History of Matakana
Prior to the 1900's:
Before the arrival of Europeans to the District, there were Maori settlements at Tawharanui (Ngati Raupo), Omaha to Pakiri (Ngati Manuhiri) and Mahurangi (Ngati Rongo). In 1841 a large tract of land known then as The Mahurangi Purchase was bought by the Crown from Hauraki tribes of the Marutuaha Confederation, who claimed the land through earlier conquests in the 18th century. The few Europeans who lived on this land prior to the purchase had negotiated a right to reside with local iwi. Early European settlement was at Sandspit (lower Matakana) at the river mouth.
Timber resources in upper Matakana (now Matakana Village) resulted in settlers moving up the river around 1848 and squatting on the land until it was surveyed in 1850's. By 1853 John Heydn was operating a saw mill at the falls on the Matakana river, and he and Peter Campbell subsequently obtained licenses for the area a year later. During the mid 1850's, flax was being harvested from the area.
1864 saw the establishment of the first public building in Matakana Village. This was the Presbyterian School, which served as a church on Sundays. The church, after some time away, has been relocated at The Matakana Country Park and is still in use.
By 1881, the Matakana population stood at around 150. By this time, all the Kauri in the area had been removed, it was then that agricultural practices took over, with fruit being an important industry. Peach wine was popular at the time.
From 1900's onwards..
Fruit growing gave way to farming around the turn of the century and a Dairy Factory was operational from 1902, the building is still used today, but as a gift store. (Ironically, many farms have now been converted to vineyards since the 1970's).
Matakana House Hotel (now The Matakana) was built at this time. Electricity came to Matakana in 1936, however it still has no 'town water supply' even to this day.
One of the Matakana resources still in use today is clay. Clay from the area was made into bricks at the factory in Brick Bay, near Sandspit. In 1978, Anthony Morris and Sue James set up their pottery which grew to become of of the town's largest employers and 35 + years on one of its main tourist attractions.
With its close proximity to Auckland, Matakana has seen a huge increase in visitor numbers and development in the Village in just the past few years. Boasting a Cinema complex, boutique shopping along with cafes, restaurants and wineries. Despite that, one doesn't need to go far to see names of early settlers on road signs or the results of their endeavours still evident in Matakana today..
The Information Centre acknowledges the assistance of Judy Waters of The Warkworth Museum, and Tania Mace in the preparation of this Article.