Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 10, October 1968


(In our last issue the history of the Beach was covered to 1958 when the Council was given power to lease under the Public Bodies Act for a period of 21 years with the perpetual right of renewal. Ed. [Journal 9: History of Waihi Beach - E])

In 1939 Mr. E. A. Wilson purchased from the Shaw estate a block of land on the south side of the Main Road, known as the "Peninsula" so called because of the very wet swamp almost surrounding it. Before Shaws bought the land from Vesey Stewart, they had Fenn Haszard take the levels to see if it was possible to drain the swamp by cutting a canal through the sandhills on to the foreshore. It was possible and so the two mile creek was born, and it has done a great job as most of the land that E. A. Wilson subdivided and sold in 1949 had been reclaimed from the swamp.

When Mrs. Shaw lost the case with the Waihi Borough Council, she instructed a surveyor to cut up land all around the Borough boundary. The reason for this was to discourage them from taking more land as she felt that if they had to buy it, one section at a time, they would not be so keen. In 1948 the Shaw estate subdivided more land along the foreshore and extended Dillon Street and Shaw Road to the 2 mile creek.

In 1955 the Local Government Commission sat in Waihi with the result that the Borough boundaries were adjusted and Waihi Beach became part of the Ohinemuri County. Ownership of the land set apart for building purposes was retained by the Council, but the reserves at the Beach were transferred to the control of the County.

In 1956 a Commission was set up by the Minister of Internal Affairs to adjust the assets and the liabilities as between the Council and County. After hearing evidence and submissions it was decided by the Commission that the buildings on the land set aside by the Borough at the Beach for public reserves should be transferred to the County and compensation allowed to the Borough. This meant that when the Borough transferred the reserves to the County they received ten thousand pounds for them. The Borough administration of the area was enquired into and from the figures obtained £39,000 had been derived from the area since 1926, while expenditure was £ 38,000, which included £11,097, Interest, Sinking fund and Repayments on loans. The loans referred to were the initial loan of £6,000 paid for the reserve and a Highways loan of £ 3,000 that was raised in 1959 to seal the road.

In 1956 leaseholders were paying the Borough $1,500 a year rent for their sections and the Commission should have pegged these rents at this figure or else they should have given the leaseholders the right to freehold, as after all, the Borough had only originated the scheme and the leaseholders had paid for it. When the Ohinemuri County took over they set about raising loans for a water supply and sealing and kerbing. Loans which amounted to almost £1000,000. Of this amount the leaseholders were responsible for over £30,000 and when it came to renewing the leases the ground rents were raised fourfold to £6,000 per year. Because the sections are so small the holders are debarred from having septic tanks and have to face up to the cost of a sewerage scheme which will cost £90,000 and the leaseholders have to foot the bill for the lot. Will our ground rent rise fourfold next time we renew?, The Local Gov., Comm. should be recalled to solve this vexed problem.


1911. The Beach road was opened.

1909-24. The first beach school was opened in a small shed down near the camping area. The need for a school had been pressed by Mrs. Stobie, Mrs. Moon and the Member for the district, Major Samuels. Teachers for the school were supplied by the East and South schools at Waihi. First day pupils were: Joyce Stobie; Olga Thompson, Russell Williams, Lloyd McKee and Jack Harley. In 1928 a school was built near the Cabaret and was later shifted to its present site.

8-10-25. A Post Office was opened in a store run by Clarrie Kennedy who ran the mail to Waihi and it was later shifted across the road to a store run by Teddy and Adde Brown. Mrs. Rossborough has been Postmistress for the past 20 years.

1929. Ted Brown started a passenger service from the Beach to Waihi. It was later taken over by Sam Bonnici and is now the Railway Road Services.

