Gore Heritage


Gore's distinctive heritage has helped shape the character of its community, and while its physical landscape is dominated by the Hokonui hills and shaped by the Mataura River, the human face of the district reflects a variety of settler groups.

Known to southern Maori as Maruawai (Valley of Water), the Mataura River valley has been a valued trade route and food gathering site for over 800 years.  While the late 18th and early 19th centuries saw struggles of ascendancy between factions of Kati Mamoe and Kai Tahu, the only serious threat from the north came by way of a Ngati Tama raiding party under Te Puoho, which was successfully repelled at Tuturau by southerners in 1834.

The first Scottish settlers arrived in 1855, and since then the landscape has progressively developed from tussock, bush and native wetlands to accommodate lush farmland and a host of small rural settlements.  The largest of these was initially established around a convenient ford on the Mataura River, but latterly expanded with the construction of the railway in 1875. This township was originally made up of two hosted settlements situated on either side of the river (Gordon and Longford) but these latterly amalgamated to become 'Gore'  - named after New Zealand Governor Colonel Thomas Gore-Browne. The town of Gore was officially constituted in 1882, with the district's second largest town, Mataura, constituted in 1895.

Settlers brought with them some notable cultural attributes; a liking for illicit (Hokonui) whiskey, a passion for brown trout fishing and a love of both indoor and outdoor recreation.  These, along with the discovery of gold, have contributed to a colourful regional heritage. To this end the district has developed a remarkable cultural and recreational infrastructure that celebrates this heritage, while providing a treasure trove of facilities and activities for the visitor to enjoy.