Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

09 February 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Martha Mine pumphouse, Wahi

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.

This gaunt ruin has no right to be in New Zealand, it looks more like something out of a Daphne du Maurier saga, remnant of some Cornish tin mine mouldering to terminal decay. But it is in New Zealand and it's the 1901 pumphouse of the fabulous Martha Mine at Waihi on the eastern Bay of Plenty. It used to pump water out of the shafts and adits of the richest gold mine in the country. The mine was abandoned in 1952 and consequently it flooded.

Some years later, in 1988, the mine reopened as an open pit, a blot on the landscape that has soured people's appetite for mining ever since. The pumphouse still stands and still goes quietly through its stately decadence. Very picturesque, quite useless.


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By Don Donovan