Union Hill Waihi

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Union Hill, Waihi


Union Hill, a bush covered hill in the centre of Waihi, owned by Newmont Waihi Gold Ltd, is part of the historic goldmining landscape of the 19th – 20th century exploitation of the Coromandel and Hauraki gold fields. It played a significant role in the history of gold mining in New Zealand, particularly because it was part of a large operation involving the famous Martha Mine; was instrumental in bringing in large capital investment from abroad and was also at the forefront of many innovations in the industry. The industrial remains vary considerably in both condition and significance. Some of the elements, such as the cyanide tanks, are rare and are registered by the Historic Places Trust and scheduled by the Hauraki District Council. Many, such as the kilns and drives are good, but often not the best examples of features located elsewhere in the district. Other remains, particularly around the Waihi Battery site have been considerably damaged by operations in the 1970s


<googlemap lat="-37.383833" lon="175.844121" zoom="15" width="300">-37.39141, 175.840348, Union Hill, Waihi, Waikato, New Zealand</googlemap> Waihi Town, New Zealand


Union Hill is part of the historic gold mining precinct on the northeastern edge of Waihi Township and less than a kilometre to the east of the renowned Martha Mine. Waihi Township, in common with many other settlements around the Coromandel and Hauraki, was founded on gold mining during the latter half of the 19th century. The hill’s bush cover disguises the fact that it was once the site of the Waihi Battery and a major industrial mining site in Waihi with significant historical associations. The hill still contains extensive remains of this historic industry, largely dating between 1878 and 1954, which are predominantly located on the land owned by Newmont Waihi Gold, although some mining remains are also found on parts of the hill within the LINZ and DOC estates. The Ohinemuri River which meanders its way past the south of Waihi Town was once part of the critical water supply that provided power for the industry (Figure 1). The site has several notable associations:

  • At one time it was the largest gold and silver processing mill in the country and the ore roasting kilns were the first to be constructed on the Hauraki goldfield. The group of 10 that have survived are in excellent condition.
  • The impressive tall concrete cylinders of the pneumatic (air agitation) tanks are possibly the only air-agitation tanks built of concrete and still in existence today in NZ.
  • The Waihi Battery, at 60 stamps and also later at 90 stamps, was the largest in New Zealand at the time and foundations of the stamps, stamper buildings, engine house and other structures still exist.
  • The Smelthouse and Refinery operated for the life of the Waihi Battery and the Victoria Battery. Most of the bullion production of the Waihi district passed through this facility.

The cyanide tanks were registered as a Category 1 Historic Place by the NZ Historic Places Trust in 1990.


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