Helensville

helensville

Helensville (or Te Awaroa as it is known to Maori) has been an important area throughout history. The harbour and river provided food and transport options. Unfortunately for Ngati Whatua, local Maori, it was directly in the path of any travelling war party. It was, therefore, beneficial to encourage the protection European settlers might bring.

Other than the obvious benefits of having waterways suitable for shipping, Te Awaroa was nestled amidst kauri trees which had a wonderful hard wood and produced a much-sought-after gum. In 1862 John and Isaac McLeod and their families settled in Te Awaroa. They built and operated what is believed to be the first timber mill on the Kaipara harbour. The house John built became known as 'Helen's Villa' and Te Awaroa's European name, Helensville, was born.

The river was much wider in those times and Helensville was an important shipping town. The silting up of the river after the kauri were taken later prevented bigger ships from coming up the river to Helensville. The railway eventually came through and opened up the transport options. Helensville has had coach-builders, a soap factory, a canning factory, a department store and a movie theatre at various times.

Dairy farming became the main industry in the 20th century and the Kaipara Co-operative Dairy Company was built in 1911. It became the major employer and produced for both national and international markets. Sadly, as farmers diversified and the economics of centralisation took over, the dairy company closed in 1988 and Helensville's economy tumbled.

The town has retained a lot of its character and has been recognised as a heritage town. Its close vicinity to Auckland has ensured its continuing growth.