Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 5, May 1966


About the year 1905 Mr. Alex Ramsay Carnie was the Inspector of Explosives, and at about that time the Waihi Miners made a complaint regarding the unsafe condition of gelignite stored in the Powder Magazine at Paeroa. Carnie received instructions to examine the magazine and report to the Government. Being a friend of his I was invited to accompany him.

We journeyed by buggy from Thames to Paeroa and thence about a mile along the Waihi Road to the magazine. Carnie noticed that the door swung inward instead of outward. If some careless person had left a box of detonators by the front wall, the door when swung open would have struck the box and caused an explosion.

We set to work and opened up all the cases of gelignite. The lids of the cases were fastened with brass screws. The gelignite was covered with an oily substance and some with stuff like Epsom Salts. The sticks of gelignite were very dark in colour, and broke like sticks of chocolate. Carnie condemned the lot and received instructions to destroy it.

Mr. Charles Short of Paeroa was engaged to cart about a ton of gelignite to Puru on the Thames Coast. Carnie and I proceeded with half a dozen cases while Hicks a carter came with the remainder. On the north side of the Puru Creek, near the site of the present school, we stacked our heap of gelignite. The tide was out so we tried an experiment. At the low-water mark we placed 3 cases 15 ft. apart, and fired a 303 rifle at the middle case. There was only one explosion, the three cases going off together.

We then stacked 500 lbs. at low water mark and fired a bullet into it. There was a tremendous explosion and a hole 25 ft. long, 12 ft. wide and 6 ft. deep was left in the sand. The remainder we destroyed by using a battery Carnie had brought from Auckland. The noise of the explosion was heard as far away as Neavesville beyond Puriri. We also tested a great number of electric detonators and destroyed the faulty ones.