Hinemihi was the tribal meeting house of the Tuhourangi people of Te Wairoa. Tourist would pay one shilling for an evening of entertainment by the local Maori at the meeting house. It was often referred to as “the house with the golden eyes” as gold sovereigns took the place of paua shells in the eyes of the carvings.
During the dark frightening hours of the eruption many people took shelter inside Hinemihi as the mud and ash rained down. For some time after the eruption of Mount Tarawera, Hinemihi stood forlornly, deep in hardened mud, deserted like the rest of the valley of Te Wairoa.
In 1891 the Earl of Onslow, the new Governor General of the time was looking to purchase Maori carvings. He purchased Hinemihi for £50 and had it shipped to England where it was reassembled in Clandon Park in surrey. It remains here today.