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New Zealand’s first cricket match

20 December 1832

Church Missionary Society house at Paihia, c. 1843
Church Missionary Society house at Paihia, c. 1843 (Alexander Turnbull Library, A-048-007)

Church Missionary Society (CMS) leader Henry Williams gave the male pupils (Māori and Pākehā) of his mission school at Paihia in the Bay of Islands a rare day off.

They had sat exams the previous day. Their reward was an opportunity to play cricket on the foreshore at Horotutu. They must have already had some practice, as Williams wrote in his journal that they were ‘very expert, good bowlers’. Williams, who had imported the cricket equipment, had a bowl himself, conceding a run to five-year-old Edwin Fairburn.

The schoolgirls were ‘all fatigued’, but in any case would not have been allowed to play alongside the boys. They had to be content with receiving prizes for their academic work.

The following day ‘the boys recommenced their regular work’, building fences and preparing ground for cultivation. There was no summer break for an institution largely reliant on its own resources.

The naturalist Charles Darwin watched the next cricket match on record, at Waimate North mission station three years later. Once again, both Māori and Pākehā boys took part.

How to cite this page

New Zealand’s first cricket match, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated