by Helen Martin
Te Awaroa/Helensville is a historic town, and we’re lucky to have such a good record of the history in books like C.M. Sheffield’s ‘Men Came Voyaging, and Wayne Ryburn’s ‘Tall Spars, Steamers and Gum’, and in the plethora of information gathered and stored at the local museum. It’s a body of work that enables us to keep our local stories alive.
The historic kauri villa at 1 Mill Road, on the right just before the bridge on the way into Helensville township from the south, is on the market and starting a new chapter in its life. The story of this house begins in the late 1860s, when the land it sits on, known then as Te Horo, was bought from the Maori in 1869 by Isaac McLeod Snr. Along with other land, the property had earlier served as a fortified village (pa) “protecting Kawerau interests against speculative Ngati Whatua.”
Isaac McLeod Snr, his wife Janet and his brother John and wife Helen had arrived in Aotearoa/New Zealand from Nova Scotia in 1862 and settled in kauririch Te Awaroa. In 1864 John built a large house, and the home and the town were both then named after his wife Helen. But while he and his family moved to Auckland in 1867, Isaac Snr and his family stayed on, living at Te Pua and grazing working bullocks and beef cattle and growing wheat and oats on their Te Horo land.
A house was then built on this land by Isaac McLeod’s son Isaac Jnr. and his wife Emma Little in the 1870s. They were the site’s first European inhabitants. Isaac McLeod Jnr is regarded as a central figure in business developments in Te Awaroa/Helensville’s early settler days, with interests in retail stores, a bullock wagon service, a horse bus, several cutters, a flour mill, a church and the local timber company, to name just some of his dealings. He also took a very active part in local body affairs.
Since those days, the house at 1 Mill Road has changed hands several times and has had many renovations. The land has undergone many changes too, including frontage taken to allow for building the main road and, more recently, the sale of some of it to make way for a pending subdivision. It currently sits on 5,438 square metres.
Isaac McLeod Snr’s descendants, now fifth generation, still have connections to 1 Mill Road. Janette McLeod was married there in 1985, and her brother Graeme McLeod has been the real estate agent in charge of selling the house through Harcourts. A new chapter in a long and interesting history.
by Helen Martin