Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 29, October 1985


By Caudelle G. T. Clarke

Firstly, why did the Maoris call the locality Waikino? I believe 'Wai' means water and 'kino' no good - in other words, bad water.

My memory goes back to 1901 at the age of three. I was born in Napier on November 4, 1898; also my elder sister was born there in May 1897 - she is now Mrs. Muriel Blackwell of Tokoroa.


My parents moved to Rotorua, then to Whangarei, then to Paeroa, then to Owharoa where a number of houses were built as a mine reduction battery head had been erected there is 1895, and called the Rising Sun; my father worked at this battery for a short time.

The Rohan family lived at Owharoa for many years and others were the Fresons, Edwards, Farmers and a number of others.

The motive power for the Owharoa battery was by water turbines; a headrace had been constructed along the hillside on the south side of the Ohinemuri River from above the Waitawheta Falls, a distance of about one mile to terminate at a concrete settling pond; then a steel pipeline was erected down the hillside and suspended on steel cables across the river terminating at the battery.

The project was abandoned in 1902 when the Waikino Victoria Battery had come into existence a few years before.


The first school was built at Owharoa up on the hill on the south side of the river and an access to it from the Paeroa to Waihi road was by means of a swing bridge. I remember this well as I went to this school at the age of four years. The headmaster was Mr. Emslie and the primary teacher was Miss Carson who later became Mrs. Jolley.

The population at Waikino had grown to warrant a new school being built on the north side of the river at a location called the 'Maori Pah', up on the hill close to Waikino shopping area; apparently in bygone days there was a Pah but now a school and not far away, a couple of houses - one occupied by the Hefferen family of three boys and two girls, Katy and Teeny; one of the boys eventually became the Prime Minister of New South Wales, Australia.


My father had started to work at the Waikino Victoria Battery in 1900 so our family moved from Owharoa to one of the Hypman's houses on the original road to Waitekauri; in all there were seven of these houses all occupied.

Mr. Hypman was an elderly man who came from Germany and took over a large house which was originally a hospital. He developed the surrounding land of about 100 acres into a farm divided into paddocks and stocked with cattle. As he was getting on in years he brought a nephew out from Germany to manage the farm; he did not speak English, so when he did ploughing he spoke to the horses in German and they eventually understood him.

Mr. Hypman became ill and passed away in his house in 1907 so his nephew continued managing the farm until 1913 when he sold it and returned to Germany.

Next to our house lived the elderly Puwelka family; a son established a butcher's shop in Waikino township and their daughter married a Mr. Murray. The wedding was in the Catholic Church and the reception in the house.

Adjacent to Hypman's farm and back toward Waitekauri, a farm had been established by the Bain's family; the first house was in the bush and built of sticks and mud, the chimney was of iron. I remember going to this locality as a small boy and viewing the discarded interior; the fireplace still had the iron bar across it from which were suspended pots and a kettle. A: permanent large house had been built where the bush had been cleared.

The Bains farm was taken over by the Campbell family from Waitekauri and Mr. Campbell spent months clearing the remainder of bush and blackberries, so over the course of a couple of years the landscape had changed into a large beautiful farm of green grass; the old mud house was thus removed.

There were a number of children in the Campbell family of boys and girls; I remember Alan and Marjorie.

Another Waikino personality was Bill Bartlett who was the transmission line inspector between Waikino-Waitawheta and Waihi.

My father had a house built at the upper end of Abbotts Road which is a branch of the old Waitekauri Road, so we moved there in 1908. Others living along this road were the Maidens, Paye, Collins, Abbotts, Horners, Sattesthwaites, Crabbs, Stapletons, O'Malley and Whitehouse. The Bowling Green was also on this road where the school now is in 1984.


In 1910 my sister Muriel and I were sent to the Paeroa School; the headmaster was Mr. Murphy and the primary teacher was Miss Shaw. We travelled by train from Waikino each day but one morning we missed the train, so walked all the way to arrive for the afternoon classes. At this time and over four days a Mr. Gilchrist was giving cine shows at the school, so Miss Shaw paid for my sister and I to view two of the items, the Animal Kingdom and a Trip Beyond the Clouds; this was our first introduction to moving picture shows.

