"Haul Tainui, haul her to the sea"
THE Tainui canoe, under its Captain Hotu-roa is said to have made its landfall at Whangaparaoa, near Cape Runaway. After - quarrelling with the people of Te Arawa canoe over ownership of a stranded whale, the Tainui people coasted northwards and crossed the Tamaki isthmus at Otahuhu. The crossing was not accomplished without difficulty because Marama-kiko-hura, one of Hotu-roa's wives, had committed adultery with a slave, and so rendered ineffective the canoe-hauling spells that should have made the portage easy.
Eventually the Tainui pulled out through the Manukau Heads to be drawn ashore finally at Maketu, the Maori Settlement on the shores of the Kawhia Harbour, about a mile to the west of the town. Here, two upright limestone slabs, 76ft apart, are said to mark her resting place. The people spread inland until, after some centuries, they occupied the territory stretching from Tamaki in the north to Mokau and Taumarunui in the south. Their inland boundary, marking the division between the Te Arawa and Tainui tribes, lay in the mountainous country that stretches from Coromandel to Taupo.
A high-priest of the Tainui tribe, Rakataura, with his wife Kahuere, explored the area of land around Cambridge and found it suitable for colonisation. The highlands of Maungatautari and the Pukekura Hills were particularly suitable as natural defence sites for pa's, with the river as a barrier protecting the fertile cultivation prospects between. Tribal lore again tells us that a chief named Koroki had two sons, Hape and Haua. Haua was the progenitor of the Ngati-Haua tribe who originally settled in the Maungakawa Hills. The pre-European Maori proved to be brave, fierce and tenacious. They put the natural contours of the land to good use for defensive pa's, and adapted the lower terrace or streamed valleys for settlement and cultivation. Fortified posts surmounted the hill-tops, and the larger settlements of Maungatautari and Maungakawa extended to smaller settlements at Tauwhare, Matangi and Tamahere. The population was supported by the plentiful food from the swamps and bush, and produce from their primitive agriculture. By the use of 'hinakis' or eel-traps, the Maoris harvested the swamps, and on the fertile land of the hills and plains kumara were grown; later potatoes and wheat were cultivated.
With the start of organised settlement by Europeans from 1840, many Maori tribes opposed the sale of their land. Naturally, there was competition for the easily cultivable land in the North Island, both Maoris and Europeans wanting ownership. To increasing numbers of Maoris the selling of their land to the European Government amounted to selling their country. The land was the scene of the tribal traditions and the ancient legends on which their youth had been nurtured, their self-regard formed. And it seemed inextricably involved with the Maoris' future as a distinctive people. The loss in the land was paralleled by the decline in their population, it seemed doubtful whether, without it, they could anticipate any future worth thinking of. Though the settlers were not New Zealand patriots, to them too the land was more than an economic question - the future of their communities depended on it also.
With the influence of the missionaries the tribal high chiefs began to lose authority. The Christian teaching of every man being equal led to a weakening of the chiefs' power. Two young chiefs, Tamehana Te Rauparaha and Matene Te Whi Whi aimed to establish unity through a Maori kingship, but it remained for the outstanding Ngati-Haua Chief Wiremu Tamehana to carry the idea to reality, and in 1858 the old Waikato Chief Te Whero Whero was elected as Potatau I. The two factions, Maori and pakeha co-existed in an uneasy peace for 20 years before the inevitable war broke out in Taranaki. In the Waikato Potatau supported by Wiremu Tamehana maintained neutrality, but against his will large numbers of Waikatos journeyed to Taranaki to join the fighting. On Potatau's death Tawhaio was elected King. The Government ignored the King movement and demanded unequivocal allegience to Queen Victoria. On the Kingites refusal of these demands Governor Gore-Brown decided on an invasion of the Waikato.
