History Archives


Stone Store, in the early 1900's, with KEMP House on its right and
St. James Church top right. Painting by W. BEERE.




Close call for historic Kemp property Smoke poured from The Landing Bar and Restaurant last Saturday morning but the fire, which started in an old fire place, was doused before the old building went up in flames.
The Landing manager Ben Moss says he and his team would like to thank everyone who helped, “especially A1 Security and the Fire Brigade who saved the historic building from certain destruction by perhaps only minutes”.
The building dates back to the 1930s and is on the site of one of the early Mission Station homes. The pear tree was planted in October 1819 and is believed to be the oldest fruit tree in New Zealand. The Landing property (formerly the Stone Sore Tearoom and later Butlers Restaurant) is still owned by the Kemps.
Mr Moss added, “We are grateful to the Kemp family, who enable us all to enjoy the wonders of this grand building and setting together with the history of its surroundings.”

Old Kerikeri bill rolled over for another year Northern Advocate - Whangarei. The Kerikeri National Trust Bill has been before a select committee since September 1995 and has made no progress in the 16 years since then. ...

St James headstones to be restored 27 January 2006 The Society for the Preservation of the Kerikeri Stone Store Area, in consultation with St James Church Committee, has started work on restoring the headstones belonging to early settlers graves, in St James Churchyard.
Digital photographs were taken to record the state of the headstones. 

The Society recently built new barriers surrounding the old pear tree adjacent to the Landing Restaurant and it also pays the ongoing costs of mowing the lawns in the basin adjacent to the river bank. The Society is currently in discussion with the Procter library with the end purpose of setting aside and purchasing space in which to house the archives of the society. The Bay Chronicle




Celebrating steam in Kerikeri

The Kerikeri Festival of Steam & Heritage last weekend drew good crowds and was declared a huge success. Kerikeri's town crier is seen here with a 1903 steam tractor from Kawakawa which made a guest appearance at the Kerikeri Basin.




Pilgrimage marks Marsden's arrival

The 190th anniversary of the arrival of Samuel Marsden in the Bay of Islands was marked with a pilgrimage to Oihi Bay on December 27. The Waimate Archdeaconry and Te Pihopatanga ki te Tai Tokerau held a service and a picnic. Diocese of Auckland Archdeacon Chris Honore said, "It is a chance for us to stop and take stock. An opportunity to remember the remarkable mutual regard between the entrepreneurial Maori chief Ruatara and the bluff, forthright Samuel Marsden. Marsden wanted to plant Christianity by way of agriculture, technology and education, Ruatara, on the other hand, mostly wanted the advantage of cutting edge agricultural practices which would advance his people. We celebrate Ruatara as the gateway for the gospel, because in every way it was his permission and patronage which enabled the mission to start."

Marsden left a small community of missionaries, their wives and families along with some ex- convicts and the first pioneer family of this country.
Members of the first Christian community included the Hansen family, carpenter William Hall and his wife Dinah, rope maker and shoemaker John King and his wife Hannah, and teacher, magistrate and farmer Thomas Kendall and his wife Jane.


Resource consents have already been granted for the bypass, designed to help protect the Stone Store and Kemp House from damage caused by flooding and vibration from vehicles and to enhance the heritage values of the Basin. The consents allow for removal of the existing single-lane Kerikeri Basin bridge, construction of a new two-lane bridge over the Kerikeri River about 1.5km upstream, earthworks, vegetation clearance and permission to divert and discharge stormwater.
Construction of the bypass, 15 years in planning, is now a reality, with Transfund providing 75 per cent of the funding and the remaining 25 per cent ($2..7 million) coming from the government's Arts, Culture and Heritage funding vote.
Maintenance of the road will be the ongoing responsibility of the Far North District Council.
Prime Minister Helen Clark who is also Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage announced the news to a small group of invited guests in the Stone Store on Wednesday.The $10.8 million Stone Store bypass will be totally funded by Government and work could start as soon as April next year.


Mystery sightings at Stone Store

The NZ Historic Places Trust wants to hear about strange sightings at the Stone Store and Kemp House, after an unusual security callout recently.
HPT Staff were alerted that a woman with grey hair had been seen standing in the central dormer window of the Stone Store at 10 o'clock at night.

Ghosts? Yeah right!

