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Matamata means ‘headland’. This was the name of a new pa established in 1830 by Te Waharoa, the famous Ngatihaua chief, on a ridge of high ground projecting into the swampy valley of the Waitoa River near Dunlop Road, a few kilometres north-west of present-day Waharoa.
Over the centuries many travellers have passed through the Matamata district and some of them have remained and settled here. In pre-European times Maori warriors paddled up the Waihou River in canoes with trading or war parties, walked over the Kaimai and Mamaku Ranges and crossed the Matamata Plains en route to the Waikato, Rotorua, Thames, Taupo or Tauranga. Flax traders, missionaries, government officials, travellers and explorers passed through the Matamata Plains on their journeys and many left records of their visits. Among them were William Colenso, Ferdinand Hochstetter, Bishop Pompalier, Bishop Selwyn and John Kinder…