William Graham and ‘Car’ Norris are important figures in the historic life of Tamahere. Born generations apart they are linked by a single, significant moment.
Tamahere farmer William Australia Graham (1841–1916), also a surveyor, mediator, politician, and one-time Hamilton Mayor, acted as interpreter when his father accompanied the Ngati Haua leader, Wiremu Tamihana Tarapipipi, in May 1865, to a meeting of reconciliation with Brigadier General George J. Carey, commander of the British forces in the area during the land wars.
Graham expressed in later years particular pride in his mediatory role on this historic occasion, records his biography in the Dictionary of NZ Biography.
In the next century, Hensleigh Carthew Marryat Norris, known as Car, (1893–1980), a lawyer, soldier, and historian, researched the site of the 1865 peace covenant signing between Tamihana and Carey, work which led to the Bruntwood Rd noticeboard recording the event being unveiled at Tamahere in 1991.
From the mid 1860s to 1882, Graham, in association with his brother, Samuel, developed an estate of more than 1,000 acres (400ha) at Tamahere, on former Ngati Haua land. He encouraged the growth of the Tamahere community through donations of land and other gifts for a school and an Anglican church.
In 1954, Norris founded the Waikato Historical Society, and was president for most of its first four years. In 1956 he helped establish the Waikato regional committee of the National Historic Places Trust, which he chaired until 1975 (when he was made honorary life member). The research that led to the Tamahere historic noticeboard was one of his numerous projects.
Catch up with more Tamahere history on the About Tamahere page.
Click the following link to read an account of the unveiling of the signboard (pdf): Tamehana sign unveiling
Postscript: Tamahere resident Willie Hodgson adds that his grandfather T. O. Hodgson purchased the land off Graham in Newell Road in about 1901. It was cut into 3 family farms eventually. There is a significant oak tree remaining at the original home site over which Willie placed a covenant. “Our family still have some of the land and there is now a 5th generation living here. Newell Road did not exist in Graham’s time and was put through and named after my grandfather William Newell who held land on the west side . William Newell served two separate terms as mayor [then called chairman I think] of Waikato District Council.”