Sunday, April 5, 2009

Matamata 6: the other part of Centennial Drive

The northern part of Matamata's Centennial Drive doesn't have anywhere near the heritage features as the older one I posted about earlier. It is, of course, much newer: the older part dates from a plantation reserve set aside by Matamata's early settlement town planning, in 1904, and enhanced for the nation's centennial by later volunteer efforts. The new one was set aside as a reserve only when adjacent residential areas were subdivided around the 1970s-1980s and up to 1997 wasn't open for its entire length. As with the other walk, I went round in the opposite direction with what the guidesheet advised.

The first spot you come across is the Jim Gardiner Grove. The raised bed around the seat must take a lot of maintenance. A wild beer bottle had sprouted the day I passed by.

The grove is in honour of a local horticulturalist, and was so named in 1989. Essntially, though, it is a short footpath between some trees. If the raised bed was planted out, that might look quite pretty (of course, the plants may be gone in a twinkling, if some folk down in Matamata are anything like some here in Auckland ...

It would be a nice place to sit and dream, though.

Founders' Park. I had hopes for this place. It was dedicated as Founders' Memorial Park on 15 December 1965 "as a memorial to Wiremu Tamihana, Rev. Alfred Brown, and Josiah Firth.

There's supposed to be a Kate Sheppard Camellia Garden here, and a plaque for the centenary of NZ women's suffrage, 1893-1993. I found neither. But, the trees are lovely.

The sign saying "Tom Grant Drive" utterly threw me: had I come all this way, just to get lost in the wilds of Matamata suburbia? No -- this, at the Tawari Street end, is the entrance to the northern part of Centennial Drive. This really is the official name, as per the sign.
"In 2007, after receiving a petition and undertaking community consultation, Matamata-Piako District Council formally adopted the change of name from Centennial Drive North to Tom Grant."
I wish the brochure told me that (but it probably hadn't been updated). Top marks for the sign and the garden around it -- very attractive.

This is about as close as the Tom Grant Drive gets to being anything like its older counterpart. Beyond here ...

... it's mainly like this. Grassy open spaces, a long and winding urban reserve.

The course of subdivision and residential development for Matamata proceeds. In a few years, the view above will be full of new housing, probably close up to the fence and gate -- which, of course, will no longer be there.
Another sign of the times -- farm buildings and structures, with the backdrop of residential development.

Nothing much else to say about Centennial Drive North. It's a fairly long walk, there are few memorial structures like cairns or plaques, and mainly it's just a nice pleasant walk. I think they should separate it from the older drive and adjacent heritage spots. It really isn't much of a heritage trail sort of area -- unless, of course, they followed Olympic Park's lead from up here and popped in some artworks for people to find while they stroll.


  1. They are great photos, Lisa, thanks for sharing :)
    You obviously have the driven development curse like we do in Melb - whole suburbs littered with cheek-by-jowl housing estates springing up overnight!

  2. Aye. We see it especially in Auckland, on the outskirts -- but to see suburbia spreading in Tauranga and Matamata (both associated -- the new residents seem to be ex-Aucklanders in the main) is a bit sad. I hope it doesn't change either place too much.

  3. Great Post Ice. Love the photos and the commentary. Yeah I see the urban sprawl knocking the rural doorstep there...