Waiuta listed as Category 1 site

The listing of Waiuta as a Category 1 historic place on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero was announced at the 70th anniversary of the closure of the mine at Waiuta.


Waiuta, located near Reefton, on the West Coast, was the third biggest mine in New Zealand. Miners from all over the world came to Waiuta with their families. The isolated setting gave rise to a strong and vibrant community, which at its peak reached around 600 people.

When the mine suddenly closed in 1951 after the South Shaft collapsed, the community quickly packed up and moved on, leaving an abandoned ‘ghost’ town behind. Visitors to this Tohu Whenua site can explore the remains of the town as well as interpretation featuring the fantastic historic photographs by miner Jos Divis.

Senior Heritage Assessment Advisor Robyn Burgess who has been working on the significantly sized listing proposal over the past year, has found the process very rewarding. “There are very many people who are knowledgeable about historic Waiuta – the mine, the town and its people - and who have contributed to the listing report”.  Not least were Department of Conservation staff, Friends of Waiuta, former Forest Service employees and other historians – all gold mines about the gold mine and its town!

Nicola Jackson, Deputy Chief Executive for Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, enjoyed attending the recent 70th anniversary commemoration hosted by Friends of Waiuta. Toddles the Donkey, vintage cars, a piper and a quirky guided tour of the town all contributed to a great event.

“This is the right time for places like Waiuta to shine” says Nicola. “With travel restrictions, more Kiwis are getting out and about in their own country to explore their own heritage places. And with the Government announcing major changes to the New Zealand history curriculum, we hope places like Waiuta will be a fantastic learning destination and resource for our young people”.

You can view the listing on our website.

Rosemary Baird