Sunday, 29 July 2018

Last one!

to everyone who took the time to read this blog, offered support and encouragement and helped with extra information.

This was a rather grueling experience but there were lighter moments thanks to my schizophrenic spellcheck.

Mr Mackay became Mr Madcap

Butt’s Hotel became Nutt’s Hotel

Spirits became spareribs

The chairman became an ethic airman

The Bobby Burns Claim became the Booby Burns

Three kegs spirits became three kegs spitfires

Spring will do great things for the Thames became Spring will do great thighs for the Thames

The steamer Maori Chief became the steamier Maori Chief

Ohinemuri became Moonshiner

A Daily Southern Cross correspondent became a Daily Southern Cross corpse

and some really bizarre copying and pasting announced

"at the sale of C Arthur and Sons, Auckland, there are good stocks of potatoes, cheese, bacon, ham, onions, butter, soap, oats, and colonial ale. There is a great demand for fowls, but only a few young ones in Madman’s gully, a branch of the Moanataiari Valley, which is beginning to attract attention and several claims in the long neglected Karaka are promising very fairly. "

30 July to 1 August, 1868

A mysterious passenger.

The Shotover claim.

Mundy, Daniel Louis, 1826-1881, photographer,1867-1869,Auckland Museum PH-ALB-86-p16-2

Thursday, 30 July
There is considerable excitement in Auckland due to a report which has rapidly gained currency that a seam of extraordinary richness has been discovered in the All Nation’s claim.  This claim is situated just above the Shotover and the Kuranui company’s claims. The excitement, which in the early part of today is intense among the diggers and sharebrokers, originates from a report that the steamer Enterprise was specially chartered at the early hour of 3 this morning by a private party bent on coming to Auckland in order to buy up every possible share in the All Nation’s claim. 

The Enterprise arrives at Auckland with the anxiously awaited mystery person thought to be among the passengers but on board is just one solitary passenger.  This, and the knowledge that the Enterprise has arrived unexpectedly and before her time, is sufficient to excite more suspicion.  Passengers by other steamers from the Thames know scarcely anything about the alleged discovery, other than a vague rumour in circulation at Shortland that gold had been struck in the All Nations claim.  One man expresses his opinion that the shareholders in the claim have purposely kept the matter quiet.

Another rumour circulating in Auckland today is that a miner lodged two parcels of gold containing 18 oz in the Union Bank at Shortland, which he allegedly obtained from McLeod’s Creek, Kennedy’s Bay.  The gold is said to have been much superior to that obtained at the Thames, as much as £3 per oz having been obtained for it.

At the Shortland Police court John Smith is charged with using obscene language on the public highway.  He is fined 40s and costs.

The Daily Southern Cross runs a headline which crows 'THE THAMES DIGGINGS THE RICHEST IN THE WORLD.'  “As we are in receipt of reliable information from the South that an attempt is being made on the West Coast to cry down the Thames goldfield in order to prevent a stampede, we are pleased to publish the following from the Lyttleton Times which  contains several extracts from the Cross’s columns, showing mining share transactions and the extent of business being done on the goldfields.   It quotes a letter from Mr J Hall,  a performer who was at the Thames this month,  giving a most encouraging account of the field, stating that he had been on the Shotover claim  and was astonished on beholding the extreme richness of the stone.  Mr Hall has been on most of the diggings in Australia and says that the Thames diggings are the richest he has ever visited.

An inquest is held  at the Star Hotel, Shortland, on the body of William Turner, aged 2 years 9 months, the son of William and Isabella Turner of the Digger’s Camp. The verdict is reached  that William Turner was accidentally drowned in an open shaft or waterhole, on the Digger’s camp.  A rider is added that the authorities be urged to cause the holes on the Digger’s Camp to be filled up.

The John Penn arrives in the Manukau from the south bringing passengers for the Thames goldfield.   A large quantity of machinery for the Thames diggings from Sydney arrives at Auckland by the barque Novelty.

