Gordonton and District

Gordonton lies to the north east of Hamilton, approximately eight kilometres from the present Hamilton city boundary. Gordonton village is just off the edge of the Piako swamp.
The European settlement of Gordonton began with the building of Woodlands homestead in 1872. This large estate of 98,000 acres was initially owned by a large syndicate in England, the first manager being Henry Reynolds. Henry Reynolds built a butter factory at Pukekura and used the Anchor brand which came from an idea when he saw an anchor tattoo on a sailor at Woodlands.    Subdivision of Woodlands started in 1902. It was then managed for over twenty years by Mr. John Gordon. Gordonton was originally known as Hukanui and changed to Gordonton in 1913 in recognition of John Gordon and to remove confusion with another Hukanui further south.                                                                          
Ngati Wairere moved out of Kirikiriroa / Hamilton in 1864 to Hukanui / Gordonton during the Rangiriri wars where a new pa was established. The marae is situated just south of Gordonton on the Gordonton road
The first school started in 1891 and still in use as a play group and community use on the original grounds now known as Hukanui Park. The dairy factory opened in 1916 as a cheese factory and was producing casein when it closed and is now used for storage with various shops in the front.
The district was predominately dairy, which it still is, but with more variety of farming ventures. The Piako swamp has been developed over many years with drainage, lime and fertiliser together with much labour to very fertile farm land. This has not been an easy task as with some other lands, but the people before us and even those still present here today, can be proud of their hard work to see the outcome to such fine farm land. 

The Tylden family were discussing plans for the future. "When we break up the old family unit, there won't be enough money for each of us to buy an improved farm," said one of the brothers. "Land prices have skyrocketed in the last few years."
"There are still a few areas of cheaper farms that are well back but..."
"We have to have a place close enough to a school for the children," finished Marie.
One of the brothers remembered seeing an article about breaking in Waikato peat lands.

Established in 1872, Woodlands was originally a 98,000-acre property surveyed after the Waikato land wars. It was purchased by the Piako Swamp Company with the understanding they would improve and drain the peat land and develop roads.  Surveyed land was also designated to Maori in the area.  Woodlands became a self-sufficient enterprise – the Homestead was surrounded by a village of farm buildings, including stables, woolshed, bakery, blacksmith, waterwheel and joinery shop, butchery and stock yards.  It became the centre of local social activities.

This cowshed design was first built in Gordonton in 1952 by Ron Sharp, a descendant of the Riddell Family.  Still being built today, the Herringbone design dominated the New Zealand dairy industry for many decades.

The first school, spearheaded by the Hopa and Puke families, opened in the adjacent hall in 1891 and a classroom was built in 1893 on land originally surveyed in 1883.  This is now Hukanui Park.  Other schools in outlying areas have been amalgamated, with some of their buildings being relocated to Gordonton.

The land provided an abundance of food for local Māori, of the Ngati Wairere iwi, who grew and traded kumara, and flax.  The village was surveyed to create accommodations for workers from Woodlands Estate who wished to live in their own homes. 

Community Hall    The first community hall was opened in 1884 on land gifted by Woodlands Estate. Due to fires and poor building materials, two more have followed