Postmaster’s House (Former)

3 Parnell Street, Rawene

  • Postmaster’s House (Former), Rawene.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Stuart Park. Date: 2/05/2008.
  • Postmaster’s House (Former), Rawene. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand .

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3889 Date Entered 6th September 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 130297 (CT NA76B/648), North Auckland Land District, and the buildings known as Postmaster’s House (Former) thereon. The buildings include the main residence and the telegraph or lines shed.

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 130297 (CT NA76B/648), North Auckland Land District


The Postmaster’s House (Former) was built in 1920 as the residence for the postmaster of Rawene. A large kauri weatherboard bay villa, it is prominently situated in the Hokianga township of Rawene overlooking both Parnell Street, the main street of the town, and the Hokianga Harbour. It is historically significant as a reminder of the importance of the post office and the social status of the postmaster in small rural New Zealand towns. It also contributes to the visual qualities of Rawene’s historic centre and has architectural value as a good representative example of a late transitional bay villa.

In 1840 Rawene, then also known as Herd’s Point, housed one of the very first post offices in the country. When a town was formally surveyed in 1864 and Rawene became the administrative centre for the Hokianga, a large reserve was set aside for post office purposes on the western side of the Point. A new Post and Telegraph Office building was built on the section in 1875 when telegraph wires first reached the Hokianga; this was extended in later years as demand for services grew and contained the town’s telephone exchange. A small building, sometimes referred to as a telegraph or lines shed, was also placed on the property. In 1902, the complex was described as the ‘chief distributing and transmitting office in Hokianga’, with ‘a pleasant residence’ for the postmaster adjoining. During a housing shortage for postmasters immediately after the First World War (1914-18), the latter was superseded by a replacement dwelling.

The new villa built to house Rawene’s postmaster and his family was probably designed by the Public Works Department, perhaps from a standard template. Of transitional villa design, it was erected in 1920 immediately adjacent to the Post Office. Internally, the residence had three bedrooms, a dining room, and front room with a three-side bay window, plus at the back a kitchen, pantry and bathroom. Electricity was installed in 1935. When the house was built the mail arrived in the town only twice weekly, but the postmaster’s other responsibilities would have been wide ranging, including managing the manual telephone exchange, and acting as linesman for the district. During the early twentieth century the Post Office became increasingly important as the government’s involvement in citizens’ lives expanded; it was, for example, the delivery mechanism for pensions. The prominent position and well-appointed nature of the residence reflects the status of the postmaster as a significant representative of central government in Rawene.

An automatic exchange was established in the town in 1967, and a replacement Post Office building built on the same site in 1974, after which the postmaster’s residence was renovated and a garage built. The section was subdivided in 1988, and the residence, now considered surplus to requirements as staff were no longer provided with accommodation, sold into private ownership. In circa 2005, the property began operating as a bed and breakfast. Changes in circa 2007-8 included the construction of decks around the house, and a repositioning of the earlier telegraph or lines building within the site. The residence remains (2018) privately owned.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Public Works Department

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

2007 - 2008
Alterations to residence and its surroundings, including construction of decks and repositioning of telegraph or lines shed

Original Construction
Original construction of telegraph or lines shed

Original Construction
1920 -
Original construction of main residence

1959 -
Minor modifications to lines shed

1964 - 1965
Minor modifications to main residence, including enlargement of bathroom

1974 -

Completion Date

15th May 2018

Report Written By

Elizabeth Cox

Information Sources

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1902

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol.2, Christchurch, 1902

Lee, 1987

Jack Lee, Hokianga, Auckland, 1987

Howard, 1964

A History of the Post Office in New Zealand, Wellington, 1964.

Other Information

Address changed from No 1 to No 3 Parnell Street (information from owner, Mrs Karen Petersen, 23/10/01).

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 Northland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand