Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 47, September 2003

Waihi Hospital celebrated its Centennial on Saturday 17 May 2003 with a Reunion and Garden Party to which all residents were invited. It was a chance for nursing and administrative staff, involved with the hospital over the years and for people who had had a close affinity with the hospital to meet and reminisce. Nearly three hundred people attended.

The centennial cake was cut by Mrs Edie Taylor, nee Jeffcoat. Now in her 90s and resident at Hamilton, Mrs Taylor was born and raised in Waihi and after training as a nurse, returned to Waihi to take up a nursing position in 1935. She is thought to be the oldest surviving person with a strong connection to Waihi and the hospital.

During the afternoon function, Hauraki District Council Mayor, Basil Morrison spoke of the hospital's history, recalling that his grandmother had been a matron there. Prime Minister, Helen Clark spoke of the changes that the hospital had passed through in its 100-year history. She planted a kauri tree in the hospital grounds to mark the occasion. Music was provided by the Federal Band and by Robyn Tucker.

It was unfortunate that a time capsule placed when the hospital was built was unable to be retrieved as it had been buried in a concrete slab beneath one of the building's main supporting piles. Retrieving it would have involved jacking up the building and hauling the slab out. It is planned that a new time capsule will be buried in a more accessible place and included in it will be a copy of the centennial booklet to be published and a photograph of the baby born closest to the centennial.

The early history of the hospital is recorded at page 10 of Journal No. 12 (October 1969). The opening ceremony, held on 17 May 1903 and performed by Premier Richard Seddon, is recorded in Adela Stewart's book, My Simple Life in New Zealand. The Waihi Leader records that 'in 1912, during the miner's strike, an eight-year-old boy with appendicitis was brought in from Tauranga by launch to Kauri Point and from there by horse-drawn carriage to Waihi and was successfully operated on. The lad went on to become one of New Zealand's longest serving Prime Ministers and was none other than Sir Keith Holyoake. It is said that Sir Keith told Owen Morgan he could remember seeing a procession of striking miners marching down the road.'

While a significant part of the interior of the building has been rebuilt, the exterior has changed little from the day that it was opened. It is the second largest employer in Waihi and is unique in that unlike hospitals in other small towns in New Zealand, it has remained opened, and what is more, has continued to expand.

The Centennial celebration's committee was headed by former hospital manager, Jessie Waugh. Assisting her were Mike Hayden, Don Adams, Rod Lawrence and Owen Morgan.