Naming Helensville reviewed

by Brian Hale

In our April 2018 issue we ran an article by Helen Martin concerning the naming of Helensville. While her article concludes that “the town was undoubtedly named after Helen McLeod” it raises the question about whether the “ville” came from the house that John McLeod built or the French word for town. The article concludes “Was our town named after a person or a house?”
The Editor has recently received the following information from a reader seeking to clarify this question, from details drawn from “A History of Helensville and Kaipara by Charles Staniland West”. In this book Charles Staniland West recounts his verbal history through family dynamics and events. Published in 1952 (It is believed) the book notes Charles Staniland West lived in the district from 1884 and on page 37 he states Helensville is derived from ‘Helen’ and ‘ville’. Helen being the wife of John McLeod and ‘ville’ is for small town or settlement.
Our reader believes that original house that John McLeod built in Nelson Street no longer exists.
“It is well known early settlers were brothers John McLeod and Isaac McLeod. John was married to Helen and they had a single story house in Nelson Street. That house was pulled down though by Daniel Stewart and replaced by the current two storied house. So any claim of that actual house being the house after which Helensville is named is totally false. I believe Daniel Stewart was another strong name in the history of Helensville though.” she writes.
The brothers John and Isaac McLeod appear to have had a property at each end of Helensville- ‘Northend’ associated with John and Helen and ‘Southend’ associated with Isaac and his wife.
As examples of how other names came about West then goes on to say ‘Kai’ is the Maori word for food and ‘Para’ is the name of a big strong fern that grew plentiful in the kauri bush of North Auckland and was used by Maori for food. ‘Parakai’ is a transposition of the two words.
When a name was wanted for a post office it was found that the name ‘Kaipara’ could not be used as it was previously taken by Kaipara Flats so the name “Parakai” was coined to be used for the new Post Office.
Our reader, who recently moved into the area got Charles Staniland West’s book from the library. “It is a small dated looking book and amusing to read as it refers to families and properties as being next to trees, buildings or bridges that were there at the time of writing (1950s) but without actual address locality. Much can be made sense of and could possibly be easier with a visit to the local museum.” she says.
If any of our other readers have any additional information to provide please write to the Editor.

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