Te Henui Vicarage

290 Courtenay Street, Strandon, New Plymouth

  • Te Henui Vicarage.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Blyss Wagstaff. Date: 8/07/2010.
  • Detail of crest under gable on front elevation, showing Bishop Selwyn’s symbol of the three stars of the undivided diocese of New Zealand.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Blyss Wagstaff. Date: 8/07/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 892 Date Entered 23rd June 2011

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 3 DP 5921 (CT TNK1/868), Taranaki Land District and the building known as Te Henui Vicarage thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. The registration does not include the New Plymouth Potters workshop building. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

New Plymouth District

Region

Taranaki Region

Legal description

Lot 3 DP 5921 (CT TNK1/868), Taranaki Land District

Summaryopen/close

Te Henui Vicarage, built 1845, is a significant element in New Zealand’s religious history, notable for its direct connection with the establishment of the Church of England in this country.

New Plymouth was chosen as the site for New Zealand’s second European colony, with settlers arriving from 1841 onwards. With the colonists also came the advent of religion to Taranaki, providing the familiar spiritual and cultural institutions of home to the settlers, and missionary services to the Maori population. Although the colonists represented followers of a variety of religious doctrines, many were members of the Church of England. Accordingly, the Church Missionary Society was able to expand on its earlier work by seeking the appointment of a Bishop for New Zealand, who would be charged with setting up the Anglican constitution in the new Diocese of New Zealand. This undivided diocese initially included the whole country as well as various islands in Polynesia. In 1841 George Augustus Selwyn (1809-1878) was appointed to this position, arriving in New Zealand in 1842 to begin his work.

Bishop Selwyn visited New Plymouth in October 1842, and set about organising the construction of churches in the new parish. Sites were chosen for St Mary’s Church in central New Plymouth, and the Holy Trinity Church at Henui, now in Fitzroy. Reverend William Bolland was appointed to be the Deacon in charge of the parish of New Plymouth, and an existing sandstone house at Te Henui was chosen as the residence for him and his family.

The building that today is known as the Te Henui Vicarage was added as an extension to this earlier house in 1845. The structure, constructed of Taranaki andesite, is known to have been at least partly designed by noted architect Frederick Thatcher, who was Bishop Selwyn’s architect of choice as they were both enthusiastic about establishing a revival of medieval Gothic architecture as the style of choice for New Zealand’s ecclesiastical buildings. The Vicarage shares stylistic similarities with the Antipodean or Selwyn Gothic style of St Mary’s Church in New Plymouth, and is especially significant as an extremely rare example of a building that features the crest of the undivided diocese of New Zealand, dating from before the diocese was first subdivided in 1856.

After Bolland died in 1847 he was succeeded by Henry Govett, who would go on to become the first Archdeacon of Taranaki and foster the parish for over 50 years. Govett had to evacuate the Te Henui Vicarage during the Taranaki Wars of the 1860s, but the building survived these conflicts at a time when many others were destroyed in the fighting. Although the last clergyman to reside in the house left around the turn of the twentieth century, the Taranaki Anglican Church Trust Board retained ownership of it until 1949, out of respect for its considerable historical significance. It was then purchased by the New Plymouth District Council, who collaborated with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to preserve the building for the education and enjoyment of future generations. Major restoration work was carried out in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which involved the removal of all additions to the 1845 stone structure. The New Plymouth Potters have used the building as their showroom since 1973.

The Te Henui Vicarage is of outstanding historic significance for its direct association with the establishment of the Church of England in New Zealand, physically embodied in the building through the presence of Bishop Selwyn’s crest of the undivided diocese of New Zealand incorporated into the stonework. This crest has high symbolic value and the Te Henui Vicarage is a very rare example of such a feature dating from an important period in history. The association of the place with figures of historical significance, such as Bishop Selwyn, Reverend William Bolland and Archdeacon Henry Govett, has relevance not only locally but nationally, as these people shaped the Church and congregations of today. Important architect Frederick Thatcher’s contribution to the design, and the use of distinctive local materials, gives the place architectural and aesthetic significance. As a publically-owned heritage site, the Vicarage is a much-treasured community asset and attracts many visitors.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This building has significant historical value. It was visited by Bishop Selwyn, a significant member of the early Anglican Church in New Zealand, and is directly linked with his work establishing Anglicanism through the symbol of the undivided diocese of New Zealand (1841-1856) affixed to the front elevation. The Vicarage is also significant for surviving the Taranaki campaign of the New Zealand wars, one of relatively few buildings in New Plymouth that was not demolished during this time, signifying the esteem that the building and Vicar had with local Maori.

