Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 31, September 1987

The Ohinemuri County marked its 100th Birthday with a Centennial Dinner on 10 September 1985 - the exact day the County was given official status.

Held at the Paeroa Racecourse there were some 130 guests, former councillors, executive staff, present councillors, the Waihi Beach Community Council, and neighbouring local authority representatives.

The official representatives were the Under-secretary to the Minister of Local Government, Mr Philip Woollaston, Member for Nelson, Mr Gordon Mason OBE, President of the New Zealand Counties Association and Mrs Mason, Mr Huhurere Tukukino representing the Confederated Tribes of Hauraki. The Member for Hauraki, Mr Graeme Lee and the Member for Kaimai, Mr Bruce Townshend, and their wives were also present.

Former councillors present were Messrs Alex Lowry (1947-51), Rea Jordan (1963-83), Ray Williams (1962-68), John Cotter (1968-80), Arthur Sutton (1968-77).

The County Chairman, Mr Basil Morrison, told his audience that it was on Tuesday, September 10, 1885 - 100 years ago to the day - that Ohinemuri County was born. It received County status in a move away from the Thames County Council. The prime reason for the county's formation was to get better roading and funding for roading. Roading was critical for the development of mining and then later, the farming of the county. With the mining came the silting of the main waterways and repeated flooding of Paeroa and the lower Hauraki Plains. River schemes were first developed during the first 20-odd years of this century and today the Waihou Valley Scheme was still being completed. He paid tribute to those early pioneers of the county and former councillors in the early days who worked so hard and under very difficult conditions to lay the foundations for the county of today. He recalled the formation of the Hauraki Plains County from the Ohinemuri and also the internal boroughs of Paeroa and Waihi and then in more recent times the Waihi Beach Community Council.

Mr Woollaston spoke next and said the Ohinemuri County was packed with history and he likened the development of the area to that of the West Coast of the South Island, where he spent his childhood. "The move there was from mining and timber into farming", he said. Concluding his speech he said "Ohinemuri has a rich and honourable history. Congratulations on your first 100 years and best wishes for the next 100 years".

Other speakers included Mr Gordon Mason who spoke on the possible restructuring of local government and Mr Huhurere Tukukino who recalled early days in the county, especially the way everyone worked together in times of trouble.

The Centennial Cake was cut by Mr Basil Morrison, present County Chairman and Mr Alf Jenkinson who served the County for 45 years (1919 to 1964), the last 32 years as County Clerk. This ceremony was followed by the launching of the book, "No Easy Riches" by Dr Laurie Barber.

During the Centennial Year a number of events were organized to mark the occasion.. These included:-

1 October 1985

Waikato University Vice-Chancellor's Lecture. The Guest Lecturer was Dr Lawrie Barber who wrote the county history, "No Easy Riches".

5 October 1985

Hauraki District Maori Culture Festival

21 October 1985

Centennial Race meeting

December 1985

County Council staff function

11 January 1986

Waihi Surf Lifesaving Club 50th Jubilee

1, 2 February 1986

Bowling Club Tournament

March 1986

Presentation of special challenge trophies presented to Te Aroha, Paeroa and Waihi Colleges for rugby and netball

May 1986

Centennial Art Competition


The Ohinemuri County Council was presented with a Coat of Arms by the Paeroa Racing Club to mark the Centennial.

The Coat of Arms, with the motto "Land - Our Heritage" was designed by Sandra Leggett. The wall hanging was crafted by Tineke Wijde and the kauri carved by Bryan McCurrach.