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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Hard Graft: The Story of the Dairy Flat Community by Lynnette Third

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

Hard Graft is a lively history of Dairy Flat, that combines eight years of research and interviews with old identities from the area, with an excellent flair for telling a great story. There is nothing dry and dusty about this history – it’s engaging and full of personalities – and it’s beautifully presented.

Today Dairy Flat is an easy drive from Auckland central, a country location with lifestyle blocks and beautiful homes. But back in the mid-19th century, a trip from Auckland could take several days. Back then, Dairy Flat was the domain of itinerant gumdiggers and foresters before settler families tamed the land and planted vineyards, wheat fields, grassland and fruit trees. A small community with a school and businesses was founded, and a community was established.

Drawing on research that includes material from the Alexander Turnbull Library, the book is richly illustrated with historic photographs and old documents. From gumdiggers to remittance men, from the early years, the post-war optimism of the 1940s, the change and prosperity of the 1950s and 60s, through to the 1970s and 80s boom and bust years, Hard Graft covers a lot of ground.

There are tales of colourful characters like Maurice Kelly, who established a pub, church, cemetery and bush settlement – and stories of many long residing families. Dairy Flat is a community founded on hard graft, with stories of trial and tribulation, but also lots of fun and camaraderie.

Hard Graft is a handsome book that is lovingly researched and beautifully written, one that all local people will enjoy and it is a book for anyone interested in New Zealand history.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

You can purchase a copy from the Trust, email:


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