Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 55, September 2011

(By Ollie Richardson, Vice-president)

The committee has had its hand full these past year, so many good things have or are about to happen!


There will be quite some interest in next year's centennial of the Waihi strike. Whether we like it or not, various people will come to Waihi to commemorate this event. There are still folk in our area who would rather let this remembrance pass by un-heralded, but as it is also regarded as the 'birth of the NZ Labour movement' outsiders are already planning to commemorate the event here in Waihi.

To this end, WACMA is planning a new exhibition of Bob Kerr's painting on this subject, which will also be showcasing various items we hold in our Collection dating back to the strike days.

Some of our research team members are engaged in collating many personal stories of the people involved. Permission has been granted for two of our team to go to Wellington to search the documents held by Archives NZ.

If we want to have our story told in a way which is most appropriate for Waihi, then we need to do this ourselves as much as possible, rather than have only others bring in their outside perspective of those dark and difficult months, when ALL of Waihi suffered.


We have been fortunate to receive a substantial grant of from the Valder Ohinemuri Trust towards the purchase of a film/fiche reader. This machine will enable our research team to print items from our old newspapers, which we hold on film.


Over the 25th - 27th August, 2011, period we had a stand at the Family History Fair held at the Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton. We promoting our heritage, the museum and the town. Hauraki District Council's Waihi Ward Committee contributed $500 towards this project. We received an excellent response as so many Kiwis have connections to Waihi because of the longevity of the Martha Mine (1878 – 1952) and so many men worked here at one time or another.


The Waihi Summer Festival, after 40 years of operation, was recently wound up, as there was insufficient interest to get a new committee together to run the 2012 Exhibition. The Society had struggled for several years to find willing volunteers to run their annual festival.

At a special meeting it was agreed that WACMA will be the beneficiary of the assets from the Society, with the proviso that it must be used to further the creative arts in Waihi, as per Rule 17 of their constitution. We are looking forward to a number of new arts initiatives to give our gallery a higher profile.


Now that the new wheelchair-friendly toilet block has been completed and is operational, the old loos have been demolished. This has given us a surprising amount of extra display space.

We have decided on a display about the Akrad/Pye/Philips years. This era was very important to Waihi - as it exemplifies the spirit of our town, and in retrospect was a godsend as an employer once the Martha mine closed down in 1952.

Our museum designer-consultant Chris Currie, has come up with a plan of how to go about this new venture and we are currently getting quotes for the major display cases. We expect the cost to be around $5000 and it will be the first step towards upgrading the way in which we at the Museum tell our town's story.


Our local Lions group has begun some remedial maintenance on this structure. You may have noticed the scaffolding, and the work done on the roof so far.

This is actually an important post World War One Extensible, Portable Classroom and is the only one left in the country as far as we know. We have commissioned and received a Conservation Report on it and the current work will ensure that this gem does not fall into further disrepair. We have a number of interesting and education-orientated ideas of how this building could be used some time in the future.


Whilst the WACMA tower has been up since 2009, the Matamata tower is waiting for a definitive decision as to its exact placement and the Victoria Battery and Tramway Society's tower is in the process of being painted. Hopefully by next year's AGM all three towers will have been erected and the major sponsor, Transpower, can feel very pleased that their funding has been diligently applied and the job is finally completed.


In December WACMA, Waihi Historical Society and the Paeroa Museum and Historical Society are planning a get together (long overdue), to get to know one another better, and to share our combined triumphs, trials and tribulations. The Paeroa Museum also uses the Past Perfect program and it will be interesting for those involved with this to swap notes and make comparisons.