Aesthetic Significance or Value:

In its simplicity the Te Henui Vicarage has significant aesthetic value. Its construction from New Plymouth andesite and the steep pitch of the gable makes it a striking building, evoking comparisons with the elegance of St Mary’s Church. Particularly in its early years, the building and its picturesque rural setting inspired many paintings and sketches, and although the urban landscape has now encroached somewhat, the open landscaping of the site and its proximity to the bush-lined Te Henui River make this a peaceful and thought-provoking place.

Archaeological Significance or Value:

The Te Henui vicarage was constructed in 1845 and is associated with the earliest period of European settlement in New Plymouth. As such the site is of high archaeological significance. The section is likely to contain significant archaeological deposits associated with this period, including evidence relating to the earlier wings which were located either side of the 1845 structure which survives today.

Architectural Significance or Value:

There is strong evidence that the Te Henui Vicarage was designed by noted pioneer ecclesiastical architect Frederick Thatcher. The Te Henui Vicarage is therefore part of a corpus of religious buildings designed by Thatcher, and associated with the architectural influence of Bishop Selwyn. The stone building is reminiscent of the design of Thatcher’s St Mary’s Church and the Gables, and gains significance through this stylistic association. The form of the Vicarage is also of architectural significance because of the direct connection that the structure has with Bishop Selwyn, and the style variously described as Antipodean Gothic, or alternatively Selwyn’s Gothic. It is an extremely rare example of a building to feature the symbol of the undivided diocese of New Zealand, in the form of the coat of arms situated beneath the apex of the gable.

Cultural Significance or Value:

The Te Henui Vicarage has great cultural significance as an indicator of the establishment and growth of the Anglican Church in Taranaki and New Zealand. This religion was of immense significance to Pakeha and Maori alike in the early years of European settlement, and continues to remain a fundamental aspect of the lives of many.

Social Significance or Value:

The Te Henui Vicarage has social significance as a valued heritage asset within New Plymouth, purchased by the New Plymouth District Council in order to preserve it for the benefit of future generations. As an early and rare remnant of the establishment of the Church of England in New Zealand, it is a place valued by the Anglican community. As a feature on a heritage trail and the gallery of the New Plymouth Potters’ group since the 1970s, the building is visited by many people and promoted as part of a network of visitor destinations.

Spiritual Significance or Value:

As the place of residence for the early deacons of New Plymouth this building has spiritual significance. It has served as the home base of highly spiritual people who dedicated their lives to living out the tenets of their faith. It has been visited by prominent members of the Anglican faith, including Bishop Selwyn.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

The Te Henui Vicarage is an outstanding physical and historical link to the establishment of the Anglican Church in New Zealand, an aspect of this country’s history that has shaped the lives of a large proportion of the population. The building is directly associated with Bishop Selwyn, and dates from the earliest period of his work setting up the Church of England in New Zealand. The presence of the crest of the undivided diocese of New Zealand on the building is an extremely rare example of this feature, giving this place special significance.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

The Te Henui Vicarage is strongly associated with Bishop Selwyn, William Bolland and Henry Govett, three figures of great importance in the establishment of the Anglican faith in New Zealand and Taranaki. The building is also part of Frederick Thatcher’s body of work for the Church of England in this country, which has contributed to the style recognised as Selwyn or Antipodean Gothic. As a rare survivor of the Taranaki Wars, the building is significant for its association with this tumultuous period in New Zealand history.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:

As this property was settled even prior to the construction of the existing stone part of the Vicarage in 1845, the site surrounding the Vicarage is of archaeological significance. It is likely that there will be remnants of the early mission station and associated activities surrounding it which may only be gleaned through archaeological excavation.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place:

The Te Henui Vicarage, as a publically-owned heritage property, is held in high regard by the people of New Plymouth as well as the Anglican community. The site was maintained by the Taranaki Anglican Church Trust Board for many years after it had outlived its original purpose, due to the respect for its historical significance. The New Plymouth District Council and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust have made extensive efforts to restore the building, and it continues to be appreciated by visitors and patrons of the current tenants, the New Plymouth Potters.

