Home' Special Magazines : Rodney Times Historical Insert Contents www.rodneytimes.co.nz
RODNEY TIMES, MARCH 20, 2012
Focus On: Glorit, Parakai, Helensville
Glorit is a tiny dot on the map on State Highway 16.
"In August 1868, John Gardner (and wife Margaret) purchased about 2023
hectares (5000 acres) between the Makarau and Chalmerston blocks, plus 2833 hectares
(7000 acres) from the local chief Hori Te Muri Totara, just north of Komokoriki, in the lower
Kaipara at Mataia. From about 1896 this run was known to the local district as Glorit, a name
Gardner had given his farm at Araparera in memory of his estate in Scotland. Originally 'Glorat',
the name was mispronounced and the spelling changed by the post office," writes Wayne Ryburn
in Tall Spars, Steamers and Gum.
"In the early 1880s, Gardner Brothers of Glorit began a canning industry with beef a speciality,
but in 1895 the factory burnt down."
Mataia Homestead and surrounding farmland has been in the Gardner family for over 150 years.
Built in 1891 the homestead has been home to five generations of the Gardner family and is
registered as a Category 2 Historic Building with the NZ Historic Places Trust. The family has
restored the building, which is available for hire.
Visit www.mataia.co.nz for information
The Gardner Homestead, built in 1891.
Parakai is 2km northwest of Helensville and is
famous for its geothermal springs.
According to Helensville's website, www.helensville.co.nz, Parakai gets its
name from the nearby Kaipara River - the word 'Kaipara' simply being reversed
to avoid confusion.
Banner Photo: Parakai green on a sunny day in
the town's reserve.
Helensville, beside the Kaipara River,
celebrates 150 years next year.
Maori call the area Te Awaroa - the valley of the long river. Back in 1862 town
founder and timber miller John McLeod and wife Helen built a kauri home
called Helen's Villa.
Back in 1881 the town's Hot Springs Reserve
was gazetted under the Public Domain Act
and handed to the Helensville Town Board
for administration - although at that stage the
springs were a mud hole set among ti tree and
scrub in the reserve.
By 1892 improvments saw proper baths set up
for bathers. A four-room bathhouse was built in
In the early part of the 20th century the
government provided funds for the further
development of the springs with new buildings
and baths. Opened in 1907, they were an
instant hit with the public.
In 1908 the first public boarding house opened
by the Helensville Hot Springs, the same year
the town was officially called Parakai.
The first large public bath was opened in 1912,
along with tennis courts and bowling greens
in the Parakai Domain. Shortly after a sports
pavilion was built, and the town's two boarding
houses were always packed as visitors flocked
to the area.
Around World War One, two more boarding
houses were established, and by the mid-
1920s Parakai was in the midst of a boom with
more visitors on weekends and public holidays
than the accommodation could cater for. The
natural thermal springs had gained a reputation
for relieving many health problems.
The name was soon adopted by the area's settlers to become Helensville. The McLeods with
their children arrived at Auckland aboard their small boat the Sea Gull after an arduous journey
from New Brunswick in May 1862. There were 30 people onboard including John's brother
Issac, his wife and children, according to CM Sheffield in Men Came Voyaging.
Settlers originally came to the town via boat from Auckland to Riverhead then by foot or
bullock-train 14 miles to Helensville. "The fourteen mile road was bad, even in fine weather
and appallingly steep in places for animals and laden wagons."
The McLeods built a timber mill on the Kaipara River and exported timber or squared logs to
the Waikato, the South Island, and Australia.
Kauri milling was the area's first industry, followed by dairy farming prior to World War One,
along with the attraction of the mineral springs at Parakai, which brought thousands of visitors
to the area. Helensville held its first Agricultural and Pastoral Association Show in January
1902. The first bridge over the Kaipara River was built in 1882 on the Te Horo point. The swing
bridge opened to allow ships to go up and down the river. The railway between Riverhead and
Helensville opened on 1875 but was removed at Riverhead after 1881 when the Henderson
to Helensville line was completed. A school opened in 1877 in a small shed on Rimu St and
Commercial Rd was surfaced with scoria in 1882.
The Kaipara Dairy Company, established in 1911 and the town's main employer, closed in the
late 1980s. Since then the town has promoted its many historical buildings and wide range of
attractions, from harbour cruising to thermal pools - a 2km drive at next door Parakai - fishing,
golf, horse riding, a 1km riverside walkway and a wide range of shops.
Town founders: John and Helen McLeod.
Photo: HELENSVILLE PIONEEER MUSEUM
Still standing: The former post office on Commerical Rd.
Photo: HELENSVILLE PIONEEER MUSEUM
Kindly sponsored by Parakai Springs
Links Archive Kumeu Show Glen Eden Shop Local Navigation Previous Page Next Page