Story: Conservation – a history

Ōrākei Kōrako

Ōrākei Kōrako

When John Backhouse painted this view of Ōrākei Kōrako about 1880, there was a broad light-coloured area of geothermal activity a few metres above the Waikato River (Papa Kōwhatu). The large boiling spring in the foreground, Mimi-a-Homaiterangi, erupted irregularly as a geyser.

In 1961 a dam was built downstream to generate electricity. The level of the river was raised to form Lake Ōhakuri, and the area shown in the painting is now covered by over 15 metres of water. The remaining geothermal area at Ōrākei Korako today is only a small remnant of the original thermal activity.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: E-053-005
Oil painting by John Philemon Backhouse

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.

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How to cite this page:

Simon Nathan, 'Conservation – a history - Rivers, landforms and geysers', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 23 October 2021)

Story by Simon Nathan, published 24 Sep 2007, updated 1 Aug 2015