In recent years, much of Michael O’Leary’s time has been devoted to non-fiction research. Four titles have been published by Michael:

1. Paekakariki: A Short History (2014)


2. Paekakariki Station Museum (2017)

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3. Kapiti Transport History (2017)


4. The Streets of Paekakariki (2018)



Michael O’Leary’s latest book, The Streets of Paekakariki, was launched this year to a warm reception at St Peter’s Hall, Paekakariki, on 16 September 2018. This is the Introduction to it.




Block 9 on the map is shown to belong to Betty Nicol (Kahe Te Rau-o-Te-Rangi) wife of Scotch Jock

The above map/diagram, dated 1874, shows Paekakariki and environs before any proper streets or roads were developed in the township, although it does show the basic developmental trends that Paekakariki would follow as it became the village we know today. The only road as such at the time was the Paekakariki Hill Road (seen in the bottom left-hand corner of the map), which had been built mainly to provide access for wagons and artillery to pacify the Wellington region after the Hutt Valley War of 1845-6.

British Army engineers supervised by Capt. Andrew Hamilton Russell, Superintendent of Military Roads, mapped the route. Ironically the work was carried out with Māori road-building gangs who completed the road in November 1849, linking Wellington and Porirua with the Beach Highway to Whanganui. Between the hill road and the beach was a small thoroughfare which would become, appropriately, Beach Road. The name of the settlement changed from Paripari to Paikakariki, originally spelled with Pai.

By 1886, when the railway arrived, Paekakariki had a Posting House for coaches where horses changed after the arduous trip over the Hill Road. The settlement had a hotel, baker, grocer, policeman, Constable Roche, and a ‘lock-up’. The hotel was run at this time by Mrs Tilley. The three main Pakeha families were the Smiths, Lynches and Mackays. Below is the official notification of the new spelling of Paekakariki in 1907.



An early postcard of Paekakariki – Beach Road – c1900s

Today’s main road to the beach, Beach Road, runs in front of the buildings towards the sand dunes at the bottom left. Paekakariki’s first Post Office was sited approximately where the last of the row of Army-type sheds stands. The railway station and other premises of the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company are sited in a line to the left. The large building is the Paekakariki Hotel with the publican at that time being Charles Slight.

Paekakariki was developed in several sections. At first the township was to be located around the area where the surf club is. This town was going to be called Wainui. The area was probably chosen as there was already an existing Māori pa there and because of the ready supply of fresh water from the Wainui stream. However, once the hotel was built at the foot of the Paekakariki Hill Road this then became the logical place for a town to be constructed around.


Report from the Colonial Secretary dated January 1850 regarding the Native Population at Wainui.

The first auction sale of land in Paekakariki was in December 1905 and consisted of 39 sections mainly along Ames Street with a few in Beach Road. By 1907 another 70 odd sections ( belonging to the Paekakariki Land Syndicate ) were sold and included blocks in Wellington Road, The Parade, Roberston and Tilley Roads. May 1907 saw another block for sale; this included 66 sections  which were located on The Parade, Wellington, Cecil and Tilley Roads.

By 1908 Paekakariki extended as far as Ocean Road, thus connecting Wellington Road and The Parade.  The Wellington Manawatu Railway Company owned land adjacent to Tilley road and they constructed many staff houses in this area. The sections were popular with Manawatu farmers for vacation homes.


Paekakariki Railway Precinct showing the railway houses before Tilley Road was built

Around 1910-1920 The Parade was more or less as can be found today, Pingau Street and The Recreation Reserve (Campbell Park) were also built during this time. In 1923 the subdivision named ‘Awatea’ was advertised for sale. This included Tangahoe, Aperahama, Henare and Mira Street. Mira Street, which later became the northern end of Wellington Road, was then extended southwards and connected up with Pingau.

The ‘Awatea’ subdivision was probably the area that was earmarked for the original township of Wainui. The last house in Tilley road at this time was constructed on the hill above the school and is now part of a cul-de-sac known as Mira Grove.  During the war the land to the East was confiscated by the Government and turned into the Paekakariki Military Base for the Americans. This land also included the Paekakariki Golf Club which occupied the area around what is now known as Queen Elizabeth Park.

1927 saw plans drawn up for ‘Extension No. 9 to the Town of Paekakariki’ this block was at the south end of Ames Street and included another 27 sections adjoining those already sold, with an access way being left for people to reach the beach, the sections being advertised as “suitable for permanent Residences, Week-end Homes or Camps, as there is electric light and a magnificent water supply”.


1927 Paekakariki Subdivision Plan

After the construction of the Paekakariki School in its current position in 1945, Wellington Road was extended to Mira Street and the complete road became Wellington Road. Long time Paekakariki resident, Michael Smullen, used to tell the story that he went to work in the morning living on Mira Street and came home in the afternoon and his house was on Wellington Road.

In 1956 there was a scattering of houses along the East side of the Wellington Road extension, Mirirona Grove had been constructed and houses were beginning to appear there. The late 1950s saw the construction of Te Miti, Horomona, Haumia, Clarkes, Mutu and the Tilley Road extension. Of the 150 new sections in this block, around 30 were built as Railway Houses. At this time Mira Grove was named to replace the lost Mira Street. Originally Haumia was spelt incorrectly and local Iwi had to battle for many years to get the name spelt correctly, Finally, in the 1980’s the authorities agreed and the spelling was corrected. The last group of housing came with the construction of Tarawa, Smith and Porter. These were modern subdivisions with underground services used for the first time in Paekakariki.

Several of the original hapū and whānau of the Paekakariki area are depicted in many of the street names and in the Awatea block at the north end of the town several of the names are only Māori names. There are also interesting cross references. There is Smith Street, named after a local early Pakeha settler family which is not far from Te Miti Street, Te Miti being a Māori transliteration of the name Smith. The street names are presented alphabetically rather than geographically except when the names are so bound up with each other it seemed a folly to separate them. The fact that three of the earliest buildings constructed in Paekakariki were churches to be followed by a 4th at a later stage shows the influence religion had over the people at the time. Not only that a couple of them were built on what could be considered the best sections in the village.

Also there were several different orders that had holiday homes for members of their clergy to recuperate and rest. Now of course its different times and two of the churches have been turned into private residences and some of the holiday homes have been sold off. An interesting point is that no land was set aside for a cemetery apart from iwi who have their urupa in Queen Elizabeth Park.


Some of the Maori names proved difficult for the Councils of the time to spell. Even now they seem to have difficulty naming some roads correctly.

There are also a few mystery names, the main one being Paneta Street which appears to have no reference under that particular spelling. Also, Cecil Road which is probably named after a son of the land owner, Robertson, rather than the local joke that it was a play on the name of the African explorer, Cecil Rhodes. This is also odd as no houses appear to have an address of Cecil Road. Whatever the origin and story behind the street names of Paekakariki, I hope you enjoy this little stroll down each highway and byway.
Michael O’Leary

An article on Michael O’Leary’s new book Wednesday’s Women by Jim Chipp appeared in December 2012 in the Kapiti Observer, The Wellingtonian and on the website at the link below:

Michael O’Leary’s personal memoir on David Mitchell appeared on Beattie’s Book Blog, 29 June 2011.