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For the settlement near Turangi, see Waihi Village.
Not to be confused with Waihi Beach.
Waihi
Town
A view from North Waihi looking south down main street.
A view from North Waihi looking south down main street.
Country  New Zealand
Region Waikato
Territorial authority Hauraki District
Population (2013 census)
 • Territorial 4,527
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)

Waihi is a town in Hauraki District in the North Island of New Zealand, especially notable for its history as a gold mine town. It had a population of 4,527 at the 2013 census.[1]

The town is at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula, close to the western end of the Bay of Plenty. The nearby resort town of Waihi Beach, ten kilometres to the east, is often regarded as the westernmost point of the Bay of Plenty region. To the west are the hills of the Kaimai Ranges. Road access from this direction is through the winding Karangahake Gorge road. Waihi has an unusually wet and damp microclimate for New Zealand's east coast with an average annual rainfall of 2147 mm.

Waihi is located in New Zealand
Waihi
Waihi
Location of Waihi

History[edit]

Early times[edit]

Mining
Main article: Martha Mine

Waihi is located in the Coromandel district, which was one of the great gold mining districts of the world. The township grew around the mining operations since the discovery of gold in 1878 by prospectors John McCombie and Robert Lee. The samples of rock they had sent to be assayed were not considered worthwhile, so they left the area.[citation needed]

Their claim was taken over by William Nicholl in 1879. He marked out 5 acres (20,000 m2), calling his claim 'Martha' after a family member.[2] Several smaller claims were later merged to form the Martha Company. By 1882 the first battery to break gold-bearing rock was in operation. The Martha Mine eventually grew into one of the world's most important gold and silver mines, after industrial cyanide processes made recovering gold from the low-grade ores easier. Waihi prospered with the mine, by 1908 being the fastest-growing town in the Auckland Province, three times the size of Hamilton.[2]

Waihi was also a major centre of union unrest in New Zealand during the early years of the 20th century. The 1912 miners' strike led to violence, including the death of unionist Fred Evans in an incident which still causes some resentment in the town.

Martha Mine, Waihi

By 1952, when the mighty Martha Mine closed, around 5.6 million ounces (174,160 kg) of gold and 38.4 million ounces (1,193,180 kg) of silver had been produced from 11,932,000 tonnes of ore.[3] Mining stopped in 1952 after a total of 160 km of tunnels had been driven into the quartz of Martha Hill,[4] not because the Martha had run out of gold, but rather because of fixed gold prices, lack of manpower, and increasing costs.[citation needed] Mining in the Coromandel Peninsula had otherwise ceased by the 1980s.[5]

However, mining later resumed, with some protests against it during the 1987 consent process.[citation needed] Plans to stop operations in the 2000s were eventually shelved as well, and the Newmont Mining corporation is currently (2009) actively investing in extending the further economic life of the mine and the underground operations in nearby Favona. As of 2009, the mine comprises about 25-30% of the local economy.[6]

Railways

In November 1905, a branch line railway was opened to Waihi from Paeroa; this eventually evolved into the East Coast Main Trunk Railway, which reached Taneatua in 1928. By the 1960s, traffic volumes for the port of Tauranga had outgrown the capacity of the circuitous line through Waihi and a deviation to the south was built. It opened in 1978, making the line through Waihi redundant, but the Goldfields Railway was established to save the six kilometres of railway between Waihi and Waikino. The railway continues to operate today and is a popular tourist attraction.

Counterculture era[edit]

The Nambassa festival in 1979.

In the 1970s Waihi saw a large influx of hippies in search of environmentally friendly alternative lifestyles settle there and around the Waikino area. These young counterculture proponents bought with them numerous cottage industries which helped supplement Waihi's economy. The Nambassa rock and alternative festivals were held around Waihi and Waikino between 1975 and 1982, increasing the population by around 10,000-75,000 for a few days each year and bringing revenue to the town. Temporary tent cities were established on the Northern end of Waihi on farms up Landlyst Rd at Golden Valley, to accommodate festival goers.

Recent history[edit]

In the late 1980s a new open pit started operations over the top of the old underground mine. This operation is nearing its completion, however recent plans to cutback the pit wall have postponed the promised lake and recreational area. A new underground mine called Favona is in operation near the processing plant to the east of Waihi. The mining company have stated that it is impossible to create the lake while underground operations are occurring near the site because the low-level water table connects with the underground mine which has to be de-watered.

