Waihi memorial hall

Memorial hall Memorial hall Memorial hall Memorial hall

Waihi memorial hall.

The Waihi Miners’ and Workers’ Union Hall first opened a hall on this site  in 1905. The Waihi Miners’ Hall became well-known as a rallying place during the 1912 Waihi miners strike. On 12 November 1912, a policeman fatally bludgeoned striking mine worker Frederick Evans here.

The hall was a centre of union and community activity for many years after the strike. However, when the Martha Gold Mining Company closed down its Waihi mine in 1952, the union went into decline. Before disbanding, it donated the Miners’ Hall to the people of Waihi. Waihi Borough Council demolished the old building and used both community contributions and a war memorial subsidy to fund a new hall on the site.

Minister of Customs Ralph Boord formally opened this hall on 18 November 1958. Two plaques were unveiled during the ceremony. One recorded the gift of the site: “This site and Miners Hall / was presented / to the people of Waihi / on July 10th 1954 / by  the members of the Ohinemuri / Miners and Batteries Union / as a tribute to the memory / of the men who have finished / their last shift.” The other recorded the hall’s new function as a war memorial hall: “Waihi Memorial Hall / In memory of / those who served / that we may be free / Lest we forget.”

The name ‘Waihi Memorial Hall’ was chosen in preference to ‘Waihi War Memorial Hall’ to underline the building’s dual purpose.

There is no roll of honour on display inside the hall. An honours board compiled in1994 lists a number of ‘Honoured Citizens’. These are mostly Waihi residents who have received royal honours or honours from the Order of St John, but also include five local men who earned military honours: Robert V. Hollis MC and Edward M. Dean MM in the First World War; and Evan D. Mackie DFC, DSO (also United States Distinguished Flying Cross); James R. Cullen DFC and John E. Miller (United States Distinguished Flying Cross) in the Second World War.

A memorial seat outside the hall recalls its industrial past. In 1987 a group of trade unionists formed the Fred Evans Memorial Committee to erect a permanent memorial to Frederick Evans. After some controversy, they were given permission to place a memorial seat in front of the Waihi Memorial Hall. Committee chairman Dick Davis and secretary Diana Wilsie unveiled the seat on Sunday 13 November 1994. The accompanying plaque reads: “ In memory of / Frederick George Evans / died during Waihi mine workers strike / November 12, 1912 from injuries suffered /  at Waihi Miners Union Hall. / ‘No fight for human freedom is wholly lost. / Therefore, no strike is ever wholly lost. / It lives in its educational results.’ / Presented to the people of Waihi on / behalf of the Workers of New Zealand. / Aotearoa November 12 1994”.

Frederick Evans’ grave is found in the Waikaraka cemetery in Onehunga.

Sources: ‘Waihi in Very Festive Mood: Opening of Hall’, Waihi Gazette, 20/11/1958, p. 5; Stanley Roche, The Red and the Gold: An Informal Account of the Waihi Strike, 1912, Auckland, 1982 (esp. p. 146); Percy Allison, Tales of Waihi, Waihi, 1987, p. 44; ‘Achievers Board Mooted’, Waihi Gazette, 8/11/1994, p. 9; ‘Martyr’s Place in History Cemented’, Waihi Gazette, 15/11/1994, p. 5.

See also community contribution from Mary Carmine below.

Community contributions

3 comments have been posted about Waihi memorial hall

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Bruce Comfort - on behalf of MfCH

Posted: 23 May 2011

A comment for Mary CARMINE. I have just had close-up photos of the two memorial tablets returned to me from Paul NIELSON at the District Council, who kindly took them for the Ministry. These tablets show very clearly the, things you have commented on and they make an important contribution to the veracity of the web-page and web site.

admin

Posted: 24 Dec 2010

Thanks very much for putting us right on this, Mary - I've fixed the page now. Jamie Mackay

Mary Carmine

Posted: 23 Dec 2010

The heading Waihi war memorial hall is incorrect. You will note on the photo of the hall itself the title is 'Waihi Memorial Hall'. There is a very good reason for this. This hall was built on the site of the former Miners' Union Hall, which belonged to the Miners' Union and was the place where the miners barricaded themselves against the police during riots in the 1912 strike. On this occasion, a policeman was shot (but survived) and a miner was batonned to death. When the mine closed in 1952 the Miners' Union gifted the hall and land to the Waihi Borough to build a new hall in memory of miners who died in the mines and in the strike. It was also to be a Memorial to fallen servicemen but because of the wider context the "war" was left out of the title. It is important to Waihi that the name is correct as our town feels strongly about its industrial heritage.