A new cafe at Kerikeri Basin is the Historic Places Trust's first foray into "cultural tourism" in the North Island.
The Honey House offers coffee and treats made to historic recipes in the former curator's cottage behind Kemp House, New Zealand's oldest building, and next door to the Stone Store.
Despite appearances the cottage was only built in 1976, though it occupies the footprint of a historic barn. The cafe takes its name from James Kemp Jr's storage shed for beehives which used to stand nearby.
Guests at the opening included Historic Places Trust chief executive Bruce Chapman, new Waitangi National Trust boss Greg McManus, MPs Mike Sabin and David Clendon, and representatives of Ngapuhi, Ngati Kura and Ngati Rehia, the Kerikeri hapu which recently took over Rewa's Village across the river.
Mr Chapman said since the trust set up a Heritage Destinations group five years ago to administer its 48 properties between Rawene and Invercargill, it had been forced to catch up on an enormous backlog of maintenance - including a significant spend on the roofs and verandah at Kemp House and the Stone Store. It had also started "cultural tourism" ventures to generate income and give visitors a reason to stay longer at its properties.
So far it had set up cultural tourism sites in Central Otago, Oamaru and Lyttelton's Timeball Station (destroyed in the February 2011 earthquake), and now at Kerikeri Mission Station. The trust had similar plans for Pompallier House in Russell, he said.
It was also developing a Bay of Islands heritage trail designed to be downloaded onto a smartphone and guiding visitors through the decades leading up to the 1840 signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Mr Chapman said the trust realised the mission station was not just a national heritage site, it was also Kerikeri's waterfront in an area with few accessible beaches.
"It's a community space, and we intend it remains that way." The cafe will be operated by the Pear Tree Restaurant in an experiment Mr Chapman described as "like a public-private partnership". The current hours are 10am-4pm daily but may be extended.
The recipes are sourced from historic archives. The decor was by mission station staff Liz Bigwood and Emma Godwin.