The District of Kaukapakapa was founded in 1860 when a handful
of settlers took up land which the New Zealand Government had bought
from the local Maori tribe.
A trickle of settlers, almost all Scottish and English, arrived
during the 1860s and early 1870s. They were educated, middle class
people who ardently believed in Christianity and education. Although
a very small community they built a Methodist Church in 1872 (by
1881, the population was still only 311).
Hardship characterised the early settlers' lives. Their land was
bush clad hills and flax covered swamps, their roads were muddy
tracks, and all supplies had to be carried 14 miles on their backs
from the nearest port. Fortunately they had a cordial relationship
with the Ngati Whatua tribe, who taught them how to supplement their
diet with native plants and fish, in return for European ideas and
For years the land produced only a subsistence living, until the
timber, gum and flax industries developed. There was a ready market
in the South Island, Australia and England for the famously durable
and beautiful kauri timber. Logs were floated down the Kaukapakapa
River, hauled out at the river mouth, squared and loaded into sailing
Kaukapakapa settlement was divided. On the south side of the river
was Drinnan’s Hotel and store which had its supplies brought
in by bullock team from Riverhead, and on the north side Frank Dye’s
store which received its supplies by boat. Frank Dye also ran the
butchery, a gum store and the post office while acting as a Justice
of the Peace, a timber merchant, and organist at both churches.
Gradually as the land was cleared farms with dairy cows and sheep
were developed. The arrival of rail in 1889, and the establishment
of a creamery alongside the railway station gave the dairy industry
a great fillip.
Kaukapakapa is now a green, prosperous district with some historic
buildings to remind us of our past. Henley House and St Cuthbert’s
Presbyterian Church are officially listed by the New Zealand Historic
Places Trust. The second Methodist Church (1882), the cemetery (1863),
the Public Hall (1889) and the library (1908) are all rated historically
comprehensive collection of Kaukapakapa photographs, from the records
of Alan Jordan, can be viewed at the Museum.