Living History

The House with the golden eyes

Hinemihi was the tribal meeting house of the Tuhourangi people of Te Wairoa. Tourists 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.

For 123 years, Hinemihi o te Ao Tawhito has been an English resident. Having withstood the most violent volcanic eruption in New Zealand history ‘Hinemihi’ has since lived its life in relative safety, transplanted to the grounds of Clandon Park, Surrey.

Brought there by the 4th Earl of Onslow, New Zealand's youngest ever Governor General, Clandon Park, host of Hinemihi has been home to the Onslow family since 1641.

The original home of ‘Hinemihi’ was at the entrance to Te Wairoa, built by a noted craftsman, Aporo Wharekaniwha and was used by local Maori to entertain tourists. With Hinemihi now located in England, the remaining relics of Te Wairoa, as they are unearthed, are on show at the Buried Village museum.

Click here for more info...


Pink & White Terraces

House with the Golden Eyes

Smithy's Story

Back to Top