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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Definition and Purposes

Technically the term “dam” relates to the barrier constructed across a stream, valley or similar natural depression for the purpose of impounding water, but popular usage includes the impounded water along with the barrier.

Apart from the obvious requirements of storage for community or stock water supply, the economic purposes served by impounding of water by dams are: land irrigation, generation of electricity by hydraulic power, amelioration of flooding by partial retention of flood waters, and improvement of natural waterway facilities for inland navigation. Of these, only the first two have been exploited to any extent in New Zealand. Some details of the more important dams are tabulated.


William Eric Sisson, B.E.(CIVIL), A.M.I.STRUCT.E., Inspecting Engineer (Power), Ministry of Works, Wellington.

Next Part: Irrigation