Local History

Explore the rich history of Kāpiti: Historical photographs, newspapers, local history files and more...

Kāpiti's rich history is reflected in the wide range of heritage materials available at Paraparaumu Library. Ōtaki and Waikanae libraries also hold a selection of resources in their non-fiction collections.

Everyone is welcome to visit us and look at any of the collection but, as many items are rare or irreplaceable, most of the collection is not on public display. You can access items in the collection through the Heritage and Māori Librarians or the librarian at the Welcome Desk. Our staff are happy to assist you.

Historical Photograph Collection

HP 270 - Otaihanga ford & footbridge at the creek dividing Waikanae HP 402 - Passengers in waiting room at Paraparaumu Airport 1951The Historical Photograph collection holds a range of interesting images of local people, places and events. File prints are available for you to view at Paraparaumu Library or you can search using Mau Mahara: Kāpiti  - our online database.

The library is also home to the Bruce MacMillan collection, an archive of 250,000 negatives from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Guide for ordering copies of images from the Historical Photographs Collection.


 We hold the following newspapers:
  • Kāpiti Observer -  July 1950 - current
  • Kāpiti Mail  -  April 1988 - June 2000
  • Horowhenua & Kāpiti News - April 1997 - December 1999
  • Ōtaki Mail  -  April 1991 - current
  • Ōtaki Today: Ngā Kōrero o Ōtaki-September 2018-current

The Kāpiti Observer from 2001 to this month’s editions, and the Ōtaki Mail from April 2003 onwards are indexed.

To view the actual newspaper please ask for assistance at the Welcome Desk.

Microfilm of the Dominion Post from January 2002 until 2009 can be viewed on request at Paraparaumu Library.  

View the newspaper index here.

Local History Files

These files are in the Te Wā Kainga space at Paraparaumu Library. They hold newspaper clippings, pamphlets, newsletters, articles, and other ephemera. Material is filed under subject headings.

Kāpiti Street Names

Where do street names come from? It's a rare street or landmark that doesn't have a story behind it. The next time that you walk around Kāpiti’s streets, think about the history they hold. Here is some information to help you on your way:

Kapiti Historical Society - Street names - Paekakariki, Paraparaumu, Waikanae.pdf

Kapiti Historical Society- Raumati South Street names - extended.pdf

Otaki Street Names - OHS Vol 6 42-44.pdf

Dennis Taylor Court naming.pdf

Street names - Leinster Ave & Sydney Cres.docx

Jean Hing Place Naming - First Chinese .docx

Information on Māori place names can be found on the Te Reo Māori pages.


Kāpiti Mayors

Mayors of Kāpiti Borough Council:

Barry Hadfield 1974–1980

June Oakley 1980–1983

Iver Trask 1983–1989 

Mayors of Kāpiti Coast District Council:

Iver Trask 1989–1992

Brett Ambler 1992–1998

Iride McCloy 1998–2001

Alan Milne 2001–2007

Jenny Rowan 2007–2013

Ross Church 2013–2016

K. Gurunathan 2016–

Ōtaki Historical Journals

The Ōtaki Historical Society has been producing the Ōtaki Historical Journal since 1978, providing a valuable resource for those interested in Ōtaki's history. Issues 1-35 are available at the libraries. They can also be purchased from the Ōtaki Historical Society. In 2012, the society produced an index packed with more than 400 pages of references to journal articles. The index is available in hardcopy and PDF format on  Ōtaki Historical Society website.

Memory Sessions

Throughout the year, Memory Sessions are held at Ōtaki Library. These are usually held on the first Thursday of the month. These informal sessions are a chance for local people to share stories, ask questions or just sit back and listen. A different starter topic is explored each month. Guest speakers are also invited for special sessions. Topics covered so far include:

Expressway Archaeology

The Art of Tattoo

The War When We Were Young - ANZAC special

Shops in Otaki Township

Tōku Whare -  Ōtaki Houses - click for notes

Down the Railway - click for notes

Hoofing it - A History of Horses in Ōtaki - click for notes

How Does Your Garden Grow? Otaki Gardens-  click for notes

Down the Beach - Memories of Ōtaki Beach - click for notes

Notes on Ōtaki Hotels - Dates and Publicans listed - click for notes