Sitting on a hill overlooking the restaurants and cafés above Tauranga’s CBD, is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s oldest heritage sites.

The Mission House

The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga is a place of early contact between Māori and Pākehā (New Zealand European) with hundreds of years of rich history and stories.

Local Māori chiefs invited the missionary Alfred Brown and his wife Charlotte to establish the mission station in the early nineteenth century. 

Māori and the new European missionaries worked together to create the site, comprising permanent structures including Brown’s library (completed in 1839) and the gardens which were built in the style of Scottish Botanist J.C. Loudon.

The Mission House, located at the northern tip of Te Papa peninsula, was built in 1847 and became home to the Browns and their descendants for almost two centuries. It was also the place where General Cameron and his officers came to dine on the eve of the Battle of Pukehinahina (Gate Pā). The dining room where the men would have sat is preserved with many of the original furnishings still on display and available to view on a guided tour.

Carvings in the garden at The Elms

Complementing the iconic Mission House and the five star, nationally significant heritage gardens are a series of new carvings representing both the early missionaries and significant Māori chiefs. These are spectacularly lit up at night.

Today many events, including weddings, are held within the beautifully preserved grounds.

Within walking distance of The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga site are other historically significant sites such as the Otamataha Pā (Mission Cemetery) and Monmouth Redoubt.

>Guided tours of The Elms are available daily without pre-booking (see The Elms website for opening hours). For a guided half-day tour of Tauranga’s historic sites, book a Historic Sights of Tauranga experience with Hinterland Tours.