Pencarrow Lighthouse

Page 6 – Timeline

Key dates

  • July 1857: Tender accepted for the casting of the lighthouse from Messrs Cochrane and Company of Woodside Iron Works, Dudley, UK.
  • 21 June 1858: The lighthouse arrives on board the barque Ambrosine in 480 packages.
  • September 1858: The brigantine Caroline transfers the packages to Pencarrow Head, where they are hauled up to the lighthouse site.
  • 1 January 1859: New Zealand’s first lighthouse is lit for the first time.
  • 1 September 1859: The eclipsing light mechanism is replaced with a fixed light.
  • 1863: Control of the lighthouse is transferred from provincial government to the Marine Board.
  • 1865: The lighthouse is sold to the general government.
  • 1871: New residences for lighthouse keepers erected.
  • 1873: The government purchases land from Maori living at Petone and pays rent for period already occupied.
  • 11 July 1898: New Zealand’s first fog signal erected beside the lighthouse.
  • 1906: A new lighthouse is erected at the bottom of the Pencarrow cliffs.
  • 1927: The existing fog signal replaced with a compressed-air diaphone signal.
  • 17 June 1935: The lighthouse ceases to operate after a new automated lighthouse at Baring Head becomes operational. Pencarrow is maintained as a navigational aid, and a keeper continues to maintain the fog signal.
  • 1941: The lighthouse’s light mechanism is removed.
  • 1953-62: The Hutt Valley Drainage Board constructs a road which improves access to the lighthouse.
  • 1 January 1959: The lighthouse celebrates its centenary.
  • 20 February 1959: A plaque is unveiled to mark the centenary of New Zealand’s first lighthouse. The plaque was provided by the recently formed National Historic Places Trust which had recognised the lighthouse as a historic place under the Historic Places Act 1954.
  • 1959: The fog horn is automated, removing the need to have staff permanently stationed at Pencarrow.
  • 1960: The land is transferred from the Marine Department to the Department of Lands and Survey. The last keeper is transferred from the station.
  • 1963: The station buildings, including keepers' cottages, are demolished.
  • November-December 1966: The lighthouse is transferred from the Marine Department to the then renamed New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT).
  • 1974-80: A significant restoration project is undertaken by the Ministry of Works and Development at the request of NZHPT.
  • 1979: The lighthouse is included in an historic reserve of 2044 square metres. NZHPT is appointed to control and manage the reserve.
  • 1 January 2009: The lighthouse celebrates its sesquicentenary.
How to cite this page

'Timeline', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 7-Oct-2014