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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 8, October 1967

By the late Courtenay Kenny

In the year 1877 the first trig-stations in this district were established by a Government Surveyor named J. Baber, and one of these was fixed on the sharp peak of Karangahake (1786 feet). There were others on most of the prominent mountains, notably Te Aroha, which were not less than five miles away. These are called Primary Stations. The lines joining such points form a network of large triangles over the whole of New Zealand.

It was quite a complicated business doing this job in rough country, requiring both physical stamina and the skill of trained men with special instruments. Later a large amount of intricate calculation completed the operations and from this framework accurate plans of the physical features of the country were prepared.

The position of the trigs is recorded on maps giving their distances from a centre station of a larger triangular area. In our case the centre is on Mt. Eden where a stone monument marks the spot. It has been calculated how far all trig stations are North or South, East or West of that initial point, e.g. Karangahake is approximately 38 miles South and then 52 miles East of Mt. Eden, or as expressed on Triangulation plans, 309,789 links South and 422,687 links East.

As many of the first trig-stations were not very accessible a number of lesser ones were established from these by N. Kenny, 1881; P.E. Cheal 1884 and J. Baber in 1887. It was from these, all road railway and land surveys were lodged in the lands Department Office, and if the records have not been destroyed the positions could be re-established if required in a thousand years time.

Early surveyors described most of the hills in this district as bush-covered, especially in the vicinity of the mining areas where the rivers and smaller streams flowed through the forest primeval. This did not apply so much to Waihi where there was much open or fern covered country, generally, and of course erroneously, regarded as useless, as was the vast Piako Swamp which was later to become so productive. All these areas were destined to be explored sooner or later by men with Theodolites who took their bearings from the old established Trig Stations.