There are now ten vessels either on their return from the Bay of Islands, proceeding to the Bay or loading at the Bay with coal for the Auckland market. That the present scarcity of fuel in Auckland is not likely to continue is a relief for the owners of steamboats and the public generally.

As the day wears on the All Nations fever grows, some enthusiastic individuals go so far as to say that a solid seam of gold has been discovered.  Shares in the All Nations go up to a marvelous figure, but it is stated that the shareholders had received timely warning of the fortunate discovery.  One shareholder, however, is reported to have parted with his interest, though the legal gentlemen have pronounced the transaction invalid.  The All Nations claim struck the Little Angel leader on Wednesday in a lower drive and a very heavy show of gold was obtained out of the first quartz broken off.  Fine wiry gold was so profusely impregnated throughout the quartz that it held together the broken pieces of stone. The party were sinking a shaft on the Little Angel boundary.  They secured the leader the full length of their ground (150 ft) between the two workings.  In consequence of this and the richness of stone taken out, shares go up to £2,000 during the afternoon and holders are not willing to part at that price.

Messrs Holmes, the resourceful owners of the first steamer laid on for the Thames,the Enterprise,  are offering their friends a meal free of expense tomorrow in honour of the first anniversary of the Thames goldfield.  The boat will leave for the Thames at 9am and there will be a band to enliven the voyage.  “The roast beef of Old England” will be supplied below.

The steamers the Duke of Edinburgh, Tauranga and Lady Bowen arrive at Auckland from the Thames this evening.  William Hunt of the Shotover claim is a passenger by the Duke of Edinburgh.  He brings up 3.500 ozs of gold in eight ingots which have been lodged in the Union Bank of Australia.  Mr Jones, who is also a passenger by the same vessel, brings up 1,000 ozs for the Union Bank of Australia.  Other parcels may be expected up tomorrow night for shipment by the mail steamers for England.  The 3,500 oz brought up by Mr Hunt together with the 7,207 oz already received brings the total of gold produced from the Shotover claim during less than a fortnight to 10,707 oz.  Hunt becomes an easy winner of a wager he made some time ago that the claim would produce 10,000 ozs within a month of commencing crushing.

NZH 30 July, 1868

DSC 30 July, 1868

No enterprise without the Enterprise

Friday, 31 July
The commemoration of the first anniversary of the Thames goldfield begins with a trip on the ss Enterprise No 2 to Shortland. Eighty passengers have embarked, but due to dense fog it is found impossible to start until 9.30.  The band then strikes up the favourite tune of ‘Sherman’s March to Georgia’. On nearing Brown’s Island speed is slackened until 11am when the mist clears away. Messrs Holmes Bros, with commendable liberality, provide a dinner, free of charge, to all passengers, which is served up with much credit to the pursuer of the vessel.   Dinner finished, Mr Wood, Esq, of Shortland, proposes the health and prosperity of the owners of the Enterprise and hopes that the next year will return double the success to what the past year has done. The band plays a selection of English, Scottish and Irish tunes to which dancing is kept up by a number of passengers with much enjoyment. 

Since the rains of Tuesday last the streets of Thames have presented a pitiful appearance.  A man riding on a dray is pitched into one of the ruts.  He is picked up unhurt, but is completely covered with mud.  Carts are stuck all up and down the street.

The news from Puriri is very encouraging and numbers are leaving for there every day – the Maori Chief and the Clyde going frequently, as well as ferry boats.

 Wahapu for Shortland with 1,000 bricks, 20 tons flour etc

The Halcyon brings 868 oz gold to Auckland.  There will be sent away some 15,000 oz of Thames gold for the month of July or very nearly three quarters of a ton of solid gold.