In 1912 we were transferred to the Waihi South School; the headmaster was Mr. Gibson. We remained there for two years until my sister went to the Waihi High School and I went back to the Waikino School. A new headmaster had been appointed - a Mr. J. B. Ramsay. He turned out to be an understanding teacher, liked by all. I was there in Standard six as also Mr. Ramsay's son, James, who years later became a well-known Auckland lawyer.


From the main Waikino to Waihi road and starting from the Waikino township end, there were a number of pathways leading up to the old Waitekauri road; each had a name. First was Odlums, then Jenkins, then Frazers which divided halfway up to Wild's track, then Evitts, then Dicksons and further on near the railway station is the branch off to the new Waitekauri road; the old and the new roads join about two miles from Waikino.

Along these pathways were residential houses, the largest being Sam Frazers, he being the Battery Superintendent.

It may not be remembered that the rocky bluff along beyond Evitt's pathway passing the waterfall and as far as Dickson's pathway was cut back to stop large stones falling down on to the main road. A certain number of trees and scrub grew among the rocks; in the process of blasting the hillside away, a human skeleton rolled down onto the road. Its origin was not determined or whether it was Maori or European.

As a boy and living at the upper end of Abbott's Road, the other boys and I spent much time in the close-by bush, especially as we had to cut down Tawa trees, saw them into blocks to be used for firewood. In so doing I got to know the bush for miles around and found an original track through the bush along a ridge to come out overlooking the Piako near Komata. The start of this track was after ascending the steep hill about a quarter of a mile beyond the end of Abbott's Road. There is one place, a short way along the ridge where one could view the sea between Waihi Beach and Bowentown; this was my first view of the seas, it looked so blue from six miles away.

It would appear to me that the Maoris made this track because it is a direct route from the Thames to the East coast beyond Waihi or Waitekauri.

There is no scrub along this track; there was evidence of wild pigs and fern growing on fallen, decayed trees, one fern was kidney shaped. Further towards Waitekauri and in the gullies near the old May Bell mine there were plenty of King ferns.


The original water supply for Waikino residences was from rain-water tanks and I remember when a dam was constructed across a stream in the bush towards Waitekauri, then a pipeline around the hillside to a reservoir where the rifle range targets were located. From there the town was reticulated and a Mr. Fitzsimons was in charge of it for many years; of the Fitzsimons' family there were two girls and the boy, Harold, who disappeared somewhere in South America. I think one of the girls married Les Yearberry.

I wonder if Murray's swimming pool in the Waitekauri River, a short distance from where it joins the Ohinemuri River, is still used? It was called Murray's because it was close to the large house occupied by the Murray family. One of the Murray girls established a private school in Waikino Hall and it lasted for a number of years.


Further along the road towards Waihi is the Queen's Head Rock; the upper part depicts a side view of Queen Victoria which could be viewed from the main road.

Still further along the road and just after passing under the railway bridge is the beginning of Snake Hill, called so because of its winding contour. It was noted for many accidents and eventually it was altered to the present gradual straight gradient.

It may be remembered that beyond Snake Hill and towards Waihi, there was a road off the main road and going north and West to join up with the Waitekauri Road; it was called Chapples Road because old Mr. Chapple had a house near the swing bridge across the Waitekauri River and the road crossed the river where there was a ford and about 100 yards before joining the Waikino-Waitekauri Road.


There was a water-race about three miles long; the intake being from the Waitekauri River upstream from Reuseller's farm, traversing around the hillsides to terminate at a forebay containing control gates near the start of Abbott's Road and near the front of Maiden's house. From here a steel pipeline was installed down the hillside and under the road to cross the Ohinemuri River suspended under the traffic bridge which gives access to the Victoria Battery. The pressure water was used to drive two impulse turbines which gave traction to the Fitting and Carpenters shops and a water supply for gold reduction.

The original electricity supply for the Battery lighting and crane motors was from two direct current generators of the Manchester type driven by two impulse turbines, the pressure water coming from a water-race, the intake of which was from the Ohinemuri River upstream towards Waihi and terminating at a forebay on the hillside behind the battery; the holes may still be there.