In July 1863 the first of the columns of soldiers, which were to number 10,000 well trained and well armed, descended from the Pokeno Hills into the Waikato. The Waikato wars are well documented elsewhere, in the area we are concerned with there was little fighting. The Maoris had retreated to their well-fortified pa's, and although hostile, did not worry the white settlers in Cambridge and elsewhere. At about this time the Government was advertising in newspapers in Australia for military settlers. The recruits would serve as militiamen for three years, and at the end of this time would be granted one acre in the town, and 50 acres of farm land. By 1865 W. Thorne Buckland, impatient at the Governments slowness in opening tracts of land for settlement paid Wiremu Tamehana a visit to persuade the chief to lease land to the settlers. Buckland was shocked at the state of Tamehana's people, the crops had failed, food and clothing was short and there was much illness. With the assistance of Mr George Graham, Buckland arranged a meeting between Tamehana and General Carey at Tamahere where the two men made peace, Tamehana pledging that his men would fight no more in the Waikato. The military settlers were keen to claim their land, but were disgruntled to find that at the first sitting of the Native Land Court fifteen thousand acres at Tamahere and ten thousand acres at Tauwhare had been returned to the 'Friendlies' of the Ngati-Haua tribe. This fifteen thousand acres at Tamahere includes the land which is now Matangi, the name Matangi did not come into common use until 1906, when the Post Office was opened.
Acknowledgement - Plough of the Pakeha by E. Beer and A. Gascoigne, Cambridge Historical Society.
The Wartle Estate
One of the first estate owners in Matangi was Patrick Leslie, who with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren arrived in Auckland on the 12th October 1868 and immediately began buying land, William Steele acting as his agent. Captain Steele had secured a lease for 3,000 acres of very fertile and long native-settled land. Steele acted as a Government agent finding suitable persons to farm the highly desirable good quality land. Leslie's eventual holding was 2,000 acres and extended east from State Highway 1 to near the present site of Matangi Village. Matangi Road follows the northern boundary. Part of Leslie's holding included 150 acres which was granted to Turia Te Reha in 1865. This block was sold to Steele in 1865 for thirty seven pounds ten shillings ($75.00). The original entrance to Leslie's property was from Woodcock Road, but this proved unsatisfactory because of flooding and also the distance from Hamilton. In Leslie's time the Matangi Road did not exist so he obtained an easement and put a bridge across the Mangaone Stream where Leslie's Gully is on State Highway1. He named his estate 'Wartle" after the tiny village of Meikle Wartle near his ancestral home in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
The homestead was built on Lot 54 and was extensive - the house had more than 14 rooms and there were numerous outbuildings and four workmen's cottages. The grounds were a feature and the remnants of what wass a well stocked orchard and vineyard fill the gully behind the site. Some of the trees planted by Patrick Leslie still exist and are listed in "Outstanding Trees of New Zealand".
In the 1830's Leslie received an excellent training in sheep farming from the Macarthurs of Sydney, N.S.W. prior to taking the first Merinos to the Darling and Canning Downs in what is now Queensland. When he came to New Zealand he brought with him his own stud of Lincolns and subsequently his stock was highly regarded. He was an early advocate for an Agricultural College.
Leslie was very involved in local politics and was a permanent fixture on the Tamahere Road Board; was a member of the inaugural Waikato County Council; served on the Cambridge East Road Board; on the vestry of St Peters, Hamilton; was a Councillor of the Auckland Acclimitisation Society; etc. He was a Justice of the Peace and assisted R. M. Searanke on the Bench. In 1876 he was invited by Sir Donald McLean to stand for the House of Representatives but declined and put forward the name of Frederick Whitaker and subsequently campaigned for him.
With advancing age and poor health Leslie gradually disposed of his land. When he sold his last 800 acres to J. J. Barugh in 1881, New Zealand was in the grips of a severe depresstion and the land went for eight pounds an acre. In 1880 his ram lambs sold for a North Island record price of ten pounds each! Patrick Leslie died in Sydney in August 1881, three months after leaving New Zealand.
The Leslie property has since changed hands several times. The land rassed from Mr Barugh to Mr A. Oliver a "man of substance" in 1906. Mr Oliver, described as an English gentleman, built a two storied homestead and landscaped the surrounding area into a park-like setting with three acres of garden. He employed three gardeners to care for the grounds, together with a large home orchard. The family made their own cider and beer. There was a 20 horse stable and much of the land was under cultivation to grow various crops as well as wheat. The property became a focal point for the district for picnics and hunt meetings. Later the property was sub-divided into six farms and sold, with the homestead being held by the family until the death of Mrs Oliver.
