The West Coast coal-mining settlement of Seddonville, 50 km north of Westport, was named in honour of the legendary Liberal Premier Richard Seddon. It was also the site of an early experiment in state socialism – New Zealand’s first state-owned coal mine opened there in 1903.
When the name was chosen in 1893 Seddon joked that he hoped the town would prosper, as he wouldn’t want his name to be associated with failure. ‘King Dick’ didn’t get his wish: the mine struggled and was closed in 1914, eight years after his death.
Later in the 20th century the Seddonville area became a centre for private and co-operative mines, and hydraulic mining technology was pioneered there. But due to its exceptionally high sulfur content, Seddonville coal became difficult to sell. Mining ceased in the 1990s, and only a small community remains. The main reminders of the area’s mining heritage are the Chasm Creek and Charming Creek walkways, both of which follow abandoned railway lines.