In the early days a sawmill was constructed at the battery near the carpenters shop; this took care of large Kauri logs which were brought from Waitawheta on a railway track installed by the Waihi Gold Mining Company; this track terminated at the top of the hill behind the battery, then the trucks containing the kauri logs were lowered by cable down rail tracks to the bottom; the trucks going down pulled empty trucks up and they passed each other on a divided track part way up; the rail track at the bottom continued along flat ground to the sawmill; the loaded trucks were pulled by large draft horses controlled by Mr. Collins. The horses were kept and fed in a stable just east of the battery vanner building.


The first electric lighting system was installed by Mr. Tracy Knight; he took care of the large carbon arc lights illuminating wide open areas. One I remember well as it was high up over an area on the battery side of the bridge crossing the Ohinemuri River at Waikino.

Electric power from Horahora was expected, electric motors were being installed - some of 500 h.p. A Mr. McAndrew was appointed in 1910 as electrical engineer to supervise this work. He resigned in 1913 and his place was taken by Mr. N. G. McLeod while Tracy Knight continued in his small workshop repairing small electrical parts and rewinding coils of insulated wire.

Before the advent of large electric motors to drive the battery of two hundred of stamps, a steam driven engine was installed at the west end of the battery. There were coal-fired boilers to provide the steam and in the engine room was a large diameter fly-wheel with a heavy outer rim, the wheel was coupled to the hub by spokes; it was slow moving and a third of the wheel was in a narrow trench below the tiled floor. The story was told that one evening the superintendent was taking a walk around accompanied by his dog trailing a short distance behind; the superintendent had walked to the other side of the rotating wheel when the dog, seeing his master on the other side of the trench, decided to jump across the trench and, in so doing, was struck by one of the moving spokes, hence the dog's life came to an end.


Before the railway from Paeroa to Waihi via Karangahake and Waikino was completed, all transport was by road and this became excessive due to the advancement of the mining industry. I remember the large horse-drawn coal wagons coming from Paeroa via Karangahake, originally over the Rahu Road before the road in the Gorge was constructed. (I might remark that the Rahu Road should come into existence again and the Gorge road closed because sooner or later falling rocks in the Gorge are going to kill someone. On the other hand, the unused rail tunnel could be used for road traffic. Then again, the Gorge could be dammed and the tunnel used for hydro-electric development and the road along the hills because Waikino would be under the lake.)

The first motorcar in Waikino was owned by Mr. Sam Frazer in 1910. This was followed by Mr. Stapleton who lived in Abbott's Road.


One of the first grocer's shops in Waikino was owned by the Gilpin family, the parents who came from Thames, two daughters Girlie and Ruth and three sons, Ted, Victor and James; Girlie married Jack Dobson and Ruth married Mr. Pivac. Who the boys married, I do not know. Victor went to the first World War and was wounded in his left upper arm.

The Gilpins sold the store and established a large house in what was called the New Township. The locality contained many houses and a Rugby field in the Domain. The Gilpins house was the first house on the new road to Waitekauri, it overlooked the railway, road and a part of the east end of the battery; they kept boarders. I became one when my parents moved to Auckland and my father enlisted in the Medical Corps, First World War and went to France.

I boarded at Gilpins from early 1916 to 1919 when I went to Horahora hydro-electric power station. Other boarders were Mr. Miller, Gladys Williams and Dulcie Capper - both were school teachers.

My other sisters, Miriam and Lilian, went to school in Waikino and finally to the Parnell School in Auckland.


After I passed the sixth standard, I went to work for Joe Burns, the Baker, to deliver bread in Waikino, Waitekauri and Waitawheta. In those days, I started at six in the morning and finished at six in the evening for fifteen shillings a week.

It now being the start of the First World War 1914, the young men in Waikino and Waihi enlisted for active service, hence the Waihi Gold Mining Company became short of personnel, so they did not hesitate to employ boys of school leaving age and so my father approached the Chief Electrician, Mr. McLeod, who gave me a start as an electrical apprentice in August 1915.

What had been the building housing the sawmill at the battery, was converted into a large electrical workshop.

