Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 4, September 1965
By REG SPRAGUE
Paeroa was the first country town in N.Z. to receive hydro electric power, although the Waihi Goldmining Coy. had owned the power station at Hora Hora for approximately thirty years, and had used Power for their Waikino Battery. The Government purchased this power station in 1918, allowing the Waihi Coy. to use all it required, after which it was prepared to sell the balance to private users. At the time the Waihi Borough did not wish to participate, partly because it had a flourishing gas industry. The Thames Valley Power Board was constituted in 1919 but it took some eighteen months to organise and arrange for power to be used in Paeroa, which had previously used gas, the gas works being sited where the concrete works now are.
On 31st March 1921, at the transformer station outside the Criterion Hotel, the Hon. Mr. Gordon Coates, Minister of Works, officially switched on the power for Paeroa. (Some people may remember that on that day he received news of the birth of his fourth daughter.) At a later date it was arranged to supply power to the Hauraki Plains and surrounding districts. Electricity was made available to farmers for heat, lighting and milking purposes, thus heralding a new era. Mr. Fred Strange of Mangaiti was the first Chairman of the Power Board, and I was the Secretary-Manager.
(Note: We are grateful to Mr. Sprague for sending us this reminder of a step in the progress of Paeroa. He had earlier given service to the district as Assistant Clerk of the Ohinemuri County Council, before his many years with the Thames Valley Electric Power Board. He now lives in retirement in Auckland.)