In the late 1990s several properties had to be condemned and roads permanently closed after the land under them subsided as a result of the collapse of old underground mine workings, with visible holes and cracks on the surface. In December 2001, a home adjacent to Martha Pit collapsed into historical workings, 14 neighbouring homes were affected, some never able to return to get personal belongings. Another 31 homes were also bought once more areas were identified to be at high, medium or low risk of collapse into historical workings adjacent to the pit. Today the mine's smoko room sits near this site. Noise, dust, blasting vibrations continue to cause stress for some residents as operations in the pit continue. The iconic Pumphouse has been moved to ensure its safety which also allows for the mine pit to be widened and more gold retrieved from the site the pumphouse was housed.

Mine management has received positive responses for its rigorous environmental effects control procedures and its commitment to the local community in terms of consultation and financial assistance. This has, amongst other things, led to the mine management company, Newmont-Waihi, receiving the 'Advanced Sustainable Business Award' from Environment Waikato, the Regional Council of the area.[7] Despite all these attempts some of the mine's neighbours do not qualify for compensation for the mine's impact.

A replica of the famous Waihi Poppet Head, situated at the Northern End of Waihi Township.

Mining remains the major employer in the area thanks to the company postponing the long promised mine closure and lake formation in 2007. Newmont will stay until 2017 when consents expire, unless they find more resources when they will apply to stay. Until the electrical appliance industry was deregulated in New Zealand in the 1980s, Waihi had a television assembly plant operated first by Akrad then by Philips which employed 400 locally and 1500 nationwide.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 2013 Census QuickStats about a place:Waihi
  2. ^ a b Gold Fever (from the 'History & Heritage' section of the 'Waihi.org' website)
  3. ^ "Waihi's Gold",NEWMONT, The Gold Company
  4. ^ Engineering to 1990 - IPENZ, Engineering Publications Co Ltd, Page 15
  5. ^ "Conservation land could be mined - Govt". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Martha mine may test goodwill, says report - The Dominion Post, Saturday 14 March 2009, Page C7
  7. ^ Getting it right for the Waihi community - Business North, July 2007, Page 19

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°23′S 175°50′E / 37.383°S 175.833°E / -37.383; 175.833


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waihi — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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6011 news items

Stuff.co.nz

Stuff.co.nz
Wed, 29 Apr 2015 15:46:52 -0700

However OceanaGold has since been examining ways to extend the mines' lives and improve its New Zealand operations' profitability and has now announced the Waihi purchase which is subject to due diligence, signing a definitive purchase agreement ...
 
Stuff.co.nz
Tue, 12 May 2015 14:25:34 -0700

Emergency services were called to deal with the loose livestock that were skittled by a vehicle on State Highway 2, north of Waihi, about 2.45am Wednesday. Waihi Fire Chief Moe Stevens said about a dozen cows had wandered from a nearby paddock onto ...

Waikato Times

Waikato Times
Tue, 05 May 2015 02:03:53 -0700

Up to 150,000 old tyres abandoned at a Frankton depot are being trucked somewhere in Waihi and Taupo. Hamilton ratepayers are forking out $260,000 to have the tyres removed after a Hamilton business tasked with disposing of the used tyres went bust.

Newstalk ZB

Newstalk ZB
Thu, 07 May 2015 20:23:47 -0700

It's been open for less than a year, but the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre is already winning accolades. The centre has just won the Best Visitor Experience award at this year's New Zealand Museum Awards. Waihi Gold Discovery Centre General Manager ...

Waikato Times

Waikato Times
Wed, 06 May 2015 17:36:37 -0700

A battle between youth and experience is shaping up in Saturday's Nugget Multisport Festival at Waihi Beach. Tauranga's Dwarne Farley is back to defend his title in the signature event, which consists of a 33-kilometre road cycle, 10km, kayak, 12km run ...

SunLive

SunLive
Sat, 02 May 2015 20:10:39 -0700

OceanaGold Corporation will stump up US$101 million (NZ$132 million) in cash, plus customary adjustments, to acquire the Waihi Gold Mine. It was announced this week the multinational corporation had signed a non-binding Letter of Intent to acquire the ...

Seeking Alpha

Engineering & Mining Journal
Tue, 05 May 2015 06:41:15 -0700

Newmont Mining Corp. plans to sell Newmont Waihi Gold Ltd. to OceanaGold Corp. for $101 million in cash, a $5 million contingent payment, and a 1% net smelter royalty on a recent discovery north of Waihi's current operations. “Our agreement with ...
 
MiningNews.net (subscription)
Wed, 29 Apr 2015 17:53:59 -0700

OceanaGold buys Newmont's Waihi. Thursday, 30 April 2015. Kristie Batten. MELBOURNE-based OceanaGold Corporation has signed a deal with Newmont Mining to acquire its Waihi gold mine in New Zealand for $US101 million ($A126.1 million) in cash.
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