About Hauraki District
Hauraki is a district well-known for, among other things, Waihi (a gold mine town), Karangahake gorge and the Hauraki Rail Trail. It’s a district where you will find many hidden curiosities. It’s also a perfect central location for exploring the Coromandel, Auckland, Rotorua, Matamata and the Bay of Plenty.
The first Maori settlers arrived in the area around 1250–1300 CE., with several tribes making their home in the area.
By November 1769 Lieutenant James Cook, the European explorer credited as discovering New Zealand sailed into the Firth of Thames. The Hauraki Plains were declared to be ‘the properest place we have yet seen for establishing a colony’.
Initially the Hauraki Māori welcomed early European contact. The settlers, traders and missionaries brought goods – in particular, muskets, iron tools and new crops, which they could obtain in exchange for food and labour. Between the 1840s and 1850s, the Hauraki Maori purchased schooners and cutters for trade, greater ease of travel, and mana (prestige).
However, tension grew between the local Maori and the Crown (the European installed government). The local Maori support for the Kīngitanga (the Māori King movement) in Hauraki, in defence of land and independence, prompted an invasion of the Waikato by Crown forces.
A series of battles between the Hauraki Maori and Crown forces occurred up until December 1863. The Crown built fortifications between Pūkorokoro (Miranda) on the Firth of Thames and Pōkeno on the Waikato River. It enforced a naval blockade of the Firth of Thames.
In January 1865 the Crown confiscated the 20,000-hectare East Wairoa block, claiming it was a reparation payment for the tribes part in the war. Land confiscation and land purchases between the 1860s and mid-1900s saw Maori land dramatically reduced. By the early 2000s, about 2% of Hauraki remained under Māori ownership.
From the 1900s the district grew steadily. Gold was discovered in Waihi, and a significant gold-rush followed. The native forests were felled, much of the timber being transported to Auckland for housing. Swamplands were drained and converted to farming.