Maori meeting house

Hinemihi

Visit Hinemihi, the historic Maori meeting house in our garden at Clandon © James Duffy

Visit Hinemihi, the historic Maori meeting house in our garden at Clandon

Hinemihi is the only historic Maori meeting house, or whare, in the UK and one of only a handful outside New Zealand. The meeting house bears the name of a female tribal ancestor from pre-European times. Always referred to as she, never it, she’s a spiritual symbol of nobility and a living link to the past. She was carved in 1880/81 in the shadow of volcanic Mt Tarawera in New Zealand’s North Island close to the town of Rotorua. Today Hinemihi lives with us.

The story of a Maori meeting house

Chief Aporo stands with a gathering of local people © Alfred Burton / Hinemihi Collection

Chief Aporo stands with a gathering of local people

For visitors to Clandon Park today, Hinemihi is a curious looking wooden building on a lawn standing opposite the Palladian-style mansion...

How Hinemihi was built

Tene Waitere with one of his carvings © James McDonald / Hinemihi Collection

Tene Waitere with one of his carvings

Two Ngati Tarawhai carvers, Wero Taroi and Tene Waitere, were commissioned by Aporo to carve and build Hinemihi from locally grown totora wood...

The eruption of Mt Tarawera

Hinemihi at Te Wairoa after the eruption of Mt. Tarawera © A.A. Ryan/Hinemihi Collection

Hinemihi at Te Wairoa after the eruption of Mt. Tarawera

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...

Hinemihi comes to Clandon Park

William Hillier, fourth Earl of Onslow, photographed at Government House © Hinemihi Collection

William Hillier, fourth Earl of Onslow, photographed at Government House

By 1891 William Hillier Onslow, fourth Earl of Onslow (1853-1911) was approaching the end of his term as Governor of New Zealand and on the look out for a souvenir...

The restoration of Hinemihi

One of the pieces of carving on the outside of Hinemihi © NTPL/Nick Meers

One of the pieces of carving on the outside of Hinemihi

During the middle of the 20th century, Hinemihi underwent a significant change in her structure. By the end of the Second World War the old meeting house was in need of repair...

A Maori visit to Clandon Park

Robert Rika (left) and Colin Tihi, at work on Hinemihis new carvings © Alan Gallop / Hinemihi Collection

Robert Rika (left) and Colin Tihi, at work on Hinemihis new carvings

In the summer of 1986, Hinemihi was visited by Emily Schuster and performance artists from the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute...

Clandon Park and the Maori community

Maori dancers perform in front of Hinemihi in the garden at Clandon © Clandon

Maori dancers perform in front of Hinemihi in the garden at Clandon

The arrival of new carvings and the ceremony to accept them created a new profile for Hinemihi both in the UK and New Zealand, particularly between us and the British-based Maori community...

New Zealand Olympic Team visit Clandon

Members of the Olympic Team perform a haka in front of Hinemihi © James Duffy

Members of the Olympic Team perform a haka in front of Hinemihi

In 2012, we hosted members of the New Zealand Olympic Team and invited guests for a formal welcome to Hinemihi from members of the UK Maori community.

Tell us your views on how Hinemihi should be restored and used

Tell us your views on how Hinemihi should be restored and used

Get involved

For a number of years a group of stakeholders have been involved in the conservation of Hinemihi, including members of her tribe Ngati Hinemihi and the London-based Maori group Ngati Ranana. A new friends of Hinemihi group was launched so that more people can get involved. Independent of but affiliated with us, Te Maru O Hinemihi is seeking new members. If you'd like to get involved you can email them.

Further reading

Doorway carvings from Hinemihi

The House with the Golden Eyes by Alan Gallop
Decolonising Conservation edited by Dean Sully
Find out more about Maori culture

Take a closer look

Watch this short video and find out a little more detail about Hinemihi with local expert Alan Gallop.

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