Lock-up (Former)

4 Parnell Street, Rawene

  • Lock-up (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 2573 Date Entered 25th November 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Sec 248A Town of Rawene (NZ Gazette 1986, pp. 1304-5), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Lock-up (Former) thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero meeting on 5 October 2017.

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

Sec 248A Town of Rawene (NZ Gazette 1986, pp. 1304-5), North Auckland Land District


The Lock-up (Former) in Rawene, is a significant remnant of law enforcement and policing in the Hokianga. Built in 1910, the gabled, two-cell timber structure is associated with broader attitudes to incarceration and punishment in early twentieth-century, and later, New Zealand. Similar to other lock-ups erected in small towns and rural areas, it is a well-preserved, surviving example of a building type that has become increasingly rare. In 1991, it was relocated from Rawene’s police station to its current site behind the town’s historic courthouse (now library), reflecting late twentieth-century attitudes to heritage preservation, public education and tourism.

Rawene (also formerly known as Herd’s Point) had its first policeman appointed in 1877 - a year after the settlement had become the Hokianga’s county town. Although Rawene’s Courthouse (see List No.430) appears to have had an attached cell or cells when originally built in 1876, the Hokianga County Council soon requested that a lock-up be provided for the town as there was great expense in conveying short-term prisoners to Auckland, a ‘great risk to life’ in taking boats over the bar unnecessarily, and some prisoners had escaped during the journey. It is not clear if this facility was immediately provided, but during an expansion of state infrastructure under the first Liberal Government (1891-1912), the current lock-up building was added to Rawene’s police station complex, located a short distance from the courthouse, at 19 Parnell Road.

The new lock-up was built in 1910, probably by the Public Works Department, which under the Liberal government had become New Zealand’s foremost construction agency. Erected towards the rear of the station property, it consisted of a small, stand-alone building clad with rusticated, kauri weatherboards. Its gabled roof incorporated a ventilator. Rectangular in plan, the design incorporated two cells and a water closet.

The structure functioned, like most lock-ups associated with police stations, as a secure place to hold offenders for a short period until either their release or relocation to long-term incarceration in a larger gaol. Frequently, intoxicated members of the public were put in the lock-up to sober up. Conditions in the cells were unpleasant – in the 1940s it was pointed out that there was virtually no ventilation and that the cells were almost completely dark at all times, with no artificial light and only a high window covered by perforated iron. Repairs were needed on various occasions, including as a result of damage done by prisoners, and in 1934 after it was damaged by a large tree blown by the wind. The cell block was still in use in the 1970s.

By the 1980s the building was no longer utilised and had fallen into disrepair. In 1991, the Far North District Council relocated the lock-up to its present position at the rear of Rawene’s former courthouse; it was then restored by local volunteers. A pathway has since been built up to it from Clendon Esplanade below. It is currently (2017) open during library hours for visitors to view.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Public Works Department

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1910 -
Original construction at 19 Parnell Street, Rawene

1991 -
Relocation to 4 Parnell Street, Rawene; repiled and roof reclad

Completion Date

26th June 2017

Report Written By

Elizabeth Cox

Information Sources

Lee, 1987

Jack Lee, Hokianga, Auckland, 1987

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.