Te Henui Vicarage (Historic Place)
At the eastern end of Courtenay Street stands a relic of the past, unique amongst church buildings in New Zealand. That it was designed for some ecclesiastical purpose, is evidenced by the coat of arms of the Diocese of New Zealand, on the building. This heraldic device of three stars on a blue background is let into the wall above the attic window. The small stone building is all that remains to show that the first vicarage of the parish of St. Mary's and Holy Trinity was situated on that land. For this building stones were hauled by bullocks from Te Henui stream and limestone was brought from Nelson. The original roof was thatched and this was later replaced, first by shingles and later by iron. The Te Henui Vicarage is one of New Zealand's oldest buildings built in 1843.
Frederick Thatcher, Bishop Selwyn's architect, is thought to have had some input into its design. It is now used by the local potter's society as a gallery and open to the public on weekends from 1pm-4pm.
Visit the New Plymouth Potters Society web site
The vicarage can be visited as a short side trip from the Te Henui Walkway
Biography of Fredrick Thatcher
Biography of Bishop Selwyn
Map showing position of the Te Henui Vicorage.
Read HSPT document of information on the history and registration of the Te Henui Vicarage as a historic building on the 23 June 2011
A unique aspect of the Vicarage is the carving of the crest of Selwyn's undivided diocese of New Zealand located just under the apex of the gable on the north facade, incorporated into the stonework. The symbol of three stars on a shield-shaped background is visible in Harris's 1846 drawing. It has been suggested that the three stars represent the three main islands of New Zealand or the three areas of the original mission (New Zealand, Polynesia and Melanesia), or the Trinity and the three foundations of Anglican belief: scripture, tradition and reason. Due to the relatively short time period of the existence of the undivided diocese - it was first subdivided in 1856 with the creation of the Christchurch diocese - the Te Henui Vicarage is a highly rare example of a surviving building featuring this symbol. The crests at the Thatcher-designed St John's College in Auckland (Record no's 13 and 14) are the only other examples known to have survived from this time period, (there is a small crest above the fireplace in the c.1846 kitchen, and the Chapel contains crests carved into the woodwork). Today the symbol endures through the incorporation of the three stars into the crests of all of the Anglican dioceses of New Zealand.
Its position on the building