The Enterprise arrives at Shortland and passengers are all safely landed. Chief Taipari, having been told that Messrs Holmes were intending to supply a sumptuous dinner and refreshments to all passengers travelling by the vessel, determines  to “assist” on the occasion.  On the arrival of the steamer in the creek, Taipari and a party of Maori are waiting to receive Captain Seon and other friends.  A generous supply of champagne is provided and after several health’s have been drunk, Taipari makes a speech.  An interpreter being at hand for the benefit of the Europeans, Taipari is pleased to remark on the spirited conduct of Messrs Holmes in being the first to place a steamer on the Thames trade.  He would most emphatically assert that, had there been no Enterprise there would have been no such goldfield, a double entendre which creates much laughter and showers of compliments at Taipari’s wit.  The Enterprise, which had taken down the pioneers of the Thames goldfield, has stood as a firm, fast friend to them.  If it had not been for the spirited undertaking of the Messrs Holmes in despatching their steamer, he felt the goldfield would have got a bad name and collapsed.  Hearty cheers are given before Taipari leaves the vessel.  The Enterprise since she first commenced running to the Thames has made nearly 200 trips to the diggings without having encountered any accident or injury whatever. 

Up to a late hour this night the Enterprise has not returned to the Auckland wharf, and in all probability will not be back until tomorrow evening, being a favourite Saturday boat with the diggers returning to town on that day. 

DSC 31 July, 1868
NZH 31 July, 1868

The salvation of Auckland.

1 August, 1868
One year ago today the situation in Auckland was dire.  There were empty houses and scores of unemployed.  Trade was bad, money scarce, wages low and work hard to find. Businesses crashed, one after the other. A soup kitchen had opened. There had been a land boom and it had burst.  The withdrawal of Imperial troops and the transfer of the colony’s capital to Wellington in 1865 had caused an economic depression.  There was no place to go as winter set in.  

The Thames goldfield had just been proclaimed and around 5.30 – 6pm this evening the Enterprise arrived off the landing place at Kauaeranga and unloaded passengers, cargo and baggage.  They arrived in wretched weather. There were hills covered in  masses of dense scrub and tangled undergrowth and on the flat nothing better than raupo swamp and ti-tree scrub.  On the banks of the Kauaeranga creek was a church mission station and exactly opposite, a Maori settlement of huts, whares and crops. There were few Europeans and one store. The ground opened up was a small portion from the Karaka to Kuranui – not quite two miles.  Within this boundary was an extensive flat mostly covered in peach trees and very swampy.  A desolate area, a Maori burial place, was thickly studded with carved posts, the leering heads and thrust out tongues greatly unnerving the diggers.

One year later the Enterprise regularly carries good numbers of passengers, many are diggers returning to the their labours, there are storekeepers and men of business as well as parties of 'fresh hands' going to try their luck for the first time. They have abundant supplies of tools, tents, blankets, billies and pannikins and they strike the observer as being just the sort of men who were wanted for the work.  Some of the old hands make the most extraordinary statements about certain claims and yields,  Specimens are produced and handed round as others adjourn to the steward for “nobblers”.

The Enterprise slips through the water pretty rapidly and is nearly abreast of the Wairoa River. Soon after the Sandspit is passed they enter the broad sweep of the Firth of the Thames where the waves are tumbling pretty heavy – so much so that one or two passengers begin to look particularly pale. Darkness falls but Shortland is rapidly approaching, and the lights from the town can plainly be discerned ahead. Within eight hours of leaving Auckland, passengers are safely landed on the beach at Shortland, opposite Mr Sheehan’s hotel, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The steamers from Auckland can only come within about a mile of the shore, on account of the shallowness of the firth at its head but two small steamers ply as tenders to the Auckland steamers and enter the creek, landing passengers and goods on the bank. There is a great crowd congregated on the beach to witness the landing of the passengers and many witty remarks are made by the old hands as the passengers walk the plank to reach the shore – a very dangerous mode of landing. Many an unfortunate passenger has fallen from the trembling plank into the water but with no worse effect then a sound ducking and the laughter of the crowd upon the beach.

