Our Story

Our story begins with a group of French Missionaries who sailed to New Zealand in 1838 with little more than their faith and a few vines.

Mission Estate was established by these Missionaries in Hawke’s Bay in 1851, where vines were planted to produce both sacramental and table wine and New Zealand’s first winery was born. The first record of a commercial sale dates back to 1870 when a parcel of mostly dry reds was sold.

Our Story

Mission has never lost sight of its French heritage, as over the years Brothers of the Order have travelled to France to study and learn viticulture and winemaking skills.  Our current winemaker Paul Mooney has been at Mission for over 30 years, and was originally trained by the Fathers.

If visiting La Grande Maison of Mission Estate, as you progress down the driveway, there is still one row of Muscat grapes that have been grafted over the years from the very original stock bought to Hawke’s Bay by the Marist Fathers.

Our People

Learn more about the people that make things happen at Mission Estate Winery.

Peter Holley

Chief Executive

Peter Holley, immigrant from South Africa, has held the position of CEO of Mission Estate since 1996.  In this role he has had the opportunity of overseeing brand development and the restructuring of the Company into a formidable producer of fine wine.

Paul Mooney


Paul Mooney has been the winemaker at Mission Estate for over 30 years, making him one of the most experienced winemakers in New Zealand. Paul’s winemaking philosophies are heavily influenced by his mentor, Brother John, who trained in Bordeaux during the 1960’s.

Steve Wheeler


Steve joined Mission in October 2013. Steve has significant experience in both viticulture and horticulture, holding a Master of Applied Science in Viticulture from Charles Sturt University in Australia and a Bachelor of Horticultural Science from Lincoln University. Steve is responsible for overseeing the company’s fruit supply.

Tony Stanford

National Sales Manager

Tony has returned to re-join the Mission Estate Winery team having previously held the National Sales Manager role for 8 years. Tony is responsible for all sales throughout New Zealand and our world famous cellar door. Tony’s favourite wine is a Syrah produced from Mission’s premium Gimblett Gravels vineyard.

Simon Swa

Export Manager

Simon holds a Bachelor of Sciences Honours – Economics (University of York, England), a WSET Diploma and a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing. Simon worked in the UK in retail and on premise sales, marketing and brand management. His last position was with Maisons Marques & Domaines Ltd (UK) where he held the position of Marketing Manager. Simon and his family emigrated to New Zealand in August 2007 and he held the position of Export Director at Sacred Hill Wines. In August 2012 he took up the position of Head of Sales & Marketing Manager at Peregrine Wines.

Mike Callahan

Financial Controller

Mike has been with Mission since 2002 coming from a background in both the dairy and construction industries. Mike has resided in Hawke’s Bay for the last 15 years originating from Palmerston North. Mike enjoys the sunny Hawke’s Bay lifestyle and all that it has to offer.


Mission Estate Winery has a fascinating past, surviving everything from floods to earthquakes, cutting the building into 11 parts and transporting it to its current site in Taradale using traction engines, all the while planting and growing grapes in Hawke’s Bay. Check out some of the historical images below to follow our story.


In 1851 a mission station was established near the Ngaruroro River between Napier and Hastings at Pakowhai. In 1858, the missionaries moved to land they had purchased at Meeanee and a major community was established. A cottage for living quarters was transported from Pakowhai and later a Church, school and study halls were built. Vines were planted to produce both sacramental and table wine. The first record of a commercial sale dates back to 1870 when a parcel of mostly dry reds were sold.


A new two-storied house costing 2020 pounds and 10 shillings was built in 1880. It was known as La Grande Maison or the “big house” and became the home for the early French Marists for three decades. In 1897 following a disastrous flood, it was realised that the land was subject to periodic flooding and higher land needed to be sought.


In 1897 the 800-acre Mission Estate was purchased from the Tiffen family. The Marist brothers travelled each day from Meeanee to work the new land where a small orchard and some vines were planted. The first grapes were tended on the gently sloping land of the southern spur and the terraced area that is now used as the venue for the annual Mission Concert.


Father Smythe decided to move the Mission community and the big house to the present site in 1909. Then in 1910, the Mission building was cut into eleven sections and rolled on logs and pulled by traction engines.  The journey took two days.

The old Meeanee site became the community Parish and the Church Road site became the centre of winemaking activities and the Seminary for training Marist Priests.

The English Plane Trees were planted in the driveway in 1911.  In 1914, a new Gothic Chapel had been erected and the name Mount St Mary’s replaced Maryvale.


In 1930 a contract was let for the construction of a three-story concrete accommodation block. On 2nd February 1931, the students moved into the new building.  The next morning 3rd February 1931 at 10h47am, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale struck Hawke’s Bay causing serious damage to the entire Mission. Two priests and seven students who were meditating in the stone chapel were killed when it hit.  The new accommodation block was fractured and partly collapsed.  The students moved elsewhere temporarily, but in February 1932, they returned and set to work to restore the grounds.

A wooden Chapel was built and still exists today, and by 1935 there were 80 students in residence. Since 1991, all seminary students have moved and are now in residence in Auckland.


Mission Estate is Hawke’s Bay’s oldest winery, with a well-respected reputation in the New Zealand market as a producer of consistent quality, value for money wines.