The town that died

Bill found work in the bush, cutting silver pine; he was still in Waiuta during the 1954 general election. “I got a job as the…what do you call it…the votes…Mum?…Oh, yes. I was the electoral officer. I counted the votes. And do you know how many there were? I’ll tell you. There were 10 votes.” And then he said: “They were 10 Labour votes.” But National won the election that year. It was the age of the boss.

A town with an adult population of 10; but Waiuta, founded in 1907, was once home to 500 people, a goldmining town which sunk the deepest shaft in New Zealand, and by 1939 was producing 13% of the nation’s gold.