Ponga Whare

Wharekauri Station, Kaingaroa Road, Chatham Island

  • Ponga Whare.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Alison Dangerfield. Date: 3/04/2008.
  • Ponga Whare.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Pam Bain. Date: 22/05/2013.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 5399 Date Entered 20th February 1992 Date of Effect 20th February 1992


City/District Council

Chatham Islands Territory


Chatham Islands

Legal description

Sec 2 SO 36548, Sec 1 SO 36546, Sec 1 SO 36545



In 1866 the New Zealand Government decided to use Chatham Island as a penal colony. The second resident magistrate, William Thomas, returned from the mainland in March 1866 with forty-three Hauhau prisoners, some accompanied by wives and children, and a guard of twenty-six men.

These prisoners had been fighting government troops on New Zealand's east coast. The group included Te Kooti, the spiritual leader who later founded the Ringatū faith. In 1868 the government withdrew most of the guard, needing them on the mainland. In July Te Kooti led an escape by the Hauhau prisoners, who tied up their remaining guard captured a ship, and returned to New Zealand.

In their time on the Chathams the prisoners were put to work on different building jobs on the island. Among these was the Ponga Whare, built on Wharekauri Station for the station owner Edward Chudleigh in 1867.

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Historical Significance or Value

The building has associations with the Hauhau prisoners and the important leader, Te Kooti. It was built for William Chudleigh, who was a significant Pakeha figure on Chatham Island, being a leading figure, successful farmer, and the first Justice of the Peace.


The Ponga Whare is a good example of a vernacular building style, once common to the Chatham Islands. It is a building fit for its purpose, that of providing temporary accommodation, until a more permanent structure could be built. It is the only remaining example of this type of building on the Chathams.


At present, limited. It is covered with a heavy mat of creepers.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


It is not known who designed the Ponga Whare, but it was built by Hauhau prisoners interred on Chatham Island.


The Ponga Whare is a small rectangular building of one room. It has a steep pitched hipped-roof.

There is a central door at one end of the building, the door being constructed of wooden boards, with a thumb latch and an arch-shaped opening cut out of the centre, which was covered in gauze for light and ventilation.

At the opposite end of the whare is a window opening, there is no window now present. The floor appears to have been earth, although there are remains of bricked and timbered areas.

The ceiling beams are visible in the interior. Historical photographs indicate the roof was originally thatched, it is now clad with corrugated iron.



Notable Features

The ponga construction

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1867 -

Construction Details

Timber frame (probably akeake) with timber in the round, exterior lining is horizontal ponga logs, internal lining is horizontal dressed tongue and groove boarding. Roof has wooden rafters with dressed tongue and groove sarking, roof sheathing is corrugated iron.

Information Sources

King, 2000

M King, Moriori: A People Rediscovered, Revised Edition, Penguin Publishers, Auckland, 2000

1991 edition

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.