Pātea’s first power station, shown here during construction, was opened in 1902. The thin pipe running down the hill behind the power house building would carry water from a nearby dam to the turbines. Generating 40 kilowatts, the power station supplied street and home lighting. It ran from dusk to midnight all year, and 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. in winter. When electric irons became widely available, its hours were extended on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The power station was positioned on a ledge on a seaside cliff. In 1920 the dam above the station burst during a storm, sweeping the two attendants and their hut onto the tiny beach below. Both men survived. Although the power station and machinery were left intact, a new, concrete powerhouse was built further down the cliff.
Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.