Matamata Heritage Trail
A plantation reserve was first surveyed in 1904. In 1939 and 1940 trees were planted to mark the centenary of New Zealand, but the area was neglected during WW II. In 1956 the Centennial Drive Development Society was formed to develop the area into a park with the assistance of local voluntary groups. It was transformed into a botanical park with an extensive collection of trees, many of them labeled with their names. The Drive contains several rocks representing the district’s geology. Regular planting, pruning and maintenance is continued with the co-operation of the Matamata Piako District Council.
Progress through drive
In 1993, Women’s Suffrage Year, this magnolia grove was planted to honour Viola Bell, MBE, BA. and her contribution to educational, cultural and sporting life of the Matamata district. Vi Bell had lived in Matamata from 1925 until 1984, first as a senior teacher at Matamata College and secondly as a leader in the community in the Basketball (later Netball) Association, the Dramatic Society, the Matamata Public Library and the Matamata Centennial Drive Society. She had planted in this area a Magnolia Campbellii “Charles Raffill” before she left Matamata, so it was felt to be a fitting place to develop a project in her honour. A plaque was unveiled on a rock of Waiteariki Ignimbrite from the Kaimai Range (age 2 million years).
The pergola and a memorial seat for the Crabb Family was completed in 1974 together with a sundial commemorating the Rose Society silver jubilee. Two years later the waterfall feature was built and a rose garden planted in 1978. The rocks here are of greywacke, a marine sedimentary rock from Taotaoroa Road (ago 140 million years).
New Zealand native trees have been planted in this block since 1939 including kauri, rimu, totara and golden kowhai. The fernery was started 1957 and was enlarged and improved in 1997. There is a walkway through the fernery and a wide variety of ferns can be seen here. This area has been renamed The John McCaw Native Blcok to commemorate an early settler and leader in Matamata District, 1895-1917. A plaque is attached to a cairn of rocks made of Kiwitahi Andesite (age 5 million years) from a farm owned by a McCaw descendant.
This totara was planted in August 1939 by Rangi Thompson in memory of his great great grandfather Wiremu Tamihana Tarapipipi Te Waharoa, a chief of the Ngati haua.