|Connor McGiven Dhrua Bulukhale
|Alessandra McDonald Hayden Waddell
|Criss Strange Dhruv Bulukhale
|Brett Addison Steve Sartin
|Ashleigh Sando Iain Rattray
‘When the passengers of the steam boat Rangiriri disembarked on the banks of the Waikato River on 24th August 1864 they carried with them their scant possession, their hopes, their aspirations, and one more thing, their love of athletics.’
The sport of Track and Field came to Hamilton with its first settlers, the fourth Waikato Militia in 1864. Many were recruited in Melbourne where track and field was established. The sport was generally the domain of ‘gentlemen’ as opposed to the hoi polloi and athletics was deemed to be a healthy pursuit.
The first recorded foot racing took place in 1866, some 18 months after their arrival. Then, needing something more, in 1869 they began the Hamilton Boxing Day Sports which combined an athletic meeting with a public picnic style event. The promoters were the prominent citizens and civic leaders. This event went on to become a major entertainment event in Hamilton over the next 40 years. The sports had their own general meeting, elected officers and bank accounts. Using the 1869 beginning, we are the oldest club in the country.
In 1893, prominent citizen C.J.W. Barton moved to change the name of the group to Hamilton Athletic Club. The club ran two major meetings per year – Boxing Day and Queens Birthday. Races were on handicap and cash prizes were offered.
The club strived through many eras and struggled through others.
Pre WWI was busy and active but ranks were decimated by the war. In the 1920s the club struggled to re-establish. In the 1930s the club thrived and was one of the most prominent sports in Hamilton only to suffer from war years again in the 1940s.
The seed of an idea in the 1930s gathered momentum in the 1950s and by 1970 resulted in the opening of Porritt Stadium in 1970. In 1998 Hamilton Athletic Club became Hamilton City Hawks.
Through the years the club has maintained a prominent position locally, nationally and internationally. The club has produced quality leadership, coaches and athletes.
For further reading, see The Centenary History of Hamilton Athletic Club. Copies in Hamilton public library.