Waihi Arts Centre and Museum

Waihi Gold Mining Museum and Art Gallery

Useful Information

Location: 54 Kenny St, Waihi.
(-37.393603, 175.840614)
Open: All year Fri 10-15, Sat, Sun, Mon 12-15.
School Holidays daily 12-15.
Fee: Adults NZD 5, Children (5-15) NZD 3, Children (0-4) free, Family (2+*) NZD 115.
Groups (15+): discount.
Classification: MineGold Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Waihi Arts Centre and Museum, 54 Kenny Street, Waihi 3610, Tel: +64-7-863-8386.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1878 gold discovered by the prospectors John McCombie and Robert Lee.
1879 William Nicholl pegged out five acres, named the claim Martha after a family member.
1882 first battery in operation.
1912 violent miners' strike.
1952 Martha Mine closed.
1980s new open pit mine started.
2001 house adjacent to Martha Pit collapsed into historical workings.



The Waihi Arts Centre and Museum located in the center of the small town offers a detailed exhibition about the local gold mining, both underground and open pit. The museum was formerly called Waihi Gold Mining Museum and Art Gallery. It is half art center and half mining museum.

There are displays of photographs, documents, and mining tools. Very interesting are numerous models of mine works and even a replica mine showing underground miners at work. There is a working model of the Cornish Pumphouse, Waihi's best known landmark, which shows how the pump was used to dewater the underground workings. The museum also has an extensive rock collection.

The cells where in 1912 striking miners were jailed are part of the museum. There are displays relating to the social history of the town. In 1905 Waihi was the largest gold mining town in the country, and the third-largest inland town in New Zealand.

In 1962 a group of locals put a proposal to the Council to refurbish the old Technical School building in Kenny Street and set up a Museum and Art Gallery. Among them were the artist Eric Lee-Johnson and the Head of the Art Department at the newly opened Waihi College Campbell Smith. The gallery soon became rather well known, because at that time existed few places where New Zealand artists could show their work. The new gallery made exhibitions of up-and-coming artists and acquired many historic works by local artists. After half a century the exhibition has a high reputation.