Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962
The Waihi Improvement Committee was appointed in 1898 at a meeting of residents and was successful in effecting considerable improvements. Those present at the inaugural meeting were Messrs J. L. Stevens (Chairman), T. C. Hammond (Secretary) and John Flett, Archie Clark, M. J. Keane, V. Bindon, Jas. Graham, Robert Loane, Jas. Galbraith and W. H. Ross. At the instance of the Committee the County Council had the street water supply completed, established a Fire Brigade and generally improved the roads, footpaths, etc.
The ultimate object of the Committee was the establishment of a local Borough Council and naturally the County Council opposed this move, as it meant losing considerable gold revenue which was a great asset for road building. However, the population warranted a borough and efforts were continued, but after the failure of two petitions, the Committee approached Mr A. Y. Ross, who agreed to work independently and proceed with a fresh petition. This was successful, and on Wednesday, January 22, 1902 the following message was received:—
"I have approved of the application for the formation of Waihi into a borough." Signed, J. G. Ward.
A later wire received from the Premier, the Right Hon. R. J. Seddon, stated that the borough has been gazetted.
As the leading petitioner, Mr A. Y. Ross was appointed the first Town Clerk and Returning Officer, pending the election of a Borough Council.
The Mayoral ballot took place on April 7, 1902, the election of Councillors following two days later. Messrs W. H. Phillips, C. J. Saunders and F. H. Lees sought the first honour, the ballot resulting in Mr Phillips being returned with a good majority. There were 27 candidates for the 10 seats on the Council. Mr H. D. Morpeth was appointed Town Clerk.
Waihi, in area, was for a time the largest Borough in the North Island and had more miles of streets than any other Borough with the exception of Whangarei In its heyday it had 100 miles of formed footpaths, no fewer than 40 miles of which were asphalted. It area then was 3960 acres, now reduced to 1330 acres.