Welcome to Hamilton East, we are glad to share some of our history with you.
No history of Hamilton East would be complete without the mention of the Waikato River, which begins on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu and flows through the Waikato Waikato Region to meet the Tasman Sea at Port Waikato, just south of Auckland.

Maori settlements were established on both sides of the river. On the west side was Kirikiriroa Pa which was situated between today's London and Bryce Streets. On the eastern bank there were major Pa sites at Te Nihinihi (near Cobham Bridge) and at Opoia (near eastern side of Claudelands Bridge). Ngati Wairere, a sub tribe of Tainui,  cultivated the river terraces and utilised the river as both a food source and a means of transport.
With the arrival of the European settlers, the people of Tainui quickly adopted the new technology; for example tools and crops. Produce including flax, wheat, kumara, potatoes and fruit was transported down the river to markets in Auckland and even further afield to Australia.
As the number of Europeans settlers grew, Maori became concerned for their land and in an attempt to unit the tribes they established the 'King Movement', with Potatau Te Wherowhero becoming the first Maori King in 1857.
The European settlers considered the King Movement (Kingitanga) as a threat, and an attempt to prevent further land sales. British Imperial and colonial troops invaded the Waikato and in 1863 and 1864 battles were fought which resulted in Tainui withdrawing south to the Ngati Maniapoto territory (the area now known as the King Country). Ngati Wairere fled for the Gordonton area and settled there.
As a result of the conflict, Waikato Maori were punished by the confiscation of 1.3 million hectares of land, much of which was allocated, in accordance with rank, to militia troops who had fought against the Maori.
Soldiers of the 4th Waikato Militia arrived in Kirikiriroa (meaning "long strip of cultivated land") to take up their allotted parcels of land in August 1864. They came ashore on the east bank of the Waikato River at the site of today's Memorial Park. The families of the Militia followed on the paddle-steamer Bluenose. As they approached the landing, the women debated who would be the first to land. Instantly Teresa Vowless,wife of Private Grove Vowless, passed her son to another passenger, leapt into the water, waded ashore and took that honour.
In 1865, Kirikiriroa was renamed Hamilton in honour of the former commander of HMS Esk, Captain J.C.F Hamilton, who had been killed at the battle of Gate Pa, near Tauranga, in April 1864.

The Militia settlers and their families struggled to survive as they were only supplied with rations for the first year of their settlement. Many abandoned their land and returned to Australia (from where many had been recruited) or headed for the Coromandel area, hoping to strike gold. Those who stayed and survived the hardships played a vital part in the establishment of Hamilton East.

The Hamilton East Community Trust researched and developed two Heritage Trail brochures which include many historic palces abd buildings  valued by the community.


These are available and can be planned according to  your time and walking ability. We can help you discover Hamilton East's History, see its heritage buildings and more.  Tours last about one and a half hours.

Phone: 07 8569522 or Email: info@hect.org.nz

Prices:Adults $15

Children 5- 16 $5 and children under 5 years are free.

School discounts are available.