Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 12, October 1969


[see Journal 11: Memories of Waihi's East End for part One - E]

A favourite haunt of mine was around the Martha Refinery and the Union Battery [Waihi Battery – E] site behind it, where there were quite a few acres of Tailings (fine sand). The Refinery must have used a large petrol engine, or several, because I remember a gully close by filled with hundreds of 4 gallon empty "Big Tree" benzine tins. These could be had for the taking and many sheds and fowl-houses were clad in "tinplate" from this source.

There was a steep incline beside the Junction Battery with a powered winch at the top. This was used to haul the tram trucks of Flint Pebbles used in the Tube Mills, besides other things needed on the top level of the Battery. One Sunday several of us pushed an empty truck up this incline with the intention of riding down, but it took off before we could mount it. Careering down the line it jumped the points and ploughed through the wall of the engineering shop. We were never welcome around there again.

The Junction "Power house" was shifted to Tauranga and re-erected as a Fish factory. It is now used as Work Shops and Store by the Tauranga Power Board at Sulphur Point. The Generating Plant (and Boilers) went to Huntly, possibly to power one of the coal mines.

Most of the water used in the Martha and Junction Mines was brought from the East End in a series of water races and flumes from back in the hills. Dams were built in the creeks and the water was diverted into races or drains out around the hill sides, following the contour of the country for miles. These were favourite haunts for boys. We used to catch the Koura (fresh water crayfish) which were abundant, or rob birds' nests.

Many of the Miners in Waihi East had original nick names e.g.: Darkie College; Long Jim Harvey, Spare me Days Pipe, Stone Wall Henderson, Banjo Patterson, Mouth Organ Dick Farrell, Rabbity Bob Irwin, Jazzer Bill Davis, Bones Radford, Pardon Me Robertson, Strike me Dead Jones, Skin the Goat Sullivan, Bendigo Anderson, and Squib Gordon. Looking back over forty years one realises they were always referred to by their nick-names.