Author David Grant

David R Grant BA, BD, ThM, was born in Rotorua in 1940 and moved with his family to a dairy farm on the Glen Eden River at Matakana in 1942.

After attending Matakana School and Warkworth District High School he began a building apprenticeship with local building firm Roke and Smith. The family moved to South Auckland in 1958 and David completed his apprenticeship in Papatoetoe.

In 1964 he began his training as a Presbyterian minister in Dunedin and Princeton, New Jersey, graduating in 1972.  After living in Auckland, the United States, Feilding, Palmerston North, Hamilton and Dunedin he retired back to the Mahurangi in 2003, after 30 years of ministry. 

David has three adult children and lives with his wife, Alison.

Matakana today

From the Book "We Gathered Here" ....

The River – the Bridges

Matakana at War

The Matakana Co-operative Dairy Company

See the Author's commentary about the Matakana Wharf

See the Author's commentary about the First Post Office in Matakana

Beginnings of Matakana ..

In 1859, Alexander Campbell writes to his parents near Glasgow and says ‘We left Auckland by small boat about 7 at night and got here by 12.  We entered a river called the Matakana creek and at the head of this lies the block of land. 

We crossed about a quarter of a mile over fern land to the edge of the forest where the block commences....  On reaching it we had a sort of “warrie” put up with sticks and thatched with nikau.  A neighbour brought our provisions with his bullocks and sledge from the creek to the edge of the bush....’

Matakana Hall Opening

The opening of the second hall,
5 January 1886

There are wonderful initiatives for creating a life-giving community in Matakana.  They are the private enclaves of mutual interest like the Playcentre, the Matakantata Choir, the frequent group visits to the coffee shop, the Anglican Church Community, the Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Matakana Community Group, the vendors at the Matakana Market and the Farmers’ Market, the Community Garden, the frequent (as opposed to casual) Pub community, the Pony Club, the Tennis Club and the School.

Matakana Township

Matakana Township from Green Road, 2017. 
Tamahunga is the double peak in the background

In the days before reliable roads, the head of the tidal river was the main point of entry into the settlement and was a vital gathering place for settlers – their conduit to the outside world; all incoming and outgoing passengers, mail, exports and imports, information and news came via...

Bridges are not gathering places but they are the necessary links between them. 
There have been five bridges over the Matakana River in the township.  The first was built by early settlers at their own expense around 1860.  The second bridge was built behind where the old Matakana Dairy Company building now stands in November 1873.  This bridge was replaced in 1898 by a third bridge, at the level of the current buildings where the Farmers Market now meets. 

Matakana Bridge

The Matakana War Memorial is the only tangible link Matakana has to the World Wars. 
The memorial and the names inscribed on it, which Matakana residents have gathered around intermittently since December 1919 stands year after year in static splendour.

The new concrete 1916 bridge, which used the original 1898 abutments

Matakana War Memorial Unveiling

Unveiling the repaired war memorial,
23 April 2015.

In the early months of 1902 a decision was made to open a dairy factory at Matakana instead of Warkworth.  The poor roads in the district at the time, which were little more than dirt tracks at best, and dray-axle deep mud at worst, presented immense difficulties for the Co-operative, and threatened its viability in the early days.  In October 1914 the factory was turning out seven tons of butter per week.  Matakana butter was well known for its very high quality and it won a number of cups in winter shows throughout the North Island.

Matakana Co-op Dairy Company

The opening of the Matakana Co-operative Dairy Factory, 10 December 1902.

In 1906 the company had set up a trading department to provide farm goods to suppliers.   A new Matakana Co-operative Dairy Company store was built in 1955 by Roke and Smith, and was opened in September of that year by my father C J C (Roy) Grant, who was chairman of the company.  It was my mother, Gwladys’ job to cut the ribbon and the cake. 

Matakana War Memorial

The Matakana War Memorial before it was moved to its present location in 2006

What are people saying about the book ? .....

I am about half way through the book and am impressed because it combines a lot of detailed interesting facts with a readable writing style.  I am also thinking - 'How did David do all that research?  A lot of hard work and mental alertness required!' Thanks for the book and pass this on to Helen and others involved in contributing to the final product.  


Congratulations on your production of such a great book,  It is an excellent publication which will set a bench mark for any other studies of the area which may follow it.  I am ordering another copy to send to my good friend who  lived at the end of Greens Road on the water front for a while and still owns land there.

If I have any criticism it is that I find that the soft cover makes for a difficult read in bed!



I would like to tell you I am enjoying the book very much.  Although I read quite fast normally, for non-fiction I like to dwell on the words. So I only read chapter at a time and only when I get a chance. 


We live in the hills above Matakana Valley Road and enjoy a great view to the village, across to Sharp Rd and a bit of the lower river and out to Kawau Bay. So I enjoy reading through and looking across at the various places and imagining the various places, events and people of our past. And a glass or two of wine in contemplation. So thanks for putting in a great effort in research and writing- all very professional  and fascinating. 



Just a note of congratulations on such a fantastic record of local history.  I can only imagine the work involved over the last few years!  No doubt the next project has already started.


Well done and thank you for this great, historical account.  



Warmest congratulations on the launch of your history of the Matakana area.  A labour of love, no doubt, but still a daunting talk.  We are most impressed with your achievement.


Congratulations on this wonderful achievement.  A truly magnificent piece of writing and editing to create a work of outstanding quality.  A credit to you both.


Well done on a mission accomplished.  You have done an amazing job which will be appreciated by so many people.