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Parakai History

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 year.

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.

 

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