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. 

"Oh, I'm stiff," groaned Fred as he sat up and rubbed his legs. "This floor is hard."
"Newspapers make noisy blankets," commented Sam, as he woke and stretched, "You rustled and creaked all night, Fred."
"It was warm enough, though," added their friend who had come to help bring the new horses to the farm, "but it is just as well we kept the fire going all night."
They cooked the sausages in the iron skillet over the open fire, and for cups used Bell Tea tins. Sausages and bread can be carried in saddle-bags but most of their gear was still at the railway station.

"Five hundred eighty four owners hold ten million acres of land; one thousand six hundred hold eighteen million acres," stormed John McKenzie, Minister of Lands in Dick Seddon's Government. "It just will not do. Unless we take steps to curb their greed, this country will be as bad as Britain with its big landholders and "subsistent tenants.'' John McKenzie knew at first hand the misery caused when owners "enclosed" land and disposed tenants where their families had lived for generations. Several acts and regulationswere passed.

Miss Gledhill frowned at the letter she was reading. "There will be changes in the school next term," she told her assistant. "They are sending a man here."
Irene Anderson looked up. She was busy preparing her work for tomorrow, but she wasn't quite sure what to say to the older woman.

As the congregation came out of the little Presbyterian church at Gordonton, they seemed to be met by a blast from a furnace.
"Oh dear it is hot," sighed Esther, "the smell of peat fires seems to penetrate everything."
It wasn't only the peat fires that made the sky grey with smoke. A careless fire had swept the old pa in the village destroying everything there and leaving nothing but blackened stumps on the timber reserves opposite the school grounds. For anxious days the school and hall were threatened, and Mr Hopa feared for his home.

A group of Gordonton farmers were working on the road on the marshy ground by Grahams Road at the foot of Tommy Martin's Hill. Fred Williamson and his brother Sam had brought their horse and dray, and so had Edgar McMullan. When Denby Sainsbury arrived in his dray driving his smart new mare, everyone stopped work to admire her. Denby always had good horses and this one really was a beauty. Jim Sharp, who had never liked horses at all said, "There won't be need of horses soon. Everyone will be using trucks."

It was the first Saturday of the August holidays. "Can we go for a picnic to Lake Tunawakapeke Mum?" asked Mary at breakfast. "It's going to be a lovely day."
"Yes, when the butter is made," replied mother. "Even if it's holidays, that has to be done every Saturday." So while the two younger children washed the dishes and then brought in the wood; their father had cut the wood for the stove, Mary tipped the cream into the wooden churn, and started to turn the handle. Swish, swish went the cream, and it was still swishing when the dishes were finished.

"I hear Jim Sharp's likely to loose a leg," commented Fulton Cunningham. 
"Whatever will he do? I've read of a one-legged sailor, but a one legged farmer, oh no." said another man.
"You'd never be able to get down and under with only one leg" laughed Fred, referring to the fact that although most farmers in the district had already installed milking machines by that 1928 season, they all stripped their cows by hand after the cups were removed - sometimes twice.
But although they joked the men talking on that first Sunday after Christmas were seriously concerned.

"I hate rushes," muttered Bill as he sat down to tea.  "Their roots are so tough.  And if you make a hard jab and get through them, the dirty water splashes all over you or the swamp seems to suck the shovel down and you fall on your face."
"I know," said Fred sympathetically.  "But there doesn't seem to be any way of getting rid of rushes except digging them up and stacking them to dry. Next summer we'll be able to burn them."
"It would be much easier to help milk the cows." said Bill.

"Smoky Hollow", Puketaha R.D.

"The hay will be ready to cut soon," said Fred one evening as he picked up the paper after tea. "It will be the thirtieth time we have made hay on Okoropong."
"This should have been the year we went home to England," observed his wife, her needles clicking on the balaclava she was making to send in the parcel the Gordonton women were preparing for the navy.