Local History of the South Waikato

The timber industry in New Zealand has a history that dates back well before the early settlers started to harvest the rich native timbers that grew in the New Zealand forests.

The early European explorers found the native trees were not only an ideal timber for general ship building they also found they made excellent masts for the early sailing ships. In fact, so good that many of the British Admiralty's Fleet of the era had masts crafted from New Zealand Timber.

Abel TasmanAbel Tasman in the summer of 1642-43 was the first European to visit New Zealand. It was another 125 years before the British explorer James Cook rediscovered New Zealand in 1769. By the late 1790's missionaries and traders traveling on whaling ships had started to establish communities in the north of the North Island.

Almost 50 years later in 1840 the New Zealand Company was formed and with its formation came organised immigration to New Zealand. While most of the immigrants were from the United Kingdom there were also others from Europe and Australia.

Thus began the birth of the democracy that we have today. The timber industry became big business as the rich forests were cleared and pastoral based farming flourished. Well that was the way it was for most of New Zealand. But for the South Waikato a century ago it was a very different story.