Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962
NOTES COLLECTED BY L. P. WHEELER
WESLEY METHODIST CHURCH
Irregular Wesleyan services were held in 1891 by Rev. John Law in the Central schoolroom. Later St. James' Hall was used. 1897 Mrs Chapman offered the Haszard Street site on which a church was built in 1898 for £300. It was opened for worship the day after the arrival of Rev. Wiliam Beckett, the first Wesleyan minister appointed to Waihi. Enlarged and renovated in 1913 after the union of Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists, it was re-opened in 1914 by Rev. T. G. Carr, and is the present Wesley Church.
Primitive Methodism began in mid-1895 when Miss Sarah Evans held services in the open air and in the Mission Hall, now St. James'. In November of that year Mr George P. Hunt came as a hired local preacher, to hold his first service in a blacksmith's shop where the Bank of New Zealand now stands. Services were held in the Thames Miners' Union Hall until its destruction by fire in 1897.
Zion Church was built in Rosemont Road (the site now occupied by J. P. Gamble Ltd.) in 1898. It was moved in 1904 to a larger site in Kenny Street where it remained till 1921 when it settled finally in Haszard Street as the present Wesley Hall. Rev. John Olphert, who was minister at the formation of the Waihi Borough, is remembered for outstanding service to both church and community, and was appointed for a second term as minister of the United Church in 1917.
The Primitive Methodists united with the Wesleyans in 1913. Rev. G. P. Hunt, then at Thames, introduced the Wesleyan minister, Rev. T. Fee, as the first pastor of the Waihi United Methodist Church.
The depression years formed a difficult period but the coming of a young ordained minister, Rev. Reg. Day, ushered in a new outlook. He is well-remembered, having been a member of the Borough Council. Although the uncertain future of the mine coloured the prospect, the Church's work has continued on much the same pattern, with youth work, Ladies' Guilds, and services in outlying areas, particularly Hikuai, Opoutere and Whangamata. A new parsonage was erected in Tauranga Road, and plans are a-foot for a new hall.
Outstanding Lay Folk in the Church
Mr and Mrs Trembath — Very early period Wesleyans. Mr Trembath laid the foundation stone of Wesley Church.
Mr J. B. Beeche and Mr F. Paltridge both gave long years of consecrated service.
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
The original St. John's Church was built in 1894, enlarged in 1897 and until 1901 was under the charge of the Rev. Wilson of Paeroa.
The first resident vicar was the Rev. T. Eyken, followed by W. F. Cover and A. S. Buckland (1903-1909). The foundation stone for the present St. John's Church was laid on January 10, 1960 [1906 – E] by Lord Plunket, who at that time was Governor of New Zealand. A document dated April 10th., 1907, signed by A. T. Kenrick as treasurer, shows that the contract price for the building was £996 and with extras came to £1154. A total of £904 had been raised by Parishioners, the balance of £250 being taken as debentures by Messrs Barry and Gooch.
Later Vicars were G. W. Smales, P. Cleary, E. Fletcher, R. L. Connolly, E. E. Bamford, M.A., G. R. Bamett, M.A., Canon E. S. Wayne, H. J. Williams, Canon J. L. A. Kayll, E. L. B. Gribble, W. H. Moore, and J. D. W. Raine, M.A. (1950-1953). The present Parish Hall, commenced in 1947 was dedicated by the Bishop of Waikato, the Rt. Rev. J. T. Holland in October, 1962. It was the result of untiring work done by Mr W. G. Brown and his family together with Mr W. Feather. W. D. Whelan was the next vicar followed by J. H. Maunsell and D. C. Beauchamp (1961). A new Vicarage has replaced the original one on the same site in Gilmour Street and was dedicated on May 14th., 1961.
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The first service was held at a very early date, the Rev. McIntosh travelling across from Te Aroha, other ministers later coming from as far afield as Coromandel. In 1896 a Church Hall was erected, the first minister being the Rev. Bates, who also took services at Katikati, Waitekauri, Waikino and Whangamata. In 1903 the Rev. Pattullo began to raise funds for a new Church and this was opened in 1905. Other ministers were W. White, G. W. Lochore, F. Tucker, H. B. Gray and J. D. McFarlane (1925-32).
During this period the Church music took a very prominent place and many programmes were given with a guest conductor from Auckland. Also, each Sunday evening the Church orchestra played from 6.30 to a capacity congregation. Other Ministers were A. Marshalls, A. Spears, G. T. Hughes, A. Keller, W. R. Lapsley and L. W. More, who commenced his ministry in 1959. The Church at Waihi Beach was built by voluntary labour and opened in 1960.
THE BAPTIST CHURCH
On the 18th day of September, 1903, the Waihi Baptist Church was founded, with a foundation membership of 15. On the 18th September, 1962, the membership was 65. During the years the Church has had 23 Ministers and four student Pastors to assist in the Ministry.
An interesting item is that the late Mr Samuel H. Brown was secretary from 1910 to 1948 and also treasurer from 1911 to 1945. This is surely a record for Christian service.
Today the Waihi Baptist Church owns the section on the comer of Kenny and Gilmour Streets and it is planned to erect a modern Church building and youth hall in the near future, the old building in Seddon Street having been sold. Also within a few months it is intended to commence an All-age Sunday School, where both children and adults will be given instructions in Biblical teachings. This has proved successful in other areas and will do likewise in Waihi.
