Historic Hawke's Bay: Mission Estate


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When Marist priests arrived in Hawke's Bay in 1851, they settled at the Pakowhai Pa (and planted the first grapes in Hawke's Bay), and were under the protection of Chief Puhara. Early sketches of the pa appear to show a small chapel. Chief Puhara's brother-in-law, Chief Te Hapuku, apparently made use of the Marists to write letters in English which he could not write.

When hostilities broke out between Chief Te Hapuku and his rival Chief Te Moananui in 1857 after Te Hapuku took forbidden wood to build a pa at Whakatu the ensuing battles left the Pakowhai and Whakatu Pas in ruins, and deserted. The Marist Priests moved to Meeanee in 1858 after their chief ally and supporter, Puhara was killed in a battle in December, 1857. Father Reigner had purchased land in Meeanee in 1857 likely after sensing hostilities between Puhara, Hapuku and Te Moananui would mean a move from the area.

The Marist priests transferred their wine growing activities to their new site in Meeanee.

A major event in the life of the Mission Estate was in 1871, when Brother Cyprian arrived at Meeanee. He took their wine activities to a commercial footing.

The land at Meeanee was less than ideal however, and before the Tutaekuri River diversion, meant frequent flooding.

Finally, in 1897 the Mission Estate purchased Henry Tiffen's elevated land at Greenmeadows probably after the disastrous flood that year. Grapes were planted (where the Mission Concert is now held) and other crops.

Father Smythe decided to move the wine-making activities, and the seminary which trained Marist priests, to the present Church Road site in 1910. The house (pictured) was cut into 11 sections, and hauled over two days by traction engine to its present site.

In 1993, the first ever Mission Estate Winery Concert was held at the Church Road site, featuring Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Tonight that tradition continues with key acts, Barry Gibb and Carole King.

If you have photographs, ephemera, costume or accessories relating to the Shakespearean Pageant held in Havelock North in 1912, HBMAG curators Lucy Hammonds and Georgina White would love to hear from you! Please ring: 06 835 7781

- Hawkes Bay Today

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