(f) The potential of the place for public education:

The Te Henui Vicarage has potential to tell of the ways people lived at the time of colonial settlement of New Plymouth, as well as the development of religion in New Zealand. As the showroom of the New Plymouth Potters and a heritage building marked with a plaque, the site attracts many visitors.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

The Te Henui Vicarage is of technical interest due to the involvement of Frederick Thatcher in the design, and the incorporation of the carved crest into the stonework of the building. Made of Taranaki andesite, The Te Henui Vicarage is part of a small group of historic structures built from this distinctive local material.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place:

The presence of Bishop Selwyn’s crest of the undivided diocese of New Zealand on the building lends the Te Henui Vicarage special symbolic value, as it is a rare example of this coat of arms that dates from the period before the first subdivision of the diocese in 1856. The symbol of the three stars survives in the designs for the crests of each of the present Anglican dioceses, indicating its symbolic importance.

(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement:

The surviving portion of the Te Henui Vicarage was built only five years after the arrival of the first English colonists to New Zealand, and as such dates from the earliest period of the country’s colonial history. The Vicarage also evolved from the site of an earlier structure, Captain Cooke’s residence, suggesting that the site had been settled during the earliest colonial development of New Plymouth. As a stone building dating from 1845, it is one of the country’s oldest stone buildings and has special significance.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places:

The Te Henui Vicarage is one of only a few buildings in the country that are known to feature the crest of the undivided Anglican diocese of New Zealand. This symbol was in use between 1841-1856, and continues to represent the Auckland diocese, however examples of crests in buildings dating from this time period are very rare. The crests above the fireplace in the kitchen (1846) and in carved into the woodwork of the Chapel at St John’s College in Parnell are the only other surviving example known to date from around this time.

Summary of Significance or Values:

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, c, e, f, g, h, I and j.

Conclusion:

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place.

The Te Henui Vicarage is of outstanding historic significance for its direct association with the establishment of the Church of England in New Zealand, physically embodied in the building through the presence of Bishop Selwyn’s crest of the undivided diocese of New Zealand incorporated into the stonework. This crest has high symbolic value and the Te Henui Vicarage is a very rare example of such a building dating from the period before the diocese of New Zealand was first subdivided in 1856. The association of the place with figures of historical importance, such as Bishop Selwyn, Reverend William Bolland and Archdeacon Henry Govett, has relevance not only locally but nationally, as these people shaped the Church and congregations of today. Important architect Frederick Thatcher’s contribution to the design, and the use of distinctive local materials, gives the place architectural and aesthetic significance. As a publically-owned heritage site, the Vicarage is a much-treasured community asset and attracts many visitors.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Thatcher, Frederick

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Tole & Massey

An Architectural Partnership which spanned the years 1928 to 1935. George Edmund Tole (1898-1972) and Horace Lovell Massey (1895-1978).

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The Taranaki region is thought to have been settled by Maori around 600-700 years ago. Archaeological evidence suggests that pa were being built in the area, which surrounds Mount Taranaki, as early as the fifteenth century. A number of iwi hold mana whenua in the west coast of the region, including Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutunga, Te Atiawa and Taranaki.

The area which would become New Plymouth was initially populated by Nga Mahanga a Tairi of Taranaki, and then Te Atiawa. A chief settlement of the Te Atiawa hapu Ngati Te Whiti was the fishing village of Mataipu, at Ngamotu. Te Atiawa affiliate with the waka Tokomaru and are said to descend from the semi-divine origins of ancestor Awanuiarangi, whose people moved south from Northland to the Bay of Plenty and Taranaki. The tribal rohe (district) occupies coastal land from Onuku Taipari north to Te Rau o te Huia, stretching inland for several kilometres to a promontory on the north-east slopes of Mount Taranaki. Te Henui, the area following the course of the Te Henui Stream, is recognised as an area of historic and ecological importance. In the wider vicinity of the Te Henui Vicarage there are the remains of three former pa sites.

