Welcome to Tamahere, a rural lifestyle community in the Waikato, North Island, New Zealand.
Tamahere is rich in history. Read on for the story of a fascinating district and its even more fascinating, and often highly influential, characters.
First, some facts on Tamahere today. Tamahere is a rapidly growing community in the Waikato district on the southern outskirts of Hamilton city. People tend to live in Tamahere because the area offers a rural lifestyle with space, tranquility and low-density living and the convenience of nearby city commercial, recreational and social services.
The Waikato District Council’s Tamahere ward is represented by Councillor Wally Hayes and the Tamahere Community Committee.
Much social activity centres around Tamahere School, a State primary school (Decile 10), and the Tamahere Community Centre (hall for hire). On the same grounds are tennis courts and sports fields, and a Playcentre (parent run pre-school). A pre-school childcare centre is also nearby as is a Montessori Education Centre.
Click for information about Tamahere School, including enrolment details.
The popular, monthly Tamahere Country Market, held on the grounds of the central Tamahere, Anglican, St Stephen’s Church, is also a community and social hub.
Go to the Directory A-Z page or scroll to the foot of this page for links to community groups, facilities and businesses in Tamahere.
Statistics NZ brackets Tamahere with Tauwhare in census data. Click here for details on Tamahere’s people and lifestyle from the 2006 census.
Tamahere is in the Waikato parliamentary electorate, whose boundaries were newly drawn in 2007. Click the following link for the Waikato electorate profile
Tamahere residents on the Maori parliamentary electoral role are in the Hauraki-Waikato electorate. Click the following link for the Hauraki Waikato profile
Below is a map of Tamahere today. Take a virtual tour by clicking the ‘view larger map’ link below the map. Then read on for the history of Tamahere and its people.
View Tamahere Place Map in a larger map
Tamahere – the name
Tamahere literally translated from Māori means a “bound boy”. Behind those words, however, lies the story of Mahinarangi and her husband, Turongo, the ancestors of the Kingitanga dynasty. Mahinarangi, to save her son Raukawa from drowning, tied him to her back as she swam across the Waikato River, near where the Narrows Bridge at Tamahere now stands.
The tale of Turongo and Mahinarangi is one of the greatest love stories of Maori. A famous meeting house at Turangawaewae Pa at Ngaruawahia is named after Mahinarangi, the great ancestress of Te Puea and others of the Kingitanga dynasty, including current King Tuheitia. Read more here in the National Library.
First historic figure
Tamahere’s earliest person of note is Wiremu Tamihana, chief of Ngati-Haua, the Maori Kingmaker.
The most admirable character among all the high Maori chiefs with whom our pioneers came in contact in the adventurous days of New Zealand colonisation was the head of the Ngati-Haua tribe, Wiremu Tamehana te Waharoa, the King-maker, as he came to be called. He was the leading figure in the cause of Maori nationalism before the Waikato War; he was essentially a peacemaker, and had his plans for native self-government been adopted there would have been no war.
So recorded James Cowan in The Story of a Patriot in the NZ Railways Magazine, June 1, 1934. Click here to read more.
A sign board in Bruntwood Rd memorialises Wiremu Tamehana’s role in Tamahere. Click the following link to read of the sign unveiling in 1991 (pdf). Tamehana sign unveiling
A biography of Tamihana by Evelyn Stokes can also be found in the Dictionary of NZ Biography. (Spelling of Tamihana/Tamehana varies between texts.)
More on the history of Tamihana and his death is recorded here in the NZ texts collection, including his unsuccessful petition against war to the General Assembly of New Zealand in 1866.
In the book, The Maori King, Sir John Eldon Gorst describes the Waikato, including Tamahere, at the turn of the 20th century.
Horotiu is a perfectly level plain of light rich soil, with a gravelly subsoil, extending inland from both banks of the river. Detached clumps of trees dotted all over the plain give it a beautiful park-like appearance, while the land between is covered with cultivations and villages, the chief of which is Tamahere, where Wiremu Tamihana was born and where he has large estates. This is the general gathering-place of the [Ngati Haua] tribe. Large crops of wheat were grown in this district in the season preceding the outbreak of the present war, and the English grass and clover, which has spread over the plain, has turned it into an excellent grazing ground for cattle, horses, and even sheep, which several Ngatihaua chiefs were beginning to keep.
A few years later, the Cyclopedia of New Zealand describes Tamahere, now well settled by colonists.
Tamahere is on the main road from Hamilton to Cambridge, at the junction of the road leading on the one hand from Tauwhare and the railway station, and on the other to the Narrows Bridge. It is a flourishing farming settlement, and there is a creamery belonging to the New Zealand Dairy Association situated close to the railway station—a flag station on the Ruakura Junction-Cambridge branch, distant ninety-four miles from Auckland, and standing at an elevation of 172 feet above sea level. The local governing body is a road board, and the district is within the Waikato County.
