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World War One – Te Miro Soldier Settlement

In 1916 the Government purchased James Taylor’s 1,200 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:

Name Army Number Section Acres
Percy Wallace Sampson 5/46 68 99
Frank Keyte 17/105 17 193
Charles Fredr Victor Roberts 13/2363 67 10 *
Stephen Christopher Kiddell 13/1694 14 102
Alfred Bergquist 13/257 5 226 #
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
Cochrane Ferrall 7/1068 66 99
Stephen Joseph Geary 12/737 69 361
William David Rennie 46859 35 787
George Moore 2/907 40 98
Samual Neels 4/655 10 225 *
William Jas Elliot 24/1651 18 181
Alexander McInnes 11/2768 26 233
John Henry Brock 17558 4 227 *
Robert Brinkworth 13725 16 103 *
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 #
William McKee 23020 7 226 #
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
Hardrood Mackinder 17/384 34 564
Oscar Johnson 26112 1, 9 434 #
Alan Stuart Grey 13/62 20 227
Reginald Willson Brown 10138 66 99
Harold Kidd 42124 31 332 #
Andrew Curnow 29 207
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
Andrew Christie 25261 1 227
Percival John Hill 24/1077 30 121 #
Bessie Keyte 22/134 14 102
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
Archibald Paton 15766 41 79

 

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By 1925 another sixteen soldiers had forfeited #.

Ref: Register of Returned Soldiers at National Archives Wellington

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 over night. 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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