Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 53, September 2009

Waihi was one of several New Zealand towns to erect a monument to commemorate the life of Prime Minister Right Honourable Richard J. Seddon, who led the country from May 1, 1893, to June 6, 1906.

"King Dick" as he became affectionately known, was on his way to Australia on an official visit when he became ill and died midway across the Tasman Sea. New Zealand was plunged into mourning for a week.

The original Seddon Memorial

The original Seddon Memorial at the intersection of Seddon Street and Haszard Street.

Seddon Memorial
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 53, September 2009
The original Seddon Memorial

On November 11, 1905, the popular Prime Minister was in Paeroa on the election campaign trail speaking at a public meeting and being hosted by the Paeroa Branch of the Liberal and Labour Party.

The news of Prime Minister's death reached New Zealand on June 10 and was received with shock and overwhelming sadness throughout the country. The bells at St. Paul's Anglican and St. Mary's Catholic Churches rang out across the town, as to did the Paeroa Volunteer Fire Brigade's fire bell. A special memorial service was held in the St Andrews Presbyterian where No. 1 Company of the 6th Hauraki Regiment Volunteers, the Paeroa and District High School cadets and the Karangahake Brass Band paraded. There was also a memorial service held in the Methodist Church.

On the day of the funeral in Paeroa, like other towns, shops closed and were decked out in black crepe paper, private homes had blinds drawn, and flags flew at half-mast. A special service was held in St. Paul's Church. Dean Hackett conducted a special service for St. Joseph's Convent. All schools closed for the day. Later in the day a united memorial service was held in the Criterion Theatre and in the evening the Liberal and Labour Paeroa Branch held a commemorative service.

In Waihi similar out-pouring of grieve took place and then following a public meeting a monument in honour of the Prime Minister was erected in middle of the intersection of Seddon Street and Haszard Street. (photo left). In the late 1950s the monument with its lights and drinking fountains was removed as it was causing a traffic hazard. After period in storage the fountain was rebuilt and for a short time was in Seddon Park, before it returned to its present site in 2000.