Masonic Hotel

6 Parnell Street, Clendon Esplanade, Rawene

  • Masonic 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 439 Date Entered 25th November 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Sec 241 Town of Rawene (CT NA1196/58), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Masonic Hotel thereon.

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

Sec 241 Town of Rawene (CT NA1196/58), North Auckland Land District


The Masonic Hotel, a large two-storey kauri hotel, sits in a prominent site on Parnell Street, Rawene. Built in 1879 and backing onto the Hokianga Harbour, it has operated as a hotel for almost 140 years, and is likely to be one of the longest running public hotels in the Far North. Throughout this period, the Masonic Hotel has been used for large meetings and dinners, as well as a public house and for accommodation and food, and has held a vital role in the social fabric of the small town, for both locals and visitors alike. Regarding the latter, it has served to affirm the more settled and established nature of the town as the tourist ‘gateway to the Hokianga’. With a two-storey verandah extending along its main façade and hipped roof, it is an example of a once-common but increasingly rare archetypal hotel design in New Zealand.

Established as a colonial township in the 1860s, Rawene (also known as Herd’s Point) formally became the Hokianga’s county town in 1876, evidently stimulating a need for additional recreational facilities and accommodation in the settlement. In mid-1879, James Milne applied for a hotel licence, but was refused as a building had not yet been started. Constructed by Jones and Edgerley, Milne’s new timber hotel opened in November of the same year, at which time it was ‘furnished with great taste’, including a panelled dining room and a billiard table. The large, two-storey design was of a type that became commonplace in northern New Zealand in the later nineteenth century, often superseding facilities of smaller, domestic-style appearance (such as the nearby Wharf Hotel (Former), List No. 453).

In 1881, John Bryers (1844-1934), a member of one of Rawene’s prominent Māori-Pākehā families, who had operated the first hotel in Rawene since the very early years of the town, transferred his licence to the ‘more commodious’ Masonic, and he ran the hotel until 1894. Others then held the hotel licence in his building, while he and his large family lived next door; a store and bakery operated by Bryers may have also been on the neighbouring site. Numerous publicans have since operated the hotel.

Advertisements for the building mention that the hotel had between 15 and 19 accommodation rooms. In 1923, it advertised itself as the ‘only hotel on the river with hot and cold showers’, providing first class accommodation and food for travellers, motorists and tourists. When for sale in 1928, the property included the hotel building, cottage, shop, dwelling and other outbuildings. The building has undergone a number of alterations and additions over the years. In the 1950s or 1960s, a low extension partially modified the earlier design of the building enclosing part of the lower, front verandah. A large deck was built to house a beer garden in the rear, overlooking the harbour, in the 1990s. Still in use for its original purpose (2017), the hotel remains a significant element in the townscape, being one of few two-storey structures in Rawene’s well-preserved historic centre.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Jones and Edgerley

Builders of the Masonic Hotel, Rawene

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1875 -

Completion Date

26th June 2017

Report Written By

Elizabeth Cox

Information Sources

Lee, 1987

Jack Lee, Hokianga, Auckland, 1987

New Zealand Herald

11 Nov 1903, p.6.

New Zealand Herald, 19 Mar 1892, Supplement p.1.

Holloway, 1993

Holloway, Judith, The Bryer’s Family: An Account of the Beginnings of a Maori-Pakeha Family in New Zealand, [Porirua], 1993.

Irvine, 1976

Irvine, Jean, Township of Rawene, Kaikohe, 1976.

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.