Waiuta explores an abandoned gold mining town in the West Coast region of New Zealand. Established in 1905 after the discovery of a lucrative gold seam, Waiuta was a remote community based entirely around New Zealand’s second biggest underground mine. In the 44 years the community existed the population never rose above 600, and the town virtually disappeared within a year after a cave-in closed the mine in 1951.

Waiuta explores how this small but fondly remembered town is visualised today, combining historic images, current photographs of the site, and images of a model village of the town as it was in 1951 which has itself been left to fall into ruin. Exploring how collective memory is articulated in different sectors, from New Zealand’s national archives through the Department of Conservation to a local model-building enthusiast, the different ways that we remember build up a picture of a site that still cannot encompass the entirety of what the community originally was.

Waiuta has been exhibited in Foyer Gallery at Plymouth University, Plymouth UK, Dec 2015, and Te Pikitanga, Massey University, Wellington NZ, May 2016.

'Waiuta' installation at  Te Pikitanga, Wellington NZ