Rawene was built in the early settler period and the town is proud of its history and beautiful environment and immaculately maintained historic buildings. It is one of the country's oldest European settlements.
The population is around 500.
Rawene started as a timber centre, with a mill and shipyard established in the early 19th century. An attempted settlement by the first New Zealand Company in 1826 failed. Captain James Herd in 1822 had taken out the first shipment of kauri timber fom the Hokianga and in 1825 he returned with his own and another ship and 60 settlers between the two vessels. What adventurous, intrepid souls they must have been! Herd negotiated to buy a vast tract of land. The deal was contested but for decades Europeans referred to the town as "Herd's Point". Later it was called "Hokianga Township", and in 1884 it became "Rawene", possibly to identify the post office and telegraph office.
My New Zealand history is not what it should be but I know Rawene was famous because of the Dog Tax War. That’s right, a war about dog taxes. It was hardly a full blown war.
In the 1890s, a dog tax of two shillings and sixpence (25c) was introduced. Sounds like politicians haven’t changed much over the years, they are just a bit more inventive these days when it comes to thinking up new ways to gather tax. Maori from Kaikohe west to the harbour, were vehemently opposed to paying it - not only because many used their animals for hunting but because tax represented the erosion of tino rangatiratanga (chieftainship).
One chief maintained, 'Firstly they're going to tax dogs and then they're going to tax people.' (His crystal ball was functioning well, wasn’t it?)
The stand-off occurred in April 1898 when an armed Maori numbering fewer than 20 men marched on Rawene. Although no blood was shed, the government sent a force 120-strong to the town. Their leader was arrested and served time in prison. Life was not easy for the early protestors!
There are probably more churches but we only found three.
All Saints Church, South Hokianga Co-operating Parish is neat and I’ve read it described as the best church in Rawene but it was a bit character-less for my liking.
I much preferred the lovely little Catholic church over the road. We learnt it was a Catholic church from a young lady walking past who was a bit embarrassed to admit she didn’t know its name as her mother “goes there often enough”. It was unlocked and felt welcoming. Chris and I thought one of the statues inside looked like St Francis but I have since been informed by Ngaire, the administrator extraordinaire at the Rawene NorthTec campus that it is St Anthony’s Church, so I guess it is him. (We must brush up on our saints, Chris!)
From the outside it just looked like a ordinary, small, well used church with it’s simple design and humble little bell tower. The inside was a wonderful surprise.
The walls were lined with beautiful timber, the altar and pulpit were small and oh so lovely.
There were beautiful holy pictures:
And Stations of the Cross:
After a leisurely lunch on the waterfront and a visit to Clendon House (more about that tomorrow), we found the Methodist Church.
There was a marked difference between the side of the church facing the sea and the sheltered side. The windows below are on different sides. Quite a difference, huh?
But the best part (for me) was the glass encased history lesson:
Before leaving Rawene, our interest was piqued by this sight across the water. We will be there soon!