Māngungu Mission

Māngungu Mission was the second mission station established in New Zealand by the Wesleyan Missionary Society. Located near Horeke, in the Hokianga harbour, it was founded in 1828 by the missionaries John Hobbs and James Stack after the first WMS mission station in the country had been sacked the previous year. Māngungu Mission was abandoned in 1855 when Hobbs, the sole missionary at the site, relocated to Auckland. The residence that Hobbs built and lived in at the mission has been preserved by Heritage New Zealand and is now a museum.

Māngungu Mission
Māngungu Mission House.jpg
A view of the front of the mission house at Māngungu Mission
Locationnear Horeke, New Zealand
Designated1 September 1983
Reference no.75
Māngungu Mission is located in New Zealand
Māngungu Mission
Location of Māngungu Mission in New Zealand


The WMS mission house, on the left, with St John’s Community Church on the right, at the site of the Māngungu Mission

The Wesleyan Missionary Society (WMS), following the advocacy of Samuel Leigh, a WMS missionary in Australia, sought to establish itself in New Zealand.[1] The first WMS mission station in New Zealand was duly founded at Kaeo, near Whangaroa Harbour, in June 1823 by Leigh and William White. It struggled to gain the patronage of local Māori and after it was sacked in 1827, the missionaries abandoned it.[2]


The WMS missionaries, led by John Hobbs and James Stack, relocated to the Hokianga harbour, where the following year, the Māngungu Mission was founded.[3] Soon half a dozen buildings had been erected on the site, on the shores of the Hokianga harbour near Horeke, for the missionaries and their families.[4] The mission was now led by William White, who had arrived in January 1830 to take over from Hobbs.[5] White's objective at Māngungu was to expand the reach of the WMS, and he duly established further missions at Kāwhia and Waingaroa, on the west coast of the North Island. He wanted to set up a station at Whangape but this did not eventuate due to a lack of personnel.[6]


Tensions soon arose between White and Hobb over the running of the station and Hobbs sought and received a posting to Tonga.[5] White also came into conflict with the European colonists in the area, seeking to reduce their influence on local Māori and prevent them from being exploited. He controlled access to the mission stores, only allowing those colonists deemed acceptable to enter into trade. He came to an arrangement where he purchased land and returned it to the local iwi (tribe) in return for the saw milling and selling of timber on WMS land. The monies gained would be set against that paid for the land. The colonists were upset at being disadvantaged by this tactic but White also annoyed his fellow WMS missionaries, who had to perform the saw milling work and considered it compromised their preaching. He was eventually recalled to England in 1836.[7]

The original mission house burnt down in August 1838. John Hobbs, now back at Māngungu Mission, had in his youth been an apprentice carpenter and set about building a replacement, assisted by volunteers from the European population in the area. Nathaniel Turner, who had taken over the running of the mission from White, moved into the new house the following year.[4] It was constructed with a rectangular floor plan having seven rooms, one of which was a large parlour, a pair of dormer windows and a verandah along the front.[8]

The first honey bee hives in New Zealand were established at the mission in March 1839; Mary Bumby, who had arrived at the site with her missionary brother that month, had brought two hives with her. This led to the production of the first honey in the country.[9]

On 12 February 1840, the mission was the site of a meeting for a number of rangatira (chiefs) to sign the Treaty of Waitangi. William Hobson, the Governor of New Zealand, stayed at the house for the ceremony. Around 3,000 people were present, and around 70 rangitara signed the treaty.[4][10]

Following the departure of Turner for another WMS mission, Hobbs moved into the mission house in late 1840 with his family and by 1846, were the only missionary family at the site. By this time Māngungu Mission had decreased in importance to the WMS.[4] The WMS headquarters in New Zealand was now in Auckland, having moved there two years previously.[11] It was still a pleasant site; a visitor in late 1851 noted the presence of a windmill, a chapel, a cemetery and a number of outhouses, as well as the well appointed mission house. In 1855, it was decided to close Māngungu Mission in the face of a decline in the Māori population in the surrounding area. Hobbs and his family relocated to Auckland while the mission house was disassembled and shifted to Onehunga. It was subsequently used as a parsonage for Methodist priests for a number of years and then became a private residence.[4]


In 1972, the mission house built by Hobbs was shifted from Onehunga back to the site of the Māngungu Mission and restored by the Historic Places Trust.[4] A single story building, constructed from kauri timber, it was opened as a museum in 1977.[10] Among its contents is a table, built by Hobbs, on which the Treaty of Waitangi was signed by those present at the ceremony that took place at the Māngungu Mission.[12] The mission house was listed as a Historic Place Category 1 on 1 September 1983.[13] As well as the mission house, the site also includes a small church, St John's Community Church, which was relocated to the site from Kohukoku.[4]


  1. ^ Foster, Bernard John. "Leigh, Samuel". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry of Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  2. ^ "Wesleyan Mission Established". New Zealand History. Ministry of Culture & Heritage. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  3. ^ Cowan 1936, p. 21.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Adams & Ross 1983, pp. 22–23.
  5. ^ a b Clover 2018, pp. 125–126, 157.
  6. ^ Laws 1977, pp. 23–24.
  7. ^ Gittos, M. B. "White, William". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  8. ^ Gatley, Julia. "Domestic Architecture: Mangungu Mission House". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture & Heritage. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  9. ^ "Honey Bees Brought to New Zealand". New Zealand History. Ministry for Culture & Heritage. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  10. ^ a b "Māngungu Mission". Heritage New Zealand. Ministry for Culture & Heritage. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  11. ^ Hare, Mclintock. "Missions: Wesleyan Missionary Society". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture & Heritage. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  12. ^ "Explore the collection at Mangungu Mission". Heritage New Zealand. Ministry for Culture & Heritage. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  13. ^ "Māngungu Mission House". Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 26 December 2022.


  • Adams, Patricia; Ross, R. M. (1983). "Hokianga Homes of Missionary, Magistrate and Pakeha Maori". Historic Buildings of New Zealand: North Island. Auckland: Methuen Publications. pp. 22–29. ISBN 0-456-03110-3.
  • Clover, Gary A. M. (2018). Collision, Compromise and Conversion During the Wesleyan Hokianga Mission, 1827–1855. Nelson: The Copy Press. ISBN 978-0-473-44050-3.
  • Cowan, James (2 March 1936). "Some Great Missionary Pioneers: The Wesleyan Church in New Zealand". New Zealand Railways Magazine. 10 (12): 19–23.
  • Laws, C. H. (1977) [1943]. The Methodist Mission to New Zealand: First Years at Hokianga 1827–1836. Auckland: Wesley Historical Society (NZ). OCLC 276729552.

35°21′17.44″S 173°34′7.14″E / 35.3548444°S 173.5686500°E / -35.3548444; 173.5686500