“To walk into The Elms is to be transported to another world….”

The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga is one of New Zealand’s oldest, most significant heritage sites and is considered a national treasure. As the site of early contact between Māori and Pākehā, The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga remains at the centre of Tauranga history and identity today.

The Elms Foundation has long been committed to providing education services to schools across the region. For over 70 years, school groups have visited Te Papa historic precinct, which includes The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga, the Mission Cemetery, Monmouth Redoubt and Te Awanui waka to gain a better understanding of our rich culture and heritage and its contribution to identity, diversity and sense of place.

The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga offers an educational programme that is both stimulating and rewarding, providing multiple opportunities for hands-on and interactive learning. Our programme not only connects with the Primary School Social Sciences curriculum at all levels, but is also cross curricular with activities that include science, physical education, technology, maths and Māori language.

We invite you to consider a visit to The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga for your school and we look forward to working with you to ensure all local children have the opportunity to come to The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga for an outside the classroom learning experience. Students can enjoy engaging activities, native tree walks and plenty of question time.

This section provides much of the information you will need to know about planning a visit to The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga. Please get in touch with any further questions or to make a booking.

Important Information

Please read through all these details carefully as they are essential for a successful visit to The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga.

Options for Student Visits

We welcome class groups from ages 5 and above, and can accommodate larger groups on application.

You can choose which combination of these activities your students undertake:

  1. A 20 minute power point presentation – our captioned sketches, paintings and photos introduce students to The Elms before they tour the site. Younger students would enjoy a class reading of our illustrated book, ‘The Missionaries Came to Tauranga’ (cross curricular)
  2. The House guided tour (social sciences/history component)
  3. The Library guided tour (social sciences/history component)
  4. Medicinal and Food Plants – a walk around the garden discussing our trees and plantings and their uses. This activity includes six of the plants Māori brought to Aotearoa during their migration (social sciences and science components)
  5. Sketching the House – we provide 2B, 3B and 4B pencils, rubbers and paper, or bring your own sketch books (social sciences and art components)
  6. Coach House activity where students work in pairs to find and discuss historic objects (social sciences and technology components)
  7. The Elms Time Line. Students order a selection of old/new paintings, sketches and photos (social sciences curriculum component)
  8. Games of the 1800’s – including croquet, quoits, knuckle bones, skipping ropes, marbles, pitches, pick up sticks and bean bags (social sciences, technology and physical education components)
  9. Writing with a Quill, Nibbed Pen and Waxed Crayons – this is how Archdeacon Brown wrote his diaries, letters and journals. A small group activity in our Fencible Cottage for up to ten of your students at a time (visual arts, social sciences and technology components)
  10. TECT Heritage Garden – our new garden and whare, Tāne-nui-a-Rangi, with its beautiful carvings, intertwines missionary and mana whenua, Ngāi Tamarāwaho and Ngāti Tapu, highlighting the plants grown here in the 1800s (cross curricular)

Each activity takes 15 to 20 minutes depending on the age of your students and the time you have available. We require 40 minutes for a full class Games activity.

Alternatively, you can choose an hour-long house, library and heritage site tour for your students. This is better suited to older students where our experienced Guides will cover the early mission days and the site’s connection to the battles of Pukehinahina/Gate Pa and Te Ranga.


We charge a fee to cover the costs of co-ordinating the programme. The cost of our programme is $2 per student with teachers and parents free of charge.

Pre Booking

The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga education programme is available Monday – Friday between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Pre-bookings are essential to ensure that we have enough guides on site to accommodate your group. We do take bookings in term time and school holidays – schedule permitting.

Adult to Student Ratio

Every group must have a ratio of at least one adult per ten students

Morning Tea and Lunch

You are welcome to have a picnic morning tea or lunch on the lawn. We will have bins around for any rubbish.

Teacher Visits

We encourage teacher visits to familiarise yourself with the site and discuss the programme. Please get in touch to arrange a time for your pre-visit walk around.

Preparing your Students

It is useful for your students to have a little background knowledge of the site before their visit.

It is also important to ensure that students have good shoes and wet-weather gear available.

Contact Details

To make an inquiry:
Phone – 07 577 9772
Email –

Ground Rules at The Elms

To protect our historic buildings, grounds and collections, and ensure that all visitors enjoy their experience, we ask that you share these ground rules with your students prior to your visit.

The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga is a learning environment and an open-air museum, so please respect the grounds and treat them as an extension of the classroom.

  • Remain together in assigned groups at all times
  • Plants should not be touched or tampered with in any way
  • For your own safety and the well being of our gardens please do not climb trees or walk through plant beds
  • The shell paths are hard to maintain and require constant attention, so please do not disturb them
  • Running is not permitted anywhere on the site as there are a number of trip and slip hazards, stay safe and walk
  • All litter should go in the bins around the site or taken back to school
  • No chewing gum anywhere at The Elms | Te Papa Tauranga
  • No food or drink is permitted inside our buildings