A new book on the Waikato River has recently appeared in bookshops. Entitled ‘The Waikato – A history of New Zealand’s Greatest River’ the book is written by academic Dr Paul Moon from the Auckland University of Technology.
The presentation of the book is excellent with many maps, drawings and photographs to complement the text. Each chapter details the pre-colonial and post-colonial history of a section of the river catchment, from the Tongariro River to Port Waikato. This allows the reader to dip into the chapter on a particular stretch of the 425 kilometre long river system and learn about the cultural history, geology and infrastructural developments.
The history of energy generation in the Waikato River catchment is well traversed including both geothermal, hydro and thermal power schemes. In particular, the development of the nine hydroelectric powers stations on the river is well covered, structures that today still represent an impressive phase of dam building for a burgeoning nation. Dr Moon also describes disused power generation sites such as the now-submerged Horahora power scheme.
One of the gems of the book is the many historical photographs of the river, its people and its infrastructure.
Overall Dr Moon has produced a very readable account of the history of New Zealand’s longest river.