Rawene Four Square is located over the waterfront midway along the Hokianga Harbour. Rawene, Ra meaning sun and wene meaning setting, is New Zealand’s third oldest township.
Rawene was important to the Maori who were the first human
beings to live there. Kupe, the first of all Maori, called there on
his journey of exploration around 900 AD after his initial landing
in Doubtless Bay.
Rawene's history includes not only Maori, but also missionaries'
ships, tribal warfare, Steelers, timber mills, boat building, and
many more. Kauri was a major export. As many as 100 ships could be
in the harbour at one time. The town is also the first place that
David Lange practiced law.
The building that is now the Rawene Four Square was originally
built to provide provisions for the many ships that visited the
harbour. The building was supported in the local fashion by piles
over the water. Originally, prior to a roading network being
established, there was no front door. All goods were delivered by
barge and loaded up into the store through a trap door in the
floor. Goods sold went out the same way.
Fishing through the trap door in the floor was a favourite
pastime of the storeowners with many a talk of the fish being too
big to haul back up. Sharks were numerous, these feeding on the
offal that was deposited into the harbour through a trapdoor by the
butcher in the shop next door.
Once, during a heavy fog, the store was nearly demolished when a
ship ran into the supporting piles.
The store became a Four Square store in 1988 and has been owned
and operated by Michael Blair for the past eleven
Today, a modern vehicle ferry runs between Rawene and the Narrows
(near Kohukohu and it takes 15 minutes to cross the harbour). The
harbour that once unified the country now divides the region.
Without the car ferry life would be very awkward.