Reefton Historic Area

Reefton

  • Reefton Historic Area. School of Mines building. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 30/01/2012.
  • Reefton Historic Area. St Stephen's Church. CC Licence 3.0 Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
    Copyright: Mattinbgn - Wikimedia Commons . Taken By: Mattinbgn. Date: 29/11/2011.
  • Reefton Historic Area. Reefton Courthouse (Former). CC Licence 3.0 Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
    Copyright: Mattinbgn - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Mattinbgn. Date: 29/11/2011.
  • Reefton Historic Area. Oddfellows Hall. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Derek Smith. Taken By: Derek Smith - travelling-light. Date: 17/11/2011.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Area Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7050 Date Entered 28th April 1995

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

The Reefton Historic Area includes the Courthouse, Clerk of the Court and Survey Office House, Oddfellows Hall, School of Mines, Masonic Hall, Penington House and horse trough, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, St Stephen's Anglican Church, War Memorial Obelisk and former Convent of Mercy.

City/District Council

Buller District

Region

West Coast Region

Summaryopen/close

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The gold rushes on the West Coast began in 1865 with quartz lodes or reefs (hence the name "Reefton") being discovered in the Inangahua district in 1870. By mid 1872 fifty quartz mines were registered. There were two types of gold in the region - the usual creek bed gold or the gold locked in layers of hard cemented conglomerate bedded among coal deposits. This has to be crushed with stamping batteries in order to separate out the gold.

The central location of Reefton meant that the town rapidly grew and by 1873 the thriving town had a bi-weekly newspaper, two banks, telegraph communication with Westport and Greymouth, a coach service to Greymouth and three religious denominations. By 1900 the population of the district exceeded 4,000. The town prospered until 1914 then went into gradual decline. By this stage the Reefton mines had produced over a million and a quarter ounces of gold.

The Reefton School of Mines was the centre for mining education in the Inangahua District. It was established in 1886 to promote a more scientific and less speculative approach to quartz gold mining and later coal mining. As well as the School of Mines, Reefton was also renowned as the first place in the Southern Hemisphere to have commercial power and electric lighting.

Most of the surviving buildings associated with Reefton's gold mining past are located in a compact area where the three main roads entering the town converge.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

For the last three decades of the nineteenth century Reefton was a major mining centre on the West Coast. Of special historical significance to the district was the School of Mines and the first installation of electric light in a New Zealand public building - the Oddfellows Hall.

The variety of turn of the century buildings in Reefton give a good indication of the major role in played in the history of mining on the West Coast. The buildings, though simple, are architecturally interesting and the location has an aesthetic charm

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Architectural:

When many of the Reefton buildings were erected circa 1870-1900 the future of the town was uncertain, therefore the buildings were simple, small and functional. They were built by locals with local materials, mainly timber. The public buildings (the Courthouse School of Mines, Oddfellows Hall etc.) for example, were simple but had impressive Classical facades. Many of Reefton's buildings have lost much of their architectural integrity due to the use of fibrolite cladding in later years.

Aesthetic:

The area within this now small, quiet West Coast town located on the banks of the Inangahua River is surrounded by densely wooden hills has aesthetic appeal.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Spiritual:

There are several structures within the area that have spiritual significance to some of the citizens of Reefton. The historic Catholic and Anglican churches are still used by their congregations. The convent which is now used as a private residence is a reminder of the strong Catholic presence in the West Coast at the turn of the century. In 1900 the Convent housed ten nuns who taught a total of 190 pupils at the local school.

Cultural/Social:

The collection of public buildings, churches, lodges and the War memorial represent the values of a thriving community at the turn of the century. Many of these structures now have new uses.

Linksopen/close

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Information Sources

Nolan, 1981

Tony Nolan, Gold Trails of the West Coast, A H & A W Reed, Wellington, revised edition 1981.

(1975 edition)

Historic Places in New Zealand

Historic Places in New Zealand

Porter, 1983

Frances Porter (ed), Historic Buildings of Dunedin, South Island, Methuen, Auckland, 1983.

Brian Wood, 'Goldmining Buildings of the Inangahua', pg. 136-41

Other Information

The Convent of the Sisters of Mercy (Former) was destroyed by fire on 9 September 2007.

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Southern region office.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

Historic Area Place Name

Clerk of the Court and Survey Office House (Former)
Consolidated Goldfields of New Zealand General Manager's Residence (Former)
Convent of the Sisters of Mercy (Former)
Horse Trough (Former)
Masonic Hall (Former)
Oddfellows Hall
Reefton Courthouse (Former)
Sacred Heart Church (Catholic)
School of Mines
St Stephen's Church (Anglican)
War Memorial Obelisk