The History of Mission Bay Pavilion
Mission Bay sits on three parcels of land comprising part of the Kohimarama block bought from the Crown in the early 1840s. The area used to be referred to as ‘Kohimarama’, a name now given to a neighbouring suburb. Present-day Mission Bay takes its name from the Melanesian Mission, which was established by the Anglican Bishop George Augustus Selwyn at the bay at the end of the 1840s. The school also known as St Andrew’s College, was an Anglican institution set up to provide Melanesian boys with a Christian education. The stone buildings, designed by Reader Wood, date from 1858 and are built of scoria rock quarried on the volcanic island of Rangitoto.
In the winter of 1860 the mission buildings were lent to the Governor, Colonel Thomas Gore Browne, who organised the historic Kohimarama Conference. The conference was attended by 200 rangatira from a large number of iwi throughout New Zealand and aimed at convincing Māori leaders to reject the Māori King Movement and justify the Government’s war in Taranaki, which had broken out over a disputed land transaction. The conference lasted a month. A wide range of issues were discussed. It gave southern Maori in particular an opportunity to gain a fuller understanding of the meaning of the treaty. In the last week Paora Tuarere (Ngati Whatua) proposed that the treaty should be endorsed by the conference as a “fuller ratification”. Tuarere was one of the principal chiefs who sold land to the government in Auckland on the Auckland isthmus. Maori then affirmed the treaty thus reassuring the government that Maori would, in general, support the government rather than the new Maori king. The kingite Wiremu Tamahana attended the conference. The Kohimarama Conference is said to be unique, since it was the first time Māori had been given the opportunity to hold a rūnanga with Pākeha officials, which was a first step towards representation in the Government of New Zealand.
The Anglican Mission was transferred to Norfolk Island in 1867, but St. Andrews College remained an educational institution, serving as a naval training school, industrial school, and institute for teaching work practices to ‘neglected’ boys. From 1915 until the end of the 1920s the Walsh Brothers located their flying school here, and for many years they used the bay as a landing area for their seaplanes. It is claimed that during this time they trained at least a third of the New Zealand’s pilots active during the First World War. Hence, Mission Bay was also known as ‘Flying School Bay’.
In 1928 the mission building became a museum, but was found to be unsuitable for the display of artifacts. It was taken over as a heritage property by Heritage New Zealand in 1974 and the former St. Andrews College has since been leased out as a restaurant.