While a Kerikeri resident has added one more strange sighting at the Stone Store and Kemp House, former heritage consultant Fergus Clunie says from Australia, Yeah right!
Mr Clunie, who supervised the restoration of the Stone Store, says reports of ghostly figures at the Stone Store and Kemp House are shades of the 'little grey nun' who “allegedly peeped out the dormer windows at Pompallier, where sadly there weren't no nuns never.”



Inaugural Matariki Festival (Maori New Year) was held in June at the Basin & around the Bay of Islands


Saturday August 23rd was held the inaugural
Kerikeri Steam & Heritage Day


In the early hours of Wednesday April 3rd, the Homestead Restaurant & Bars was destroyed by fire. Appliances attended from Kerikeri, Paihia and Okaihau. The original Homestead was built as a farmhouse in the early 1880s. In 1914 it was converted to a hostel. In the 1920s Kerikeri settlers formed a Saturday night club. The old building was sold and removed from the site in pieces some years ago and the current building was built 44 years ago.



On Saturday, March 23rd, was held the 180 year anniversary of the oldest building in New Zealand, Kerikeri's Kemp House. Many descendants of the original missionaries' families and of Maori chiefs associated with the area, gathered to celebrate the occasion.




A severe flash flood hit Kerikeri causing the river to overflow its banks with such force it brought mature trees crashing down. The debris was swept by a torrent of water under the bridge, through the basin and down the inlet, causing severe damage to boats, which were ripped from their moorings. They were swept downstream where many of them foundered on sandbanks and some were hit by cars, trees and other objects carried by the torrent. From NZ's Bay of Islands by Claire Jones pub. By Port of Opua Trading Co.

The rainfall total was at least 448 mm, and was between 13 & 21% in excess of any previous recording. 174 mm fell within 2.5 hours. Ministry of Works & Development

Stone Store bought by the Historic Places Trust.

The Kerikeri Chronicle came into being, because it was felt that... "the population now being nearly 900 Householders"... it was more able to support a Local News-paper.. Today we have a population of approximately 5000 and the Chronicle, still a Free Paper, arrives in every letterbox once a week.

Kerikeri's 150th anniversary was held in August, with a week of celebration that included an historical parade, a ball, numerous sporting features, a Maori concert and a hangi, tree-planting and a church service.
From Kerikeri Heritage of Dreams by Nancy Pickmere - Northland Historical Publications Society

A tornado cut a swathe of destruction and struck St. James Church. Some ladies inside arranging the church flowers were very startled indeed when the building lurched; and when they tried to escape, they found the door had jammed. The church teetered on its foundations till it could be braced and moved back, and not much harm was done. From Kerikeri Heritage of Dreams by Nancy Pickmere - Northland Historical Publications Society



Kerikeri Inlet School roll 1950


The Kerikeri Domain was bought for sport and recreation by the Kerikeri Recreation Reserve Inc Society from the North Auckland Land Development Corporation


Hereward Pickmere – known as Pick – made his first chart of the upper reaches of the Kerikeri inlet. He sailed all his life exploring caves, creeks and inlets and working indefatigably to survey and chart the Bay of Islands and the east Northland coast. Pickmere’s Atlas of Northland’s East Coast, NZ, is a monument to his work, enclosing between hard covers thirty detailed charts of the area. Their extent and detail open up additional cruising grounds for adventurous sailors and provide reassurance for the cautious. He became a founding member of the Kerikeri Cruising Club and its commodore for years. From NZ's Bay of Islands by Claire Jones pub. By Port of Opua Trading Co.


The European population of Kerikeri reaches 600.




Kerikeri Players' first production was held in the Red Barn on Kerikeri Rd. Seats for the audience were bales of hay.

"There is not even a village here. One store where you can buy anything within reason, or they will get it. The butcher and baker will bring your meat and bread on Mondays and Fridays – weekly deliveries from the store. You fetch your own mail and milk - when you can get any! None too easy. Cook with the wood which the men-folk gather and chop in odd spare moments and I have even had to go and pick some up to keep going. Ihave a little oil stove, but there is lots of wood lying around and it is easy to cook with and clean. Coal, with the heavy freight, is beyond our means." Grace Waters in Women of Kerikeri 1994 by Kerikeri Business & Professional Women


Edward Little wrote: "The champagne climate of Kerikeri is the elixir of life." He and George Alderton formed the Alderton Utility Co., with Little as chairman and Lloyd Mandeno was employed to install the Electricity Scheme at Kerikeri.