As passengers land there is considerable interest manifested by the loafers as to the health of their maternal parents. From the landing place passengers proceed up Grey Street and turn off into Pollen Street, the principal thoroughfare. The street itself is almost as broad as Auckland's Queen Street and is crowded with buildings of a most diverse description, in fact, so assorted are the stores and sizes that one would almost fancy they had been thrown down higgledy piggledy out of an immense pepper castor.  One shop is of large dimensions, broad and tall; the next is a little shanty, with barely room to turn, but, small as they are, they seem to do a remarkably good business, being constantly filled with customers. Half the shops are general stores, the other half boot makers and public houses. A glance into a bootmakers store shows five or six men cramped up with hardly elbow room, working away as though for dear life, while at the latter barmaids dressed in the latest styles of fashion go about their work behind the counter, throwing the while the most fascinating glances upon the various customers. The public houses are doing a roaring trade

Pollen Street is a perfect quagmire which has here and there planks placed across for the foot passenger which can be negotiated safely with the exception of running afoul of a drunken digger. The state of the streets is something beyond the imagination of even an Otago man.

The size of the town and the number of buildings going up in all directions are astonishing. To the rear of the town, however, little has been done beyond the Hape Creek, but to the left the left eye cannot reach the limits of the wooden buildings and canvas tents.  There are numerous well built and commodious hotels, well-filled stores, comfortable cheerful weatherboard houses and more than one brick house.  There are churches, a theatre, and a court house, which if not very handsome, is commodious and well-arranged. There is activity and business-like energy, the rattling clatter of the various steam engines and the accompanying thud of the crushing machines. There are some eight or nine crushing batteries erected in the different gullies - they are mostly crushing for hire.

Looking at the whole district from the sea the town is pitched upon a flat which extends back about a mile to the foot of the ranges. This stretches away for several miles, in this direction are several Maori villages and the country around is very picturesque. The Maori occupy some low terraces behind the town.

Beyond Shortland in northerly directions is a large vacant space of ground which is at present tapu, on account of it being an old Maori burial place.  Away to the left of the town, buildings and tents multiply until you come to Tookey’s Town which rivals Shortland itself, indeed the two places appear just now to be fighting for the ascendancy.  Again beyond Tookey’s Town comes another line of houses and tents as far as it is possible to carry them, until in fact they are stuck in a corner between the hills and the sea. The whole of the ground to the left of Shortland from the harbour is taken up as far as it is possible to take up, while to the right of the town (where at present no gold has been found) a large tract of ground is lying idle. About a mile back from the beach between Shortland and Waiotahi, and just to the right of Grahamstown, Canvas Town is to be seen – a mass of buildings, tents and marquees, that will be a formidable rival to either Shortland Town or Tookey’s Town, although having no communication with the sea it cannot of course become so important as either.

Canvas Town is at the entrance of the Karaka Creek, just beyond the flat and extends over a very considerable area of ground. On the flat there are three machines, which, much to the disgust of the people living on the flat, make the water in the creek perfectly useless. As water, however, is pretty plentiful just now, that is not of so much consequence, but next summer the supply from the water holes will be barely sufficient to meet the wants of this rapidly increasing district.

As a background to all – Shortland, Tookey’s Town, Grahamstown, Canvas Town and the whole flat – at the rear, and at the left, the mountains of Karaka form very pretty shading. From the Hape to the Karaka Creek the hill rises to a considerable height.  Running along at the top pretty horizontally the spur of the Collar Bone comes down to the flat and runs up to a height of nearly 2,000 ft, again the hill runs along an immense height to the Waiotahi and Moanataiari creeks.  Covered with dense bush, as they mostly are, being worn with tracks by the constant passage of the diggers, rising nobly to immense heights,  canvas tents peep out from beneath the green foliage in many places, and the smoke curling up into the clear blue winter sky,  the view is one of the most striking beauty and a testament to the pluck, perseverance and endurance with which these men have faced every hardship, scaling and burrowing into these lofty hills, making their homes upon the mountain top and daring danger and hunger in their search for the precious metal.

