Helensville / Te Awaroa has been an important area throughout history.
From the beginning Kaipara was seen as an attractive place to live by the very earliest Maori settlers and tradition suggests it has been occupied over nine centuries. The area was important from a strategic point of view for it was on the routeway for travel to and from the north, the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours. It provided ease of access by canoe although its hilly terrain made it easy to defend and it offered plentiful food and resources. The first migrants found a harbour rich in seafood with numerous navigable rivers and tributaries, lush kauri forest full of birds, berries and timber, a forty kilometre ocean beach which provided an alternative routeway and additional seafood, a string of fresh-water lakes through the dunes, hot springs, a temperate climate and warm free-draining soils for growing crops.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.
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.
The town has retained a lot of its character and has been recognised as a heritage town.
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