Henui Street is a short street with a long history. It runs between Devon Street East and McLean Street in Strandon and the name reflects both the immediate area as it was once known and the nearby stream.
While the area was known to the first European settlers as “Te Hēnui” it quickly acquired an additional and more colloquial name. Dr Henry Weekes was the Plymouth Company’s surgeon aboard the William Bryan, the first settler ship to arrive in New Plymouth in March 1841. Not only was Weekes a medical practitioner, it turns out he was an astute businessman. Not long after his arrival, Weekes purchased a prime 50 acre section bound by what is now Nob’s Line, Beach Street and Devon Street. The entrepreneurial doctor set about carving up the land into smaller blocks and selling them off. Weekes was so successful that within 18 months he left for Sydney having made a considerable profit. The area acquired the name Weekestown, presumably as a mark of respect, only later adopting the names we know today, Strandon and Fitzroy.
In March 1845 Bishop Selwyn laid the foundation stone of the settlement’s first Anglican church, a tiny timber building with a roof of thatched fern and bracken. Over 175 years later the much-changed church still stands proudly on the west side of Henui Street.
For a brief time the church buildings were also used for educational purposes. Te Hēnui Private School opened in 1910. Puke Ariki Museum holds a school magazine written and illustrated by the school pupils at the end of each year. It includes delightful photographs and illustrations of a play – Alice in Wonderland – put on to celebrate the marriage of their much-loved headmistress, Miss Shaw, in 1912. The school closed in 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War One.
It is probably no surprise that Henui Street was known in early days, at least informally, as Church Lane. Later it was commonly called Henui Road (until 1907 there was a roads board by that name) and finally in the mid-1960s it became Henui Street.