When the Waitaki hydroelectric scheme was opened in October 1934, everyone turned up to hear the speeches. The scheme’s dam was built with pick, shovel and wheelbarrow, in order to create work for the unemployed. Conditions on site and in the camp were bad. The Waitaki power station township’s medical association, set up in response, was a vital precursor to the Labour government’s creation of the welfare state in the late 1930s. Dr D. G. McMillan and Arnold Nordmeyer were central figures in the association, and went on to become ministers in the first Labour government.
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