The historic smelting house in Bon Accord Harbour on Kawau Island has undergone stabilising work to help protect the structure from further decay.
Only accessible now by boat, the building was originally part of the copper mine on the island, established in 1844. It is one of the oldest commercial copper sites in the country.
Built of Waitemata sandstone in 1849, the building was only used for about five years before the mine closed.
Governor George Grey bought the island in 1862. The following year, during the New Zealand Wars, 183 Māori warriors, captured by British troops in the Battle of Rangiriri, one of the biggest battles in the Waikato, were sent to the island and housed in the smelter house.
They eventually escaped by boat to the mainland to a site overlooking Matakana and Omaha where they were supported by local iwi, before eventually being allowed to return to the Waikato.
The smelter house is administered by the Department of Conservation and local iwi. The stabilising work cost $50,000 and included consultation with mana whenua, archaeologists, heritage architects, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, Auckland Council and Te Papa Atawhai’s Heritage Advice team.