With its three sandy beaches sheltered by rocky islets, Paihia has been a popular holiday destination for over a hundred years.
Missionaries were the first white people to settle Paihia in 1823. Led by Rev. Henry Williams they built a house, store and the first church in New Zealand, which was constructed in the traditional Maori way using raupo. Williams gained the respect and trust of the local Maori people, trying to understand their ways and to eliminate friction between Maori and Pakeha. Henry Williams’ brother William joined the mission. He compiled a Maori dictionary and translated the New Zealand Testament into Maori.
In commemoration of this early history, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust set up a number of plaques along Paihia’s waterfront.
Today Paihia’s main industry is tourism.