Hukerenui Hotel

2450 State Highway 1, Hukerenui

  • Hukerenui Hotel.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Stuart Park.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 407 Date Entered 25th November 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 2 DP 424024 (CT 493372), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Hukerenui Hotel thereon.

City/District Council

Whangarei District


Northland Region

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 424024 (CT 493372), North Auckland Land District


The Hukerenui Hotel is a prominent landmark on State Highway 1 in Northland. It was originally built in 1880 and has subsequently moved twice. It has historic significance reflecting the importance of hotel accommodation in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Northland, as well as reflecting the impact of changing transport networks and changing social mores. The hotel additionally has social significance as a popular community facility and many past owners have been important local figures.

The hotel was originally built before 1880 in Taumarere, near Kawakawa, when it was known as the Exchange Hotel. The hotel closed by 1889, when it was moved more than 20 kilometres to Hukerenui where it reopened as the Hukerenui Hotel in 1890. Hukerenui township had been established two years previously as a Special Settlement for young settlers who had petitioned the government to create new farms. The new owner of the hotel, Carl Jorgen Rasmussen, was a prominent local businessman. The hotel was relocated to Section 17, Block X, Hukerenui Survey District, immediately beside the main overland route between Whangarei and Kawakawa. Its accommodation was well located for travellers to break their journeys or to change horses before continuing. Rasmussen was granted a liquor license in 1890, despite some local opposition due to fears about the effects of alcohol on the community. Rasmussen sold the business to William Woods in 1894.

Woods and his wife, Catherine, were the proprietors of the Hotel for eight years and made the first major changes to the building. They expanded the accommodation by creating a two-storey structure of broadly symmetrical Georgian-influenced design. Photographs suggest that the remodelled hotel held several double-hung windows in its upper storey and a ground-floor verandah to the main street.

The railway line was opened as far as Hukerenui in early 1901. Being the railway terminus contributed to a thriving economy and may have stimulated the changes to the hotel undertaken by the Woods. In 1902 the Woods sold the hotel to Mrs Mary Ellen Keatley, a widow from Hikurangi. The hotel remained in the ownership of her family for the next 70 years, with three generations of Keatleys running the establishment. Hukerenui‘s advantage as a terminus was relatively short-lived. In 1910 the extension of the line to Towai was completed, and by early 1911 was connected to pre-existing networks to the north. To take advantage of the through-traffic the hotel building was relocated, still on the same section of land, but immediately beside the station. Its main entrance was orientated to face the station.

During the relocation work the hotel remained open every day to ensure that it remained profitable. Northland architect Alexander Murdoch McLeod was in charge of moving the building. A two-story wraparound verandah with decorative railings and brackets, perhaps influenced by contemporary Eastlake styles, was added to the building at around the time it was moved. This alteration may have provided the building with a more striking and ‘modern’ appearance to attract clientele and improve its perceived respectability in response to considerable opposition to alcohol licenses and sub-standard hotel accommodation from the prohibition movement in the early 1900s.

With decreasing use of railways, the station at Hukerenui declined. The road on the south side of the hotel was realigned closer to the building in 1942 and upgraded as part of State Highway 1. Improvements to road travel times and the emergence of motel accommodation meant the hotel was no longer used as frequently by travellers. In 1968 the hotel became a tavern. Modifications undertaken in 1969 may reflect this change and the shifting historical use of hotels in the region. Since the Keatley family sold the Hotel, there have been several different owners and it has remained a central part of the Hukerenui community. It was also known for a period as the Happy Huka. Part of the hotel’s land was donated for a local museum in 2010. In 2013, the hotel closed temporarily before the business was sold to a new proprietor, who reopened the hotel in September 2014 as the Hukerenui Café and Tavern with memorabilia and images related to early ownership on display.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
Construction as a single-storey timber building in Taumarere

1889 -
Relocation of building from Taumarere to Hukerenui

1900 -
Conversion into a two-storey building

1911 -
Relocation to current position and addition of a double-storey verandah


Completion Date

23rd June 2017

Report Written By

Alexandra Foster

Information Sources

McNeish, 1984

James McNeish, Tavern in the Town, A.H. and A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1984 [first published 1957]

Stevens, 1982

Preston D. Stevens, 'Pubs' architecture', B.Arch. thesis, University of Auckland, 1982

Menefy, 1989

Menefy, Diana, Hukerenui – In the Beginning, Whangarei, 1989.

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.