On the road to Waiotahi care is taken to prevent getting bogged. The way lies partly through a peach grove, which has been sadly almost destroyed, and partly along by a raupo swamp. Very little of the raupo is left, however, for it has been cut down to the very roots by the Maoris for manufacture of whares. For £3 the Maori would at one time put up a very good two roomed whare, with fireplace, but they now charge considerably more on account of the difficulty of getting raupo, which has at present to be fetched from beyond the Hape Creek.

Four creeks flow off the hills and through Grahamstown and are named the Karaka, the Waiotahi, the Moanataiari and the Kuranui. It is on the sides of these creeks and the high steep ridges between them that most of the claims and workings are situated.

Crossing the Karaka, Grahamstown is reached on the right where a good number of buildings have been constructed in this once swampy place and judging from appearances, it will very shortly be a place of considerable importance. A short distance beyond is Waiotahi, or as it is more commonly called, Tookey’s Town, from the fact of its being built upon and owned or leased by Mr Tookey. Passing through the town towards the hills at the back, are some of the richest claims on the diggings - Tookey’s, Messengers, the Manukau, Golden Crown and others.

Descending the hill without falling is no joke but here lies the Shotover, almost at the base of a hill, near the sea. The ground occupied by the party is a sort of natural basin, and into this basin it would appear that the gold ran from all directions and proved the salvation of Auckland.

At Auckland wharf vans, carts and hand barrows are loaded with an abundance of the good things of life, apparently sufficient for the supply of an immense city, in reality destined for the Thames. Ponderous portions of machinery are being slung into the various cutters lying alongside the wharf, while vast piles of timber are being ceaselessly carted to vessels.  The numbers of livestock which are constantly shipped to the golden district -  cows, sheep and pigs -  give evidence that the appetites of the diggers are in a tolerable state of healthfulness and vigour.  Stocks of timber used to be unduly large but now many of the dealers have hardly a board on hand such is the demand for timber at the Thames. In the stores quantities of boxes and packages of all shapes and sizes are ready to be transported.  The people congregated on the wharf  are cheerful and  given to shouts of hilarity. There is a steady rush from other goldfields  - the steamers from the southern ports are crowded with passengers intent on trying their luck at the Thames  and sailing craft receive their share of digger's patronage.

Living is cheap at the Thames.The result of the inexpensive facilities afforded by steam carriage is that the price of everything at the Thames is far below what they are in any diggings town.  Eight days lodging in the best place in Shortland costs only £2. A glass of beer anywhere only costs 3 pence. In Grahamstown a dinner, which in Dunedin would cost from 3 to 4s, is enjoyed for 1s 6d. Many diggers can live for 6s per week and most comfortably for 10s a week.

There are too many stores  at the Thames. The cheapness of everything, however, acts most beneficially on the diggers enabling married men to have their wives and families with them, diffusing a spirit of contentment and satisfaction rarely seen on new diggings, and gives to the mining operations a permanence and stability.  A most remarkable and unparalleled feature of the Thames population is the utter absence of grumbling at their luck. There is no man who says the place is a duffer, or who talks of leaving the so and so hole, but plenty who are sacrificing their farms and bits of property in other parts of the Province in order to stick to their claims. The price of food and clothing enables them and their families to live cheaply and the abundance and cheapness of timber enables them to build comfortable houses, and carry on their sinking and driving operations without any great capital. Many wives, though, are being deserted by their husbands, who are determined to try their luck at the Thames.

The July yield of gold is 15,000oz – nearly half a ton of gold is from one claim. For months past, day by day, the miners at the Thames have struck rich leaders and reefs in one claim after another.  This fact has been regarded with incredulity because such small amounts  of gold are monthly exported but  this has been owing to the absence of machinery.  It is only quite lately that a few machines have been got into working order, and they are of no great power, only three or four or five stampers each.  The Shotover’s is only a 12 stamper machine and of these four stampers are worked at a time – yet it has turned out, since noon on the 20th of July, a trifle under half a ton of retorted gold.  There are other claims fully as rich if not richer than the Shotover.