European whalers initially arrived along the Taranaki coast in the first half of the nineteenth century, and generally integrated themselves relatively harmoniously with the local Maori communities. By the early 1840s, a Ngati Te Whiti pa at Ngamotu, called Otaka, was still populated but many other Maori strongholds in the region had been abandoned following attacks by taua from the Waikato a decade earlier, which had prompted a major migration of the remnant Te Atiawa population to Otaki, Wellington and Marlborough.

Organised colonial settlement at Taranaki was first instituted by the Plymouth Company in 1839-1840, who arranged to purchase land from the New Zealand Company for the settlement of immigrants from Devon and Cornwall, although this purchase would be much disputed in the future. The site of the township was chosen and laid out by Chief Surveyor Frederic Carrington in February 1841, and settler ships arrived from England from March 1841 onwards.

By this time the Plymouth Company had fallen into financial difficulties, and was formally merged with the New Zealand Company in May 1841. Settler ships continued to arrive, but disputes around the Crown’s role in transferring land out of Maori ownership, and between tangata whenua over who had the authority to transfer land were already evident.

Anglicanism in Taranaki:

With the European settlers also came the advent of religion to Taranaki, providing the familiar spiritual and cultural institutions of home to the settlers, and missionary services to the Maori population.

Wesleyan missionary teachers had arrived in New Plymouth in 1838 to begin missionary activities for the remnant Te Atiawa population, and the region’s first mission station proper was established in 1841 at Ngamotu. Although the colonists represented followers of a variety of religious doctrines, many were members of the Church of England. Accordingly, once New Zealand had been proclaimed part of the British Dominion by the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, the Church Missionary Society was able to expand on its earlier work by seeking the appointment of a Bishop for New Zealand, who would be charged with setting up the Anglican constitution in the new diocese of New Zealand. This undivided diocese initially included the whole country as well as various islands in Polynesia. In 1841 George Augustus Selwyn (1809-1878) was appointed to this position, arriving in New Zealand in 1842 to begin his work.

Bishop Selwyn visited New Plymouth in October 1842, and set about organising the construction of churches in the parish. Sites were chosen for St Mary’s Church (Record no. 148) in central New Plymouth, and the Holy Trinity Church (Record no. 893) at Henui, now known as Fitzroy. Reverend William Bolland travelled to New Plymouth with his wife Jane, arriving in December 1843. Bishop Selwyn appointed Bolland to be the Deacon in charge of the parish in New Plymouth, and in March 1845 the foundation stone for St Mary’s church was laid under their guidance. A vicarage was also required for the parson, whose salary was contributed to by public subscription from the congregation.

Te Henui Vicarage:

When Bishop Selwyn had visited New Plymouth in 1842, he had stayed with Captain J.G. Cooke at his home in Courtenay Street. Captain Cooke’s house was situated on the bank of the Te Henui stream, at the east end of Courtenay Street, in what was then a rural area surrounding the route north towards Waitara. Selwyn gave Bolland the choice of either buying Cooke’s house, which was for sale for £150, or having a vicarage built in the grounds of the site of St Mary’s in central New Plymouth. Bolland chose to use Cooke’s house, described as being ‘about a mile from the town down a line cut thro’ the fern dignified by the name of Courtenay St’, for the Vicarage even though it was not close to St Mary’s Church. This was because it was in a convenient location for the Maori visitors who came to the site and pitched their tents in the grounds there, and also because it was midway between the Anglican churches on his circuit.

The Vicarage was not in its present form at this time, and consisted of two small wings, one of which was described as ‘a small stone building with a verandah three parts round it situated very romantically’, between which was a passage. By August 1845, however, when the house was visited by Reverend William Charles Cotton, Bishop Selwyn’s chaplain, a new andesite stone addition with thatched roof had been erected between these two wings. This stone central section is the building that remains today.