The Cyclopedia mentions many of Tamahere’s early settlers including Aston Thomas Foxhall Wheeler, Joseph Barugh, Arthur Furze, Andrew Ramsay, Edward Rhodes, Priscilla McChesney, James Harvey Johnston, John Smeaton Blackmore, George Care, Albert William Day, Cornelius Day, Charles Ewen, Alexander Davidson Milne and Joseph Alexander Milne, Rasmus Petersen, George Way, and Henry Reynolds.
There is considerable detail on each. Click here to read more.
An excerpt from the Waikato Times of October 9, 1884 describes a train journey to Cambridge through Tamahere.
The land between here [Mangonui] and Tamahere is very swampy, but only to the extent of a few acres on either side. It was expected that Tamahere would be accommodated with good station buildings; but the Public Works Department has evidently thought differently, and a station of the orthodox salt-box pattern has been provided. Good cattle yards have, however, been erected for the convenience of the settlers, and we think that before long the Department will find necessary to appoint a stationmaster to look after the accommodation of the public in this quarter.
Read on for more detail of early Tamahere and surrounds.
Sad fatality at Tamahere, read the Waikato Times headline.
‘Camp’s Hotel destroyed by fire,’ recorded a second headline. ‘Two children burned to death,’ reported a third. The newspaper is dated Tuesday, March 17, 1885.
In 1885, shortly after midnight on Saturday, March 14, fire claimed two young lives – those of Albert Montagu Camp, 10, and his 3-year-old brother Edward Hewitt Camp, sons of hotel owner James Thomas Camp. Click here to read more about a tragedy that pre-dated the fatal Icepak Coolstores Fire of 2008 by 123 years.
Another online reference records the origins of Tamahere’s Bollard Rd – named after the early 20th Century Cabinet Minister, Richard Francis Bollard.
Bollard, who hailed from Avondale, Auckland and farmed at Tamahere, became chairman of the Waikato County Council and was the first MP for Raglan after the electorate was constituted in 1911, as detailed on this blog devoted to the history of Avondale.
Bollard died of pneumonia in 1927 and an obituary in the Auckland Sun noted that he was appointed Junior Government Whip in 1918 and Senior Whip in 1919. From that office he was promoted to cabinet rank as Minister of Internal Affairs in 1923.
Mr. Bollard was in his youth a keen sportsman, particularly interested in cricket and rifle shooting, but he was a fine pheasant shot also. Only recently the Otaki Maori Racing Club elected him a patron and the Wellington Trotting Club in his honour recently put the Bollard Handicap on the programme for the spring meeting.
The Bollard family have been closely associated with Anglicanism and the late Minister of Internal Affairs was a lay reader in the Tamahere Anglican Church.
History in roads
For the origin of the names of other Tamahere roads, click here for explanations compiled by the Cambridge Museum.
For example, Pencarrow Road – “John and William Martyn from Cornwall named their 2,000 acres at Tamahere, ‘Pencarrow’ in 1866 and they developed this into a first class farm. There were two homesteads with orchards, gardens and trees. The farm was grassed and stocked with sheep, cattle and horses.
‘Merrylegs’ was their trotting stallion and ‘Black Champion’ their draught stallion – both renown for improving the breeds in the district.
Pencarrow Rd resident Sam Charlton has researched the history of the area including the home he lives in, which was built by William Martyn in 1869. Click for a Brief History of Pencarrow at Tamahere (pdf)
Cornelius Day bought the Pencarrow Estate and this was subdivided in 1914, at which time the road was named.”
The site for St Stephen’s church at Tamahere was a gift from John Martyn junior [of Pencarrow Estate] and the foundation stone was laid September 18, 1882, also records the Cambridge Museum.
John Martyn was the first to be buried in the grounds 11 September 1888 and later Cornelius Day donated another acre as a burial ground. William Australia Graham surveyed the cemetery and set out the grounds with trees and shrubs. The huge rhododendron remains today. The graves of nearly all the local pioneers are in this churchyard.
Church records show that while the foundation stone was laid on the present site on the corner of Airport Rd and Tamahere Drive in 1882 regular Church of England services were first conducted in Tamahere more than 15 years earlier
The first St. Stephen’s church and adjoining cemetery were consecrated in 1891 and that church served the local community until it was destroyed by fire in June 1970. Click to read more.
Supermarket pioneer Wynn Abel (1911-1995) was a Tamahere resident from 1968 to 1989, owning with wife Jean, Malabar Farm on Airport Rd. On November 29, 1961, Abel’s Supermarket opened in the suburb of Hillcrest; it was one of New Zealand’s earliest supermarkets, and Hamilton’s first.
At Tamahere, the Abels bred thoroughbred racehorses and owned several winners, the most notable being Van der Hum, who won the Melbourne Cup in 1976. Click here to read more about Wynn Abel.
* Other online references to Tamahere will be included here as they become known. Please pass on any you are aware of. Click here to email Tamahere Forum moderator Philippa Stevenson.