No ball for city's 150th

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2014

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Hamilton must celebrate its 150th anniversary despite the cancellation of a "glamorous and sophisticated evening" celebration, a Waikato-raised historian says.

An anniversary gala ball was planned for August 23, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of British settlers arriving in Hamilton, 90 years of Wintec and 50 years of the University of Waikato.

But tickets were slow to sell among "targeted key stakeholders" and Hamilton City Council put out a statement to cancel the ball.

"The University of Waikato, Wintec and Hamilton City Council have made this collective decision because the success and impact of the event depended on a large number of attendees and there was a risk this would not be achieved," it said.

The planned date was also said to clash with other events.

Ticket holders had been notified and would get a full refund, the statement said.

Before the cancellation, Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker had described the ball as "a glamorous and sophisticated evening of fine wine, food, music, dance and entertainment".

Entertainment lined up included a jazz band, big-band legend Rodger Fox and local entertainers.

Facebook comments about the cancellation show the $175 ticket price was unrealistic for some Hamiltonians.

It included a light supper, drinks, entertainment, and dance lessons in the leadup to the event.

But one facebook commenter said the ball was aimed at the wrong market, and another suggested a parade or street festival.

And Kawhia-born historian Tom O'Connor said the 150th should be celebrated.

"I think we owe it to the memory of those people who lived and worked and died to build Hamilton," he said.

The city was the first inland settlement to be "a real success", and owed its existence to a military camp set up by General Sir Duncan Cameron in 1864, towards the end of the Waikato Land Wars. There was a small nearby Maori settlement called Kirikiriroa, which meant long gravel or sand bar.

In the early days Hamilton was a remote and isolated "wilderness", O'Connor said, surrounded by huge swamps and wetlands, and huge forests.

The city was "boom and bust" until the dairy industry sprung into life around 1900-1906. A city birthday party in the central business district is one of the other celebrations lined up. There will also be a Mods reunion concert, a silent film festival, and a 150th Race Day Carnival at Te Rapa Racecourse.

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- Waikato Times

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