Puketaha Introduction

                                    PUKETAHA 1905 – 2016

                                                        Puke: hill; taha: side



Situated approximately 12kms north east of Hamilton City surrounded by Gordonton, Eureka and Newstead, Puketaha was the Hillside Subdivision of the 98,000 Woodlands Estate originally owned by the Loan and Mercantile Agency.

In 1902 Woodlands Estate began to sell off plots of land and in 1905 Hillside, mostly a partly drained deep peat swamp (27 metres above sea level), was opened for closer settlement.   Those men brave enough to take up sections were presented with a wasteland of flax and Titree with some Kahikatea bush, but mainly a wilderness of rushes.  A few big dewatering drains provided outlets for drains yet to be dug.   There were no roads, no school and no meeting places for the settlers.

The early settlers included the following families – James Taylor (1902), Norman Taylor (1905), FR Seddon (1903), John Wells Chapman (1904), Edwin Thomas (1907), Denby Sainsbury (1907), Joseph & Albert Chapman (1909), Hannibal Rickard (1912), Matthew Findlay (1914), Norman Speedy (1914), WH Worster (1917).  Descendants of the Taylor and Findlay family continue to farm in Puketaha. 

These larger blocks were then further subdivided pre-WW2 with the Seddon property sold to the NZ Government in 1947 under the Land Acquisition Act for the rehabilitation of returned servicemen for £14 per acre.    The first ex-servicemen moved into the district in the early 50’s and subdivision into ‘ballot farms’ continued into the late ‘70s.

The district was prone to flooding and the drainage systems, installed by hand in the early part of the 20th century, continue to be a vital asset to this low-lying farming area.   Removing stumps and ironstone was a way of life to enable pasture to be established.

The school was opened in 1916, the War Memorial Hall in 1954.   The district made their own entertainment with clubs and groups including the RSA, Croquet, Tennis, Scouts and Cubs, Amusement Club, Indoor Bowls, CWI and Table Tennis all but the Indoor Bowls now long gone.

The Hall was extended in 1977 and the school roll has grown from 20 children in 1916 to around 300 in 2016.   In 1954 30 householders were rated by the County Council; 1991 144 and 2016 321 and rising. (¹)


(¹) Puketaha School and District Jubilee books 1966, 1991, 2016



Sited on this corner was the Puketaha Creamery, a two storied wooden structure.
Milk was taken to the creamery once a day on a two-horse-drawn wagon. Each cart was
was driven under the verandah type part of the building. Chains were lowered to attach to
the 20 gallon milk can handles, that were then hauled up to the top floor where the
separating was done.
The farmer would then drive around to the back of the creamery to collect their ration of
skim milk used to feed their calves and pigs. Farmers often had to wait in a queue to

Puketaha Primary School

corner Sainsbury and Puketaha Road

The Breakup of the Woodlands Estate

Regardless of their hard work and enterprise, the big landowners faced bankruptcy by the 1890s. Their huge loans, the cost of development, coupled with low returns for their produce, saw the Bank of New Zealand foreclose on hundreds of thousands of acres of agricultural land which lay in various stages of development. By 1898 an amendment to the Lands for Settlement Act had been passed to break up the large estates of the Waikato into smaller blocks.


puketaha residents
                                                                                             1991:Puketaha School 75th Jubilee
 (NOTE: In 2022 Greenhill Road's name was changed to Pukeroa Road)

Dan Barry


                                                     PUKETAHA SCHOOL


Puketaha School class 1927




This map was included in the 1991 Puketaha School 75th anniversary booklet.

 (The only change is to  include Taylor Rd and Waiwere Nursery as reference points to the north)

Puketaha District Map 1991/2

Welcome to the Puketaha Section of the Heritage Waikato website

old puketaha identities

Over the next few months I will be loading as much loca


A miscellaneous collection of old photographs, newspaper clippings, stories and other bits and pieces from time gone by.

Peat Fire Smog