Preserving and sharing Waipori’s heritage

Waipori’s stories are reaching a wider audience thanks to collaboration between the Waipori Goldfields Charitable Trust and Clutha District libraries.

The trust is working to protect the heritage of Waipori, and collect and tell the fascinating stories of this area.  The libraries operate the Clutha Heritage website, a digital heritage hub for the Clutha District.

The first products of this collaboration are now available for anyone to read: two ledgers from Margaret Cotton’s store for 1901 and 1909–1910, and the 1900 accounts book for her husband Robert Cotton’s farm (Waipori Station).

The store ledgers are a veritable who’s who of Waipori at that time, as they record who purchased items through the store, what they purchased and how much they paid for the items.

The farm accounts book records the business transactions of the Cotton farm at Waipori mostly for the year 1900, however, there is brief reference to 1899 and 1912.  It portrays the farm in detail, including things like how many ewes were sheared, how many lambs dipped, sales, purchases and employee wages.

Thanks to Clutha District Council and its community heritage coordinator Tiffany Jenks for making this possible.  The farm accounts book was donated to the Waipori Goldfields Charitable Trust by a member of the Cotton family, and the store ledgers are on long-term loan to the Trust.

You can see these valuable documents here:

Cotton store ledger July to December 1901

Cotton store ledger 1909–1910

Cotton farm accounts 1900

Waipori and the Boer War

The overseas wars that New Zealand has been involved in affected the whole nation, even small and remote settlements such as Waipori.

The first of these wars was the Boer War or South African War, a conflict that is much less well-known than either of the two world wars of the 20th century.

Many Waipori residents enthusiastically raised funds for this war and four served overseas – one twice. You can read these stories in a new page on our website.

Murder on the goldfields

In 1865 Waipori was the site of a callous and curious murder. A descendant of the victim has thoroughly researched this unusual event and written a compelling story about the attack, the people involved and life on this Otago goldfield.

The second edition of Murder on the Otago goldfields: the 1865 stabbing of Richard Atkinson at Waipori by Ashley Blair is available for $40 including postage within New Zealand: contact for details.

Improvements at Waipori cemetery

The cemetery at Waipori is in a good state, and is looking even better thanks to support from friends of Waipori.  In June Roger Cotton, Peter Shepherd, Ray Macdonald and David Grant installed a really solid macrocarpa picnic table, for the convenience of visitors.

More improvements are planned, including placing crushed stone around the table to level the site up, and more planting of tussocks and other native plants.

Repair work is also needed to repair concrete on the grave of Robert George Cotton and family.  If you are able to help, please let us know.

Waipori and the First World War

As the terrible conflict of the First World War gripped New Zealand, not even remote mining settlements such as Waipori escaped its impact.  Many young men from the diggings enlisted in the army, and six did not return.

They are commemorated on the Lawrence war memorial and in far-flung parts of the globe, and their stories are told on this page of our website.

A new look at Waipori

Remnants of Waipori town have reappeared as the level of Lake Mahinerangi has dropped. Because of a new assessment of earthquake risk to the dam, the lake has been lowered by just over two metres. This has revealed lots of reminders of Waipori town and the gold-mining activities. Check out an Otago Daily Times article from September 2019.

The lake has been low on previous occasions. The photo below was taken in 2008.

Water tank stand on the site of Robert and Margaret Cotton’s house