Pupu Hydro Scheme Historic Area

Power House Road, Takaka

  • Pupu Hydro Scheme Historic Area.
    Copyright: Pupu Hydro Society Inc.
  • Pupu Hydro Scheme Historic Area.
    Copyright: Pupu Hydro Society Inc.
  • Pupu Hydro Scheme Historic Area.
    Copyright: Pupu Hydro Society Inc.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Area Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 7519 Date Entered 13th June 2003

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

The area consists of the water race from the head pond to the reservoir at the top of the pipeline (penstocks), down to the powerhouse.

City/District Council

Tasman District

Region

Tasman Region

Legal description

The Pupu Hydro Scheme Historic Area covers the headpond and water race to the lower reservoir (pt Sec S.O. 1511), the pipeline (pt Sec 24 Blk IX Waitapu SD) and the powerhouse (Sec 29 Blk IX Waitapu SD)

Summaryopen/close

The following text was prepared as part of an upgrade project and was completed 25 June 2003 by Helen McCracken:

The Pupu Hydro Scheme is a good example of early twentieth century electric generation in New Zealand, and is considered to be the earliest known purpose-built hydro scheme for the purposes of public supply in the Nelson and Marlborough region.

In 1924 the Golden Bay Power Board was formed and shortly after instigated the construction of the Pupu Hydro Station. The station reused a water race originally built by the Takaka Sluicing Company in 1901, and was completed in October 1929. The local paper hailed the day the scheme opened as 'one that will always mark a milestone in the progress of Takaka'. For the next five years the hydro station was the sole supplier for the Golden Bay area, until increasing demand for electricity resulted in the generator from the Golden Bay Cement Company also contributing to the local grid. Further rises in demand for electricity eventually led to the Golden Bay Power Board supplementing their supply from the State Hydro Department in 1944. In 1976 the Golden Bay and Waimea power boards amalgamated to become the Tasman Electric Power Board.

In 1981 the hydro station's generator was damaged as a result of a flashover in the machinery and the station was decommissioned and eventually put up for sale by tender by the Tasman Electric Power Board. Public interest in the preservation of the hydro station led to the formation of the Pupu Hydro Society. In August 1982 an agreement was reached between the Board and the Society by which the Board retained the ownership of the plant but the Society was enabled to overhaul and repair the complex. Since then the Pupu Hydro Society has undertaken extensive work on the complex, and today the plant is operated as a working museum and once more produces electricity, this time contributing to the National grid. The associated pipeline, water race and head pond, also included in the proposed historic area, is within the Kahurangi National Park. A Department Conservation walkway allows visitors access to the these features, and together with the power plant form a valuable educational experience for those wishing to learn about early hydro-electric development within the Nelson and Marlborough region

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Proposal for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Summary of Significance:

Pupu Hydro Scheme contains an inter-related group of industrial historic sites - the water race and headpond, the penstock and the power house. The Pupu Hydro Society restored the scheme as a working museum in 1981 which continued the industrial use of the area. Its value as a museum is important in educating the public about New Zealand's industrial heritage and the landscape in which it is situated.

The Pupu Hydro Scheme today is a working museum and an example of an early 20th Century electric generator that brought the first source of electricity for the township of Takaka and the surrounding rural district. It operated from 1929 until 1981 when the stator was extensively damaged as a result of a flashover in the machinery. In 1981, a group of people in Golden Bay formed the Pupu Hydro Society. Its purpose was to preserve an item of historic and industrial heritage interest, to generate electricity for sale to the Tasman Power Board, to exhibit the operating plant to the general public, and maintain the plant, its surroundings and water supply system in a functional and aesthetically attractive fashion.

The Pupu Hydro Scheme is the earliest known hydro scheme for public supply in Nelson and Marlborough. Therefore, it is very important as it brought electricity and technological growth to the Takaka community. The local paper, The Golden Bay Times and Argus, 17th October 1929 described the opening day as "one that will always mark a milestone in the progress of Takaka". Its local importance and community support continues as displayed by the creation of the Pupu Hydro Society in 1981 and the restoration and creation of a working museum.

Historical:

The Pupu Hydro Scheme is an example of an early 20 Century rural electricity generation scheme. It is located within an historic mining area with gold sluicing carried out by the Tasman Gold Sluicing Company from 1901, the water race has been incorporated in the scheme showing reuse of the landscape through the area's history. Electricity generation started in 1929 and operated until 1981 when generator damage forced it out of action. Since then it has restored by the Pupu Hydro Society as a working museum and still contributing to the Golden Bay power supply.

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Proposal for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Scientific/Technological:

As a working museum, the Pupu Hydro scheme represents the scientific innovation of electricity generation. The early electric generator faithfully restored shows on a small scale the technology of hydro generation, including the harnessing of water energy via water races etc. The advent of electric power in this remote area in 1929 was perceived by the local people as one of the most important technological advances to their history.

Archaeology: By Steve Bagley, DOC

The water race and its associated features including the intake and reservoirs are the most obvious archaeological features and have been recorded in the NZ Archaeological Association site Recording Scheme as M 26/1.

