News of the upcoming Matakana Heritage Day on Sunday, June 19, at the Matakana Hall, has been welcomed by the Warkworth & Districts Museum. An interesting piece of Matakana history is contained in the neatly kept pages of the minute book of the Matakana Diamond Jubilee Park committee. The story is recorded of a patriotic community finding a practical way to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 by providing recreational space for future generations.
Accepting the offer of land owned by the Cruickshank brothers, the first committee paid £94 for 9-acres 1-rood 25-perches. Funds were found from subscriptions and a government grant and ongoing income came from grazing and hire charges. Conveyance of the land to the trustees took place on 10 November 1900 and by 1903, the park was debt free.
The Rodney Mounted Rifles, who applied in 1909 to erect a building to serve as an orderly room, were one of the groups to use the land. In 1910, it was resolved to erect a Kissing Gate next to the main entrance and in 1911, the Rodney Rugby Union was granted leave to charge for some matches providing that the charge was no more than sixpence, and ladies were given free admission. Tenders were called in 1918 to sow a field of oats with the condition that the land was left bare by a given date. At this time the community was mourning the loss of sons and brothers killed in World War I. Matakana people subscribed to create a suitable memorial. A New Zealand sculptor W.H. Feldon, who had also crafted the Te Arawa memorial in Rotorua, was engaged. The statue using Oamaru stone, and featuring the reigning monarch King George V, was situated close to the entrance to the village and was unveiled in December 1919.