Already the effect of the goldfield is being felt in commercial circles and by the working classes.  There is no such thing now as a man who is able and who desires to work being out of employment. On the contrary, employers are beginning to complain that the diggings have attracted away the best and most active men in every department of labour.  Confidence has been fully restored in commercial circles and there is already beginning to be felt a scarcity in many kinds of stock, now that the demand for gold is brisker.  The late commercial distress caused a considerable check to be placed on the importation of goods of all kinds.  It was as rare some six months ago to see customers in shops, as now to see shops without customers. The immense richness of the Thames goldfield has undoubtedly added greatly to the provinces returning prosperity. 

The Enterprise brings to Auckland 1,000 oz gold in charge of Mr Cobley of the Shotover.  On board the Enterprise are 120 passengers – the returning voyagers celebrating the first anniversary of the Thames goldfield are again liberally treated by Messrs Holmes with refreshments.

10,414 oz Thames gold is shipped by the Union Bank in the ss Taranaki.  The other banks have 5,000 ozs in hand.

Rangatira for Tapu Creek with 2,000 bricks, 5,000 ft timber and sundries

Bessy for Tookey’s Flat with 30,000 shingles and sundries, and five tons coal for Waikawau mills

Henry for the Thames with 5 tons flour, sundries, 3 cows, 1 horse

Triad for Shortland with timber and 35 kegs blasting powder

Midge, Tauranga, Halcyon, Duke of Edinburgh, Lady Bowen with passengers . . .

The ss Gothenburg from Melbourne has arrived in Bluff and is now enroute to Wellington bringing very large numbers of diggers from Melbourne and the south for the Thames goldfield. Female adventurers are also among the passengers. To the observer a ‘joyful anxiety’ seems to animate the party and the extremely cold weather exhilarates their spirits. They appear to depart without regret, the future evidently occupying their minds.



The cutter Tay, which beached at Tuwhitu on 25 July after leaving the Thames, was floated off without any material damage and arrived in Auckland harbour on 6 August.

The cutter Betsey, which went missing after leaving Whangapoua with a full cargo of timber for the Thames on 5 July, was eventually given up for lost.  It was generally supposed that she had foundered during a gale. 

On 2 August Messrs Samuel Cochrane held their first sale of mining shares at their auction mart.  There was a most numerous attendance.  At the opening of the sale Mr Cochrane addressed the audience - "Gentlemen - at the earnest solicitation of my numerous friends I have consented to hold periodical sales of shares and stock at the Thames and having had the honor of serving the public for the last 10 years I have acceded to their wishes . . ."  The sale was then proceeded with and the Thames Stock Exchange and Thames' famous Scrip Corner came into existence.

Warden Alan Baillie resigned his office in early August, owing to the inadequacy of the salary paid to him.  Baillie’s work had increased to such an extent that no man, however energetic, could possible perform it without clerical assistance.  By August 1868 there were over 10,000 persons on the goldfield.  The country was so steep and rugged that a distance of one mile was often as tedious to traverse as five, so that the actual duties of the Warden extended over an area some 20 miles in length.   With many of the claims minutely subdivided and shares hourly changing hands, the Warden’s workload was huge.  Mr Lowther Broad, a Warden and Resident magistrate on the Otago goldfields, was appointed the new Thames goldfield warden. 

Commissioner James Mackay also resigned in early August, the reason being the neglect of the government to fulfil its engagements with the Maori at the Thames.  They did not receive payments due to them for June, though it had been long since collected from the miners.  The money had to be sent down to Wellington and sifted through the Treasury scales before being returned to Shortland.  It was strongly felt that this system should be altered and the whole management and control of the goldfields be left entirely with the provincial authorities and not be managed from Wellington.  Following Mackay’s protest, the money was remitted and Mackay persuaded to stay on at an increased salary mainly to negotiate for the opening of the Ohinemuri. He was relieved of his Warden’s duties at the Thames and allowed to undertake private business that did not interfere with his public duties. Mackay later wrote of this time “My health was bad.  I felt no spirit to perform the enormous amount of work which was imposed on me.”