It is likely that the architect for the new portion of the Vicarage was Frederick Thatcher (1814-1890), who was also the architect for St Mary’s Church in New Plymouth. Evidence confirms that he designed the windows at the vicarage. Historian Margaret Alington also reports that the inclusion of a crest in the stonework was a stylistic device that Thatcher had also used previously, in his earlier design for a stone parsonage at Halton, Hastings. Bolland’s correspondence to Sir Donald McLean in early 1846 mentions that ‘the plans for the Nat. Hospital are very pretty - old English style - very high roof, and windows like the new part of Parsonage - only in wood’, referring to the Thatcher-designed Colonial Hospital in New Plymouth (today known as the Gables, Record no. 29) and its strong stylistic similarities to Bolland’s own new extension. Thatcher was one of the first 15 associates of the British Institute of Architects, and was responsible for the design of a number of New Zealand’s celebrated ecclesiastical buildings, including Old St Paul’s in Wellington (Record no. 38), the Chapel and buildings at St John’s College in Auckland (Record no’s 13 and 14), and Selwyn’s Bishopscourt complex at Parnell (Record no’s 23, 24, 2638, 2646). He is remembered as a key proponent of the influential ‘Selwyn style’ of architecture.

The form of the Vicarage is also of interest architecturally because of the direct connection that the structure has with Bishop Selwyn. It has been documented that Selwyn was directly involved with the design of the churches that he commissioned, and this has been suggested with St Mary’s Church, for example. Given that the two buildings were constructed at around the same time and share stylistic similarities in their construction material and steeply pitched gables, the form of the Vicarage is therefore interesting for its leanings towards the Gothic architecture that was espoused by Selwyn and Thatcher.

The style the building takes, along with others built under Selwyn’s tenure, has been variously described as Antipodean Gothic, Colonial Gothic or Selwyn’s Gothic. Selwyn was interested in bringing this revival of medieval Gothic architecture to New Zealand because of his own belief that it was the only style appropriate for ecclesiastical buildings, which was strengthened through his involvement with the Cambridge Camden Society. Thatcher – Selwyn’s architect of choice – was also a member of this society, and together they adapted the style to suit New Zealand conditions and building resources. The volcanic andesite stone used for the Vicarage makes the building part of a small group of buildings in New Plymouth constructed from this distinctive local material, which was soon superseded by the availability of abundant sources of timber for construction.

It has also been suggested that the structure of the building could have been designed by Edwin Harris, who drew a site plan and sketch of the finished addition in 1846. Harris, celebrated for his talent as an artist, was a surveyor working for F.A. Carrington at the time, so it is most likely that the 1846 drawings are merely a record of the site. However he is also noted to have worked as a civil engineer so would have had the skills for designing the stone structure, leaving Thatcher to contribute the windows and crest, although this seems an inefficient arrangement and it is most likely Thatcher was responsible for the whole addition. Harris’ plan documents Bolland’s efforts for establishing the place as a Mission Station, featuring a hospital, school-room and accommodation house.

A unique aspect of the Vicarage is the carving of the crest of Selwyn’s undivided diocese of New Zealand located just under the apex of the gable on the north façade, incorporated into the stonework. The symbol of three stars on a shield-shaped background is visible in Harris’s 1846 drawing. It has been suggested that the three stars represent the three main islands of New Zealand, or the three areas of the original mission (New Zealand, Polynesia and Melanesia), or the Trinity and the three foundations of Anglican belief: scripture, tradition and reason. Due to the relatively short time period of the existence of the undivided diocese - it was first subdivided in 1856 with the creation of the Christchurch diocese - the Te Henui Vicarage is a highly rare example of a surviving building featuring this symbol. The crests at the Thatcher-designed St John’s College in Auckland (Record no’s 13 and 14) are the only other examples known to have survived from this time period, (there is a small crest above the fireplace in the c.1846 kitchen, and the Chapel contains crests carved into the woodwork). Today the symbol endures through the incorporation of the three stars into the crests of all of the Anglican dioceses of New Zealand.

