Hinemihi and the eruption of Mt. Terawera

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On 10 June 1886, Mt. Tarawera erupted without warning and rained red hot ejecta, magma, ash and mud down on Te Wairoa. The eruption claimed the lives of 153 people.

People found shelter in Hinemihi and survived that terrible night. Among them was the young carver, Tene Waitere and his family. The long tourist benches inside Hinemihi were used to prop up the meeting house’s sagging roof.

The scale of the devastation forced the remaining population of Te Wairoa to leave their homes. Ngati Hinemihi and Tuharangi people re-settled in nearby Rotorua, which was largely undamaged by the eruption.

After the eruption, Hinemihi was described as neglected and abandoned, her walls buried up to the broken roof and layered with volcanic debris. Within days some sections were removed and at least three large carvings were taken or lost including pieces from around the door (pare and whakawae) and windows (korupe).