Developing the Te Aroha district until c.1910
Hart, P. (2016). Developing the Te Aroha district until c.1910. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 7), Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/10314
When the Aroha Block was opened to Pakeha settlers, they found what to them was a wilderness with a great potential. Some of those seeking farms were miners, and as mining faded they encouraged the government to establish special farm settlements for them. But before the land’s potential could be tapped, it had to be surveyed, purchased from the Crown (often using the deferred payment scheme, as at Te Aroha West), and drained, a process fraught with difficulties and, it was charged, incompetence. Some land speculators were attracted to the district because the new goldfield provided a market for produce. As it took years to construct good roads, the Waihou River was the main means of moving people and produce. Once the river was snagged and the swamps were drained, a new problem arose: silting, solved for a time by planting willows along its banks. Over time, bridges replaced punts, and in 1886 the railway arrived. After surviving harsh conditions when developing their land, farmers were able to provide a wide range of agricultural produce to local and regional markets. Kauri gum was dug, fleetingly, and the flax industry waxed and waned, but the arrival of dairying in the 1890s was an important step forward in the successful development of the district. In time, the first settlers could look back on their achievements and rejoice in the myth (and the reality) of the hardy pioneer.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart