HISTORY

HISTORY

Behind the architectural elegance of this historically significant building lies a story of turbulence, uncertainty and painstaking determination to ensure a secure future for this treasured legacy.

Built originally in 1897 in Waihi, some 150 km’s north of Rotorua, from the celebrated Kauri timber which was unsurpassed for its building qualities, it has endured the trials and tribulations that it has experienced during its long and eventful history and is still today a prominent showpiece in the very heart of Rotorua.

At the turn of the century, in the early 1900’s, the thriving Waihi was the third largest town in New Zealand (after Auckland and Wellington) and was the site of the Martha Gold Mine, then the richest in the world. Many hotels and public houses sprang up to cater to the demands of the many miners and visitors that occupied the town. One of the finest of these establishments was the New Central Hotel (later to become The Princes Gate Hotel), built by Mr E. Morgan, it had 75 bedrooms and very quickly became well known for its superior qualities. Visiting mine officials enjoyed the excellent hospitality that was shown by the first proprietors of the hotel, Mr and Mrs M.G. Power, and many distinguished names began to appear in the hotel register. Many of the biggest weddings and social functions were held at the hotel and due to Waihi being the railhead in those days it was a popular stay over for visitors to the Bay of Plenty before travelling on to Tauranga by coach. After Mr and Mrs Power left the hotel their daughter Nellie Budd and her husband took over the running of the hotel and Mrs Budd, who was a member of the operatic society and had a beautiful voice, would often entertain her guests with her singing. After leaving the hotel Mr Power later became the mayor of Waihi but shortly after both he and his wife died as victims of the influenza epidemic that swept through the region.

Prince’s Gate Hotel, circa. early 1900’s

In 1906 the hotel was purchased for nearly $9,000 by Mr Moss Davis who was the father of Sir Ernest Hyam Davis who was a New Zealand businessman, and was Mayor of Auckland City, from 1935 to 1941. He was also on other Auckland local bodies and on various philanthropic and sporting organisations.

Behind the architectural elegance of this historically significant building lies a story of turbulence, uncertainty and painstaking determination to ensure a secure future for this treasured legacy.

Built originally in 1897 in Waihi, some 150 km’s north of Rotorua, from the celebrated Kauri timber which was unsurpassed for its building qualities, it has endured the trials and tribulations that it has experienced during its long and eventful history and is still today a prominent showpiece in the very heart of Rotorua.

At the turn of the century, in the early 1900’s, the thriving Waihi was the third largest town in New Zealand (after Auckland and Wellington) and was the site of the Martha Gold Mine, then the richest in the world. Many hotels and public houses sprang up to cater to the demands of the many miners and visitors that occupied the town. One of the finest of these establishments was the New Central Hotel (later to become The Princes Gate Hotel), built by Mr E. Morgan, it had 75 bedrooms and very quickly became well known for its superior qualities. Visiting mine officials enjoyed the excellent hospitality that was shown by the first proprietors of the hotel, Mr and Mrs M.G. Power, and many distinguished names began to appear in the hotel register. Many of the biggest weddings and social functions were held at the hotel and due to Waihi being the railhead in those days it was a popular stay over for visitors to the Bay of Plenty before travelling on to Tauranga by coach. After Mr and Mrs Power left the hotel their daughter Nellie Budd and her husband took over the running of the hotel and Mrs Budd, who was a member of the operatic society and had a beautiful voice, would often entertain her guests with her singing. After leaving the hotel Mr Power later became the mayor of Waihi but shortly after both he and his wife died as victims of the influenza epidemic that swept through the region.

Prince’s Gate Hotel, circa. early 1900’s

In 1906 the hotel was purchased for nearly $9,000 by Mr Moss Davis who was the father of Sir Ernest Hyam Davis who was a New Zealand businessman, and was Mayor of Auckland City, from 1935 to 1941. He was also on other Auckland local bodies and on various philanthropic and sporting organisations.

In 1908 the town was still thriving and with miners making up the majority of the population and keeping the bars busy it seemed that nothing could go wrong but a steady demise was literally just around the corner. Price hiking of alcohol, discontented wives, unruly behaviour and general discontent it was threatened that prohibition would be voted for at the coming election. Due to a certain level of apathy amongst those that did not consider prohibition as a likely outcome many did not bother to vote and thereby assisted the bombshell result that saw prohibition winning by 86 votes. . In 1909 the bars closed for the final time and although the Central Hotel closed its bar with dignity the Rob Roy saw stones and bottles as it was regarded as the hotel that started all the trouble in the first place.

The Central Hotel was on a steady decline from this time onwards for a period of about three years when in 1912 it became busy again by housing the extra policemen who were sent down from Auckland to help quell the riots that arose as a result of the infamous miners’ strike. The mines were thriving and the men were only asking for better working conditions and pay and even after law and order was restored the bitterness remained and many decided to move away. With the declining population the Central Hotel started to lose trade but once again a tragedy brought it some temporary relief. When the influenza epidemic hit Waihi after the First World War the Hotel became a hospital and served a great purpose within the local community.

Prince’s Gate Hotel (centre right), circa. early 1900’s

Prince’s Gate Hotel (in background), during the miner’s strike 1912

However, not long after the epidemic was over it was decided to move the hotel to the fast expanding tourist town of Rotorua where it was considered that it would be most suitable for tourist accommodation (such vison and foresight). So in 1917, nail by nail and board by board, the hotel was dismantled and transferred by horse-drawn wagon to the Waihi Railway Station and the timber and fittings were duly taken by rail to Rotorua. It is believed that the original builder of the hotel, Mr Morgan, was employed to reassemble the hotel and the structure remained almost unchanged from the original. Its new location was superbly positioned at the corner of Awara and Hinamaru Streets directly opposite the entrance to the stunning Government Gardens and Museum that are accessed through the Commemorative Archway Gates.

The sign at these gates read: “The wooden arches that grace the entrance to the Government Gardens once spanned the intersection of Fenton and Hinemoa Streets. Designed to represent the royal crown, they were erected in 1901 to honour the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V and Queen Mary). The arches were adorned with greenery and electric lights to celebrate the arrival of the royal pair. After the visit, portions of Prince’s Gate were moved to their present position. The impressive Totara gateway has been recently restored.”

The newly reassembled hotel was re-opened in 1921 and appropriately named “The Princes Gate Hotel” and has remained so ever since.