Introduction

The Camphouse is thought to be one of the most substantial buildings remaining from the New Zealand Land Wars. It is also the oldest building in any of New Zealand’s national parks.

Marsland stockade and barracks building in 1893.
Marsland stockade and barracks in 
1893

Camphouse (then Tahurangi House) in 1907.
Camphouse (then Tahurangi House) 
in 1907

North Egmont Camphouse today. Photo: K Matthews.
North Egmont Camphouse today

Military barracks

The Camphouse was built as a military barracks for the Taranaki Wars of the 1860s.

In the summer of 1854-55 feuding between various factions of Maori broke out in the Waitara area over the sale of Maori land to Europeans. To allay the fears of local European settlers, Colonel Wynard, the Acting Governor, requested accommodation for soldiers to be stationed in New Plymouth.

A pre-fabricated building was designed and built in Melbourne, Australia. The pieces were marked so that reconstruction of the building would be easy on its arrival in New Zealand.

It formed part of the military barracks complex on Marsland Hill, New Plymouth. This became the headquarters of the Taranaki Military Frontier during the conflicts of 1860 to 1881. As a citadel, it was critical to the European defence of New Plymouth.

From 1874 the barracks were also used to provide temporary housing for immigrants. By 1891 the building fell into a state of disrepair and it was dismantled.

Reconstruction at North Egmont

In 1885 farmer Harry Peters discovered a new route to North Egmont and it quickly became more popular than other established routes of the time. As the number of visitors to the mountain grew so did the need for permanent accommodation to house them.

In 1891 part of the dismantled barrack building was sledded to North Egmont for this purpose. It was named Tahurangi House on its formal opening in 1892. It then became known as the Old House in 1913 when additional accommodation was added (later demolished), before finally becoming the Camphouse in 1977. Since 1892 it has provided accommodation for generations of New Zealanders and international visitors.

Today

While the building’s recreation heritage is most prominent today, its military past is still evident. Many of the original features such as handwrought corrugated iron with gun shots, and tongue and groove timber panelling can still be seen.

DOC’s work

The building underwent a major restoration and upgrade in 1999.

Further reading

Department of Conservation. (1995) Camphouse, North Egmont, Taranaki: Heritage Inventory (Unpublished).

Department of Conservation. (1995) Camphouse (North Egmont, Taranaki): Conservation Plan(Unpublished).

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