George Alderton had published a booklet on "The Group Settlement Scheme" and received hundreds of letters from interested people, both in NZ and overseas. Now he formed the North Auckland Land Development Corporation and bought George Riddell's Manako Estate. Of the 6,817 acres, the Corporation reserved 1,600 acres of which 1,000 were to be afforested, 200 to be planted in citrus, 50 in passionfruit and 350 acres were set aside as a site for "Kerikeri, the Garden City." This was planned for the area at Riverview and the Stone Store. The remaining 5,217 was to be subdivided into lots and sold. The key point and most appealing feature of the scheme was that the Corporation, in the case of absentee ownership, undertook the work of planting and supervising,
from A Lamp Shines in Kerikeri by Nancy Pickmere


Kerikeri Inlet School


Grandad would bike to Waimate North to work on the roads and in the quarry where he earned 2/6 a day. He filled his bike tyres with bracken so he wouldn’t get punctures and tied the tyres to his wheel rims with rope. A large part of Nana’s day was spent amongst the bush and scrub as they attempted to clear their family land, cutting, burning off, then collecting up the stones and sticks to allow the grass to come through. Nana swears they worked hard "…just like the men…very long time…many hour after hour…boy, we worked hard…" and I have never doubted it, not once. The farm I lived on as a child was flat and green without bumps and hollows and that is the only way they would have had it.
Eva Klinac, Women of Kerikeri 1994 by Kerikeri Business & Professional Women

1919 - 1925 The Cream Trip

Edmund Lane operated the 28ft launch, the Dairymaid for the Hikurangi Dairy Co., collecting cream three times a week from the small farms scattered round the Bay of Islands.
His day started at Opua where he picked up the empty cans which had come by rail from Hikurangi. The next stop was at Russell for mail and provisions.
From there he crossed to Moturoa, up the Kerikeri and Te Puna Inlets then eastwards to Te Rawhiti and the islands and bays on each side.
After a stop at Wardell's farm on Tapeka, Edmund Lane returned to Russell to leave the outgoing mail and the orders for provisions. He then picked up more cream at Uruti and Orongo Bays before unloading the accumulation of 50-60 cans at the railhead at Opua. To round off his day he made an evening trip collecting from farms in the Waikare Inlet and took those, too, to Opua.
- from New Zealand's Bay of Islands, The Land and Sea Guide.
By Claire Jones. Published by Port of Opua Trading Co.


A few days before the wedding, Agnes and Harriet set off in a small sailing boat for Russell, to purchase the 'finishing touches' to the dresses. The wind direction was quite wrong so they had to row the whole way to Russell. They completed their shopping by about 4pm, leaving for home in an easterly gale. Seven hours later they arrived home...


“Heavy rain all day and night. The Kerikeri River higher than any have seen it. Lowlands covered with water, which is rushing through the oat paddock, washing away fences. The Undine’s moorings broken – found a distance downstream with rudder shattered.” Ferrying gum to Russel or returning with stores was
not without its drama. On one occasion four sacks of gum (valued at 20 pounds) were stolen from a wagon, which had been parked overnight on the beach. The robbery was reported to the constabulary. They took measurements of the impression left in the sand by a board, which had been drawn alongside the wagon and offered a reward of £3 for information leading to the apprehension of the culprits. Kate Cleave later referred sadly to the loss overboard of one of four sacks of gorse seed which was to be growen for fencing. She was jubilant that three sacks had been saved. (From ‘Women of Kerikeri’ published 1994 by Kerikeri Business & Professional Women).


Richard Kemp is recorded as taking gum to Auckland to try to find a market and James Kemp was sending a considerable amount of gum from the Stone Store in the 1850s. As the 1880s progressed into depression years, people from all walks of life and from a variety of nations came to the gumfields to seek a livelihood. Arriving in Kerikeri by boat, the would be digger was fitted out at the Store. All over the north could be seen the camps of gumdiggers. 
(From ‘Kerikeri Heritage of Dreams’ by Nancy Pickmere – Northland Historical Publications Society).


New Zealand’s first pastoral show was held at Waimate North.


January 29: Hobson arrives in the Bay of Islands.

