Parakai gets it name, naturally, from the nearby Kaipara
Harbour and Kaipara River - the word 'Kaipara' simply
being reversed to avoid confusion.
The first European settler was Charles Fordyce, who
moved to the area in 1875. The Hot Springs Reserve was
gazetted under the Public Domains Act in 1881 and handed
to the Helensville Town Board for administration - although
at that stage the "springs" were merely a
mud hole set among titree and scrub in the reserve.
By 1892 many improvements had been carried out at the
springs, with proper baths set up for bathers. A four-room
bathhouse was set up in that decade. In the early part
of the 20th century the national 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 officially became called Parakai.
The first large public bath was opened in 1912, along
with tennic courts and bowling greens in the Parakai
Domain. Shortly after a sports pavillion was built,
and the towns now two boarding houses were always packed
as visitors flocked to the town.
Around World War I two more large 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.
In 1926 the Helensville Swimming Club settled on the
Parakai baths ats its official venue - one still used
to this day. During the second World War, the pools
became popular with visiting American servicemen.
Disaster struck the town in the 1950s, with the two
main boarding houses burning down within a year of each
other - Parakai House in 1956 and Springside the following
In 1958 Parakai Primary School was opened on large grounds
in Fordyce Road. A major programem of rebuilding over the
past decade has seen the school totally modernised.