Pompallier Mission and Printery is New Zealand’s only surviving pioneer printery and tannery. This is your chance to experience an important building that’s the very last of its kind.
Situated right on the waterfront in the Bay of Islands, the mission is a comfortable five minute walk from the Kororāreka (Russell) wharf. It was commissioned by the famous Bishop Pompallier who firmly believed that the power of the printed word could be used to help convert Māori to Christianity.
The printery was built in 1842 using a traditional French rammed-earth style called pisé de terre. It was here that the French Marist Brothers translated Latin religious texts into te reo Māori and produced beautiful bound books. In only three years the missionaries printed an impressive thirty thousand publications in te reo.
These early Catholic missionaries found themselves caught up in British treaty-making and war between Māori and European settlers. To the missionaries, nothing would get in the way of their vitally important work – not even the turbulent birth of our nation.
Today you can take a guided walk through the mission. See each step of the printing and book-binding process to get a fascinating insight into the work of these dedicated French missionaries living in this tiny outpost far from home over 175 years ago.