About the Trust
After the death of Henry Williams, Marianne and their sons built a church in his memory at Pakaraka to replace the smaller one erected in 1851 when Henry first moved there. Called Holy Trinity in memory of Henry’s ordination date, it was opened in 1873. Initially linked to The Retreat by an avenue of oak trees planted during Henry’s lifetime, its graveyard contains the graves of both Henry and Marianne. The church has a Category I status on the Historic Places Trust register. Both the church and the house were gifted to the Auckland Diocese of the Church of England at the beginning of the 20th Century.
In the 1960s descendants of Henry and William Williams collected money to restore the Pakaraka church and graves. Money was also collected with the long term aim of buying and restoring The Retreat. In 1973 this intention was formalised through a trust deed which created The Henry and William Williams Memorial Museum Trust.
The Trust, established on behalf of the descendants of the two missionary brothers, provides for the collection of finances to purchase the property and states that upon its acquisition the trustees will permit it to be used “for such charitable, religious, educational and scientific purposes of a public nature within New Zealand as the trustees may from time to time think fit and in particular but without in any way limiting the generality of the foregoing for the purpose of a museum”.
The four initial trustees (two Henry descendants and two William descendants) were Elfie Elliott, Dr Morvyn Williams, the Rev Canon Nigel Williams and Dan Williams. Subsequent trustees were (Bill ) Williams, Sir Nigel Reed and Richard Woods.
Maintaining a mix of Henry and William descendants, the current trustees are Dan Williams and Priscilla Williams of Wellington, Eila Searles and Kirsty McGill of Kerikeri, and three trustees from Auckland - John Andrews, Tina Angelova and Camilla Hope-Simcock. Our newest trustee Heather Stanley of Pakaraka, is not a Williams descendant but lives in a local historic Williams homestead and has a strong interest in preserving the buildings of the local area for future use.
In the 1980s, having collected sufficient money, the Trust began negotiations with the Anglican Church for the purchase of the freehold property. This was finally concluded in 1995, when the freehold was transferred to the Trust. The property however remained leased until 2007 when the current lessee unexpectedly offered the Trust the opportunity to purchase the leasehold. The Trust had insufficient funds to cover the cost but the trustees decided that it was essential to realise the intentions of the Trust deed and thus agreed to buy. The leasehold was purchased in October 2007 for $620,000. This was funded by $130,000 of the Trust’s money and a private loan with the balance of $490,000 being provided by a mortgage from the Henry and William Williams Memorial Trust, based in Hawke’s Bay.
Repaying the debt within a short time was essential as the Trust had very limited income to service debt. As a private trust, it had to look to the wider family for the financial support to make the project viable. A fund-raising campaign was launched based on a direct appeal to all family members we could locate, using the data in the 1998 edition of Faith and Farming. A series of gatherings were held during 2008 in New Zealand centres where there were significant family members, namely Wairarapa, Gisborne, Christchurch, East Cape, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Hamilton, Auckland, Northland and Taupo. Those overseas were contacted by mail. When the mortgage payment fell due in October 2008, one year after purchasing the property, we had raised $490,000 – a remarkable effort by just one family.Donations continued to come in since then and thus the rest of the principal sum and the outstanding interest were paid off fully by October 2009.
The house is currently tenanted and this rent is sufficient to pay for rates and essential maintenance. The extent to which it can be further developed will depend on money available to the Trust.