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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]


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Matamata is a flag station 121 miles south by rail from Auckland, on the Morrinsville-Rotorua branch railway, and fifty-six miles distant from Rotorua. The station, which is 211 feet above the sea, is a mile and a half from the tower of the Matamata homestead, whence it takes its name. The whole of the neighbouring country consists of excellent agricultural land, and within a few miles of the homestead there are some fine hot springs. One of the sights of the districts is the waterfall named Wairere, which leaps from a point in the surrounding ranges for a distance of 451 feet, with one small break.

The Matamata Road Board has jurisdiction over a district in the county of Piako. The district has a population of about 300 persons, about fifty dwellings, sixty ratepayers, and eighty ratable properties. The board levies a rate of a halfpenny in the £.

Mr. John McCaw, who has been Chairman of the Matamata Road Board since 1895, and is a member of the Piako County Council, on which he represents Matamata riding, was born in the parish of Kirkoswald, Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1849. He was educated at the parish school, the Ayr Academy, and the Glasgow University, and was brought up to farming. At the age of sixteen Mr. McCaw began his career as a farm manager on one of his father's farms. In 1874 he arrived in Port Chalmers by the ship “Oamaru.” Three years later he became manager of one of Mr. J. M. Ritchie's stations in South Canterbury. Mr. McCaw became manager of the Three Springs Estate in the Fairlie Creek district in 1880, and six years afterwards entered the employment of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, with which he remained till he was appointed superintendent of the Bank of New Zealand Estates Company's properties in the North Island. When the Bank took over the Auckland Agricultural Company's estates, Mr. McCaw became superintendent of the Waikato properties. He is a member of the general committee of the Waikato Agricultural and Pastoral Society, and a member of the Farmers' Club. Mr. McCaw was married, in 1881, to a daughter of the Rev. A. B. Todd, of Oamaru. This lady died in 1890, leaving one son and one daughter. In 1893 Mr. McCaw was married to a daughter of Mr. A. Buckland, the well known auctioneer of Auckland, and three sons have been born of this union.

Mr. Benjamin Browne, who has been a Member of the Matamata Road Board since 1889, was born in 1845 in Wells, somersetshire, England, where he was educated and brought up as a dairyfarmer. In 1865 he came to Auckland by the ship “Victory,” and after two years in the Wainui district north of Auckland, went to the Thames at the opening of that goldfield. During the nine years that he spent in connection with mining, Mr. Browne narrowly escaped being killed on three separate occasions. In 1876 he settled in Taupiri, and after a year commenced farming on his own account. Ten years later he went to Waharoa, for Messrs Friar and Davies, as manager of their store, and commenced business on his own account at Matamata in 1893. Mr. Browne was one of the promoters of the Waharoa school, on the committee of which he served for some time. He was married, in 1876 to a sister of the Hon. J. McGowan, Minister of Justice and Mines, and has three daughters.

Hanna, photo.Mr. B. Brown.

Hanna, photo.
Mr. B. Brown.

Mr. Robert Axel Forsman, who has been a Member of the Matamata Road Board since 1896, and is also a member of the local school committee, of which he was secretary for three years, was born in Auckland in 1867. He was educated at the Thames, where he was brought up to the trade of a carpenter. For some years Mr Forsman found work in connection with battery building at Karangahake, Waihi, Waitekauri. In June, 1894, he settled in Waharoa, and established himself as a general storekeeper and farmer. His premises at Waharoa consist of a large double-fronted shop, with a five-roomed dwelling-house, and the usual outbuildings. Mr. Forsman was married, in 1895, to a daughter of the late Mr. J. Capill, of the Thames, and has two sons and one daughter.

Botteley, photo.Mr. R. A. Forsman.

Botteley, photo.
Mr. R. A. Forsman.

Mr. Edward Dudley Murray, who has been a Member of the Matamata Road Board since 1896, was born in 1854 in the Isle of Man. When he was eighteen years of age he came to Auckland by the ship “Queen Bee,” and was a cadet at Mongonui for about a year. After a short time on an estate near Cambridge, Mr. Murray bought land at Walton in 1876. His property, which is 414 acres in extent, is known as “Otterburn.” It is all improved, and carries a considerable number of cattle and sheep. Mr. Murray is a member of the Waikato Agricultural and Pastoral Association.

The Matamata Post And Telephone Office has been conducted since 1893 at the store of Mr. B. Browne, close to the Matamata railway station. There are page 792 two mails in and out daily. Miss Bessie Browne acts as postmistress and telephone officer.

Matamata Public School, established in February, 1900, is conducted in a building belonging to the Assets Realisation Board, and has accommodation for twenty-six pupils. There are twenty-three names on the roll, and the school has been taught from the first by Miss A. Jane, who served her pupil teachership at the Beresford Street School, Auckland.

The Matamata Boardinghouse was established in 1899, and is conducted by Mr. Robert Joseph Kerr, who was born in Dublin in 1847, and has been in New Zealand since he was three years of age. He has been a carpenter at the Matamata estate since 1895.

