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Joseph Pohlen

Joseph Pohlen was born in 1872 at Harapepe, north of Te Awamutu, where he also went to school. At the age of 14, Joseph demonstrated a passion for horse racing and at 16 Joseph Pohlen became the President of the Matamata, Te Aroha and Ohinemuri Racing Clubs. He held this position from 1942-1959. He was also President of the Matamata Cricket Club and the Matamata Citizens Band to which he donated the Pohlen Cup. This cup is still competed for today.

Farming was his livelihood and in 1898 Joseph Pohlen, with the assistance of a friend, was able to acquire the leasehold of a block of 320 acres. This land was situated in the newly opened Ōkauia Estate, on the foothills of the Kaimai Range, near Matamata. It was difficult land to farm and after eight years he disposed of this land. In 1906 he acquired the leasehold of 300 acres near the town of Matamata, on what is now Mangawhero Road. Farming lead him to the Agricultural and Pastoral Show which he then became secretary of and eventually a life member.

A devout Catholic, the day Joseph or Joe Pohlen arrived in Matamata in 1898 he joined the Catholic parish of the Church of the Holy Angels. He gave £190,000 to the parish and also helped to repair St Josephs Primary School

Eventually Joe Pohlen retired from his farm in Mangawhero Road to a house in Matamata but he still retained his interest in the community, attending race days and the Matamata Band contests every year to present the Pohlen Cup. He also agreed to have Pohlen Park named in his honour and often went to local events such as St Joseph's Calf Club Day.

Before he died he gave £180,000 towards the building of a public hospital which was not finished until after his death.

Photo credit:

"Pohlen History - POHLEN HOSPITAL." 2013. 11 Nov. 2014 <http://www.pohlen.co.nz/Pohlen-History>

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