The History of Stillwater

The area around Stillwater was settled by Ngati Kahu. The attraction being the sheltered land which was accessible from the sea. The settlers gathered food from the land and the sea in an area stretching from Orewa to Okura.

The earliest European settlers began arriving in the 1800's. The Weiti River provided a conduit from Silverdale and the surrounding farmland to Auckland by means of its navigable waters. The main products to be exported from the area was fruit from local orchards. Stillwater also acted as a secondary landing port for boats transporting logs and kauri gum from the area. The last shipment of gum to leave Stillwater was in 1892.

A significant earlier settler and land owner was Ranulph Dacre. Dacre purchased Weiti Block 3,334 acres, in 1848. The land was said to be bordered in the north by the Weiti River. The land was farmed by sons Henry and Life Septimus Dacre. Dacre Cottage built in 1855 by Henry. See Dictionary of NZ Biography.

Other significant early settlers include the McPikes, Percy and Blackshaw families. The subdivision of the McPike property provided the land on which much of the present Stillwater settlement is developed on. Stillwater was known as Five Finger prior to the 1958 subdivision by the Mc Pikes which was the name given to the development they created. The name was taken from the accretions (spits) which extended into the Weiti River.

The motorcamp was developed post World War 2 and early access was via a rugged farm track which over the years was developed into the road that is now in place. The site of the motorcamp was named Percy's Point and was the location of a significant home and the first concrete building, a store constructed for the storage of fruit. The Percy family owned 75 acres from 1913 to 1940.

The first Stillwater settler was Andrew Wotherspoon Thorburn who arrived in 1852. Wotherspoon advertised in the newspaper for land to purchase and bought the block on the rivers edge. The land was used for fruit growing and some livestock. The family has a burial plot overlooking the river. The site was the final resting place of Andrew, his wife Margaret and daughter Liza. The body of a policeman killed in the area was also interred there. The headstones are visible on Buster Elliot Reserve.

There is scant evidence of the horticultural use of early Stillwater. There is an old pear tree located at the end of Duck Creek Road between the campground and the reserve. Just over the fence is evidence of some old peach trees which are in poor shape, and a solitary citrus tree.

The spit on Karepiro Bay is the home to the endangered NZ Dotterel who nest in the area and the Variable Oyster catcher. The spits are a fragile ecosystem and care needs to be taken at all times.

Sources:
Alias the Wade - Robin Grover
Why The Hibiscus - Place names of the Hibiscus Coast. - Robin Grover
From the Wade to Silverdale - A local history of the district and its school


Thanks to Silverdale and Districts Historical Society - archives. For more information on local history be sure to visit the museum which has an extensive collection of material and archives on the local area including Stillwater.

Any further clarification of Stillwater history would be gratefully received and can be added to the information here. Feel free to forward any old stories, images and the like for inclusion on the history page.