Waihi Arts Centre & Museum

Waihi Arts Centre and Museum holds Time and Wages ledger books spanning the years 1892 to 1952.

As these 50 ledgers are transcribed they will be made available for online searching here. Files are in Excel format and require Microsoft Excel to open.

If you would like assistance to find information about a particular individual who worked at the mine please use this enquiry form.

Download Glossary Of Terms
(useful in understanding the occupations mentioned in the ledgers)

Period: Aug 1896 to Jun 1900

Aug 1896 - Jun 1900 (Excel Spreadsheet)

Of a total of 690 men employed by the Company in 1896, 160 were miners and this ledger relates to a further group of 170-200 men (with a strong representation of Irish) who worked above ground. This group comprised roughly half skilled workers (bricklayers, carpenters, fitters, engine drivers etc) and half unskilled labourers. The average daily pay for a skilled worker was 8/- and for a labourer, 7/-. The highest paid was the Battery Foreman at 13/- per day and Tally Boys in the tank shed started at 4/- 2d per day.

This was a period of rapid expansion at the Waihi Battery - the erection of additional drying kilns, cyanide leaching vats, precipitators and other ancilliary plant, as well as starting the construction of the two-hundred-head Victoria stamper battery in Waikino.

On 21st Jun 1897 all workers were given a day’s paid holiday to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee (60 years) of Queen Victoria’s reign. This event also led to the naming of the Victoria Battery.

Period: 1903-1904

1903 - 1904 (Excel Spreadsheet)

This record spans the period September 1903 to June 1904 and records the occupation, the number of days worked by each employee in the fortnight and their wages paid.

Please see notes associated with ledger 94-19-1279-c for a summary of mine expansion activities during this time period.

Period: 1904 - 1905

1904 - 1905 (Excel Spreadsheet)

This record spans the period Jul 1904 to April 1905 and documents the occupations, number of days worked by each employee, their daily rate of pay and the total that they were paid in the time period (2 weeks). According to “Historic Features of Union Hill Waihi” by E A Lens, the key development highlights of the Mine during this period include:

In 1904:

In 1905 Waihi Battery introduced three new tube mills. A new smoke stack was erected and a blast furnace installed. Two cupel furnaces were erected treating bars before being sent to the acid plant.

1905 also saw the completion of the railway line between Waihi and Paeroa, with 6,000 people attending the opening on 9 th November.

This is the third ledger to be uploaded onto our website, in a project that will see all 50 ledgers in the museum’s possession being transcribed and made available for online searching. These span the years 1892 to 1952.

Period: 1909 - 1910

1909 - 1910 (Excel Spreadsheet).

This record spans the period Dec 1909 thru Oct 1910 and primarily records the number of hours or days worked by each employee and the wages paid, often at multiple different rates, plus bonuses and allowances of various kinds. The calculation of wages must have been a complicated and time-consuming process. The occupation of each employee is also recorded.

According to company records, by the end of 1910, 4 million tons of ore was produced, leaving a further 8 million tons to come in the life of the mine. As part of their planning for many years of ore production on a moderate scale, in the period of this ledger six ferro-concrete agitator vats were erected (13ft diameter, 55 ft high) and an electrolytic method for separating gold and silver was installed. The people of Waihi involved in the mine would have found it to be a relatively good life, despite its disadvantages, compared with that offered in other parts of New Zealand.

Many hundreds of tons of tailings were being dumped into the Ohinemuri River at Paeroa daily and a govt commission was set up in May 1909 to report on the silting and flooding of the river as a consequence. In an act of parliament passed at this time, mining companies were required to make a contribution toward preventing damage to rivers by mining silt. In Dec 1910 another act imposed a duty of 3d per ounce of gold for payment into the “Gold Miner’s Relief Fund”.

This is the fourth ledger to be uploaded onto our website, in a project that will see all 50 ledgers in the museum’s possession being transcribed and made available for online searching. These span the years 1892 to 1952.

References:
Gold Mining at Waihi 1878-1952; J B McAra.
Historic Features of Union Mill, Waihi. Research by Eric Lens 2003-2004.

Period: 1916 - 1918

1916 - 1918 (Excel Spreadsheet)

This record spans the period Sep 1916 to Nov 1918 (during WW1) and primarily records the number of days worked by each employee and the wages paid. Occupations were not noted in this ledger.

“The history of the Waihi Mine from 1914 onwards does not contain anything spectacular. Mining and ore treatment processes were well established, but more and better mechanical equipment was becoming available all the time through worldwide advances in industry generally. Electricity, for instance, had been practically an unknown quantity up to this time and anything electrical was regarded with awe by most people; the complete electrification of almost all the machinery in the mill and the mine meant a big saving in manpower and fuel and a reduction in time lost for repairs. Advances in the metallurgical process, such as the introduction of electrolytic refining, are a further example.”

The Waihi School of Mines had 63 students in 1914. 18 of them were candidates for various examinations. E. J. Scoble and R. C. Ruffin both obtained their First Class Mine Manager’s Certificates being the only two in New Zealand to do so that year.

As the result of an accident in which a man fell from a cage and was killed, a rule was adopted in 1917 that cages carrying men must be provided with gates that opened only inwards.

This is the fifth ledger to be uploaded onto our website, in a project that will see all 50 ledgers in the museum’s possession being transcribed and made available for online searching. These span the years 1892 to 1952.

Period: 1918 - 1921

1918 - 1921 (Excel Spreadsheet)

This record spans the period November 1918 to October 1921 and records the number of days worked by each employee in the month and their wages paid. Unlike some of the other ledgers, the occupation of each employee was not logged.

There were between 200 and 250 employees throughout the time period of this ledger.

This period comes at the conclusion of World War I. It follows the period of maximum production of the mine (1902-1910). Mining and ore extraction processes were well established, with electrification being a key upgrade component.

This is the sixth ledger to be uploaded onto our website, in a project that will see all 50 >ledgers in the museum’s possession being transcribed and made available for online searching. These span the years 1892 to 1952.

Period: Sep 1933 to Jan 1935

Sep 1933 - Jan 1935 (Excel Spreadsheet)

This ledger does not specify the occupations of the 300 employees it records time and wages for.

In 1933 NZ experienced its highest rate of unemployment, at 12%. This was an effect of the Wall Street crash in 1929 that triggered the ‘Great Depression’. Those employed at the Waihi Gold Mine were considered fortunate that their jobs continued and their wages were not slashed, as was seen in many other sectors.