Cambridge – or Kumereti as it’s called in Maori – is in the heart of the Waikato, the second largest region for Maori population in the country.
It’s estimated that one in seven of New Zealand’s Maori live in the Waikato – that’s almost 80,000 people.
In pre-European days, the Cambridge area had a number of pa (fortified villages) and King Tawhiao, is recorded as saying: “Ko Arekahanara toku haona kaha Ko Kemureti toku oko horoi Ko Ngaruawhaia toku turangawaewae.” Translated to English, he said: “Alexandra (now known as Pirongia) is my stronghold, Cambridge is my wash basin, Ngaruawahia is my footstool.”
The name “Waikato” comes from Maori and translates as “flowing water”, a reference to Waikato River, the country’s longest (425km) which flows through Cambridge and has special spiritual meaning for Maori, especially the Tainui iwi (regional tribe).
The story of Cambridge’s history, and links with Maori, can be explored at the Cambridge Museum located in the Old Court House, 24 Victoria St. It’s open weekdays 10 – 4, Weekends and public holidays 10 – 2.
The Cambridge Community Marae is on the corner of Bracken Street and Pope Terrace, Leamington, and overlooks the Waikato River.