The Elms

Wooden pavilion at The Elms

The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga is a place like no other, where you can step back in time and learn about the rich history and significance of its buildings and gardens.

The heritage site, known originally as Otamataha pā, was the landing place of ancestral waka and home to a thriving Māori community. In the 1830s, it became a place of contact between Māori and Pākehā as missionaries expanded their work in the Bay of Plenty. The beautiful Georgian house was built on the site in 1847 for Reverend Alfred Nesbit Brown, who came to New Zealand as a missionary for the Church Missionary Society of England.

Toured by thousands of visitors each year, from cruise ship passengers to local interested groups and schools, the house and gardens tell a unique story of Tauranga’s history.

Visitors can journey through the expansive grounds, historic house and library, and discover the beautiful fauna and flora found in the New Zealand European garden; one of the oldest south of the Bay of Islands. 

TECT Chairperson Bill Holland cuts the ribbon, opening The Elms TECT Heritage Garden

Garden Enlivens National Treasure

The new TECT Heritage Garden serves as a starting point for the guided tours at The Elms, allowing visitors to understand the significance of the site for both Māori and Pākehā. The Garden provides a place for stories of the local area and allows visitors to gain a richer understanding of Tauranga’s history before moving on to explore other features of the historic property.

The Garden features a beautiful pavilion adorned with carvings by master carver Whare Thompson and is surrounded by raised garden beds containing plants of economic, cultural and decorative value, all with botanical and historical interest.

Elms Manager Andrew Gregg says the Garden was designed in collaboration with historians, heritage architects, archaeologists and tangata whenua.

“The TECT Heritage Garden was designed not only to resonate with the city’s cultural and environmental heritage but also to significantly enliven a national treasure.

“We are so grateful to TECT; the $250K in TECT funding turned a long-time dream into an exciting reality. The Garden will bring people from different cultures, nationalities and age groups together, to engage with each other in meaningful ways. We can’t wait for visitors to enjoy it as part of their visit to The Elms.”

To learn more about The Elms, and to plan your next visit, check out www.theelms.org.nz.


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