In the future Waihi Baptist Church will continue to progress as it has in the past.
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
In the earlier days of the little settlement of Waihi the Catholic population was attended by the Parish Priest from Paeroa, Father McCormick. Then, in 1896 a church with accommodation for 150 persons was built at the corner of what is now Seddon Street and Devon Street, near the bank of the stream and was administered by that well-remembered personality Rev. Dean Hackett, of Paeroa.
An important milestone in the history of the Church was reached when, in 1901, the district was established as a Parish in its own right with the coming of the first Parish Priest, Father Matt Brodie. In 1903 there was much joy when the Convent School was opened and the Sisters of Mercy took up their residence in the Convent to commence that service of devotion for the many children who have passed through their hands down the years.
A few years later the present church was erected to serve a large and growing Catholic congregation. This was achieved largely through the zeal of Father Brodie. Father Brodie was highly esteemed by members of all faiths in Waihi and when, in 1913, he was appointed as Bishop of Christchurch, the town regretted his departure although they rejoiced at his appointment. He remained in Christchurch until his death in 1945. His successor in Waihi was the scholarly priest Father George Wright.
In 1921 Father John O'Hara took up his duties as Parish Priest and remained until 1935, to be followed by Father Hyde, Father Doyle and Father Ryan. There in 1937 came the well loved Father Carl von Rotter who is still remembered for his kindness and understanding during his years in the district. When in 1950 the illness which eventually caused his death caused him to leave the Parish Father Michael Crawford remained in charge until the arrival of Father James O'Connor — Father Donnelly, who came as Curate to Father O'Connor, did a tremendous amount of work for young people during his five years in Waihi and was the prime mover in the establishment of the Waihi Youth Club which has proved a very valuable adjunct to youth work in the town. On Father O'Connor's departure in 1957 he was succeeded by the present Parish Priest, Father Donal Hayes. During the absence overseas of Father Hayes the Parish is being administered by Father James Shannahan.
To meet the changes of the years Churches have been built at Katikati (1952), Waihi Beach (1959) and Whangamata (1961). And so the Catholic Church has grown and matured with the district of which it is a part.
THE SALVATION ARMY
The Salvation Army, Waihi Corps was opened on the 1st August, 1985 [1895 – E]. Brother J. Walsh was the first Salvationist to come to the district in search of work, and many times he stood in the streets in the evenings and on Sundays proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. This small beginning brought about the appointment of Captain Foster Kells and Lieutenant Kitchingham.
The meetings were held for a few years in Tanner's Hall, but in 1899 on the site of the present hall, a building was erected. At the time of building the hall Seddon Street was not properly formed and after it was completed 10 more steps had to be added, making 13 in all.
The original building was destroyed by fire and in 1909 the present hall was erected. The late Mr Arthur Lindsey was the first convert to become a Salvationist. Mrs E. Thompson of Kenny Street, has been a soldier of the Corps since 31st January, 1898 and has a very clear recollection of the early day events. The Waihi Band has always been active in the Corps life and today has 19 members. Bandmaster Cyril Hewson has been the conductor for many years. Bert Carylon being perhaps best known of all the present bandsmen can spin many a yarn of yesteryear. Perhaps most famous amongst those who have left Waihi for elsewhere are the Scotney Brothers, Tom and Albert, who arrived in 1896 and left the next year for the Training Garrison in Melbourne. The late Albert Scotney gave service in New Zealand and Australia and became a Lieutenant-Colonel.
The Corps carries out a very full programme of weekly activity. The Young People's work is under the direction of Graham Lindsay and Selwyn Baker is Corps Sergeant Major. The Women's Home League for the size of the town is one of the largest groups in New Zealand. The average attendance per week for 1961 is just on 40. Next year the Corps is to have a campaign conducted by the Dominion Evangelist Major Wesley Simpson. Upper most in the planning of the local soldiers is the erection of a new citadel.
Captain and Mrs Gordon Brinsdon are the present Corps Officers.
A Foot-note of Interest
The late William Bramwell Booth, son of the world-famed William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was at one time claimed by the Waihi Borough Council as being "one of us". Whether due to lack of knowledge or paucity of imagination, or to the compiler's sense of humour, it not known, but many years ago the Waihi Borough biennial ratepayers' roll, on more than one occasion, contained the following: "Booth, William Bramwell, miner, ratepayer, Seddon Street, Waihi."
Perhaps it should be explained that the Waihi Salvation Army Hall in Seddon Street was recorded in his name, he being at that time Head of the Salvation Army throughout the world.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
Adherents of the Church of Christ first held their religious observances in the Miner's Union Hall where Spearing's is now. Lated Mr D. Donaldson gave them a section at the rear of what is now the drycleaner's premises in Seddon Street where they built a church, access being through a right-of-way from the main street. For some years the pastor was Mr Joseph Foster, who was also a borough councillor.
At about 1942 the building was dismantled and re-erected as the Church of Christ at Sealey Street, Thames.
Waihi has had, down the years, a sprinkling of adherents of other sects as Jehovah Witness, Seventh Day Adventists, Brethren, Latter Day Saints, etc., but which have no established Church here.