Eureka

The farming area known as Eureka was created through the reclamation of part of the vast Piako Swamp.  Starting in 1874, 16km of enormous drains were dug by hand to lower the water level sufficiently to farm the land. The Swamp had extended from the edge of Hamilton East to the Piako River, and was part of the land confiscation by Government at the end of the Waikato Land Wars in 1865.  A section of the Confiscation Line can still be seen defining the boundary of the east side of Eureka.

The homestead built in 1875 on the Eureka Hill was the first headquarters for the Woodlands Estate, which at one time stretched from Taupiri to Morrinsville.  Legend has it that the name Eureka was formed from the initials of the ladies in a picnic party which chose the site for the homestead.

Significant features of early Eureka were the railway station on Holland Road built around 1884, the school which opened at the crossroads in 1904, and the butter (later cheese) factory, built in 1903.  Since 1914 a hall has provided a meeting place for the community and its activities, with the first structure being replaced in 1968 by the present building.

While the Eureka of today is just a short drive from Hamilton, for much of its history it was a farming-based community, linked to the world by the railway and somewhat swampy roads.  But the sense of community remains, largely through the publication of the 36 year old Eureka Express magazine, providing local news and recording the achievements and comings and goings of its residents.

THE saga of Eureka's pioneers spans nearly eight decades. Even in the late thirties the Waverley Islands still provided a backdrop of marsh and manuka to the Eureka scene. Developement of this area started in earnest after World War II.
Many of the early settlers stayed but a few years and then sold their land. As they came and went each contributed through their hard work and adventurous spirit to the breaking in of the farmland and the building of the community.

Eureka school 1938
Eureka school 1938

PERSEVERANCE paid in many ways for the settlement's pioneers. One of their many success stories is Eureka School. 

WHILST hewing a livelihood from the scrub and flax the settlers tolerated many hardships. Amenities were few and money was scarce. The constraints of their lifestyle no doubt caused so many social activities to flourish in the little farming district. 
Those were days when people made their own fun, whether a barn dance or a picnic or a game ofcricket. Everybody joined in, anyone who could swing a bat or hit a ball. Eureka soon developed quite a reputation for its rugby team, tennis club and in later years its badminton and indoor bowling clubs. 

A well-known Eurekan.  Well he grew up here and thought he’d be a farmer.  But WWII took him overseas, and when he came back the authorities had other ideas for him.  He came back and built the second hall in 1968, but Tom Muir’s real exploits were created in Hamilton.

Who is this man who ne’er retires
For whom this decade fled so fast
A small man but persistent, ninety now
And yet the fruit doth flow and flow
And Harold sees it come and go.

A decade since I wrote a piece
Recalling fifty years of fruit
In two great orchards based round here
The joys, the progress and the woes
Bags, crates and boxes changing go.

But Harold soldiers nobly on
While many funerals he has seen
Now Tuesdays off and Sundays too
And snoozes in the afternoon
But otherwise it’s still all go.