150 years: City celebrates in style
A walk back in time and a capsule buried for future generations helped Hamilton kick off the first of many events to mark the city's 150th birthday.
Former prime minister Jim Bolger, the Maori King, Tuheitia, community and business leaders, as well as descendants of original Hamilton settlers gathered at the Civic Square yesterday morning for the 150th Anniversary Civic Celebration.
Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker and King Tuheitia buried a time capsule outside the city council building, packed full of Hamilton memorabilia including stories from Hamilton West Primary School students, Saturday's copy of the Waikato Times and census information.
Two ferns were symbolically placed on the capsule, one each from the mayor and the king.
The event also included a CBD history walk at Waikato Museum in the afternoon, and an evening Choral Evensong at St Peter's Cathedral.
Kaumatua Tame Pokaia opened the ceremony with an acknowledgment to the tangata whenua of Hamilton, Ngati Wairere and Tainui.
"For Tainui, our history didn't start 150 years ago," he said.
"Seven hundred years ago when the Tainui waka came from Hauraki to Kawhia and then settled inland [that was the start of our history]. In 1863 and ‘64, some people came and they tried to change that . . . "
Mayor Julie Hardaker said the celebration was about acknowledging Maori as well as Pakeha settlement.
She ticked off significant dates in Hamilton's history: Waikato Hospital opening in 1880, the establishment of Wintec in 1924, and 1945 when the town grew into a city boasting a population of 22,000.
The Hamilton Brass Band performed classic Maori love-song, Pokarekare Ana, to the audience and band manager, Ross McAdam, said they had been busy perfecting every note.
Washington-based artist Gary Scofield was also there. Hardaker recognised him for a bronze life-sized statue of King Tawhiao he made 30 years ago and gave to King Tuheitia, who in turn gifted it to the Waikato Museum and the people of Kirikiriroa.
"I went to [Southwell] school with [King Tuheitia Paki]. He was Paki to me and I was Schol to him," Scholfield said. "It took two years to make and it's been sitting at my mother's ever since. I am so honoured [King Tuheitia] accepted it."
Tawhiao was the son of the first Maori King, Potatau Te Wherowhero.
Former Hamilton deputy mayor, philanthropist and director of Gallagher Holdings, John Gallagher, was awarded the first inaugural Hamilton Medal for his contribution to the Waikato.
The medal honours the significant achievement of an individual who has been successful in their chosen field and who has made an outstanding contribution to the city.
Gallagher offered his family history, stating his grandmother had originally settled in the Waikato and married his grandfather who came to New Zealand after the Boer War.
Woodstock Primary School entered a competition for Hamilton primary schools to compose and sing the city's official birthday song and teacher aide, Carol Crutchley, was shocked when she was told they had won.
Crutchley said the process from writing the song to recording it took two weeks. "The song reflects [the] love and spirit of the Waikato and Hamilton, about aroha and wairua," she said.
Anglican Bishop Helen-Anne Hartley finished the ceremony with a prayer.
As part of the 150th celebrations, there will be a silent film festival at Lido Cinema in September, a raceday carnival at Te Rapa racecourse on October 27 and a family-friendly city-wide birthday planned for November 22.
Donna-Lee Biddle is a Wintec journalism student