The two electricians were Charlie Marlow and Dave Currie, so I was placed in their care. I worked one week with Dave Currie who took care of all the lighting circuits and the next week with Charlie Marlow who attended to all motor repairs. I was paid four shillings a day for the first four months, then five shillings a day for one year and finally rising to eight shillings a day.

Charlie Marlow left the company and his place was taken by Frank Harvey who was later transferred to Horahora Hydro-electric Power Station on the Waikato River; his place was taken by Jack Herd who came from the Siemens Works in Stafford, England; eventually he was transferred to Waihi to work under Archie Crocher, the Chief Mine Electrician, and his place was taken by Mr. Chatfield.

Another electrical apprentice was started a few months after me; he went by the name of Les Mills.

* * *

The power station at Horahora was constructed by the Waihi Gold Mining Company and construction started in 1910. It went into service in 1914 and consisted of six Boving turbines coupled to Siemens generators; power was generated at 5,000 volts and transformed up to 50,000 volts for transmission to Waikino where it was transformed down to 11,000 volts for transmission to Waihi and 440 volts for electric motors at Waikino.

A permanent electrical staff for shift work was appointed for the Waikino sub-station. The initial personnel were Jack Shaw, Clarry Whitehouse, Fred Lawn and Archie Chrosher [spelt Crocher earlier – E] who later was transferred to Waihi as Chief Mine Electrician.

There had to be personnel to inspect all the battery motors. Their headquarters was at the sub-station and they did the rounds of the motors every hour. Their names were, Jim Farmer, Jack O'Sullivan and Jim Kinsella.

After the third year of my apprenticeship, I reported one day a week at the sub-station to do some cleaning and get acquainted with the operating procedure and eventually took over the relief work.


In July 1919 I was transferred to the Horahora Hydro-electric Power Station as a cadet engineer and did shift work with Mr. O. E. Chamberlain. I bought a motor-cycle, so when five days leave came every month, I set off for Waikino and Waihi to stay with my friends, Mrs. Ross in Waikino and the Percy Williams' family in Waihi; they had four children, Laura, Charlie, Elsie and Nina. I was friendly with Laura who was a year younger than myself.

Mr. N. G. McLeod resigned from the electrical department at Waikino to take up the position of Chief Electrical Engineer to the Thames Valley Power Board with head office at Te Aroha. A Mr. Jones took over from Mr. McLeod at Waikino.

At the Horahora power station during my time and up to March 1921, the personnel were: Superintendent Mr. Reeves, O. E. Chamberlain, S. H. Wood, W. D. Revington, D. L. Cameron, Frank Harvey and myself.

In 1920 Mr. Reeves resigned and his place was taken by Mr. Hamilton from the Lake Coleridge Power Station.


Referring back to my days at Waikino 1915, I attended for the next four years, night classes at the Waikino and Karangahake School of Mines taking subjects in electrical-mechanical engineering, chemistry, ventilation of mines, bullion assaying and mathematics and gained a number of certificates. I was the students' representative on the Board of Directors. I also sat for the exam in Electrical Engineering for the City and Guilds of London Institute Technological Examinations. This exam was held in the Teachers' Training College, Wellesley Street, Auckland in 1920 and I gained a first class pass.


For social life at Waikino I played rugby football, was a patrol leader in the Boy Scouts, was the Sunday School Superintendent 1917 to 1919 and on Sunday evenings biked to Waihi to attend the Baptist Church; the Minister was the Rev. Perry who later became the Minister of the Mt. Eden Baptist Church.

I remember the fire that destroyed Hetherington's large store in Seddon Street, Waihi.

I was at the Waihi South School in 1912 the day the miners who were on strike were arrested or escaped from the town. Those who got away ran through private property; one man got into a fowl run near the school and, on making a hole through the fence, let the fowls out into the school grounds.


The first time I was on Waihi Beach was in 1913 after a Territorial skirmish across the Waihi Plains. At that time there were only three shacks on the beach. We slept on the sand overnight and next day marched back to Waihi and I, with others, walked home to Waikino.

