Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 34, September 1990

Until the Counties Act of 1876 was passed, the responsibility for local affairs, suchasroading, was with the Provincial Council. This area then became part of the Thames County until 10 September 1885 when the Ohinemuri County Council was gazetted. Waihi became a separate Borough in 1902 and Paeroa in 1915. The Hauraki Plains area became a separate County in 1920.


With the return of the Labour Government in 1984, local government re-organisation was pursued with more vigour.

During 1986-87 negotiations between the Paeroa Borough and Ohinemuri County Council were held and the intention was to amalgamate as at April 1988. However other local authorities elsewhere were not so enthusiastic and in December 1987 the rules were changed with the Local Government Commission being given wide powers to impose large scale amalgamation.

The Ohinemuri County Council (without Waihi Beach and Mangaiti), Hauraki Plains County Council and Waihi and Paeroa Boroughs amalgamated to form the Hauraki District Council from 1 November 1989. The area was divided into 3 Wards, namely Waihi, Paeroa and Plains, each with 4 Council Members and a Community Board of 6 Members.

Elections for Council Members was held on 14 October 1989. At this election Mr Basil Morrison was elected first Mayor, together with 12 Councillors, as follows: -

Plains Ward: C Aspin, G M Patch, D B Spence, R L Povey

Paeroa Ward: J P Tregidga, C R Shoosmith, J A Poulter, D B Dunham

Waihi Ward: J Fawcett, M A Cowan, D C Lockwood, M J Hayden

In addition Community Board Members were also elected.


The end of the Ohinemuri County Council was marked with a dinner held at the Ohinemuri Club on 31 October 1989. The dinner was attended by present and past Councillors and senior staff and their partners, plus the Waihi Beach County Town and Community members. The occasion also marked the retirement of Mr Merv Parker who had seen 40 years service with the County.

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On 26 October 1989 the Hauraki Plains County Council held a special and final meeting which was followed by a luncheon in the Sports Pavilion at the Ngatea Domain. Three presentations were made to members with lengthy service. These were to Chairman Hugh Hayward - 42 years of service, Deputy Chairman Ron Laing - 24 years of service and Councillor Terry O'Dwyer - 33 years of service.


On 27 September 1989 the Cairn at the Karangahake Picnic Reserve was unveiled. The cairn, built to commemorate the Ohinemuri County Centenary (1885 - 1985) was unveiled the same day as the Ohinemuri County Council's last meeting before going out of existence following the Local Government Reform. The unveiling was attended by past and present Council members and members of the public. Speakers included Mr Graeme Lee MP and Mr Basil Morrison, last County Council Chairman and elected first Mayor of the newly formed Hauraki District Council.

In his speech Mr Morrison spoke about the birth of the Ohinemuri County Council and, 104 years later, it's demise:

"When Frederick Cock was sworn in as the first Chairman of Ohinemuri County on Nov. 17, 1885, it was the end of five years of agitation and petitioning to form their own council from the Thames County and the beginning of 104 years of development and advancement as a separate community."

"It all started because of mining and it was this venture which provided the money for development. In the 1902 financial year, at the peak of gold mining in the county, we received £20,091 in gold revenue and duties and less than £1,000 in rates."

"As goldmining declined, clearing of the swamps and bush land began in earnest. Land drainage was as vital then as it is today, for without it our pastoral farming and roading network would fail."

"As we, the Ohinemuri County, petitioned from Thames County, Waihi, on March 1,1902, became a borough. Their complaint - Waihi gold revenues were not being spent in the town - an argument I hope will not be repeated," Mr Morrison said.

"On July 1, 1915, the people of Paeroa had their way, after petitioning and protesting to central government. Their argument was that they were not getting their fair share of monies and attention. Then, on April 1, 1920, the last of the 'children' from the Thames County became of age - Hauraki Plains."

"So by 1920 we had 4 councils hewn from Thames. They then set about their respective tasks, which have been so successful that central government has now decreed that the four be reunited - in their view the development job has been done."

Cairn unveiled

Cairn unveiled: Alf Jenkinson, Basil Morrison, Merv Parker. (Gazette Photo)

Local Government
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 34, September 1990
Cairn unveiled

"Not so," said Mr Morrison, "We pick up the task in 1989 with mining, land drainage, employment, pastoral farming, roading and social concerns still needing attention, albeit in a slightly different form from 1885, but nevertheless still there."

"We chose this place today for a memorial to our county and district as a mid-point in our history."

"Karangahake, in 1907, also petitioned to become a borough. With a population of 3000, their own newspaper, post office, fire brigade, hotels, public halls and a school with over 240 pupils, they also felt they should be on their own. However, because their population was so widespread it was declined. So, tongue in cheek, the only ones not to break away, we commemorate."

"This memorial cairn commemorates the deeds and efforts of the people, councillors, staff and residents of the Ohinemuri County."

The plaque reads: "Erected to commemorate the centenary of the Ohinemuri County Council 1885 1985".