The picturesque setting and charming design of the building have provided inspiration for many artworks over the years, including those from the 1840s and 1850s that record its early forms. Selwyn himself thought highly of the Te Henui Vicarage, writing in 1848:

‘If I could send you a true picture of the Parsonage at Taranaki, it would make you leave the noise of Pall Mall, and apply for institution as a pastor to the English settlers...Picture to yourself an irregular stone building, roofed with genuine thatch, with shady verandahs overgrown with creepers, and a grassy bank in front sloping down to the sparkling stream of the Henui, fed most plentifully... by the snows of Taranaki, which towers in solitary grandeur behind the forest in the middle space between the sea and the mountain’.

While there are references to the exterior of the building in archival records, there also remains a glimpse into the interior of the Vicarage from an entry in Martha Adams’ journal dated to 1850: ‘Within the house, the carpeted rooms, and the neat white French bed looked like home, but cast your eyes round the otherwise neatly furnished bedroom, and you see bare rough stone walls without the least covering. The Reverend Mr. and Mrs. Govett are now the occupants...’

Two years after the construction of the Te Henui Vicarage, Bolland passed away aged 27, after catching typhoid from one of the many guests that the family hosted at the Vicarage. The event was poignantly related in the Taranaki Herald: ‘After languishing a few weeks a son was born to him: he took the infant in his arms, thanking God and blessing it, after which he expired, to the grief of the entire settlement, and the unconsolable (sic) sorrow of his young widow.’

In 1847 Bolland’s friend Reverend Henry Govett was appointed as the next deacon of the parish, and resided at the Te Henui Vicarage. Govett was the vicar at St Mary’s for a further 50 years. At the end of his term, Govett had also been the archdeacon for 44 years, serving through some of the most tumultuous years of the settlement of New Plymouth. During this time he administered to Europeans and Maori alike, caring for the wounded and burying the dead.

Taranaki Wars:

The 1860s saw New Plymouth rocked by the fighting of the Taranaki wars, provoked by the difficulties caused by the demand for land for the colonists. An enquiry by Commissioner Spain in 1844 had upheld the initial European purchase of 60,000 acres, but this was re-investigated by Governor FitzRoy (1804-1865) and reduced to 3,500 acres. Over the next 15 years large blocks of land were purchased by the Governor on either side of New Plymouth, but tensions (both inter-tribal and between Maori and Pakeha) continued to escalate, erupting into hostilities. The series of prolonged conflicts during the 1860s are now commonly known as the Taranaki Wars, waged between the Crown and Maori in response to Maori uprising against the enforced alienation of their land. This caused widespread deprivation, suffering and loss of life and land for iwi, resulting in the heavy confiscation of tribal land taken by the Crown under the Land Settlement Act of 1863. 185,000 acres of land within Te Atiawa’s rohe was confiscated. The devastating effects of these actions have since been acknowledged by the Crown through formal apologies and efforts of redress by settlement agreements, although the legacy of disenfranchisement continues to affect Maori.

The conflicts also affected the fledgling European settler communities at the time, with many residents of outlying areas abandoning their homes and taking refuge in the urban centre of New Plymouth town, or leaving the region altogether for a time. Complaints from anxious European settlers eventually forced the Government to station troops at New Plymouth, and the site of the former Pukaka pa (Marsland Hill) was transformed into a military stockade and barracks in 1855. As the frequency of battles decreased the British troops were gradually withdrawn, until the last detachment of the 50th regiment left in 1867.

Although Reverend Govett sought refuge in New Plymouth town, the Te Henui Vicarage survived the fighting. It has been reported that a tapu sign was painted on the roof of the building, protecting it when other buildings in the surrounding area were burnt or demolished, although this has not been reliably verified and appears to be a misreading of a restored photograph. It is certain that many buildings outside of central New Plymouth were destroyed during this period, however, and the other mission buildings were likely to have been destroyed at this time. The Vicarage’s survival could also be attributed to the general esteem in which clergy were held, or that it was planned to use the building as an outpost (a stash of guns were hidden in the attic at the time). However, in 1861 the house was evacuated and Govett did not return after the fighting had ceased, so in 1867 the church looked for tenants for the building. At this time, a new vicarage for Govett was built in the grounds of St Mary’s Church. The last clergyman thought to have lived in the Te Henui Vicarage was curate Reverend Fred W. Young and his family, who resided there from 1900-1902.

