Totara House

Totara House is a magnificent 1896 kauri villa set in beautiful heritage gardens, lived in and faithfully preserved for 117 years by the family of George and Emily Smith. The Smith family owned a timber mill at Matakohe and the house is built of kauri from their mill. Totara House was bequeathed to The Kauri Museum to be preserved and enjoyed by generations to come.

For a limited time this year, The Kauri Museum is inviting visitors to escape the summer glare and take a step back in time beneath the cool kauri eaves of our grande dame of Matakohe.

From 27 February to 2 April, Totara House in Wharf Road, normally open only by appointment, will open daily to the public between 10am-2pm.

Tickets will be available from the Museum. Combine a day trip to The Kauri Museum with a visit to Totara House for the discounted rate of $30 or visit the house alone for the summer special rate of $7.50 per person. All tour admissions will go to the Totara House Preservation Fund.


An absolutely great read about the region and the early settlers’ family lives, is the book ‘Child of the Kauri’ in which 100 year old Matakohe and Museum matriarch Mavis Smith (9 November 1910- 10 February 2013) tells her story. Mavis’ grandmother Catherine was the first European woman to step ashore at Matakohe as an Albertland settler. New Zealand’s first native born prime minister, Gordon Coates, was a neighbour and family friend.

‘Child of the Kauri’ is also the tale of Totara House, the elegant kauri villa and Mavis’ family home, which is packed with treasures and memories. The house has been gifted by Mavis, through The Kauri Museum, to the people of New Zealand. This magnificent historical publication, written by Mavis and writer / historian Paul Campbell, is available at The Kauri Museum. Please contact us at The Kauri Museum, Matakohe for more information.