Welcome to the online library about Waipori and its history. We’ve pulled together a collection of resource material, which we hope you’ll find useful. Please contact us if you can suggest any additions to this collection.
A rich resource for information about Waipori’s past is David Still’s impressive book Gold beneath dark waters. Across 320 well-illustrated A4 pages he tells the story of the gold field, Waipori town and its community. The book is particularly about the people who were part of Waipori, and it contains stories and family histories of more than 500 people from James Abraham to Henry Zebell.
See an interview with David about this book here. The book was privately published in 2016 and is out of print, but may be available from second-hand dealers.
Ashley Blair portrays Waipori at the height of the gold rush through the story of one of New Zealand’s lesser-known murders. Murder on the Otago goldfields: the 1865 stabbing of Richard Atkinson at Waipori centres on the murder of Richard Atkinson (and wounding of his daughter Margaret Dickson), the search for the perpetrator and his later trial and execution. It is also a rich account of life in Waipori and the hunt for gold.
Blair, Ashley (2015) Murder on the Otago goldfields: the 1865 stabbing of Richard Atkinson at Waipori. Pukerua Press, 160 pp. The second edition is available for $40 including postage within New Zealand: contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Agnes Crowley wrote this book for the (belated) centennial of Waipori in 1969. Its 40 pages contain accounts of Waipori life and photographs. Well out of print, it can occasionally be found in second-hand book stores.
This booklet was also produced for the 1969 commemoration. It contains a brief account of the Waipori story, and school rolls for three years in the 1880s and 1890s.
For the 150th anniversary celebrations in 2016, Waipori descendant Kerry Driscoll republished both Waipori whispers by Agnes Crowley Waipori centennial by Marguerite Parsons under the title Waipori: bridging time.
Four pupils of Kaikorai Valley High School published this 16-page booklet in 1970, which contains a short history of the first four years of the Waipori goldfield. The content was originally published in the Otago Daily Times. The booklet can sometimes be found in second-hand shops.
The Waipori Goldfields Charitable Trust is collaborating with the Clutha District Libraries to make historical documents about Waipori widely available.
These documents will be put on the Clutha Heritage website, a digital heritage hub for the Clutha district. You can visit the site and use ‘Waipori’ as a search term, but the key material will be listed here for easy reference.
Two ledgers from Margaret Cotton’s store for 1901 and 1909–1910 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 1900 accounts book for her husband Robert Cotton’s farm (Waipori Station) portrays the farm in detail, including things like how many ewes were sheared, how many lambs dipped, sales, purchases and employee wages.
Check out the Waipori Gold Facebook page. It’s a forum for discussion and news about the history, heritage, people and current events of the Waipori area.
Tuapeka Goldfields Museum
Uncover the rich history of the Tuapeka district, which Waipori is part of. This volunteer-run museum in Lawrence has displays, a research library and visitor centre. Details are here.
Lawrence Chinese camp
Diggers and miners from China played an important part in Otago goldfields, and Waipori was no exception. Nor was neighbouring Lawrence, which hosted the earliest and largest Chinese goldmining settlement in Otago.
Chinese tended to live separately, and the Chinese camp in Lawrence was a thriving community and trading hub at its peak in the late 1880s. The camp is now a category 1 historic place, and a keen group is working to preserve and restore the three remaining buildings, and celebrate the history of the Chinese mining community in Lawrence. Find out more here.
Tuapeka Vintage Club
The club aims to preserve and restore as much of the district’s mechanical heritage as possible.
Its site in Lawrence hosts an impressive collection of machines, vehicles and antique household items as well as an assembly of 19th-century buildings, and is open on Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm. Details on this website or Facebook page.
Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust
Allen, Francesca (2016) Survey of the Canton Battery site, Waipori, Otago. Archaeology in New Zealand 59(2): 39–45.
Robinson, Bryce (2018) Structural setting and paragenesis of the mineralised veins in the Waipori goldfield, southeast Otago, New Zealand. MSc thesis, Otago University.
Still, David (2017) The Waipori Goldfield: a brief history, by David Still. New Zealand Goldrush Journal volume 1.
Waipori: the dark waters. Audio programme, 1940s. Nga Taonga Sound & Vision.
Waipori gold mining: interview with Syd Knight, 1948. Nga Taonga Sound & Vision.
Thomson, Peter (1875) A hundred miles among the ranges. (A walk that included Waipori, by the correspondent ‘Pakeha’.)