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Hamilton History, New Zealand

Hamilton's history begins in August of 1864, when a group of settlers landed at Kirikiriroa.  Kirikiriroa was the smallest out of 3 Maori villages and was settled first by the Ngatiwairere, which was a Tainui sub-tribe, on the river's west side at the beginning of the 18th century.  Now there is a plaque that marks the north boundary of its original site, which is on the Public Trust Office's front wall.

When the area was settled, there were two other villages that shared the same area.  One of these was the Te Rapa Pa, and the other was Miropiko Pa, which was on the river's east side and got its name from a crooked Miro tree that was growing on a hilltop close by.

Hamilton was proclaimed as a borough during 1877 and was named for Captain John Charles Fane Hamilton.  The first mayor of Hamilton was an architect, Isaac R. Vialou, who had many interests in business in the area.  Vialou held office until February of 1878.

The region has had many fascinating firsts, which include Walter Hamilton Nairn's arrival, who was the first white baby that was born here.  Unfortunately, however, the first white to be killed here was Private Norris, accidentally unloading firewood on himself.  The first store of the area was proudly owned by Andrew Kay, with the premises being built on the corner of Grey and Clyde Streets.  Another first happened for Captain James McPherson from the 70th and 93rd Regiments when he entered as the first Parliament member in the Waikato Electorate, which he held for a year.

The first time that movies came to Hamilton was when films were viewed at the King's Theatre during 1911.  In the 1920s, film-making came along.  Rudall Hayward, the leading film producer in the country during that period, developed the first Hamilton community comedy.  The epic was originally called 'Hamilton's Hectic Husbands' and was rejected.  However, when the film was renamed as 'Military Defaulters and Others', it was screened in 1928.  In today's time, there are worse things seen by children in cartoons.

In the economy, business expansion surged after World War II, as 20% of the workforce was involved with manufacturing by 1961.  During that same time, commercial and service activities that complemented the industry amounted to over 50% of the workforce.  Bernard and Ellis were notable in the industrial scene in 1905 as timber merchants.  There was also a concrete business established in 1910 by the Firths.

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