Helensville Museum
Helensville & District Historical Society Inc     Click to enlarge images
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Dye's general store, circa 1900, with Frank Dye on "Starlight"  
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Flax milling at Kaukapakapa, 1870s  
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Andrew & Elizabeth Bonar, 1863 (first European settlers in Kaukapakapa, 1858)  
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Jack Staka with laden wagon & bullock team

(all photos this page from the records of Alan Jordan)


Kaukapakapa History

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 medicine.

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 ships.

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 significant.

A comprehensive collection of Kaukapakapa photographs, from the records of Alan Jordan, can be viewed at the Museum.

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