1933. The Waihi Surf and Life Saving Club was formed as the result of a meeting called by F. Raddings in the Miners' Reading Room at Waihi. Present were: F. Raddings, J. & H. Cornthwaite, Winn and Mr. Wrigley (Senior). Officers elected in 1935-36 were: Patron, W. Walnutt; Mayor of Waihi. President, F. Raddings. Vice Presidents (Active) S. Bonnici, S.M. Hovell. Hon. V. Presidents, A. Maunder, H. Thomas, J. Gilmour, J.H.G. Banks, H. Boughton, N. Gibson, F. Slevin, I. Falwell, E. Payce, T. McDonald, H.C.V. Clark, Drs. Hetherington and Barrowclough. Secretary and Treasurer, W.C. Collier, Men's Captain, N. Wynn. Ladies' Captain, Miss B. Pipe. Men's Vice Captain, E.D. McLeay. Ladies' Vice Captain, Miss J. Stobie, Hon. Instructor, W.C. Collier. Gear Steward, N.C. Keatings. Hon. Auditor, H.L. Boughton. Executive Committee:- E.W. McCullough, F. Hayward, Miss D. Weedon, Mrs. B. Mackie.

1939. Road from Tauranga Road to the Beach was tar sealed.

1949. Our first church was built. It was St. Peter's Anglican Church. Rt. Rev. Bishop Dedicated and opened it on 16-12-1949. The building of this church was quite a community effort and J. Hardiman, R. Hindman, J. Stobie and J. McCoy, all men well up in their 70s did more than their share. Rev. Moore was the first vicar. Our Member of Parliament at the time was Fred Doidge and he was very interested in the Church and gave generous donations and also the bell. It is felt that there could be history attached to the bell as Fred Doidge was one of 200 passengers on board the Ellingamite when she ran on to the rocks and sank at Three Kings in 1902. At the time of the sinking there was a dense fog and the lifeboat that Fred Doidge was in went on to the rocks too, and was smashed up. Later he was picked up by another lifeboat with 56 aboard and after drifting in the fog for a couple of days came ashore at Houhora. 30 odd died from exhaustion but Fred Doidge lived on to represent us in Parliament, become a Cabinet Minister and later High Commissioner in London, where he gained a Knighthood, Sir Frederick Doidge died on 26th May, 1954 and his ashes are in a crypt at St. Peter's and the bell could well have been a memento of the Ellingamite.

25-10-59. The Catholic Church was blessed and opened by the Most Reverend Bishop De Largey. There was a lot of free labour went into the building of this Church too and none gave more than the parish Priest, Rev. J. Hayes.

17-12-60. The United Church (Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, Church of Christ), also built with voluntary labour, was opened.

December 1953. The Waihi Beach Fire Brigade was formed with 8 members J. Toms, L. Ward, J. Paul, H. Lomas, L. Davison, I. Cameron, and F. Coxhead.

When the Waihi. Borough was the rating authority at the beach, we always had a representative on the Council. The first councillor was A. Maunder, then followed S.M. Hovell, S. Bonnici, and L. Bacon. Likewise, on the Ohinemuri County we have a riding member. They were: R. Lowry and C. Black, The present member is R. Williams.

Caretakers at the beach have been: J. Moon, Alf Sparks, Bill Wotherspoon and the present one, who has served for many years, L. Toms.

On 18-9-41 Mrs. Shaw gave the northern part of her property as a domain. This area of 655 acres is known to-day as the Orakawa Domain, and what a lovely Domain it is, mostly covered with native bush, which includes Kauri, Rimu, Puriri and some of the biggest white teatree to be seen. At the head of a gully that runs from Shark Bay there is a puriri tree that is reputed to be one of the biggest in N.Z. When I last saw it the lower limbs had grown so big that they had shorn off the trunk and the tree looked as though it might die. If we take a walk to the top of the Orakawa Hill in December, we can look down on that bay with its coarse white sand and a fringe of Pohutukawa trees in bloom and see a very pretty sight. We are well served with reserves and domains at the beach and the ratepayers have reason to be grateful to Mrs. Shaw for her great gift. When we came to put in the water supply the Orakawa Domain provided most of the watershed.