A Favoured Region
Of all New Zealand regions Waikato-Hauraki is today the most favoured; a fortunate combination of soil, rainfall, and sunshine have assisted it to become one of the largest and most productive dairying districts. Its proximity to the port of Auckland has been a favourable factor in its development, but equally important has been the stimulation its development has received from the dynamic economy of the Auckland area. The increasing importance of the region in the nation's economy is revealed by the rapid rate of population growth since the turn of the century; and the manner in which Hamilton has risen from a small town of 1,284 persons in 1896 to become the leading city outside of the four main centres, is but one of the more striking aspects of this growth. The pre-eminence of the region is, however, relatively recent, the expansion and intensification of settlement having been retarded by the disturbances of the Maori Wars and then by the agronomic problems posed by the establishment of a dairying industry upon poorly drained, low-lying soils or upon volcanic soils displaying mineral deficiencies.
On the generalised soil map of New Zealand, the Waikato-Hauraki region is made one of the most distinctive regions by the expanse of yellow-brown loams derived from volcanic ash and by the concentration of peaty and gley soils in the Hauraki Plains and around the extensive swamp areas of the Waikato. These yellow-brown loams are easily worked, friable, open soils, demanding fertilisers and consolidation before they can carry first-class pastures. When these conditions are obtained, together with the warm climate of the region, they permit rapid spring growth and high productivity per acre. Both the organic and gley soils have high water tables and consequently need draining before they can support livestock. The organic or peaty soils demand particular care, for where the peats are acid overdrainage can spoil the soil structure. They require a recognition of local characteristics and careful fertiliser and stocking practices for successful farming.