North End of Waihi Beach prior to the late 1920s
George Vesey Stewart, the first European landowner on North End, owned 1760 acres including Orokawa.
He was looking for somewhere to develop and a place where farmers could sell their produce. Waihi Beach and the discovery of gold in 1870 on the North End hills was a good prospect, so it seemed.
In 1900 James William Shaw bought 150 acres from Vesey Stewart. Mr Shaw then managed the mines until they went into liquidation 1911, after which he bought rest of Veseys land except the 30-acre strip which already had baches on.
The same year, 1911, the Waihi to Waihi Beach Road was opened. By all accounts it was bumpy and weather sensitive, as tar seal did not get laid until 1938, but it did allow better access for the beach dwellers. Mr Shaw allowed squatters to occupy the beach frontage at a nominal rental.
In 1920 the Mayor of Waihi, Dawson Donaldson, decided that the Ohinemuri Borough would purchase 76 acres to develop a health and recreation resort for the miners and battery workers of Waihi, the premise being that sunshine and sea air would alleviate the effects quartz dust was having on their lungs (Miners Phthisis). As the Shaw family and George Vesey were reluctant to sell, the mayor and councillors obtained possession by invoking the Public Works and Municipal Act. The Borough then developed the area of leasehold sections.
By 1925 there were baches all over north end and a campground. There were abundant tents in many of the archived pictures of that time. There were picnics in Po¯hutukawa Park showing off the Model A Ford cars of the time.
A Post Office was opened in Mr Clarrie Kennedys store on the corner of Pacific Road in 1925 and the telephone exchange the following year bought outside communication into the area. However, the community was not serviced with electricity until 1933.
The photograph depicts the bare hills stripped by the mines and workers building on the hillside. It also depicts the details of a tracked road and shacks.
The next two decades land developments, businesses and local volunteer clubs emerged into a residential community at the North End. A series of maps inform a time line of developments which will be display at the History Event in October.