The Williams House and associated gardens at Paihia have been accorded an historic reserve classification after many years of community discussion and debate.
The house and the adjoining Paihia Village Green were made available to the public by the Williams family, pioneers of European settlement in the Bay of Islands.
The land and buildings were purchased from the family in 1967 by the former Northland Harbour Board and subsequently changed hands through the former Bay of Islands County Council to the Far North District Council.
As part of the purchase agreement, Mary Williams (a daughter of the original owner, the late Canon Percy Temple Williams) was given a lifetime tenancy of the house. An undertaking was also given that the area would be retained in perpetuity as open public space.
Following the death of the tenant the house was fully refurbished in consultation with the NZ Historic Places Trust and converted to its existing use as a public library. Recreation Reserve status was applied to the Village Green area in 2009.
Following further representations from the community and descendents of Canon Williams, the council notified its intentions to classify the house and gardens as an historic reserve, while retaining the Village Green area as recreation reserve.
The Williams House and Gardens Historic Reserve classification adopted by the council in April effectively completes a process which had its origins in the original purchase from the Williams family 44 years ago. The final legal step will be to gazette the classification of the area as an historic reserve.