Paekakariki, (Maori translation: the perching place of the kakariki or green parrot), is the southern entrance-way to the Kapiti Coast. The village had a population of 1602 (2006 New Zealand census).
Situated off State Highway One, 45 km northeast of the capital city, Wellington, Paekakariki lies at the narrow end of a thin coastal plain between the Tasman Sea and the Akatarawa Ranges. It is an historic village, largely known for its beaches, coastal environment, lively arts community, rail and U.S.Marines' heritage.
Prior to European settlement the area had a violent history, largely due to the presence of the great Maori warrior Te Rauparaha, who was based on nearby Kapiti Island.
Paekakariki history is intimately connected with its railway. Initially the village was an important stop-over between Wellington and the Manawatu. In 1908 it became the first stop-over between Wellington and Auckland on the North Island Main Trunk line.
The village now maintains and celebrates its rail history through the Paekakariki Station Museum, run by the Paekakariki Station Precinct Trust and Steam Inc., a not-for-profit organisation, which restores and runs heritage steam trains. The Tramways Museum in Queen Elizabeth Park also adds flavour to local transport heritage with its line-up of vintage trams.
Another major heritage project in the village is the restoration of the iconic St Peter's Hall (built in 1918) on the corner of Beach Road and Ames Street.
During World War II, Paekakariki served as a major base for U.S.Marines fighting in the Pacific Campaign. Over 15,000 U.S.Marines were stationed in the area in three camps, Camp Paekakariki (in Paekakariki), Camp Russell (in Queen Elizabeth Park) and Camp Mackay (on Whareroa Farm). The collection, promotion, and development of Marines' heritage is currently being undertaken by Kapiti U.S.Marine's Trust.
The Paekakariki community has a strong connection to its local environment through three major environmental organisations: the Guardians of Whareroa Farm, the Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park and Nga Uruora. Hundreds of local volunteers are connected to these three organisations and over the past 15 years have been responsible for planting thousands of trees on the Pukerua Bay/ Paekakariki escarpment, and in Queen Elizabeth Park and Whareroa Farm.