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In 1916 the Government purchased James Taylor’s 12,000 acre Te Miro property for soldier settlement.
Except for 2,000 acres of run-down pasture on the top terrace, known as ‘the old race course’, the block was mainly in bush, scrub and fern. Access was by way of the Sanatorium Hill and along a clay road for four miles. Later a road via Fencourt and Flume Road was formed.
The settlement was advertised as ‘first class land adjoining Te Waikato Sanatorium and Fencourt and Whitehall settlements’. A portion was said to be suitable for dairying, the balance being grazing land suitable for sheep and cattle. The settlement was well watered by streams and springs and there was a creamery about three miles distant in the Fencourt settlement. The nearest post office was Cambridge, but there was a mail delivery five days a week at the sanatorium by a coach belonging to that establishment.
The first ballot was 27 February 1918 and the returned soldiers to receive farms were:
|Percy Wallace Sampson||5/46||68||99|
|Charles Fredr Victor Roberts||13/2363||67||10||*|
|Stephen Christopher Kiddell||13/1694||14||102|
|William Septimus Bradshaw||13/9||64||11||#|
|David Causer Mitchell||21302||2||234||#|
|Kenneth Arthur Hankins||13/801||11||160||*|
|Jas Francis Mulholland||12/3536||12||135||*|
|Herbert Oliver Lamb||23/1915||13||130||#|
|Ivan Dyche Woodroffe||5/528||15||205|
|Chas Claude Craig||12/71||30||121||*|
|Norman Reginald Davenport||R N A S||35||389||#|
|Stewart Dawson Low||12/3081||38||228|
|Alfred Ernest Jamieson||10097||39||290|
|Stephen Joseph Geary||12/737||69||361|
|William David Rennie||46859||35||787|
|William Jas Elliot||24/1651||18||181|
|John Henry Brock||17558||4||227||*|
|James Isaac Needham||26/126||27||316||*|
|Jas Henry Lonergan||2/249||28||208||*|
|Ernest Jas Evans||28||323||#|
|Henry George Rodewald||22868||22||92||#|
|Walter Robert Burr||22934||10||225||#|
|Henry Albert Print||8/4208||29||207||#|
|Frederick Ernest Walker||11/1610||69||361||#|
By 1920 nine settlers had forfeited their land * and more soldiers tried their luck.
|William Richard Shaw||13/851||36||80|
|Harold William Bennett||14/95||8, 44, 45||139|
|Oscar Johnson||26112||1, 9||434||#|
|Alan Stuart Grey||13/62||20||227|
|Reginald Willson Brown||10138||66||99|
|David Forde Livingstone||23/812||33||166|
|Jas H S Bamforth||10/954||65||102|
|Hugh Pierpont Hewitt||21152||(21)22,23,77||(142)461|
|Bernard Parker de Lautour||9/2029||32, 70||669|
|Percival John Hill||24/1077||30||121||#|
|John Henry Scarlet||34440||11||162||#|
|William Lionel de Lautour||9/30||28||208|
|Victor Harold Lynds||12/401||2/27||159||#|
|John Anderson Thompson||26717||13||130|
By 1925 another sixteen soldiers had forfeited #.
Many factors were responsible for the initial failure of the settlement and the abandonment by many soldier settlers of their farms. The main reasons were the lack of financial assistance by the government and the depression of 1921 when butter was 8d a pound and wool dropped to 6d a pound. They had to pay £80 per ton for wire while cartage cost for timber exceeded that of the material. In July 1921 the settlers again asked for a remission in rent.
Another setback was a plague of rabbits and, with deer and pigs, crops just disappeared overnight. It was not until the Maungakawa Rabbit Board was formed in 1920 that it was possible to farm more economically. Mr Bamforth, in a talk to the Cambridge Historical Society in 1958, recalled that he ‘lived in a tent for three months before building a two-roomed shack’.
A number of the soldier farmers were determined to battle on and made remarkable progress in spite of predictions that the settlement was doomed to failure.
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Researched and written by Eris Parker
Ref: Cambridge Museum Archives
National Archives Wellington
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