Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 32, September 1988

Talk to Waihi Historical Society on 23/9/87 by Owen Morgan


which translated by Mr, H. Tukukino, President of the Thames/Coromandel Historic Places Committee means;


So reads the Inscription on the shield bearing the coat of arms of the Waihi Borough. Although Waihi had. been gazetted a borough in 1902, it was not until 1941 that the council resolved that a chain of office should be purchased for the mayor, Mr. W.M. Wallnutt. Councillors at the time were Sam Bonnici, Bob Caundle, J.G. Cornes, Sonny Hovell, Piper McDonald and Keith Wrigley. Cr. Hovell was commissioned to write the inscription, and as well as this message, the four panels on the shield depict mining, dairy farming, cropping and friendship. The links of the chain, each bearing the [name – E] of those who have held the office of mayor, are made from silver from the Martha Mine.

In 1981 Cr Arthur Hardy, a skilled silversmith, added two links of polished Waihi quartz and further links of Waihi silver given to him by the late Dr Rex Hetherington. An attractive polished, timber case in which to keep the chain was donated by Mrs Florence Newman, a long standing member of the Waihi Historical Society.

Since 1902, eleven men have been elected, to the office of mayor:

W.H. Phillips 1902-04 - Owned a hardware store at the corner of Seddon St and Moresby Ave. He and his council of nine set the pace for a town which was to rival Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua in population (About 6000).

Thos Gilmour 1904-08 - Took office just after he retired as manager of the Waihi Gold Mining Co. Many of the town's amenities were established during his term, including the Waihi hospital. Gilmour Street bears his name.

John Newth 1908-13 - Former president of the Waihi Workers' Union (later Miners' Union) but in 1907 was replaced by the more militant H.T. Armstrong. He retained the confidence of many of the miners however, as they elected him mayor in 1908 and again in 1911, despite strong opposition from the new leadership of the Union, and the impending Strike. He planted the native trees which now enhance the Recreation Ground.

Maurice Power 1913-15 - Proprietor of the Central Hotel situated on the corner of Barry Road and Kenny Street on the site of the present children's playground. Both Mr and Mrs Power died during the influenza epidemic of 1919. During the time when Waihi was included in the Ohinemuri "no license" area, (1908-1926) the Central Hotel was moved and re-assembled in Rotorua where it now exists as the Princess Gate Hotel.

[Confusion is created because father and son have the same initials.

Maurice Goggan or Groggan Power:

Thames miner (one arm)
Hotel proprietor Paeroa (Ohinemuri Hotel), then Waihi (New Central Hotel).
Registered as elector 1919: hotelkeeper, ratepayer, 337a Stafford Street
Mrs Power (nee Milgrew) died Feb 10 1908
Raised a family of six girls and six boys
Maurice died March 29 1920

Maurice Gilbert Power:

Son of above
Aka Bert Power
Wife: Olive
School Teacher
Share Broker
Waihi Borough Councillor (nine years)
Waihi Mayor 1913-1915 (four years?)
Town Clerk Waihi?
Town Clerk Taumarunui
Died with wife in 1918 'Flu epidemic (Nov 18)
Sister (Nancy or Nellie) married Mr (Frank) Budd - E]

Dawson Donaldson 1915-23 - Also chairman of the Waihi Hospital Board. He owned a bootshop in Seddon Street next to the present War Memorial Hall. His son, also Dawson, left New Zealand in 1962 to become chairman of the Commonwealth Telecommunication Board in London at a time when telecommunications was expanding into satellite communications.

W.M. Wallnutt 1923-47 - The longest serving mayor. He died aged 77 while still in office. He came to Waihi in 1896 and became a journalist after working for some time in the mine. He was the District Coroner for 40 years. During his term the gloomy reports, which year by year came from the London directors of the Waihi Company's operations, combined with the trauma of the depression of the 1950's and World War 2, did not instil much confidence in the town's future. Development and progress was therefore slow except for the electronics industry, which under Keith Wrigley's initiative and drive, forged ahead. Mr. Wallnutt's name is remembered at Waihi Beach (Wallnutt Av) and Waihi (Wallnutt Park).

H.J. (Snow) Pickett 1947-56 - Secretary of the Waihi Miners' Union until the mine closed in 1952. During his term the borough, at its own request, was reduced in area from 3960 to 1330 acres (1954). However under Mr. Pickett's leadership, supported by a determined council, legislation was passed which secured the Waihi Beach land of 76 acres as the property of Waihi's ratepayers although the Beach itself seceded from the Waihi Borough and came under the administration of the Ohinemuri County Council. This foresight has proved to be an asset of tremendous value to the residents of Waihi. Furthermore, the feeling that Waihi, which had long been condemned as a dying mining town was now arrested, and a wave of enthusiasm spread throughout the town. A road sealing programme was initiated and town-planning procedures adopted. Pickett Place commemorates his name.

Chris Christensen 1956-65 - Proprietor of the Mataora Timber Co. Had a long service on the Ohinemuri County Council before becoming a Waihi councillor and mayor. Waihi continued the resurgence of new life during Mr. Christensen's term, as it adopted a more permanent attitude, and changed from a mining town to one where the electronics industry became the main employer. The new Waihi College was opened in 1959, the ailing water supply was augmented from the Waitete Catchment (1958) and sewerage plans were set afoot. The Borough celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 1962 and the Mining Museum and Art Centre was established. This was a period of dramatic industrial and residential development. Christensen Street testifies to his contribution.

Albert Thomas 1965-71 - Proprietor of Waihi Timber and Joinery Co. Served as a councillor for 7 years before offering himself as a candidate for the mayoralty. The progress of the town continued apace under his stewardship. He pressed hard for the Government to legislate for the de-centralisation of industry and Government Departments, into the smaller centres.

Mr. Thomas has represented Waihi on the Thames Valley Electric Power Board since 1974.

Alan Dean 1971-77 - Chartered Accountant. Served, as councillor before being elected mayor. As chairman of the Finance Committee, his business acumen was invaluable. Sewerage reticulation began during Mr. Dean's term and he worked hard to get Waihi's industrial area established, namely Dean's Crescent off Parry Palm Avenue.

Owen Morgan 1977- Metallurgist and manufacturer of dental materials. Served 20 years as a councillor and 5 years on the T.V.E.P.B, before becoming mayor. At the beginning of Mr. Morgan's term the borough celebrated the centenary of the discovery of gold in Waihi (1978). The first stage of the sewerage reticulation was opened as was the water treatment plant. Two of Mr. Morgan's forbears have also held the position as Waihi's mayor. Thomas Gilmour (grandfather) and Maurice Power (cousin to Thomas Gilmour). Due to the present Government's Local Government restructuring plans, the office of mayor may shortly disappear in Waihi.