History

The Mighty Waikato River meanders its way through our city of Hamilton and around every twist or turn in the river there is an abundance of history. The river was a source of nourishment and life for our early Maori people and they have a deep spiritual relationship with the river. They regard the river as an ancestor and is full of Taniwha (water monsters) but the Taniwha is also a symbol for great chiefs. Maori place-names represent the story of our region. Waikato itself was named after the Tainui waka (canoe) which was a great voyaging waka that passed by the river’s mouth during its migration to Kawhia, which is on the region’s west coast. It is said that when it did so, the river’s current could be seen exerting a pull (kato) in the sea, so the river was named Waikato (wai meaning water). Often known as ‘flowing water’.

The haka – made famous by our All Blacks – has links to our region. It was created by Te Rauparaha, who came from Kawhia. “Ka mate, ka mate, ka ora, ka ora”, which translated means “I die, I die, I live, I live", and this he chanted at the start of the haka, after a brush with death.

The story of the Waikato region is also closely aligned with the story of the Kingitanga (Maori King Movement). This movement was formed to unite the Maori people in the defense of their land and independence in the Waikato Land Wars of the nineteenth century. Today this movement is still very strong and the Maori King has his impressive base at Turangawaewae in Ngaruawahia just north of Hamilton. Taonga (treasures) of Tainui are held in historical places and museums throughout the region including the Waikato Museum in Hamilton. The museum, apart from showcasing the waka taua (war canoe) Te Winika, also holds items chronicling the history of Hamilton, which was founded as a military settlement in the 1860s.

At the heart of New Zealand’s richest agricultural area, Hamilton is now one of the fastest growing cities in the country and at the centre of a network of towns reflecting the region’s farming prosperity. Situated on the floodplain basin created by the Waikato River, the region’s fertile soils have made it one of the leading agricultural and bio-technology centres in the country.

 
 
 

How to find us

1 Richmond St
Whitiora, Hamilton 3200

 

How to reach us

Phone: 0800 235 528 or 07 838 1234
Fax: 64 7 838 1244
Email: stay@bellavistahamilton.co.nz