Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 44, September 2000


On his retirement in mid-1999 as Director of the Waihi building company, S G Baker Ltd, Mr Sel Baker looked back over 40 years in business.

During this time his firm has built more than 150 houses, situated between Paeroa and Pauanui, as well as large projects such as the Waihi Trustbank building, Big Save Supermarket (now Price Chopper), Chandel Lighting, Seddon Street Mobil and the offices of Clark and Gay. Additions and upgrading contracts have been completed on a number of buildings in the area, including the Paeroa Periodic Detention Centre and the Waihi Police Station. Work has also been done on a number of schools, both in the district and in the central North Island. Mr Baker recalled that the "glamour job" was building Puka Park Lodge at Pauanui, a conference and tourist centre which won the New Zealand Tourism Award of 1986.

Joinery work has also featured prominently in the work of S G Baker Ltd with its range of customised kitchens produced in the Gilmour Street factory. These have been sold to buyers between Auckland and Wellington and during the 1970s, exported to New Caledonia. The firm also manufactures a "library chair" and many of these have sold to Australian buyers.

Sel Baker started out as an apprentice to Albert Thomas at Waihi Timber and Joinery, then worked for H D Raymond in Katikati, Wilkins & Co and Seath Dillimore & Co, before starting on his own. The Company has expanded with up to thirty employed and twenty-four apprentices have been trained over the years, many of these remaining in the building trade. At the time of his retirement there were eleven employees with kitchen manufacture one of its mainstays, along with stairs, wooden joinery and special fittings. Building construction, additions and maintenance are still major contributors to the company's turnover.