In 1937 the property was sold to Mr J. Shaw, who had farmed in the Matangi area (Shaw Road) for 16 years after coming from Taranaki. Here he established a fine dairy herd. By 1970 the property was being farmed by Bill and Bob Shaw, sons of the original Mr Shaw. After many years in partnership they decided to go their separate ways, and the property was sold to Bill and Joan Flower, the present owners. It is quite incidental that Mrs Flower was before her marriage Joan Steele, a great niece of Captain William Steele the first white owner of Wartle. In spite of the pressure of offers considerably in excess of thirty seven pounds ten shillings, and the trend towards closer sub-division, it is the Flowers' intention to hold the property "as is" for as long as possible.
The Woodside Estate
The Woodside Estate covered an area bounded by the Mangaonua Stream and the Hamilton-Matangi Road and both sides of Woodside Road.
A Certificate of Title, Vol 23, Folio 177, was issued to Browne Wood, of Tamahere, Farmer, on the 5th May 1881for nine acres two roods 35 perches, being Section 138, Parish of Tamahere. This was a narrow strip of land apparently a closed road running straight across the block of land in the title next mentioned. This second Title (Vol 39, Folio 223), was issued to Browne Wood of Hamilton, Farmer, on the 17th June 1885 for 1648 acres 2 roods 35 perches. This land had originally been granted in 1869 as follows: Allotment 29 to Penetito, Allotment 29 to Heterata Wheora, Allotment 30 to Mere Wirihana, Allotment 31 to Hori Wirihana, Allotment 32 to Hori Wirihana, Allotment 33 to Whakarake, Allotment 34 and 41 to Whakamoka, Allotment 35 to Mete Ruaone, Allotment 36 to Hori Kuapuka, Allotment 37 to Rangi, Allotment 38 to Miriama Hapeta, Allotment 39 to Ratira te Haka and Allotment 40 to Penetito.
It is surmised that Wood bought the first piece of land of nine acres odd when it became available and the remainder from the Maori owners as he was able to complete the purchase, a title for the whole of the latter purchases being issued to him in 1885. A homestead was erected on the property, probablyin 1885.
In 1885 Wood mortgaged his property (except the original nine acres which was presumably accidentally missed) to the New Zealand Loan and Mercentile Agency Co Limited. In1890 the mortgagee offered the property by public auction at the Hamilton Saleyards and bough the land in. The advertisement of the sale described the property as follows: "The property is fenced and sub-divided and about 1,100 acres are in grass or under cultivation. There is a seven roomed house, two cottages, large stable and other necessary buildings. The farm is situated about two miles from Hamilton East and a large proportion of the farm is of first class quality". The period was, of course, one of financial depression. The N.Z. Loan and Mercantile Agency Co., held the property with a Manager, John James Graham until 1899, at which time it carried between 2,000 and 3,000 sheep. The next owner, John Knight was there until 1906. The next owners were the Goodwin Brothers of Pigeon Bay who transferred to the Woodside Land Settlement Association in 1913. The property was sub-divided and sold to various purchasers. Demand for the land was such that a ballot was held and the original purchasers are as follows: Mr Stretton 50 acres; Mr Reynolds 100 acres; John Bettley 300 acres; Mr Preece 100 acres; Rolley Hinton 100 acres; George Burnett 100 acres. These properties all fronted onto Matangi Road. Up the left-hand side of Woodside Road Billy Runciman drew 140 acres; and Tom Bryant drew 360 acres. Up the right-hand side of the road Harry Robinson drew 70 acres and Frank Goodwin drew 100 acres. Harry Taylor drew land which fronted Matangi Road east of Woodside Road. The 200 acres with the main homestead was drawn by Mr Job Hinton at the end of what is now Websters Road.
This original piece of land which farmed sheep for so many years has since been put to a variety of uses. The land closest to Hamilton has been sub-divided into 10 acre blocks with a few quarter acre sections on the road frontage. Earthmovers next own a large portion of land bordering the Mangaonua stream where they operate a large sand plant. As this land is being worked, it is being covered with top soil and turned back into pasture. The Bettley property is still in the hands of the Bettley family. John Bettley's grandson, great-grandson and great great-grandsons all still live on the property. John Bettley had a butcher's shop and boarding house in Hamilton, and used to raise beef for sale in the shop on his farm. A lot of this land is now planted in maize.
