Jos Divis’ restored cottage at Waiuta
Image: DOC


Family members from the Czech Republic were among those who gathered at the old gold mining township of Waiuta today to celebrate the restoration of Jos Divis’ old home.

Date:  15 March 2024

Czech émigré Divis (1885-1967) was a keen amateur photographer who documented gold mining life during the heyday of the town, about 35 km from Reefton.

This often included posing in his own photos using a self-timer which has led to him being described as pioneering the ‘selfie’.

The Department of Conservation has restored the 100-year-old gold miner's cottage Divis lived in and it is now open to visitors to Waiuta, a Tohu Whenua site.

Greymouth District Operations Manager Chris Hickford says the team focussed on doing the restoration in a way that retains as much of the historic original building fabric as possible.

“It was a complex job but offered a unique opportunity to upskill rangers who work on heritage structures.

"Together with Heritage New Zealand staff we ran training sessions for DOC staff from around the country so they could get hands-on experience in heritage repairs which is invaluable for future work.”

Dominika Schmidtova, a great great niece of Divis, told the gathering it was an honour to be there and shared the family’s gratitude for all the work done.

She recalled stories her grand grandmother had told about her brother who lived on the opposite side of the world and worked as a gold miner. The family could now see that Jos' "true treasure" was the photographic legacy of the times he left behind.


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