The very first anniversary celebrations of the Thames Goldfield were not held until the 19th and 20th of August.  The Thames Anniversary races to be held at Tararu were postponed due to inclement weather and the incompleteness of the list of race entries.   The Clyde had been despatched to Auckland to bring down the majority of horses but owing to rough weather she was unable to return until the 17th. The time allowed for entries was fixed to close at 4pm on the 16th but in consequence of the non-arrival of the Clyde, the stewards postponed the event.  Some half dozen horses had arrived during the week. The scarcity of timber had likewise proved a serious drawback to those about to erect booths, and the grandstand could not be completed for the same reason. An incessant fall of rain also rendered the course unfit.  The stewards obtained an extension from Mr Mackay for the protection of claims until noon Friday the 21st and also an extension of the booth holder’s licenses. Steamers form Auckland announced they would issue return tickets for the occasion at a reduced fare.

On Wednesday 19 August the day was ushered in with bright sun and cloudless sky and the streets at an early hour of the morning were crowded with people dressed in holiday attire and seemingly bent on making the best of the day. The Tauranga landed passengers at Tararu Point only a few minutes’ walk from the grandstand.  Later in the morning a great multitude of pedestrians began to direct their steps towards to racecourse and the view between Shortland and Tararu was one of high spirits.. The scene was enlivened by the harmonious strains of a brass band stationed on the grandstand, together with a variety of other instruments.  Great amusement was caused by Mr Mulligan’s donkey showing off its capabilities in front of the racecourse, and every now and then kicking up its heels as if enjoying the joke.  The Maoris mustered in great force and most of them managed to procure mounts of some kind or another.  The grandstand was crowded and there was a goodly show of the fair sex.  The games common to race courses such as Aunt Sally and Thimblerig were duly patronised by the lovers of such sports.

At quarter to 12 the band commenced proceedings by playing the National Anthem, which was succeeded by the popular air ‘The Limerick Races’. Several horse races were held.  Nearly 6,000 people were present and the whole day passed off without the slightest sign of rowdyism.

The second day was inclement, but a large number of people still attended. Numbers flocked out of town to the racecourse.  Rain did not materially affect the course; the sandy nature of the ground was in its favour, as the moisture was speedily sucked up.  Rain fell nearly the whole day but the racing was very good.  The hurdles were put up in a loose and careless manner because the races had been got up hurriedly.  The judge’s box had rather ludicrous appearance, reminiscent of a Punch and Judy arrangement.  It was great fun to watch the gentlemen at the gaming table pack up and take off when one of the police made his appearance. As it was raining hard and as there was no protection, the grandstand not being covered, every person was wet through but this did not extinguish the excitement.  The attendance of ladies was scarce compared to the day before. 

Publicans who purchased sites on the race course were 
Grandstand - Mr McDonald Tararu Hotel, Tararu
No 1 Booth – Mr O’Connor, Rising Sun Hotel, Waiotahi
No 2 Booth Mr Kelly, Victorian Hotel, Shortland
No 3 Booth Mr McGregor, Albion Hotel, Shortland
No 4 & 5 Booth Mr Stephenson Royal Hotel Waiotahi
No 6 Booth Mr Rose Thames Hotel, Shortland.

Aunt Sally is a traditional English game usually played in pub gardens and fairgrounds that dates back to the 17th Century in which players throw sticks or battens at a model of an old woman's head.

Thimblerig is portrayed as a gambling game, but in reality, when a wager for money is made, it is almost always a confidence trick.


DSC 14 August 1867


 By August 1868 about 7,000 acres had been opened for prospecting. The area now available was 340,000 acres or about 700 square miles, extending from the Thames river, to Cape Colville and then by the East Coast to Whangamata.

The number of claims
taken up for quartz mining amounted to about 1,500, occupying an area of not more than 10,000 acres.

The actual amount of money invested in shares in several of these claims amounted to about £80,000, giving employment to 6,000 men.

The value of permanent wooden buildings in Shortland was about £30,000, and in Grahamstown about £20,000. 
Buildings were daily in the course of construction.