Continuing up Matangi Road, there are more 10 acre blocks. On the corner of Webster Road, on the land owned by Rolley Hinton, and then sold to the McDowell family is now a large saleyard operated by John F. Jones Limited. On most Mondays this is a busy place with several hundred head of cattle changing hands.
The homestead block was owned by Job Hinton until 1918 and then was owned in turn by M. A. Newton, F. M. Milton and A. G. Forbes until in 1920 it was bought by Joseph R. Webster. It has since been renamed "Beckside" and was then farmed by Arthur Webster in 1928 and then by his son Ian in 1966. Arthur and Sylvia Webster were both involved in the life of Matangi for many years. They were actively involved in the tennis club when it was at the factory and later were one of the prime movers of the courts being put down at the school and the tennis club being formed there in the late 1940's. Sylvia played the piano for church services prior to St. David's Church being built, and was still the organist there until the early 1970's. Arthur had a life long association with the Methodist Church and was the Secretary of the Matangi Methodist Church Trust for more than 20 years. The property is still being farmed by Ian Webster and was until 1969 a dairy farm. In this year he changed to running bull beef, this move being quite successful as is evidenced by him winning the I.C.I. Farm of the Year Award for fattening farms in 1975. Further diversification has been undertaken, firstly to broiler chickens, and more recently to asparagus.
The Robinson Family
Of the Woodside Road properties the Robinson family still own the 70 acres bought by Harry all those years ago. When Harry took over his property it had regressed to scrub except for three paddocks. The Robinson boys helped clear and grass the land. As his family grew older Harry found work for all the boys, they put their hands to such jobs as well-drilling, concrete laying and building cow sheds. The family increased their land holding and eventually owned a large part of the land bounded by Woodside Road, Hoeka Road and the railway line. The farm which is now 210 acres carried 300 bulls and a racing stud with about 50 horses in work as well as brood mares. It was at this racing stable that the Melbourne Cup winner Van Der Hum was trained.
David Taylor was born in Ireland in 1851 and emigrated to New Zealand with his sister Margaret on the ship Baron Aberdare in 1875. He married Patience Levis in Auckland in 1878. David Taylor was employed on the construction of the railway line from Ruakura to Cambridge, and then worked on the Woodlands Estate at Gordonton, the Marshmeadows Estate at Newstead, and the Woodside Estate at Matangi before purchasing 176 acres of land on Matangi Road to start farming on his own account. The gracious old house was for many years a landmark on the way to Matangi, when it was first built it was one of only three houses on the Matangi Road. David's son, Harry, bought the land adjacent to his father's property and farmed there for some years. The family was actively involved in community affairs, David Taylor was a regular member of the Anglican Church and made available the land on which St. David's Anglican Church was built. Most of the original property has now been sub-divided into smaller units, the old farm house sadly burned down some ten years ago. Henry Taylor's house is still standing further down the road. It is interesting to note that David Taylor, a great-great-grandson of the original David Taylor has recently come to live in Matangi on part of the old Woodside Estate, the property that his great great-grandfather farmed some 90 years ago.
J. T. Bryant
John Thomas Bryant came to New Zealand at the age of two, being born in Devonshire in 1878, one of a family of seven. As a youth he farmed and contracted in the Te Awamutu district, where his family owned land. In 1907 he bought a 152 acre property fronting onto Matangi Road and the Matangi-Tamahere Roads, which he called Sunshine Farm. When he bought this property from Mr Enoch Hope it was overgrown with gorse, blackberry and manuka and was wet and sour. Being low-lying ironstone country it was a big job to drain it, mainly with tile drains. He ran a Jersey dairy herd on the now good pasture, as well as fodder crops.
As a supplier of the New Zealand Dairy Association be came interested in the administration of the industry, and on amalgamation of several dairy concerns into the New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company, was elected a Director. He served in this capacity until 1937, until his retirement to go on a world tour. He was actively involved with the early formation of the Waikato Land Settlement Scheme conceived by his brother Mr D. V. Bryant, and served for over 20 years as a Trustee of the Bryant House philanthropic organisation.