February 6: Hone Heke is the first to sign the Treaty of Waitangi at Bay of Islands.

May 21: Hobson proclaims British sovereignty over New Zealand.


Charlotte Kemp was 48 and had given birth to the last of her nine surviving children. James had purchased large areas of land in the area and that, combined with Charlotte’s health problems, enabled them to stay where they were, despite the fact that James was the only missionary left at Kerikeri. Charlotte died in 1860 aged 70. The mission house is now known as 
the Kemp House, the oldest existing building in New Zealand; the lamp in the front window shines today, a lasting tribute to an historic family. (‘Women of Kerikeri 1994’ by Kerikeri Business & Professional Women).



The first road in New Zealand between the new communities still follows much the same route today. It runs from Kerikeri out past the local airport and turns left at the next crossroads to lead to Waimate North. But much of what is now open country used to be in kauri and other bush. The road then led initially only to the first inland Anglican mission founded in 1831. Today it is a byway. The original 24km cart road was a necessity for transporting supplies to Te Waimate – as it was then called – first for the building and then the development of the mission. 
(From ‘Historic Trails of the Far North’ by E V Sale 1981)


The Kemp family waited on the shore for the cutter, Charlotte, 5 months pregnant, with 3 year old Henry at her skirs and baby Elizabeth of 13 months in her arms, was about to welcome another woman to the station. There were other women there of course, bu the arrival of the Clarke family was of special importance, for George Clark and his wife and little son came from the same town, Wymondham in Sussex, and were long-time friends. The two women cried together for joy. Little Elizabeth hid her head in her mother’s shoulder while the two small boys eyed each other. The earlier friendship was cemented into one of life-long duration and, many years later, ‘Three Clarkes married three Kemps’. (From ‘Women of the North’ by Jane Wordsworth 1981 Collins). 
Mrs Henry WILLIAMS recorded in her Journal on April 15th, 1824 …”Henry on Saturday goes to Kiddeekiddee to open the new Chapel. Mr and Mrs CLARKE are there”.


It was at Kerikeri that Reverend John Butler carried out the first ploughing in New Zealand. He used bullocks brought for hauling timber by a British naval vessel, the ‘Dromedary’. (From ‘The Story of the Bay of Islands Maritime & Historic Park’ Dept of Lands and Survey).

Earliest Known Letter From NZ Sold 2006. A letter thought to be one of the earliest sent from New Zealand still in existence has been sold at auction in London for almost $16,000. The dispatch from blacksmith-turned-missionary, James Kemp, was carried from Kerikeri in a whaling ship and then posted in London to a Norfolk lawyer. Dated February the 26th, 1820, it was bought by an anonymous private bidder. The letter was written shortly after James Kemp and his wife Charlotte arrived in Kerikeri to start his ministry. Mr Kemp describes the health of other missionaries and gives an account of so-called "native" activity, including a bloody dispute between two Maori chiefs over potato thefts.


“I considered this district the most promising for a new settlement of any I had met with in New Zealand, the soil being rich, the land pretty level, free from timber, easy to work with the plough and bounded by a fine, fresh-water river…” (Samuel Marsden)
The few houses and buildings at the original settlement (Oihi in Rangihoua Bay) were stretched to their limits and it was difficult to find room for the people who came with Mr Marsden and Mr Butler let alone their goods, chattels, building materials, plant and equipment. It would take several months before the new arrivals with their families could move on to the new mission station planned for Kerikeri. Thomas Hansen took a very active part in the preparations for establishing the new station opposite Hongi’s pa, a very strongly protected fort. About 2000 Maori lived on this side of the river. All the tradespeople and their materials had to be taken by water up a long, narrow inlet for about 20 kms to the new site at Kerikeri. Already they were in trouble because they were short of ships’ boats, most of which had been lost in a winter storm immediately after arrival on 12 August. There was only one whale boat remaining so Mr Marsden decided that a punt would have to be built for the purpose of landing the heavy stores and materials from the General Gates and then transporting some of them up the inlet. William Hall was able to call on his native sawyers for help and by the end of August they had sawn nearly 1500 ft of timber and all hands were employed in working on the 24 ft punt. It was launched by the middle of September, which accelerated progress at Kerikeri. (From ‘In the Wake of the Active’ by Kath Hansen 1994).