Restoration:

While the Te Henui Vicarage was in the ownership of the Taranaki Church of England Trust Board, Board member and historian W.H. Skinner advocated strongly for its retention on the grounds of its great historical significance, despite the financial cost of maintaining the deteriorating building. However, after Skinner’s death the Board decided to sell, and the property was acquired by the New Plymouth District Council in 1949.

The Council then approached the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) in 1962 for support in preserving the building, however restoration work did not commence until 1968. This involved restoration of the 1845 stone portion of the building, replacing the corrugated iron roof with shingles, and relining the interior with concrete to strengthen the structure. The attic floor was also removed to create a single open room, and the roof trusses were replaced. Over the years the original sandstone portions of the building had been replaced with timber lean-tos, however these were in bad repair and were removed during the restoration work, with the door on the eastern side of the building boarded up. In 1973, the site was landscaped with paving to indicate the footprint of the early structure - the eastern and western wings of Captain Cooke’s original house. It had initially been proposed to relocate the Vicarage building to a site at St Mary’s Church in order to utilise the whole section at Te Henui for pensioners’ flats, however this was avoided.

The Te Henui Vicarage building is currently in use by the New Plymouth Potters Incorporated, who have been leasing the building since 1973 as a gallery and shop to showcase their creations. They constructed a building to the rear of the vicarage in 1973 which is used as the pottery rooms, and extended it in 1979 and 2000. A second-hand mantelpiece and fire surround for the Vicarage was purchased at auction and installed in 1974, to replace that removed during the earlier restoration work. In 2002 the shingled roof was replaced, and the interior was cleaned and repainted.

The Te Henui Vicarage remains a treasured historic site, not only to the residents of New Plymouth (who in 1998 voted it in the top 10 favourite heritage buildings in the town), but to New Zealand’s Anglican community.

Physical Description

Setting and exterior:

The Te Henui Vicarage is located towards the end of Courtenay Street, near the bush-clad banks of the Te Henui River. The Vicarage building is visible from the road, set amidst a well-kept expanse of lawn, and the boundary of the property is marked by a low split-stone fence which appears to have been constructed from a similar material as the Vicarage, possibly the remains of earlier associated structures. Directly surrounding the building is a small box hedge. The property backs on to the Te Henui stream, with Mount Taranaki visible to the south.

The building is of simple design, with one steeply pitched gable, and is constructed from split boulders of New Plymouth andesite. The corners of the front façade feature quoins made from large squared blocks more finely dressed than the remainder of the stonework, which is largely random rubble brought to course. There is a bronze New Zealand Historic Places Trust plaque fixed to the north, street-facing façade, denoting the history of the structure.

In this elevation are also two sets of windows of slightly different design which make a striking addition to this aspect, a signature contribution of Frederick Thatcher. Set high under the gable are a pair of casement windows with three panes of glass each, at the level of the former attic. Below this there are three slim, two-paned casement windows which are each topped by a small single window, accentuating the verticality of the design. This wooden joinery is framed and set into projecting stone mullions and transom. Incorporated into the front façade under the apex of the gable is the small stone crest of Bishop Selwyn’s coat of arms, three stars on a background, signifying the undivided diocese of New Zealand, in use from 1841-1856. The roof is clad with timber shingles, and a chimney, constructed of the same andesite stonework, is built into the west elevation, servicing the remaining fireplace. The rear south-facing elevation features two more pairs of casement windows, echoing the placement of those at the front.

There is a grass lawn to the left of the existing Vicarage where the remainder of the original house was before it was demolished. There are the remnants of a wall from this early house to the east of the current building, denoting the footprint of the earliest sandstone wing, and the remains of a chimney and fireplace. The boarded-up doorway to the eastern wing is visible in this wall from the exterior, as are the traces of an earlier adjoining roof-line.

