Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 23, June 1979
The completion of a Project
Of all the people attending or connected with the Waihi Centennial celebrations perhaps the most satisfied was Mr Bert McAra, author of "Gold Mining In Waihi 1878 - 1952". Reports on the progress and format of this book appeared in the past two Journals and the Waihi Historical Society is most pleased with the response to the sales of the book, and the help that was given to the Society to enable the book to be published ahead of its anticipated launching time.
The proprietor of Waihi's "Central Book Shop" Mr Ivan Anderson, whose help and encouragement has been particularly appreciated, Xeroxed three copies of the book. A copy was presented to each of three publishing companies in Auckland without success, but in turn one company put the Society in touch with a publishing consultant, Mr Ray Richards of Auckland.
After some discussion and many searching questions by both parties Mr Richards was engaged by the Society to advise us on publication of the book, and to be the go between between the Society and the publishers. On his suggestion Pegasus Press of Christchurch was approached and in due course an agreement to have printed 1500 copies plus special copies was reached. The printing of the specially bound copies was abandoned because of the cost, but nearly $16,000 had to be raised for the printing of the book. Other expenses, advertising, marketing, postage, toll calls, had to be allowed for in the retail price of the book, and although it was not anticipated that any profit was going to be made, it was inconceivable that a loss could be afforded.
Letters were sent to 23 organisations ranging from Banks to Breweries, from service clubs to Art Councils, from financial firms to tobacco companies. Unfortunately with the exception of one commercial firm, one service club and one private individual, the only help offered was good wishes.
At this stage we had the books ordered but no money to pay for them. It was decided to approach our Bank who agreed to an overdraft provided we could arrange guarantors for our overdraft. Accordingly the Waihi Borough Council, The Ohinemuri County Council and the Waihi Arts & Crafts& Museum Association were approached and became our guarantors.
At the outset the publishers, while promising to do their best, would give no guarantee that the books would be available to the public by the time of the Centennial Celebrations. All the Society could offer for certain on that date was an "inspection" copy and the promise to fulfil any orders placed by Christmas.
In the meantime more decisions had to be made on technical matters and here Mr Ray Richards was of paramount importance and with his experience and advice the pitfalls open to novices were successfully skirted. Mr McAra's job was not yet over and he spent a hectic week or three proof-reading his book, creating an index and advising on technical points in the contents, before the book appeared in its final and finite form.
Advertising in the form of householders and circulars to Society members and attenders of the 1976 Miners Reunion were sent out in an effort to presell copies of the book and thus alleviate our overdraft. As the orders began to come in we were gratefully pleased to hear that after all the book would be available to the public for the weekend of the Reunion. About two weeks before the celebrations cartons of books arrived and were stored in the vault of the Library. Now began Mr McAra's final task of autographing about one third of them while a small group of volunteers attended to the selling, wrapping and financial side of the distribution.
Books, like ships, have a launching date and the date of course for us was the official opening of the celebrations. There Mr McAra presented to His Worship Mr O. Morgan, and the County Chairman Mr Blanchard Fisher the first two books to be made public. In turn Mr McAra was presented with one of his own books on a silver salver suitably inscribed, from the Historical Society.
Orders came in from Australia, United States of America and locally from Invercargill to Whangarei. By Christmas 80% of the books were sold and except for about 2 months our overdraft was unused.
It is unlikely that the book will be reprinted, in the near future at least, so that the purchasers of books own a reasonably rare publication which will increase not only in monetary value but sentimental value as Goldmining in Waihi becomes older in more ways than one.
Bert McAra, we thank you.