Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 23, June 1979

The social history of a town settled for any length of time can be found in many places in that town, but many of the records are factual and stark and certainly while of interest, do little to rouse the imagination. This certainly was not the case when the demolition of the Waihi Gazette building took place and events through the decades, promulgated and advertised from the printing section, were laid bare almost indecently it was felt, for one last glorious burst of interest before being lost for ever.

The first newspaper building was erected at the top of Seddon Street on the "mine" side of the street and its existence was shortlived. A claim was made by the owners of this building against the infant Borough Council concerning the removal of spoil from the office's section. The newspaper having won its court case wisely built its new office at the site in Haszard Street where it existed for 74 years until purchased by the Borough Council to be removed and the area to be used for parking space. Maybe this is a good example of patience and the mills of justice or injustice grinding slow but exceedingly small!

Through successive years the area around part of the building had been built up twelve to fourteen inches above the level of the floor. Kauri was used almost solely in the construction of the building and while not completely free of borer the original part certainly was, and only the later additions built of lesser materials had suffered. The conduit which supplied gas to the office was still in place and on being unscrewed the taint of gas was easily discernible. The panelled ceilings must have come from magnificent trees, each strip some 10 inches wide and twenty feet long and not a split or a knot in any of them.

The fireplaces and chimney was most notable and appeared to be built of Waihi bricks from Brickfield Road area and probably was built by "Bricky" Ardern. Lime was used instead of mortar and 3 fireplaces were serviced by one chimney, each fireplace above the mantel level being cunningly twisted until they all joined into the one final vertical structure of the chimney. In these days of precast chimneys it was truly a craftsman's job. The Kauri tongue and groove floorboards were, in the "busy areas" literally worn hollow so that the "tongue" could be seen fitting into the groove. The foundations of the printing presses were brick and black with oil and presumably ink and the boiler used to melt the lead down was still intact complete with grate, and looked remarkably like a "modern" potbelly stove.

The quite large expanse of the interior walls provide a ready-made poster area for whatever took the staff's fancy and made most interesting reading - a polygot calender of events and people with no rhyme or reason:- billheads, newspaper cuttings, illustrations, some from the "local" paper and some from "away" papers. Movie Advertisements, tickets to Balls, Waihi Ladies Hockey Social 1934, Easter Sports 1927, a fighting stance photo of Bob Fitzsimmons being a supplement to the "Referee", a photo of "Frisco" winner of the N.Z. Cup, the finish of the Doncaster Cup, extracts from the Victorian Athletic Calendar, Billheads from J. Shields, Seddon Street, Barber, The Premier Bakery Seddon Street, Beatties Saddlery, R.B. Cranwell, Dentist, Munroe Enanuel, Dental Surgeon, the Masthead of the Waihi Telegraph February 4th 1931, Woods Great Peppermint Cure, more horseracing interest, "Poisedon" trained at Randwick, and winner of Caulfield and Melbourne Cup November 21st 1906, Grand Junction Mine Returns (of what kind was not shown).

In places posters were posted over posters as interests or employees changed and another area was favoured by the paper delivery boys to make their mark, literally in the form of carved names and initials. Many of the names were of well-known Waihi identities and families, many of course now dead, and the remainder well past the first flush of youth.

And so Waihi now has extra parking area and has lost perhaps not an architectural gem but a place that was once the fount of all Waihi's knowledge.