Higgins, Samuel, Farmer, “Peria,” Matamata. Mr. Higgins was born in Worcestershire, England, in 1847. He was brought up to farming, and came to Wellington by the ship “Orari” in 1877. Shortly afterwards Mr. Higgins removed to Auckland, and found employment with the late Mr. J. C. Firth, as engineer in charge of machinery at Matamata. He commenced farming on his own account about 1887. His farm, known as “Peria,” consists of 230 acres of frehold land. Mr. Higgins has served on several occasions as a member of the Matamata Road Board. He was married, in 1894, to a daughter of the late Mr. J. Moon, of Sussex, England, and sister to Mrs H. Brett and Mrs A. Porter, of Auckland.

Matamata Estate, which is the property of the Assets Realisation Board, is situated between the Waihou and Piako rivers. It consists of 50,000 acres of flat land; 22,500 acres are in English grasses or turnips, and the balance is in natural grasses. About 2000 acres are cropped with turnips every year. There are large plantations of English trees upon the estate. The property was originally taken up by the late Mr. J. C. Firth, who was the pioneer settler of the district. Mr. Firth erected the homestead known as “The Towers,” which serves as a residence for the general superintendent of the “Matamata” and several other estates belonging to the Assets Board. It is probable that “The Towers” is the only bullet-proof, loop-holed, fortified residence in New Zealand. The proprietors of “Matamata” are also the owners of several other large stations, which are all under the management of the general superintendent, Mr. John McCaw The other properties consist of the Mangawhero Estate of 6000 acres, the Okoroire Estate of 9000 acres, situated at Tirau, the Mangapouri Estate of 3000 acres, which lies towards Lichfield from Okoroire, and the Tiran estate of 6500 acres. On this property, in the early days, there was a strong Maori pa, which is still to be seen, and it was the scene of fighting during the Maori disturbances. There is also the Paparumu estate of 7000 acres, which adjoins Tirau estate towards the Lower Waikato river; also the Paeroa estate, which fronts on to the Waikato river, and is 8800 acres in extent, and lies between the Matamata estate and the Horo-Horo estate, which also has an area of 8800 acres. Then there is the Richmond Downs estate, of 13,000 acres, and the Waitoa estate of 23,000 acres, near Te Aroha. There is also the Locherbie estate of 21,000 acres, in the centre of which stands the township of Morrinsville. The total area of the properties managed from Matamata as a centre is 156,100 acres. The two years 1898–1900 were very successful years on these properties, which showed a good percentage on the total capital value. These estates carry 103,000 growing sheep, and between 30,000 and 40,000 lambs are also shorn annually. Pure bred flocks of Leicester and Lincoln shop are kept for breeding purposes, and there is also a fine stud of pure bred Clydesdale horses, including the well known Clydesdale entire, “Red Gauntlet,” and about seventy Clydesdale mares. Numerous good hacks, in addition to the Clydesdales, are raised every year. There are from 12,000 to 13,000 head of cattle on the estates, mostly of the shorthorn breed. About 120 cows are milked at “Matamata,” and the produce is sent to the Board's cheese factory, at Waharoa, mentioned in another article. Portions of the estate at Waharoa are let to dairy farmers, who avail themselves of the cheese factory. On all the properties supervised from “Matamata,” about 6500 acres of Swede turnips are sown annually. About
Yarded Sheep at Matamata Estate.

Yarded Sheep at Matamata Estate.

Hereford Cattle, Matamata Estate.

Hereford Cattle, Matamata Estate.

page 793 1000 head of fat bullocks, and 500 to 600 head of fat cows are sent to the market each year, and 17,000 to 20,000 freezers are supplied to the Auckland market. The surplus of the estates in sheep amounts to about 40,000 per year. Most of the ploughing on the estate is done by four-furrow ploughs, capable of turning over about seven acres per day each, with four horses and one man. About fifty hands are frequently employed in connection with these fine properties, in addition to casual hands and shearers; and during the shearing time sixty-two Wolseley shearing machines are in use.

Mr. John McCaw, who, since 1889, has been Superintendent at “Matamata” of the Assets Realisation Board's estates, is referred to in another article as chairman of the Matamata Road Board.

Mr. Edward Averill, Assistant Manager on the Matamata Estate, was born at Stafford, England, in 1864, and educated at King Edward VI.'s School. He served for three years in Lloyd's Bank, Lichfield, where he gained considerable experience, and came to Port Chalmers by the s.s. “Aorangi,” in 1885. Mr. Averill entered the service of the Bank of New Zealand, and was stationed about eight months at Woodville. He was engaged for over ten years subsequently at Mangatoro station near Dannevirke. For a short time afterwards he was on the Himatangi station near Foxton, and was appointed assistant manager at “Matamata” in 1897. Mr. Averill was married, in 1896, to a daughter of Mr. N. Newcome, of Fitzherbert, near Palmerston North.

Mr. E. Averill.

Mr. E. Averill.