West Clandon: The Maori meeting house (Himenihi ) – Clandon Park

Hinemihi, the Maori meeting house at Clandon Park is a small wooden carved and painted building in the gardens of the park. The building is one of only four such meeting houses outside New Zealand and the only one outside a museum. Hinemihi is a building of immense importance to the Maori who created it and to those for whom she is today a focus for cultural activities. The building was constructed at Te Wairoa, North Island, New Zealand in 1880, where it was used as a cultural centre by the Ngati Hinemihi tribal group and for Maori cultural performances.

The building was bought by the Fourth Earl of Onslow in 1892 as a souvenir of his time as governor of New Zealand and was transported to Clandon Park and reconstructed as a summerhouse. Reconstruction took place in 1917 by New Zealand soldiers, including members of the Maori Pioneer Battalion who were convalescing after the First World War. Between the First and Second World Wars, Hinemihi was used as a summerhouse and garden store for the Clandon estate.

Sometime in the 1930s a major reconstruction took place which changed the original configuration of the house into an open structure. In 1956 the National Trust took over the running of Clandon Park and in 1960 a major refurbishment was carried out to replace the roof and clean and repaint the carvings. Further restoration took place in 1978 following consultations with New Zealands Historic Places Trust and the British Museum.

Missing carvings were replaced and a new roof of Totara bark was installed in 1998 with the involvement of the Ngati Hinemihi. The condition of the building and materials analysis was surveyed by the Institute of Archaeology, University College London in 2002.

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