Wharf Hotel (Former)

4 Russell Esplanade, Rawene

  • Wharf Hotel (Former).
    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 435 Date Entered 25th November 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 2 DP 97868 (CT NA53B/857), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Wharf Hotel (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 97868 (CT NA53B/857), North Auckland Land District


The timber Wharf Hotel (Former), dating from the 1860s or early 1870s, and significantly enlarged in 1878, is one of the earliest surviving buildings in Rawene, and one of the earliest remaining hotels in the Hokianga. Its surviving external form is particularly significant as an uncommon remaining Northland example of a small, nineteenth century domestic-scale public house, differing from the larger and more ornate ‘commercial-style’ hotels that later prevailed in New Zealand. As one of two hotels in the early years of the small town, it was an important focus for social activity, and connected to a number of prominent members of the early Māori-Pākehā community. It is also historically significant for uses that occurred after it closed as a hotel in the 1890s, including as a Methodist manse and Rawene’s first hospital.

Looking out towards the busy trading passage between the inner and outer Hokianga Harbour, the hotel was built close to the waterfront at Rawene (also known as Herd's Point), which had been laid out as a township in 1864-1866. It was one of several buildings erected on a section that had initially been set aside as a post office reserve by the Crown. In its original form, a one-storey kauri building with a gable roof and verandah, it appears to have been built for George Hardiman, a member of one of the early Māori-Pākehā families in Hokianga. Its small-scale domestic appearance was commonplace for early colonial taverns and related establishments in New Zealand, following overseas precedents in Britain and North America.

From the mid-1870s the building was owned by John Lundon (1828?–1899), an entrepreneur and politician, who renamed it the Harp of Erin. It was substantially enlarged in 1878 with the construction of a two storey extension with a hipped roof; graffiti in the latter states it was built by George G. Menzies, who subsequently became Hokianga County Engineer. Enlargement of the facilities occurred during a period of heightened importance for Rawene, after the settlement formally became Hokianga’s county town (1876).

Although the building was owned by Lundon until 1888, the hotel licence was operated by others over the years, including his teenage daughter Matilda. A detached kitchen at this time lay behind the main building. After the Rawene wharf was erected nearby in 1881, the establishment was renamed the Wharf Hotel, and continued under new ownership: ‘extensive improvements’ were made in 1892. A number of lean-tos to the side and rear were added over the years.

The building ceased to be a hotel in circa 1894, becoming a residence for the local Methodist minister and his family between 1895 and 1900. It was then used as Rawene’s first hospital, probably from 1904: although some alterations and additions were made, the hospital moved to new premises in 1909. In 1925-50, the building housed Lucy Ferguson’s boarding house, providing lodgings and food, and was later used as a furniture showroom, and shop selling groceries and meals. A dormer window was added into the one storey gable roof sometime after 1950. In the 2010s the building underwent substantial restoration, when windows and doors were replaced, internal alterations made and lean-tos removed. It is now (2017) a private residence, and broadly retaining its early scale and external form, remains a visually distinctive component within the historic Rawene townscape.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Menzies, George G

Builder of Wharf Hotel Rawene 1878

Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

Andrew Rowe, the builder working [July 2012] on the Wharf House restoration on Russell Esplanade, has found an inscription written on a roof beam by the original builder. The inscription, in pencil, reads:

Built by George G Menzies 27th Sep. 1878 [The date is unclear, and may be 29th Sep.]

Construction Dates

1878 -
Two storey section added - Inscription 'Built by George G Menzies 27 Sept 1878 found on roof beam 2012

1892 -

Dormer window added to single-storey roof

Completion Date

19th June 2017

Report Written By

Elizabeth Cox

Information Sources

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Routledge, David, 'Lundon, John', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/2l21/lundon-john [accessed 3 June 2017].

Lee, 1987

Jack Lee, Hokianga, Auckland, 1987

Abercrombie, 1956

Abercrombie, K, Through Changing Scenes: An 80th Anniversary History of the Rawene Methodist Church, Rawene Methodist Church Trust, Whangarei, 1956.

Lee, 1997

Lee, Jack, An Holy Trinity: Three Hokianga Characters, Russell, 1997.

Williams, 2010

Williams, Christine, Hokianga Health: The First Hundred years, Rawene, 2010.

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.