Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 50, September 2006
(By Mrs N. S. Climie, Editor, Member of the Council of the Waihi Arts Centre and Museum Association and the Paeroa and District Historical Society. Vol 1, No.1, June, 1964.)
WHEN THE Waihi Arts and Centre and Museum Association (W.A.C.M.A.) was established about two years ago, it first concentrated on the its museum, but also aimed to link this with written historical records, as well as to provide for Ohinemuri, a cultural centre which would cater for several fields of interest. Its constitution provided for an historical section thus: "To publish papers, periodicals, journals, books, reproductions and photographs relating to the history of the Ohinemuri County and connected areas".
For various reasons it has not been easy to bring this aim to fruition but considerable work has gone on behind the scenes supported by valuable "lone rangers". However, the arrival in Paeroa of the Rev. L. M. Rogers, M.A., past-president of the Whakatane Historical Society, has given us both inspiration and impetus and now affiliated groups in Waihi and Paeroa are more formally active, holding meetings for speakers, discussions, films and tapes and also, we hope, Maori topics. Hence we are at last venturing into print—perhaps as an act of faith—and launching this first Journal of a series.
The seeds of our story were sown long before our time and even before the first white men settled here—McCaskill at Hikutaia in 1839 and Joshua Thorp at Paeroa, the cradle of Ohinemuri in 1842. Inevitably it will be a story of two races: The Maori, whose ancestral home this was and the Europeans, who ventured here. It will be the story, too, of rivers that were life-lines, of forests, mountains and plains that have required the most arduous labour to make them yield their rich abundance.
Our "golden" background gives our history that flavour of romance that makes it at once lively and unique, for the Ohinemuri Goldfields were different in character from others in New Zealand—our extensive "underground" was a world of wealth coupled with stark realism and great dangers.
We are indebted to Mr Alistair Isdale for his scholarly article which provides a sound foundation on which we can build. However, we do not set out to tell the story on chronological order. Our aim is rather to record the findings of our research in the hope that we may preserve facts which ultimately will be of use in completing an overall picture.
Those who have personal recollections of pioneering days become fewer as the years go by. We are proud to honour some of these by presenting their stories in our early issues and congratulate them on their fine efforts.
Karangahake and Waihi celebrated jubilees fairly recently and Paeroa is planning one for 1965, so it is by no over-sight that we have concentrated on adjacent areas in the meantime. There is will much to gleen and we earnestly seek the co-operation of all those who are able to make some literary contribution; also to those willing to support our efforts by subscribing to the Ohinemuri Regional History Journal. Your membership is needed in order that we may carry on.