Window to the past
What would the Busby children have thought if they’d known their home would become New Zealand’s most-visited historic house? That thousands of children over time would stand in their bedroom and wonder what life was like then. Paeroa Christian School Year 6-8 students got a real sense of the past as they explored the Treaty House, which tells the story of James and Agnes Busby and their family, as well as important events leading to the Treaty.
It also tells the story of some of the most important events in New Zealand’s history. The first flag for the nation was chosen here in 1834; the 1835 Declaration of Independence was drafted in the house by James Busby and presented to the northern chiefs; and the Treaty of Waitangi was given its finishing touches here before being read to the chiefs on 5 February 1840 and then signed on Busby’s front lawn on 6 February.
The original Treaty House was pre-cut in Sydney out of Australian hardwood and shipped to New Zealand for assembly on site in 1834. In 1840 the house consisted of a parlour, or living room, one large bedroom, a central hall, and a small dressing room. A separate building housed the kitchen, storeroom and servants’ room. In 1841 three bedrooms were added to accommodate James Busby’s growing family.
Read about the history of the Treaty House: A history of New Zealand in 100 places (#92 on the list)