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Fabric Stain Removal Guide

A Little Hamilton History

The history of Hamilton began on August 24, 1864, when the vessel Rangiriri landed a group of settlers at Kirikiriroa. The smallest of three large Maori villages in the area, Kirikiriroa was first settled by the Ngatiwairere, a sub-tribe of the Tainui, around 1700, on the western side of the river. Today, a plaque on the front wall of the Public Trust Office, in Victoria Street, Victoria Street marks the northern boundary of the original pa site.

At the time of settlement, two other Maori villages shared the area, one being Te Rapa Pa, the other, on the east side of the river, Miropiko Pa, named after a crooked Miro tree growing on a nearby hilltop.

Hamilton, proclaimed a borough in 1877, was named after Captain John Charles Fane Hamilton, who met his death in the battle of Gate Pa. First mayor of the fledging city was Isaac R. Vialou, an architect of some renown with several other business interests in the area. He held office till February 1878.

More fascinating firsts in the region included the arrival of Walter Hamilton Nairn as the first white baby born. Having misfortune to be the first white fatality was Private Norris, who upset a load of firewood on himself. Andrew Kay became proud owner of the first store in the area when he had premises built on the corner of Clyde and Grey Streets, in East Hamilton. Captain James McPherson of the 93rd and 70th Regiments entered history as the first member of Parliament for the Waikato Electorate, a position he held for one year.

An early aviator landed the first bi-plane in Hamilton at Claudelands Showgrounds in 1920. Claudelands, originally covering 400 acres, was named after Francis Richard Claude, third owner of the land. Long before the showgrounds came into being, Hamilton began its proud tradition of A and P shows in 1892, on grounds covered in scrub and cabbage trees. Despite the rugged terrain, the show was a huge success, playing host to such persons of importance as the colonial governor of the day.

Movies first came to Hamilton when films were shown in the King's Theatre in 1911, followed by a touch of Hollywood with film-making in the 1920's. Rudall Hayward, New Zealand's leading film producer of the time, created the first community comedy in Hamilton in those times. This saucy epic, originally filmed as "Hamilton's Hectic Husbands," had its title rejected by the censor! The film, renamed "Military Defaulters and Others," first screened in Hamilton in 1928. The children of today see worse items in cartoons!

On the industrial front, business saw a surge of expansion after the Second World War, with a fifth of the workforce involved in manufacture by 1961. In the same period, service and commercial activities to complement industry accounted for more than half the workforce. Notable on the industrial scene early in the century were Ellis and Bernard, timber merchants from 1905, and the concrete business established by the Firth family in 1910. When Mary Jane Innes, wife of Charles, bought Waikato Breweries in 1889, she laid the foundations not only of today's brewery but also of the soft-drink giant that became Oasis Industries Ltd in 1979.

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