Reported in the Otago Witness Newspaper in May of 1861 were the words of Gabriel Read announcing his success in finding gold in the Province.
“I shovelled away about two-and-a-half feet of gravel, arrived at a beautiful soft slate, and saw the gold shining like the stars in Orion on a dark, frosty night.”
And so started the mass migration of people in ships across oceans, literally following celestial stars as they navigated their way across oceans to participate in the gold rush. By December of the same year gold was struck at Waipori, bringing the people that we’re here to remember and the town and homes they built.
Waipori’s township is forever lost to the waters of Lake Mahinerangi, but the echo of the past lives on. We remember our people and our places in the photographs, the recorded history, and in the stories passed down through the generations. Here we share the past with our collection of memorabilia from the descendants, past and present inhabitants, and the historians.
Many have been touched by the wild Waipori landscape. The cemetery on the hill still marks the lives of our people. The reminders of the past history remain scattered across the land; lines lie where pipes ran, defunct machinery now silent, and empty huts or just the odd stonewall left where people toiled, lived, loved, and died.
There are modern day working farms that successfully carry on business around the remnants. Also up in old gold claims can be found the odd crusty fossicker still living out the dreams of the ‘stars of Orion’ whilst pottering around the hills. But above and beyond the transient interference of mankind is the remarkable natural landscape with it’s waterways and tussock, majestic rocks, hills, and of course the extremes in weather! However harsh the climate may be at times, there is an inescapable timeless beauty in this place, and once one is bitten you find it never quite lets you go – it just quietly seeps under the skin.
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Get your copy of David Still’s fabulous book about the people of Waipori: GOLD BENEATH DARK WATERS. Click here to find out how to get your copy.