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Building Pride and a Sense of Belonging - Jim Barnett Reserve


Providing well presented information about a region’s history and significance builds pride and a sense of belonging. In a regional context encouraging visitors and locals to visit and learn about some of the more curious beliefs and challenges along with the leaders that influenced events can promote a days outing where the past can come to life and make a new generation all the wiser.


Jim Barnett reserve, at Waotu, is on the outskirts of Putāruru amongst some of the most fertile land in the Waikato. The reserve offers an abundance of natural habitat that attracts native birds. Ten walking tracks weave throughout the reserve and an enclosed camping area enables families and visitors to enjoy the peace and quiet for more than just a moments reflection.

The supporters of the reserve wanted to ensure that some of the stories and personalities of the area could be part of the experience. They initially gained support from South Waikato District Council but needed additional funds to ensure that a substantial new Memorial Shelter with informative history panels could be developed. SWIFT provided the balance required and the design and content of the new panels was made possible.


SWIFT funding has secured the Memorial Shelter and six information panels that will record for posterity the humble and hard-working beginnings of Waotu. This enduring record will ensure that the local community and visitors alike never lose sight of the pioneering people and the land based industry that attracted families to the area with its local school providing a pivot for the community to grow and prosper.


Waotu Area
A map depicting (small) “Waotu” superimposed over the old (large) “Waotu” with an explanation of why the area ‘shrank’.

Early Maori in Waotu
Information about local Trusts, iwi, land ownership, and reference to Pikitu Marae.

Farming history in Waotu
How dairy farming operations have developed over time, including a reference to the impact of bush sickness.

Forestry History in Waotu
Logging, the local sawmill and transportation of logs. The shape of the Memorial Shelter was based on a photo of the Waotu sawmill.

Te Waotu School History
The school’s early start as a ‘native’ Maori school through to today, also delving into local personality Clara Hazzard, its first teacher.

The group who developed the Jim Barnett Reserve, and enabled its protection as a unique tract of native forest and bush. Reference to conservationist Gordon Stephenson, the leader of the original group, will be included. A Memorial Wall will also be included within the shelter.