Waihi and Gold

Our roots go deep. Few parts of New Zealand can offer so much history - glimpses of the hard-fought, gold-rich, pioneer lifestyle permeate the town. Step back in time, and wander through years past in today's friendly atmosphere.

GOLD FEVER

It was the lure of gold that brought people to Waihi in numbers. In 1878 gold-bearing quartz was found on Pukewa spur, a Maori burial ground which soon became the famous Martha Mine. Tents and crude huts were gradually replaced with today's still visible miners' cottages.

By 1908, Waihi was the fastest growing town in the Auckland Province with a population three times that of Hamilton. Miners took their families to Hamilton on long weekends to escape the bustle of Waihi. The mighty Martha Mine became one of the most important gold and silver mines in the world. By 1952, when it closed, around 5.6 million ounces (174,160kg) of gold and 38.4 million ounces (1,193,180kg) of silver had been produced from some 12 million tonnes of ore. At today's bullionprices (April 2000) of NZ$550 per oz for gold and NZ$10 per oz forsilver, that's a value of $NZ 3.1 billion for gold and $NZ 384 million for silver.

Their claim was taken over by William Nicholl in 1879. He pegged out five acres, named the claim 'Martha' after a family member, and later a few small claims amalgamated to form the Martha Company. By 1882 the first battery was in operation.

Next: The First Waihi Gold Mining Company »