HISTORY OF OUR SCHOOL
‘HAMILTON STREET NAME STEEPED IN DELICIOUS TRADITION OF FRUIT’
Ah yes! The fragrant nectar of peaches in the height of summer… nothing can quite instil such a rich memory as the succulent juices of the heavenly peach.
The name ‘Peachgrove Road’ has always had the ability to flood that memory back. But what of the peach trees of Peachgrove Road? Are they a myth, a long forgotten truth, a piece of rich, cultural history? What lies in this name?
History tells us that the first peach stone was introduced by a runaway convict captured at Aotea Harbour in the 1830s. His European name was unknown but he was called Korehako by the locals. From this fortuitous beginning, the nectar of the peach spread throughout the Waikato, and the establishment of many peach orchards began. The peach trees brought wealth and fame to the Maori tribes, most notably to Tainui.
Tainui’s reputation as entrepreneurs did not overlook the succulent fruits of the peach tree. Large peach orchards were planted for trading in and around Hamilton, most notably in Gordonton, Tauhei and close to any Papakainga. By the mid 1850s baskets of fruit were transported to Port Waikato by canoe, bound for the Auckland markets. By 1863 Tainui owned 39 schooners which travelled the Pacific and to Australia trading vast quantities of produce.
Bringing it a little closer to home, the planting of fruit trees near housing is an age old tradition, thus we see the establishment of orchards throughout the Claudelands area, close to Opia Pa and Waipa-hihi Pa. There were also groves of peach trees along what is now known as Victoria Street when Europeans first arrived here, this also being close to Kirikiriroa Pa.
Peachgrove Road was an old Maori walking track known as Te Ara RewaRewa and as Hamilton was taken by Europeans, this track became a major travelling route.
In 1879 the route was taken as a Crown Grant. It was surveyed and originally named Peach Road. The legacy of the peach grove, originally in and around what is now James Street, led to the name Peachgrove Road.
The peaches struck a chord with Europeans too. Harold Bullock-Webster kept a meticulous journal of his travels around Waikato during the 1870s and 1880s, with many sketches alluding to the deliciousness and passion for the peach.
He notes in his diaries that the fruit was plentiful, and the happiest days of his life were spent here. He also notes ‘the most delicious peaches’ were from an old Maori settlement at Mangawara.
Another European, Sergeant Crosby, made Peachgrove Road particularly famous by loading his cart full of peaches merely by backing it under and shaking the tree. He would come away with a full load of fruit.
The peach holds an important and luscious position in the history of human endeavour and enjoyment here in the Waikato. The name holds the key to the history of, not only the beginnings of this fruit in the Waikato, but also the history of Peachgrove as an area – a history as rich and juicy as a peach.
Copy of newspaper clipping (believed to be the Waikato Times), given to the school. Date unknown.