A day to learn our history

Community volunteers and Waikato District Council staff are combining their efforts to celebrate an inaugural Waikato District Heritage Day across the district on April 20.

On offer is a chance to see inside museums and displays at district libraries, visit heritage sites, and celebrate the treasures and korero of communities around the district.

Interior of St David’s Church

Initiated by the Waikato District Heritage Forum, which represents groups and individuals passionate about local history, the day has been inspired by World Heritage Day, held on April 18 each year to celebrate heritage sites recognised by the United Nations.

“We welcome all visitors on the day to share in the wealth of stories about our district, and we look forward to growing this into an annual event with even more attractions and activities,” Waikato District Mayor Jacqui Church said.

There will be tours of the Matangi Dairy Factory.

Forum chair Kirstie Alley, who manages Woodlands Historic Homestead at Gordonton, said it is an opportunity for reflection and education, for people to share stories, to learn about the past and different cultures, and to foster community identity and mutual respect.

Heritage displays will be mounted at five district libraries, and three museums and other heritage attractions will be open for visitors on the day.  They include at Matangi an open day at St David’s and St George Orthodox church, and tours of the historic Matangi Dairy Factory, at Tamahere the country market day with self-guided tours of St Stephen’s church and historic cemetery, and an open invitation to visit the carved pou on Bruntwood Rd marking ‘te maungārongo’ (the covenant of peace) between the Kingmaker Wiremu Tamihana and General Carey in 1865.

Crystal Beavis

Waikato District councillor for Tamahere-Woodlands, Crystal Beavis, who sits on the forum, said it is a great opportunity to learn more about local heritage and to see some places that are not always open.

‘For example the Matangi Dairy Factory played an important part in the development of New Zealand’s dairy industry and in the history of both Glaxo, now GSK, and Fonterra. I’d also recommend a peek inside St David’s Church Matangi, now St George Orthodox Parish Hamilton and richly redecorated in the orthodox tradition, then look for the oldest graves in St Stephen’s Tamahere historic cemetery where so many early European settlers are buried.

“If you’re driving between Tamahere and Matangi, take a side-trip down to 649 Bruntwood Rd, Tamahere, where a carved pou commemorates ‘te maungārongo’, the covenant of peace, where Wiremu Tamihana laid down his taiaha in 1865.

She hoped it would be the first of more heritage days to come.

“Learning about our history helps us understand how events in the past led to the way things are today.”

St Stephen’s church and and its cemetery at Tamahere is worth a visit.

St David’s, Matangi

The pou on Bruntwood Rd marks ‘te maungārongo’ – the covenant of peace.

 

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