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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 23, June 1979

In response to a letter from the Waihi Historical Society written to the Waihi Borough Council in November 1978 a meeting was called by the Council to explore the possibilities of celebrating Waihi's Centenary.

Thirteen people attended the meeting and formed a committee to which it was acknowledged that extra members would be co-opted and appointed. Mr Ernest Cunliffe was elected chairman and Mrs Helen McCombie was elected secretary and it was under their direction that the celebrations became not only a reality but a resounding success encompassing nearly every facet of Waihi's first hundred years, and at the same time providing entertainment for visitors and residents.

Not only were individuals co-opted but clubs and organisations were asked, for both ideas and practical help in creating and organising definite areas of the celebrations. This was willingly done and the use of local clubs, already geared to organisation, lifted much of the burden from the central committee.

One of the main jobs of the committee, apart from creating and sifting ideas, was dovetailing each of the entertainments to present a coherent overall plan and also to make sure that each group knew what the others were doing and when.

Early on it was decided that the celebrations would last a week from Monday 16th October until Monday 23rd October, and except for the final day something would be happening every morning, afternoon, and evening of each day.

Decisions ranging from the wording on car stickers to the inviting of the Governor General and party had to be made and it was at this stage that the adage, "When one is up to one's knees in alligators it is difficult to remember that the primary object was to drain the swamp", became quite apparent.

In the initial stages financial help was given by the Waihi Borough Council, the Ohinemuri County Council and the Waihi R.S.A. Charter Club, but as momentum gathered, finances grew from the $2 registration from prospective attenders.

The Centennial Committee met every three weeks thus allowing independent groups time to accomplish arrangements and yet keep everyone "au fait" with that which was being organised, or changes that were deemed necessary. Neither could all ideas be fulfilled nor could all invitations to attend be accepted and alternative arrangements were made, often at short notice. As "C" day came closer it was apparent that not only were things falling into place, but enthusiasm amongst local residents was growing, scepticism was being replaced by the realisation that the Centennial Celebrations had the makings of a resounding success.

Successful they were and with the exception of the Saturday Parade the whole week was of fine weather even though late October is traditionally a time of wind and rain. Visitors began arriving the weekend before Monday 16th October and increased in number the whole week. The Information Centre, installed in the foyer of the Memorial Hall, was the focal point of activity and was busy to the extreme for the whole week.

The organisers had the pleasure and satisfaction of seeing nine months work come to fruition and the visitors had the enjoyment that they must have anticipated when they enrolled. Not everything went to plan as nothing is perfect, but it is difficult to recall anything of real importance that didn't function as it should. Not only has Waihi completed it's first hundred years successfully but it certainly got an excellent launching for it's second century as well!

ORGANISATIONS THAT HELPED TOWARDS THE SUCCESS OF THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATIONS

Lions Club, Jaycees, Chamber of Commerce, Nambassa, Country Music Club, Waihi Kindergarten, Womens Division, Ngati Waihi Cultural Club, W.A.C.M.A.A., Rotary Club, Waihi Borough Council, Ohinemuri County Council, Waihi Historical Society, The National Bank, Bank of New Zealand, R.S.A. Charter Club, Combined Waihi Primary Schools, Combined Churches Association, Legion of Frontiersmen, Waihi College, Waikato Breweries, Pye Television, Plunket Society, Waihi Post Office, National Conservation Council, Waikato University, Methodist Ladies Church Group, N.Z. Pigeon Association, Waihi Spinners & Weavers Club, Presbyterian Womens Fellowship Group, Bay of Plenty Vintage & Veteran Car Club, Company Theatre (for period costumes), Waihi Athletic Club, League of Wheelsmen, Kerepehi Brass Band, Tauranga City Highland Pipe Band, Te Aroha Highland Pipe Band, Hamilton Citadel Salvation Army Band, Waihi Community Marae, Central Book Shop, Ken Watters & Party, all entrants from town and country who contributed to the Parade.

THE CELEBRATIONS CONSISTED OF THE FOLLOWING

Pye Television Factory Tours

Waihi Arts Centre & Museum Display

Waihi Spinners & Weavers Open Day

Ken Watters Reenactment of Discovery of Gold

Combined Primary Schools Tabloid Sports

Old Time Music Hall

Bus Tours of Places of Historic Interest

Honouring of Age and Costume Display

Sale of Mr JB. McAra's "Goldmining In Waihi"

University of Waikato Lectures

Maori Concert Party

Open Air Market Day

Films of Waihi Mines

Opening of Pottery Kiln

Period Crochet and Embroidery Display

Centennial Ball

Grand Street Parade

Miners and Early Residents Reunion

Combined Churches Civic Service

Liberation of Homing Pigeons

Tree Planting

Opening of New Library in old Bank of New Zealand Building

Combined Churches Music Festival