA2A/182), South Auckland Land District


Tūrangawaewae House was erected in 1917-1919 as a kauhanganui, or parliament building, for the Māori King movement. It represents an important assertion of Māori identity and resistance to Pākehā-dominated political structures in the early twentieth century. The Kīngitanga, 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 Ngāruawāhia 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 Māori in the country's electoral system. Initially meeting away from the main centres of Pākehā settlement, the parliament marked a return to its original heartland by constructing a new assembly house at Tūrangawaewae in Ngāruawāhia. The building was erected in the centre of what had become an established colonial town, in an area of symbolic and spiritual importance for Kīngitanga. In particular, it lay within the site of the papakāinga where kingship had been invested in Pōtatau Te Wherowhero (?-1860) and his son Tāwhiao (?-1894), who were the earliest leaders of the movement. It was also located close to Pōtatau 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 Māori and Pākehā 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 Pākehā neighbourhood. Māori 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 Tūrangawaewae 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 Māori Land Court in ensuing decades. The Tainui Māori 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.

Tūrangawaewae House is nationally significant for its associations with the King movement, and the development of Māori protest at New Zealand's political system. It is important as one of the earliest surviving Kīngitanga buildings in its Waikato heartland, with strong connections to prominent Māori leaders such as King Tāwhiao, 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 Māori styles, and for being one of the earliest official Māori structures designed by an architectural firm. It contains important carvings and painted interior details, including a unique pattern designed for King Tāwhiao in 1870. The building is unusual as a major historic Māori 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 Māori have had with Ngāruawāhia, 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.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

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.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

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).

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


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.

Notable Features

Registration covers the building, its fixtures and finishes. It also includes recent modifications.

Maori decorative embellishments to the European style building.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1917 - 1919
Construction of Turangawaewae House

1942 -
Repairs and modifications

1979 - 1980
Refurbishment, including provision of new facilities

Construction Details

Concrete with stucco facing. Marseilles tile roofing.

Completion Date

20th November 2001

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Badley, 1988

Cecil Badley, 'Turangawaewae House 1919-1989', Tainui Maori Trust Board typescript, 1988

Jones, 1971

Pei Te Hurunui Jones, Turanga-waewae: Souvenir of Golden Jubilee 1921-1971, Taumarunui, 1971


King, 1981

Michael King, A Place to Stand: A History of Turangawaewae Marae, ed. Isla Nottingham, University of Waikato, 1981

pp.6-8 & 36

King, 1982

Michael King, Te Puea: A Biography (2nd ed.), Auckland, 1982

pp. 101-107 & 222

Latta, 1980

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

Phillips, 1955

William J. Phillips, Carved Maori Houses of Western and Northern Areas of New Zealand, Wellington, 1955


Other Information

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.