Hart, P. (2016). Waiorongomai Township. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 116). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10450
When gold was discovered at Waiorongomai, a settlement was quickly established, to the delight of the Thames High School Governors, who anticipated a good return from their swampy farmland. Shops, hotels, and a school were erected, but the growth soon tailed off, and apart from brief mining revivals the settlement declined steadily until totally vanishing in the twentieth century: so much for its hopes of being larger than Te Aroha. Typically, residents struggled with poor access, poor roads, and poor footpaths – although they did have one of the first telephone lines in New Zealand. There were regular complaints that the school board neglected the settlement, and for a time there was much debate about whether to join Te Aroha in a new borough. During the nineteenth century, pigs in particular were complained about, and in the next century noxious weeds spread across abandoned residence and business sites. When this happened, local farmers sought to acquire these sections, but as a few miners insisted that mining would revive, some were retained for the anticipated miners (who never came). During its existence, residents enjoyed quite an active social life, with sports, meetings, ‘rinking’, dances, and concerts and other entertainments in the public hall. Locals organized most of these activities, but occasional visitors provided some – and as Te Aroha was so close it was easy to attend entertainments there. But by the early twentieth century this social life faded away as the settlement did.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart