Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 37, September 1993
By J F Carbutt
In 1913 electric power was supplied to the Martha Mine from their own Hydro-power station at Hora Hora, 17 miles from Cambridge. This hydro-power station, being the first on the Waikato River, was used for generating power until 1948. At this time Karapiro Power Station was put into service and Hora Hora station was drowned when Lake Karapiro rose to full depth.
In 1920 the Government took over the Hora Hora Power Station at the initial cost price through an arrangement with the Martha Company [Waihi Gold Mining Company – E] when the company was given the permit to build. In 1921 Paeroa was supplied with surplus power through Waikino sub-station and the Hon. J G Coates turned the power on on 31 March, 1921.
Electric power was offered to Waihi Borough Council but it was turned down as the Council owned the local gas works. Eventually it was allowed in as the gas works was losing as much as it produced.
Power to Waihi was switch on on 20 December 1924. As Waihi did not come in on the first scheme, consumers were penalised by having to pay 8d a unit. Wages then averaged £3/3/0 a week so with the power at this price it was only used for lighting and a power point to run radios. It was too costly for water heating and cooking.
It was the Hon. J G Coates who switched on the power at both Waihi and Paeroa. At Waihi a special dinner marked the occasion and the menu is reproduced on this page.
The power line was erected mainly by Waihi men. In 1926 the total output from Hora Hora was increased to 10,300KW. The first transformer was erected outside the Waihi Police StationinKenny Street and supplied power to the first 70 customers. One of the original power pylons stands outside the Museum in Kenny Street, Waihi.
The first representative on the power hoard was Mr H L Boughton OBE, a local solicitor. Mr Boughton served on the Thames Valley Electric Power Board for 33 years.