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.
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