Mr Bryant was always very involved in local affairs. After the school was established he made a house available for the Headmaster to live in until a house was built for him. He also made a house available to the Presbyterian Minister for some years. He was a prime mover behind the building of the Methodist Church in Matangi and at the same time as the church was being built, he had built his very distinctive house on the Matangi-Tamahere Road. He was a member of the Methodist/Presbyterian Board of Trustees for many years, and took a great interest in Sunday School activities at the church serving in the capacity of Superintendent for 40 years. When Mr Bryant died in 1956 his family assisted towards the cost of building a Sunday Scool building at the back of the Church, which was known as the J. T. Byrant Memorial Beginner's Department. The family of Mr Bryant's wife Hazel, who died four months after her husband donated a piano for the memorial building in her memory. The Church building has since been demolished and the Sunday School building converted into a private residence, but the Bryant homestead still stands today, looking much as it has done for the last 66 years.
William and Margaret Ranstead arrived in New Zealand in 1900 and initially purchased 1,250 acres at Rukuhia. He moved to Matangi in 1906, buying 474 acres of land, known as Tainui farm. 300 acres of this land had been farmed by the Allright brothers, who grew wheat over the whole area. In the 1890's they sold to the Cruikshank brothers, who added another 174 acres to the farm when the Eureka Estate was sub divided. William Ranstead was the first settler to take advantage of Sir Joseph Ward's Land Settlement Act and in 1910 the Tainui Land Settlement Association was formed, Tainui being taken over by his five sons. The Ranstead brothers built up a fine herd of Shorthorn dairy cows, which became one of the best herds in the country.
Although only one of William Ranstead's children attended Matangi School, seventeen of his twenty grandchildren went to school there. William served for a term as Chairman of the School Committee and was one of the residents instrumental in getting a school established at Matangi. The family has always been involved in the affairs of the district and the eldest sbn, Jack, was involved as a Churchwarden of the Anglican Church for over 30 years. William Ranstead donated the organ which was used for many years but has now been returned to the family, when the organ from the Methodist Church was given for use in the Anglican Church.
On retirement William and Margaret went to live at Raglan but after two years they returned to Matangi. The original homestead is still in use and is now occupied by David, a great-grandson. Tainui still operates as one of the few dairy farms in the Matangi district.
The Brinkworth Family
The Brinkworth family left Taranaki in 1908 and lived for several years in Hihitahi in the King Country. Only one week after moving to Hamilton in 1914, Mr Brinkworth died, leaving a widow with ten children. Undaunted, after two years in town, Mrs Brinkworth moved to Eureka and began sharernilking for W. Townsend at Eureka. She later moved to Matangi and sharemilked for Mr Pilkington in 1917, Mr Swarbrick in 1918 and for Mr Davis in Marychurch Road in 1919. In 1921 the family bought a dairy farm from Mr Hogan on Lee Martins Road. The farm is known as "Cambourne Park". The Matangi School picnics were for many years held on this property. Tragedy struck the family in 1922 when the farm house burned to the ground. Mrs Brinkworth rebuilt the house for one thousand one hundred pounds of totara, carted by horse and dray from Matangi Railway Station. As each of the family married and left horne Mrs Brinkworth decided to move to Hamilton. Her son, Dick, who was farming at Tuhikaramea, sold up and returned to the "home" farm. Dick has now returned and the farm is now run by his son, Jack. "Camboume Park" has been in the Brinkworth family for 64 years and is still a dairy farm.
During the 2nd World War, an Army Barracks and Munition Dump was set up on the Brinkworth Farm. The dumps were about the size of a large garage and painted to look like small cottages, some even had false chimneys built on to them. It was at this time that Brinkworth Road was formed as access for the Army trucks. This part of the farm was naturally out of bounds to the Brinkworth children, but the temptation to pick mushrooms over the fence proved too much one time. The offenders were scared out of their wits with a challenge of "Halt, who goes there" from the soldier on duty. The sheds were removed after the war, but the barracks remained on the farm for many years. It was finally cut into two and moved to behind the Matangi Dairy factory in about 1952.