The race was originally constructed in 1901 by Takaka Sluicing Company to provide water to the workings on the true left of the Waikoropupu River east of the power station. The race is thus a significant component of a larger archaeological landscape within

the old Anatoki Goldfield and important in interpreting the gold mining operation.

Its subsequent adaption for hydro generation and a public walkway while causing some modification to original features has also left archaeological evidence unique to these activities which dates back to 1928.

It is presumed that the penstocks and powerhouse foundations also contain fabric and elements of the 1928 scheme and also have archaeological values.

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Proposal for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Social:

The Pupu Scheme brought electricity to the remote part of Takaka in October 1929, directly and indirectly enhancing the cultural and social life of the community, particularly in regard to the use of radio receivers and domestic appliances. Through the substantial efforts of the members of Pupu Hydro Society, with business and wider community support, the original electricity scheme has been renovated and restored to its present state as a working museum. This has involved a lot of capital and risk on the part of the Society and its supporters.

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Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Proposal for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

History of the Area:

The history of Pupu Hydro Scheme landscape covers three major themes - the search for gold, the provision of power and the interpretation of heritage.

The early link with gold mining in the Takaka area reaches back to 1901 when a water race 1.7km long was constructed by Takaka Sluicing Company to deliver sluice water from Campbell's Creek to his claim near the town. Built on the true left of the Waikoropupu River east of the power station, it passes through rugged and difficult country. The sluicing company worked gold in the area for ten years, stopping when it was no longer commercial for it to continue. The Pupu Hydro Scheme reused this original race, a significant component of a larger archaeological landscape within the old Anatoki Goldfield and important in interpreting the gold mining operation.

The original Pupu Hydro Station was instigated by the Golden Bay Power Board, which was elected in 1924 but not formally constituted until 1929. The station was opened on October 11 1929, the day after the Golden Bay Dairy Company was officially launched. There was a grand opening, a special dinner and a "lighting up" ceremony when the power went on in Takaka. Frank Page, Chairman of the Board, explained the problems at the opening ceremony on Friday 11th October 1929. A strike in Australia prevented them getting iron bark poles so concrete was used instead. The large Murchison earthquake of June 1929 recorded 7.6 on the Richter Scale had caused problems and floods which led to delays. It was the earliest hydro scheme for public supply in Nelson and Marlborough which meant it directly and indirectly enhanced the cultural and social life of the community particularly in regard to the use of radio receivers and domestic appliances.

The consultant engineer H.R.Clilnie6 had suggested the Pupu location after surveying the area. He recommended utilizing the old water race once it had suitably restored and strengthened. A loan was raised for this work and the building of a powerhouse on the Waikoropupu Stream. It is believed that Pupu was New Zealand's first hydro station financed by a bank. A penstock was installed, 45cm of steel pipe leading from an intake area at the end of the original 1900s water race down a very steep slope to the powerhouse.

The generator supplied the Golden Bay area as a 'stand alone' system for 5 years before the load grew to the point where the Onekaka iron works generator, and the Golden Bay Cement Company's generator were also connected into the Golden Bay Power Board's area to handle the load. The growth in demand outstripped the capacity of the small station so in 1944 the board began taking supply from the State Hydro Department with the Pupu station continuing to supplement it. In 1976 the Tasman Electric Power Board (EPB) was formed amalgamating Golden Bay and Waimea boards. The Pupu station operated reliably for 52 years. It functioned as such until 1981 when generator damage forced it out of action.

In August 1981 the Tasman EPB offered its old hydro plant for sale by tender which stimulated local interest and lead to the establishment of the Pupu Hydro Society. The following August saw the signing of an agreement between the Board and the Society by which the Board retained the plant but society members were enabled to overhaul and repair it as an operating museum. The Society have progressively restored the station and run it as an operating museum, helped and supported by the Tasman EPB.

The enthusiasm of the Society was such that the restoration programme included extending and renovating the powerhouse, reconstruction of the penstock headwork's area and repairing and widening the race, with dry stone walling and additional concreting in places. New water control gates were built and installed and a motorized filter screen constructed at the penstock intake and screen equipment was added to the Headpond in 1987. An aging wooden viaduct, part of the race was replaced and a slipway weir reconstructed. The winch house built in 1985 and the original winch retained. Hand fabrication of various parts of the operation were carried out and intricate work undertaken by international company ASEA in Sweden.

At the same time as the water race was being restored, the then Lands and Survey Department had a project underway to construct a walkway running from the powerhouse to the top of the penstock by way of a zigzag track, then along the entire 1.7km of the water race. The public access is provided to the complete scheme, from intake to the tailrace.

This has all involved sizeable financial input and risk on the part of the Society members. This has included loans for over $140 000 repayable by electricity generated by the plant and sold at 3/4c unit in 2003. Teri Goodall and Jim Baird of Takaka, members of the Pupu Society, worked on the restoration of the Scheme fulltime for three years and others helped at weekends and whenever they could. They even mortgaged their homes to guarantee loans for the restoration project. It was worth it as 7 years after the restoration was complete they had paid off the money they had borrowed to finance it. On average the society earns $80 000 a year all of which is ploughed back into further restorations and road building. The station began in February 1988 after the restoration work was complete and was officially opened on April 10 by Miss Hilda Campbell, daughter of Charles Campbell, manager of Takaka Sluicing Company and after whom the creek was named. It has all involved sizeable financial input and risk on the part of Society members. Their esteem for the Scheme is well proven. As the headline in the Nelson Evening Mail of April 9 1988, p7 states, "They turned a pipedream into reality".