I also remember the Territorials from Ohinemuri being taken by train to parade in the Hamilton Showgrounds to be Inspected by General Sir Ian Hamilton - this was in 1913, a year before the war.

At Waikino there was a Rifle Club and a suitable area in the hills for long-range shooting. The maximum distance was one thousand yards - .303 rifles were used. When the war broke out the club went into decline except a part of the range was used for Territorial target practice.


I also remember the days of compulsory military training. Junior cadets from the age of ten to fourteen - this was at school. Then from 14 to 18 years senior cadets and from 18 to 25 years territorials. The 14 to 25 attended night training every two weeks and at Waikino this was held in the Hall except for route marches. Jim Farmer was the sergeant and Lieutenant Corbett gave us instruction. He went overseas with the first contingent and went missing on Gallipoli and was never accounted for. Jim Farmer enlisted and saw service in France; he returned to Waikino.

My father, at the age of 56, enlisted for overseas service in the Medical Corps in 1916 as he had had medical training in Bristol, England, under his grandfather, Dr. Chandler, before coming to New Zealand in 1890. He went overseas with the 15th contingent and spent some time in the Military Hospital at Etables, France, and returned to New Zealand in 1918 to settle first in Auckland; in 1921 removed to Rotorua where he bought the old Malfroy house, No. 14 in Malfroy Road. He passed away in 1929 as a result of the war.

My mother continued to live in the Rotorua house as my two sisters, Miriam and Lilian, lived there, and she passed away in May 1963 at the age of 92. There may be some Waikino folk who remember my parents.


I might mention the names of some of the persons of about my age (now 85 in 1984) who lived in Waikino many years ago.

Such as:- George and Bert Henderson, Ronald and Arthur Robinson, Jack Brown, Roy Philips, Walter Harris, Theodore Larsen, Tom Smith, James Ramsay, Fred Marr, Allan Brown, the two Hardwick boys, Mr. and Mrs. Croucher, Mrs. Baines who kept a nursing home where many babies were born; Charlie James who I contacted in 1937 at the Victoria Falls Power Station on the Zambezi River in Africa; The Bell family, the Rohan family (Ted, who was a postman in Waikino, passed away in June 1984 in Otahuhu, Auckland.); the Baird family of two girls and a boy, James, who became a professional engineer and a Consultant to the Hamilton City Council. Others were: Alleys, Hansons, Pikes, Armstrongs, elderly Mrs. Marlow who lived to 103 and passed away in Auckland; Wells, the Butcher, Philips the Draper, the Jesney family, the Hepburn family, Rebby Maiden, Beryl Evitt, Beatrice Sievwright, Marjorie Campbell, Jessie Cochrane, Olive Ross, Marion Homer, Edith Quinn, Lucy Rohan, Ethel and Elsie Waite and Dorothy Smardon. I have contacted some of those people, now married and living in Auckland.


In 1920 while I was at the Horahora Hydro-Electric Power Station, I was encouraged to join two senior engineers and go to the United States of America to gain further experience. The two were Mr. H. J. Howden and Mr. D. L. Cameron.

We embarked on the S.S. Makura on March 12, 1921 for Vancouver, then by ferry to Seattle and on by train to San Francisco. We had no difficulty in getting work as electricians at a new power station at a place called Buttonwillow in the San Joaquin Valley.

* * *

I have maintained a daily diary in every detail, since August 1922 and continuing. There are now 21 large volumes and a request has been made for these by the Auckland Public Library.

I might mention that a photo of myself and my writings were published in Newnes Encyclopedia, London, England in 1939; it is in volume 5.

It covers the pioneer exploration along the base of Victoria Falls on the Zambesi River, Africa. I initially went down hand over hand, to look for diamonds, and after being there as indicated in the photographs I took, the Survey Department of the Northern Rhodesian Government (now Zambia) asked me to go back again and they would let down a steel tape for me to take to the base and they would get the correct heights. Over the course of two days, thirteen readings were taken and the maximum height was found to be 355 feet, not 420 feet as previously published.

Horahora Power Station - 1920.

Horahora Power Station - 1920.

History of Waikino and Waihi
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 29, October 1985
Horahora Power Station - 1920.