Wharerata Function Centre
Located in the beautiful Manawatu, Wharerata Function Centre knows how to make your special day one to remember. With over 25 years experience in the wedding industry, our historic homestead can accommodate an array of weddings, whether large or small or traditional to rustic.
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Your choice in venue for Weddings, Events, Cuisine and Conferences

Conveniently located on Massey’s Turitea Campus, this tranquil homestead and gardens provides a private and picturesque backdrop for any event. The idyllic setting and outstanding indoor-outdoor flow makes Wharerata the venue of choice when hosting conferences, weddings, garden parties and family celebrations.

We know you can’t go it alone when organising a special event, so our experienced staff will guide you through the planning process to ensure everything runs to perfection. We offer a full range of services from professional catering (indoor, outdoor and even off-site) with a superb on-site cafe and bar, beautiful rose gardens, marquees for outdoor events and much, much more.

As a character venue and events centre, Wharerata is simply unique!
Match turn-of-the-century stately grandeur with contemporary features and stunning grounds and you have an icon in the Manawatu events landscape.  Our personalised service guarantees you an enjoyable and stress-free experience, one our clients testify to.


Weddings are our speciality, and a top quality wedding planning service is provided as part of our total wedding package.


We pride ourselves on the quality of our food, and invite you to taste it for yourself. Whether daytime dining at our Wharerata cafe or cuisine catered for your next event or function.


Whether you need facilities for small group meetings, multi room sessions or for your annual conference, we can arrange the most suitable space with all the presentation equipment you will need.


Wharerata hosts a number of events and themed dinners throughout the year. Visit our events page for more information and to book.


Whether Weddings, Conferences or special events we have a range of menus to suit, or our Executive Chef can design one especially for your event.

The fertile Manawatu plains provide much of the produce our Cusine celebrates, with seasonal menus showcasing local fare.


We pride ourselves on the quality of our food and invite you to escape the city bustle and taste it for yourself! Come and sample of our daily fare at the charming homestead cafe. Whether on business or meeting friends, our cafe menu is bound to appeal.

Casual Dining:
Weekdays: Monday – Friday: 8:00am – 3:30pm

Closed during public and university holidays (Tuesday after Easter Monday and between Christmas and the second week of January). Bookings are recommended for large groups. For daytime table bookings call (06) 350 5088.


Wharerata homestead was originally built in 1901 for Mr Arthur Edward Russell, a successful Hawkes Bay farmer.

Nicknamed “Rata” by local Māori thanks to his prolific fiery red beard; when the time came to decide on a name for his new home in the Manawatu, Arthur chose “Wharerata” – or house of the red beard!

Arthur died in 1924 and his wife Ethel returned for a period to the homeland. Upon her return to Palmerston North, she came laden with the spoils of a spending spree abroad. It seemed time had dulled her memory of the capacity of the downstairs drawing room (now the Russell Room) and its ability to accommodate her new purchases, and she set about expanding it to its current majestic 95m2 area. The new space created above it, which commanded stunning views of the elevated grounds, became her impressive bedroom.

Gifted to Massey University after Ethel’s passing in 1949, it was initially used as a lecture space and before becoming the on-campus social hub – as the University Staff Club in 1970’s.

With the subsequent cessation of the staff club, the metamorphism into unique event centre commenced. Through the care and attention of many dedicated staff in the intervening years, it has now evolved into Manawatu’s premiere function centre.