Methodist Church (Former)
32 Parnell Street, Rawene
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
25th November 1982
Date of Effect
25th November 1982
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 499000 (RT 741368), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Methodist Church (Former) thereon.
Far North District
Lot 1 DP 499000 (RT 741368), North Auckland Land District
Built in 1876, the Methodist Church (Former) in Rawene was a centre of the Methodist mission in the Hokianga Harbour for almost a century. The simple, Gothic Revival structure was constructed at a time when Rawene formally became the main administrative centre for the Harbour. Until the First World War (1914-18), the timber building was the only purpose-built church in Rawene, so people of all protestant denominations worshipped in it, reinforcing its social and other significance to the town. It more generally reflects the changing history of the Methodist Church in New Zealand, being associated with both missionary activity among Māori and the pastoral care of settler society in the later nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and also the history of cooperating parishes in rural New Zealand.
The Hokianga Harbour has a long history of Methodist mission to Māori, with the first Wesleyan missionaries established at Mangungu in the 1820s. Rawene (also known as Herd’s Point) became a regular preaching place in 1855, when Reverend Henry H. Lawry was appointed to lead the Hokianga mission. The following year (1856) a deed of conveyance was drawn up between Arama Karaka Pī - rangatira of Māhurehure hapū of Ngāpuhi - and trustees of the Methodist church for a portion of land there that overlooked the Harbour. This was confirmed by a title deed agreed by Pī’s son Wiremu Arama Karaka in 1879. Arama Karaka Pī was a son-in-law of the powerful Ngāpuhi leader Hongi Hika, and had been a signatory to New Zealand’s founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.
Lawry’s replacement, Reverend W. Rowse and his wife raised subscriptions for a church on the section after a government township was established at Rawene in the 1860s. Constructed at a cost of £160, the new church was erected by the notable Northland builder, William Cook, in the same year that the settlement formally became the Hokianga’s county town (1876). Commensurate with its ‘low church’ connections, the building was of simple, gable-roofed design, and clad with vertical, kauri weatherboards and timber roof shingles. The opening service was conducted mostly in Te Reo Māori, reflecting the preponderance of Māori in the Wesleyan Hokianga circuit. For many years there was no seating; the congregation took their own cushion: subscriptions were later raised for pews, and a harmonium. Minister’s wives were active in running the building’s Sunday School, while fundraising was run by the Ladies Guild and the church maintained by the community. By the 1920s there were twelve regular preaching places in the Hokianga circuit, but Rawene remained the only church for the ministry.
A number of alterations were made to the church: the shingles were replaced by corrugated iron, a belfry was added, and later a new bell placed in a frame at the back, and a porch erected. In 1921 a large vestry was added to the northern side. This room was rented out to Rawene school as a classroom until 1946. Electricity was installed in 1927.
In 1974, the Anglican and Methodist communities in Rawene combined to form the South Hokianga cooperating parish, using the Anglican All Saints’ Church as their centre, after which time the Methodist church was closed. The latter was used for some years as an opportunity shop. In 2014, the building was sold into private hands for conversion to a residence, and remains a visual landmark on Rawene’s main street.
Builder of the Methodist Church, Rawene in 1876
Roof shingles replaced by corrugated iron
26th June 2017
Report Written By
Jack Lee, Hokianga, Auckland, 1987
Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Shoebridge, Tim, 'Methodist Church - The Methodist missions', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/methodist-church/page-1 [accessed 7 Jun 2017].
Abercrombie, K, Through Changing Scenes: An 80th Anniversary History of the Rawene Methodist Church, Rawene Methodist Church Trust, Whangarei, 1956.
Irvine, Jean, Township of Rawene, Kaikohe, 1976.
Conservation Architects, 2017
Conservation Architects, Former Methodist Church: Rawene, Assessment of Environmental Effects, 2017.
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.