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. 

A group of young Maori men were carrying bundles of flax down the track from the pa to the canoes tied to a tall kahiakatea tree on the sand of the Komakorau Stream. The old chief came down.
"Whatever are you doing?" he asked.
"We are going to take this flax to Auckland to sell to the Pakeha," answered one of the boys.
The chief looked at the stuff in the canoe.
"But this is rubbish," he said, "It wasn't cut with the proper ceremonies. It isn't dressed properly. It's rubbish!" he repeated.

By 1862 there was discontent in the Maori villages of the Waikato. The young men were bored.
They were discarding the ancient Maori rituals which, based on necessity, were carefully designed to keep everyone busy, realizing his own essential place in the life of the community.

"Hey Nathan," called John Hastie, "here's a present from the Kirikiriroa Road Board"-and he threw an envelope on the rough table in the mess-room of the barracks of the 4th Waikato regiment.
"My Goodness. Look at this assessment, exclaimed Nathan Rumney. "It's far too much. They've valued my land at two pounds an acre, and the rates are 1/2 pence in the Pound. I can't even get out there to live until something more has been done to the road. However, I guess they haven't any money to do any work until someone does pay their rates."

"We'll need to hurry and get our houses built this summer," Sergeant Knox said to Private Hastie. "We have been alloted timber from the Puketaha mill, but we can only use Bush Road when it has been very dry."

The kerosene lamp on the table hissed gently, its soft light sparkling on the lovely blue of the glass shade, and gleaming on the polished woodwork in the beautiful room. Mrs. Reynolds glanced at her husband. He seemed very subdued tonight. For a change, they had dined alone; usually there were visitors, business associates of her husband's or just friends, and when the maid had removed the dishes, Mrs. Reynolds carefully selected the right shade of silk for her tapestry and moved over to the fireplace.

But next summer was better, and  one morning in early Autumn,  Henry Reynolds said,"Let's go and see what Josiah Firth is doing at Matamata. The 'New Zea1and Herald' says he has imported a machine from California to reap his wheat.  We'll take John Primrose with us because he has developed a real flair for machines."

"We're going to town. We're going to town," chanted Margaret as she danced round the kitchen, "Muver, aren't you 'cited?"
"Of course she isn't, stupid," chimed in brother Richard before Mrs. Martin could say anything, "Mother goes to town every week."
"But this is dif'rent." protested Margaret.
"Of course it's different," her mother answered, "very different."

There was a houseparty at Woodlands. During the afternoon the young ladies had been out riding, but now they were gathered in the lovely dining room for the evening meal. One of the girls said, "We met a woman with such an interesting face in the village, John. A Mrs. McNichol. I'd like to paint her."
"I've a great admiration for that woman," said the gentle Mrs. Gordon. "She gets things done."

Excitedly Jim Drinkwater waved a letter he held in his hand. "I've got it. I've got it. I'm to be a shepherd at Woodlands. There's a house with the job so we can get married straight away."
Mary's blue eyes sparkled, and for a moment the young couple were so excited talking about plans for the future that they forgot to lower their voices. A loud jangle of a bell startled them both. The harsh clang came again, impatient and imperative, and the little maid slipped through to answer the summons.

At last it was all decided. The Riddell family were to leave "Annani" and the hills of Waverly and go to live in the Waikato.
"There're 2433 acres, and it's all flat," young Tom told his sisters, bul none of them could really imagine so much country without hills.
"How, do we get there, Father?" they asked excitedly.