Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962
(By O. J. MORGAN)
In common with most other towns at the turn of the century, Waihi had a Volunteer Corps — that rather unusual force, which was largely social in character. 1903 in its efforts to provide a meeting place, the corps commander, Major A. T. Kenrick (B.N.Z. manager), met the Prime Minister (Hon. R. J. Seddon), on one of his many visits to Waihi, with the result that £250 was promised if the Volunteers raised a similar amount. By the end of 1904, £350 had been accumulated, and after repeated requests for a subsidy had failed, the local committee decided to build anyway. A few months later, however, when the Minister of Mines (Hon. J. McGowan) was visiting the town, he set aside the present site, and in October of the same year £350 was received from the Government. Tenders for its construction were called at once, and by June 1906, Waihi's new drill hall was ready.
It was used for the first time on Sunday, June 17th., 1906, when 3000 people, — almost entire population — crowded in to attend a memorial service to R. J. Seddon. Officially, it was opened with a military bazaar on June 29th, the cost being mentioned as between £800 and £900. In 1909 the Government ended the Volunteers' system and introduced compulsory training, so that from that time and up till the late 1930's the hall was used for Territorials and School Cadets. During the emergency of the First World War it was handed over to the Government, in whose possession it has remained ever since. In 1951, the Borough Council taking into account the public support at the time it was built, and its apparent lack of use over recent years, endeavoured to obtain possession of it, as it was considered a suitable shell in which to build a much needed Town Hall, but the application was turned down.