Waihi is about 300 feet above the level of the sea, and is situated on the Waihi Plains, in the county of Ohinemuri.
The settlement of the district commenced in 1878, when Mr. George Compston and his wife crossed the Waitekauri river, and took up land in the Huaia block, where they have since resided. Mr. Compston was the first settler in the district, and as far as can be gathered was followed successively by the brothers Walmsley, Messrs W. Hollis, and H. C. Savage.
In 1880 Waihi town consisted of Messrs J. Phillips and Son's store, and the Waihi Hotel, then a mere shanty, erected by Mr. T. Corbett. In the early eighties the town began to come into prominence, owing to the discovery of gold, and the now celebrated Waihi Company was formed in 1887. In May, 1900, miners' huts and cottages were spread over an area of about three miles each way. The poppet heads of the mines are conspicuous in every direction, and the batteries of the Waihi and Union Waihi Companies are features in the scene. Streets in the township are intercepted at many points by the tramlines communicating between various mines and batteries; and the Waihi Company's tramline extends from its mine to its large Victoria battery at Waikino. The main street of the township is contiguous to the celebrated Martha Hill, the first portion of the Waihi mine to be worked, and out of the top of this hill a huge slice has been taken out and put through the mills. Conical hills and cones surround the settlement, and there are mountain ranges in the distance. Waihi is on the main coach line, connected with Katikati and Tauranga. In reality the township is a gold mining camp, but it appears likely that it will continue to increase. The Ohinemuri County Council has done much in the way of cutting, forming, and metalling roads, and in making footpaths. Local residents wish the township to be declared a borough, and, no doubt, this will be done sooner or later.
The Waihi Improvement Committee, which was appointed in 1897 at a meeting of the residents, has been successful in effecting considerable improvements in the condition of the township. At the instance of the Committee, the County Council has completed the street water supply, established the local fire brigade, and generally improved the roads, foot-paths, etc. The ultimate object of the Committee is the establishment of a local borough council.
The Waihi Volunteer Fire Brigade, which is registered under the Unclassified Societies Act, was established on the 28th of February, 1899. There are sixteen effective members in the Brigade, and Mr. C. E. Brown is captain, Mr. T. Wells foreman, and Mr. T. McCarthy secretary. The station is in Main Street, opposite the Stirling Hotel, and the plant consists of a reel with 850 feet of two-inch-and-a-half canvass hose, two hydrants, four branches, and a union. The site measures 20 by 16 feet, and was presented to the Brigade by Mr. J. L. Stevens.
Jenny in New Zealand added the following on 20th November 2009.
"The Cyclopedia of NZ - Auckland Provincial District - Volume 2" (1902), page 927
"Mr George Cumpston may fairly be regarded as the pioneer settler of the Waihi district, in which he arrived in 1878. He was the first settler to cross the Waitekauri river, and Mrs Cumpston was, for two years, the only lady resident in the district. Mr Cumpston was born in the in North of Ireland, in 1828, and was brought up to the stone manufacturing business. He went to America at the age of twenty-four, and about eleven years later came to New Zealand. Mr Cumpston was for about eleven years in the Manukau district, and settled at the Waihi in 1878, when he acquired 200 acres of land, then in its natural condition. He has taken an active interest in the local school committee since its establishment, and occupied the position of chairman for about nine years.
Mr Cumpston was married, in 1852, to a daughter of the late Mr J. Ochiltree, of County Armagh, Ireland, and has three daughters surviving; namely, Mesdames Kinsella, Nichols, and Hollis, who all reside in the district; and there are eighteen grandchildren."
Waihi is in the Waikato region south of Auckland, across the Hauraki Plains east of Kiokio/Otorohanga where John/Emma Cumpstone from Shropshire settled after their arrival in NZ in 1882. It was one of numerous areas in NZ (including the Coromandel area) which was a big part of the gold rush in the 1800's, and still has NZ's biggest operational gold mine today.
Jenny Edwards-shuker (Whangarei, NZ)
Many thanks for this Jenny!
2009-11-28 Samantha Everson wrote to me about her Compston relatives of New Zealand and Nevada
I am the Great great great Grand daughter of George Compston, whose marriage to Martha (nee Ochiltree) in 1851 in Kilclooney County Armagh is featured on your website.
I was wondering if you would have any further information of their time in Northern Ireland? His fathers name was Robert and his mother was Eleanor. They came out to New Zealand on the Claremont in the 1850's, but this may have left from America as 2 of their daughters Rachel and Mary Jane were born in Nevada. [USA]
George also had a brother James Compston who settled in Nevada in the 1800's and there is a large number of his descendents there and in California (again some of which feature on this site), to this day.
George and his wife were the very first settlers to arrive in a place called Waihi in the Bay of Plenty which is in the north Island of New Zealand in 1878, taking over 200 acres of land. His wife Martha was the first white woman there and the only one for the next 2 years. They had another daughter Sarah Margaret. Unfortunately, due to only having daughters this is where this line of the Compston name ends in New Zealand. But each of the daughters married very prominent settlers in the region.
Graeme Kinsella contacted me re:
George and Martha Cumpston
I am the great great grandson of George and Martha Cumpston of Waitekauri, New Zealand. My great grandfather and great grandmother were Mathew Kinsella and Rachel Compston. I would like to gather more information on both George and Martha if you can assist.
There is a quaint story told in the Waikato Times 23 March 1886 about Mr Cumpstone making a valuable find of a seam of gravel. Was this George?