The stations generator a 250kVA 400V unit original supplied by ASEA, has been rewound and reinstated. A Boving twinjet pelton wheel drives the generator. The original buckets were replaced in 1987 in the style of the original drawings. Every effort was made to retain the original appearance of the station for its authenticity as an historical exhibit. The original generator produced about 0.8 gigawatts a year and since the restoration production has doubled to 1.8 gigawatts. The aims of the Pupu hydro Scheme, among others are, to preserve an item of historic interest and exhibiting the operating plant to the general public, and generally doing all the things necessary to maintain the plant, its surroundings and water supply system in a functional and aesthetically attractive condition. The Pupu Hydro Society has been highly commended for its huge efforts to bring all this to fruition. Its value as a museum is important in educating the public about New Zealand's industrial heritage, but also its location in an industrial landscape over 100 years old.

Pupu's place in relation to the history of power generation while modest is accepted as being significant contributor to the development of the Golden Bay, its domestic power users and for industry in the area. It is typical of many small-scale power generating plants erected in the early part of the 20th Century in New Zealand. Below is a chronology of electricity schemes in the area to put the Pupu scheme in its regional historical context. See Francis, L.G. 1976 'From Turbine to Grid' Tasman Electric Power Board.

1911 - Robert Ellis of Brightwater Flour Mill Station supplies Brightwater township. Private scheme.

1922 - January 25th Murchison County Council open Six Mile Hydro scheme. The complete scheme is in original condition and is an Historic and Scenic Reserve managed by DoC.

1922 - January. Motueka suction gas electricity plant.

1923 - Nelson City Council. Port Nelson steam electricity plant.

1924 - Robert Ellis opens Clover Road West hydro station, Brightwater.

1928 - Onekaka Iron Works hydro scheme Golden Bay

1929 - Pupu Hydro Scheme.

Physical Description

Designer/Architect/Engineer:

Instigated by the Golden Bay Power Board

Engineer-Manager J. P. Cottier 1929

Consultant Engineer H.R. Climie

Harry Climie: The Pupu Hydro Scheme is associated with Harry Climie, (1884-1961) an engineer of significance in the power industry in New Zealand. He was involved in the design, assessment and construction of several early electricity schemes in this country, including the Golden Bay Scheme in 1929-30, and earlier schemes in Havelock North in 1920-22 Taranaki Power Board and Tariki in 1924-29 and Raetihi in 1916-17.

After the Napier Earthquake in 1931, he was appointed reconstruction engineer. On the completion of this big engineering task he spent a short period as electrical engineer to the Skippers Mining Company at Shotover. After the Labour Government established the State Housing Department in 1937, he was appointed Chief engineer for housing construction, a position he held till he retired from the Department in 1952, and he resumed practice as a consulting engineer.

Physical Description:

The Power House has concrete foundations and a nib wall approximately 1.5m high. It has a timber framing with galvanized iron cladding and the inside is partially lined with plywood. The building was doubled in size and rebuilt as part of the restoration project completed about 1985.

The Power House contains a generator and exciter (ASEA), a turbine governor, a main valve (Bovings), control monitoring and protection gears (various) and an overhead crane and lifting gear. Part of the building is closed off as a 'smoko' room approx. 20% area. It is gib-lined, wall papered, has cupboards, a sink unit and is carpeted.

The restoration programme included reconstruction of the penstock headworks area, and repairing and widening the water race, with dry stone walling and additional concreting in places. New water control gates were built and installed at each end of the race and a motorized filter screen constructed at the penstock (pipeline) intake in 1987. An aging wooden viaduct, part of the race, was completely replaced and a spillway weir constructed. The penstock when installed in 1929 was 45cm of steel pipe leading from an intake area at the end of the original 1900s water race down a very steep slope to the powerhouse the penstock is in the same location today.

Physical Condition: Well maintained by the Pupu Hydro Society

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1929 -

Completion Date

25th June 2003

Report Written By

Helen McCracken

Information Sources

Golden Bay Times and Argus

Golden Bay Times and Argus

Thursday 17 October 1929.

Martin, 1998

J. Martin, People, politics and power stations: electric power generation in New Zealand 1880-1998, Wellington, 1998

Nelson Evening Mail

Nelson Evening Mail

C Dauber. From Pipedream into reality. April 9th 1988. p, 7

Rennie, 1989

N. Rennie, Power to the People; 100 Years of Public Electricity Supply in New Zealand, Wellington, 1989

p.140 Harry Climie (1884-1961)

Francis, 1976

L G Francis 1976. From the Turbine to Grid. Tasman Electric Power Board.

Other Information

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

Pipeline (Penstock)
Pupu Hydro Scheme Power House
Water Race and Head Pond