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Hamiltonians draw global friendship with cultural plurality

It is not uncommon for people of Hamilton to travel to Auckland every day either to work or to reside – a bond that has been fostered over the years, reinforcing New Zealand’s penchant and tolerance for multicultural and multi-ethnic way of life.

Hamiltonians and Aucklanders share several things in common, not the least of which performing arts, with musicians, and dancers from either city visiting the other for weekend and festival performances.

People of Indian origin form a prominent part of the business community in Hamilton, while the Waikato University accounts for teaching and administrative staff and a growing number of domestic and international students.

The earliest recorded settlers in the Hamilton area were Maori from the Tainui waka.

The Tainui people called an area on the west bank of the Waikato River Kirikiriroa (long stretch of gravel), which is the Maori name for Hamilton today.

The area was later renamed Hamilton in memory of Captain John Charles Fane Hamilton, who was killed at the battle of Gate Pa in Tauranga in 1864.

Maori Settlement

The Hamilton area has a history of 700-800 years of Maori occupation and settlement, highlighted by pa sites, traditional gardens and agricultural features along the Waikato River. The main hapu of Hamilton (Kirikiriroa) and the surrounding area are Ngati Wairere, Ngati Haua and Ngati Mahanga.

In 1863, the New Zealand Settlement Act enabled land to be taken from Maori by the Crown. This resulted in 1.2 million hectares of land being confiscated in the Waikato region, and part of this land provided the basis for European settlement in Hamilton.

Formal European settlement was established on August 24, 1864, when Captain William Steele came off the gunboat Rangiriri and established the first redoubt near what is now known as Memorial Park.

A military outpost was set up in Hamilton East, which was originally destined to be the main street of Hamilton.

Evidence of planning for the centre of the village can be seen in the ‘village square’ concept of Steele Park and the planting of ‘English’ trees along Grey Street.

Borough established

The Borough of Hamilton was established in 1877 with a population of 1245 and an area of 752 hectares.

In December 1945, Hamilton became a city with 20,000 citizens. The 2006 Census placed its population at 134,000.

The Heritage

While Hamilton is a young city, it is rich in heritage sites.

‘Heritage Hamilton’ (a celebration of the City’s historic buildings) published in June 2006 is the first major book on Hamilton’s heritage in 30 years.

Written and photographed by Wintec Media Arts and Journalism students, the Book highlights 36 of the City’s most significant heritage properties.

Copies of the Book are available to borrow at all City libraries.

International ties

Hamilton has formal links with three cities, namely, Wuxi (China), Saitama (formerly Urawa in Japan) and Sacramento, USA.

Saitama City was officially established on May 1, 2001. Urawa and its neighbours Omiya and Yono joined to form the new City. Located 24 kms north of Tokyo, this Capital of Saitama Prefecture has a population of 1.03 million people.

Like Hamilton, Saitama is a River City and situated on the Ara River.

It is considered as the third most important area in Japan in terms of art and culture and has a wide range of light industry.

The sister city relationship was formalised on May 14, 1984.

The Victoria Bridge in 1910 (Picture Courtesy: Kete Hamilton: Hamilton Museum)

A view of the Waikato River (Picture Courtesy: Jamie Carter)

The Garden Place- the Pride of Hamilton (Picture by Wikimedia Commons)

The Cassabella Lane in Hamilton’s CBD (Picture Courtesy: Hamilton City Council)

Wuxi City (Woo-Sh) has a population of 1.06 million and is located south west of Jiangsu Province on the Yangtze Delta, about 128 kms west of Shanghai and 183 kms east of Nanjing, the Provincial Capital.

Bordering on Taihu Lake in the south and against the Huishan Mountain in the west, Wuxi is the second largest City in Jiangsu Province and is one of the 15 key economic cities out of 245 cities in China.

Known as ‘land of rice and fish’, Wuxi is an ancient City with more than 3000 years of history. Textiles, electronics and light industry are its key industries, as well as a flourishing tourism and commercial market.

The sister city relationship was formalised on July 15, 1986.

Sacramento accounts for about 510,000 people. It is located on the western seaboard of the United States of America and is the Capital of the State of California.

Traditionally, the regional economy has been supported by the Government and by agriculture. However, a recent surge in growth is the result of a more diversified economy with substantial retail, service and manufacturing interests.

Biotechnology, agriculture and tourism are key elements shared by Sacramento and Hamilton. The sister city relationship was formalised on May 25, 1989.

Hamilton: Some Basic Facts

ü New Zealand’s largest Inland City

ü New Zealand’s longest River, the Waikato, flows for 16 kms through the City

ü Kirikiriroa, the City’s Maori name means ‘long stretch of gravel’

ü Population of 148,200 people (estimate at June 2012), about 50% are under 30 years

ü New Zealand Europeans account for about 66% of the population and Maori 19%

ü Home to more than 80 ethnic groups

ü Mild climate and moderate rainfall keep the city and surrounding area green

ü 145 Parks and Gardens and 63 sports areas

ü Hamilton has more than 1000 hectares of open space

ü Home to 25,800 person capacity Waikato Stadium

Hamilton: The Economy

Ø Hamilton is at the centre of one of the richest agricultural and pastoral areas in the world

Ø Major Service Centre for the Waikato region

Ø Dairy industry is centred around Hamilton and Waikato; the region accounts for world class centre of Agricultural and Biotech excellence

Ø Home to a number of science research facilities, National Agricultural Fieldays, the largest agricultural trade show in the Southern Hemisphere (generating more than $290 million in sales)

Ø Hamilton is close to two main sea ports (Auckland and Tauranga), two international airports (Auckland and Hamilton), Railway, South Auckland industrial base

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