9 Apr 2021

Book details use of Coromandel granite in NZ landmarks

From Country Life, 9:19 pm on 9 April 2021

It took Lindsay Garmson more than 40 years to gather all the information he needed to write a book on Coromandel's granite industry.

His 2500 pages then needed to be condensed down to 200.

"The story's never been seen out of Coromandel really. The butcher sold most of the books in Coromandel, " Lindsay says with a laugh.

Granite was first taken by scow from Paritu Bay, 20 kilometres north of Colville, in 1900.

It has been used to build Parliament House, Auckland's museum and ferry buildings and the Chief Post Office in Wellington.

It can be found in the National War Memorial, Auckland Zoo and on One Tree Hill.

"(And) War memorials and monuments all throughout New Zealand (are built of it) ...New Zealand House in London.  Every cemetery you go into is just full of granite. Masses (of it). It's shiny and it's got a lovely sparkle to it," Lindsay says.

The quarry closed in the 1980s but was temporarily re-opened in 1993 when Parliament House needed refurbishment.

Lindsay says millions of tonnes of granite were taken from the seam of granite that stretches a couple of kilometres along the coast at the base of the Moehau Range and a kilometre or so inland.

"And there's still millions and millions of tonnes left in there."

Fittingly Lindsay lives in a small granite cottage at Paritu Bay. It was originally the quarry manager's living quarters and office and used when he came across the Hauraki Gulf from Auckland.

Fortunately, the cottage's thick granite walls absorb the heat of the sun and keep the home warm in winter. Turning a heater on isn't an option. Mains power has never reached Paritu Bay.