Te Awaroa Helensville Museum revives exciting local history project.

Do you know the history of your house? Did you know that the second iteration of Saint Matthews church in Te Awaroa Helensville’s Garfield Road collapsed in an easterly gale and had to be rebuilt? In great news, a project designed to capture and preserve information and stories about local history, begun a few years ago, has been revived by current volunteers. It’s going to be a collaborative community effort, and everyone is invited to join in. The end goal is to have as much information about each building and block of land as possible, and to have all this information available for research.

The folder containing the work done by a group of volunteers so far on the project ‘On the Street Where You Lived’ was led by the late Natalie Carroll. It is a treasure trove of hand-written information detailing local knowledge and memories of the people and places in the town of Te Awaroa Helensville. Surrounding areas such as Woodhill, Parakai, South Head and Kaukapakapa will be researched in Stage Two of the revitalised project.

Our local history is fascinating, from the first days of Maori settlement to the arrival of immigrants from overseas to the shifts in land use today, such as the Rautawhiri housing development on land that was formerly a farm. In just one story, Garfield Road was first known as Portage Road, museum President Toni Walmsley says, because in the 1860s it was the route for people, goods, and services to travel to Te Awaroa. The road was later renamed after the 20th American president James Garfield, who was assassinated in 1881 just six months after he took office, and still bears his name. Does anyone know why his name was chosen?

Toni is excited to be leading a team of volunteers to continue this valuable work. “We often have inquiries about land, or streets, or buildings from people who are curious about their home or where they grew up,” she says. The answers are all over the place – some can be found in Colleen Sheffield’s book ‘Men Came Voyaging’, others are in people’s memories, or filed at the museum - and the goal is to have information centralised and digitised so it is readily accessible.

The project group is very keen to have community engagement. The first event will be at Te Awaroa Helensville Museum on Sunday afternoon, 1pm – 3pm, 28 May. There will be images, written information, and a short talk to kick off proceedings. You are invited to come with your questions, knowledge, and curiosity.

A fascinating poster from the Te Awaroa Helensville Museum collection

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