To the rear of the Vicarage is a new building that was purpose-built as a workshop for the potters’ group. This is accessed from a driveway down the west of the section.

Interior:

The interior of the Vicarage has been remodelled somewhat during restoration, and there is little remaining of the historic interior fabric of the building, such as ceiling partitioning of the former attic level. Entrance is through a door to the southwest of the space, leading into the large airy space. The interior consists of one high-ceilinged open room which has been plastered with a thick layer of concrete for strengthening, giving the windows the appearance of being in-set. The structural members of the roof are exposed, with a row of horizontal trusses broaching the pitch of the gable. The floor is of plain concrete, and a large open stone fireplace is towards the northwest corner. The room is furnished with a large antique dresser and wooden shelving, which display the work of the New Plymouth Potters’ Society.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1845 -
Vicarage constructed as an addition to an earlier sandstone structure

Modification
-
Thatch roof replaced with corrugated iron

Other
-
Original sandstone wings demolished

Addition
-
Timber lean-tos added

Other
1968 -
Restoration work carried out, including restoration of 1845 stonework, removal of timber lean-tos, removal of upper brick portion of chimney, sealing of former doorway in eastern wall, replacement of roof structure and cladding, removal of interior attic level

Other
1973 -
Landscaping of the site, including paving to denote footprints of original wings of the house

Other
1974 -
Installation of second-hand mantelpiece and fire surround

Modification
2002 -
Roof shingles replaced

Construction Details

Taranaki andesite stone, shingles, timber

Completion Date

3rd May 2011

Report Written By

B. Wagstaff, K. Cox

Information Sources

Alexander Turnbull Library

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

Extract from Typescript copy of Journal of Mrs. Martha Adams, 2 June 1850, from Alexander Turnbull Library, in NZHPT File 12013 279 (vol. 3). Rev. W. Bolland to Sir Donald McLean, 3 January 1846, Inward letters - W & J Bolland, MS-Papers-0032-0165, ATL. A65.917, ‘Architectural plan (Te Henui Vicarage)’, Edwin Harris, 3 March 1846, Collection of Puke Ariki, New Plymouth. Puke Ariki TRC Vertical Files: Buildings, ‘Vicarage – Old Stone’ and ‘Te Henui Vicarage’.

Knight, 1972

Cyril Knight, The Selwyn Churches of Auckland, Auckland, 1972.

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Central Region Office, Wellington: Te Henui Vicarage, New Plymouth - 12013-279

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Te Henui Vicarage, Wright and Carman, Trentham, 1976

Porter, 1979

Frances Porter (ed.), Historic Buildings of New Zealand: North Island, Auckland, 1979

Stacpoole, 1976

John Stacpoole, Colonial Architecture in New Zealand, Wellington, 1976

Lambert, 1983

G & R Lambert. An Illustrated History of Taranaki, Dunmore Press, Palmerston North, 1983.

p.22

Taranaki Herald

'New Chapel at Mangorei', Taranaki Herald, 16 Oct 1869, p. 2.

Volume L, Issue 12433, 10 December 1903, Page 8

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Maori Peoples of New Zealand: Nga Iwi o Aotearoa, David Bateman/Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Wellington, 2006

Taranaki Daily News

Taranaki Daily News

Daily News, ‘Call for more protection of heritage buildings’, 17 April 2001, p.5

Prickett, 1990

Nigel Prickett, Historic Taranaki: An Archaeological Guide, GP Books, Wellington, 1990

Wells, 1878 (1976)

B Wells, The History of Taranaki, Edmonson & Avery 'Taranaki News Office', New Plymouth, 1878. Reprinted by Capper Press, Christchurch, 1976

Alington, 2007

Margaret H. Alington, An Excellent Recruit: Frederick Thatcher Architect, Priest and Private Secretary in Early New Zealand, Auckland, 2007

Ward, A 1997

Alan Ward, National Overview – Vol III – Waitangi Tribunal Rangahaua Whanui Series, GP Publications, Wellington, 1997

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Central Region Office

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.