The value of quartz crushing machines driven by steam
on the Shortland branch of the goldfields was £16,000, and of machinery ordered and being set up £22,000, thus giving a total of 400 hp, capable of crushing 400 tons of quartz daily, which at an average yield of 3 oz of gold to the ton, would give 12,000 oz at 50 s per oz, say 3,000 per diem, or nearly one million sterling per annum.

The owners of the crushing mills employed permanently 400 men.

The development of the goldfield stimulated shipbuilding. There was now a fleet of steamers, an aggregate of 320 hp, consisting £30,000, manned by about 100 men. These steamers, with a single exception, had been built at the port of Auckland, entirely of New Zealand material.

Coasting vessels
 were now fully employed in the transport of merchandise from Auckland, and timber from the saw mills, which were now fully and profitably employed

Coal mining was also stimulated by the Thames goldfields. Although there were several valuable coal deposits in the province, those worked to the best advantage were the Bay of Islands (Kawakawa) and Whangarei mines. This coal was unsurpassed for steam purposes.

The gold export to 31 July was 34,000 ozs on which 4,175 export duties was paid. Remaining in the banks was 11,000 oz, the duty on which would be £1,375 showing a total yield for the year of 45,000 oz, and 5,550 for export duty.

The revenue paid by the inhabitants of the goldfields for miner’s rights and rentals would amount to about £15,000  out of which the Maori expended £400 on road surveys, and about £450 for indicating lines of road (not making them).

In other charges to the General and Provincial Governments the inhabitants of the Thames  contributed about £5,000 for the year.

Rentals obtained 
for about an eighth portion of land leased from the Maori by Mr Robert Graham on the Waiotahi amounted to about £4,000 per annum.

The goldfields population amounted to about 12,000, the greater proportion being able bodied men, engaged in mining and other pursuits.

Of the large expenditure indicated above, almost all was Auckland capital, which was a complete answer to those who asserted that the Auckland capitalists had done nothing for the Thames goldfield.

The value of mining property in the above statistics has not been touched upon, but if Hunt’s claim, at £200,000, the Kuranui Co’s claim at £50,000, or the Middle Star at £20,000 and others of proportionate worth be taken as standards of value, the total would amount to an almost incredible sum.


By September 1868 houses were almost daily being pulled down in Auckland and conveyed to the Thames for re-erection where they commanded high rents.  There were scores of houses in the Auckland suburbs which had long been tenantless.  The whole of Calliope Terrace on the North Shore was removed.

In September after a rich lode of gold was discovered at the Manukau mine north of the Thames, a stock market boom began.  

By October 1868 the Golden Crown claim was producing immense yields of gold.

The Caledonian mine, adjacent to the Manukau, would strike the richest seam of gold in New Zealand history.  

The Thames Hospital (“Digger’s Hospital”) opened on 2 November 1868, the Thames Advertiser calling it a “red letter day in the annals of the Thames . . .  the most valuable institution yet established here.”    

The boom years at the Thames were 1868 and 1869. By 1870 the Thames goldfield had fallen into recession, exacerbated by previous speculation.  The NZ Herald reported that the field had been mismanaged, too much productive ground had been taken up and shareholders’ funds were beginning to be exhausted.

Mining at the Thames was stagnant from about 1874 to the 1890s.  In 1876 the town was described as a mass of straggling buildings presenting a most unfinished appearance owing to its rapid rise and sudden depression, under which it was still suffering, the scene of the great Caledonian, Golden Crown and Manukau, and other rich claims, whose glory had departed. In 1884 things were not much better –  Shortland and Grahamstown were described as a long straggling place, spreading over three miles.  It contained some good buildings, a large public school, handsome banks, good hotels and substantial warehouses and the retail stores were exceedingly numerous.  It struck the observer that it  must have been a fine business place when the claims were turning out rich yields but its glory seemed to have departed, and everything appeared very dull.  Several of the crushing batteries were idle and some only working half time.  The famous Tararu creek was now silent, batteries apparently abandoned and gone to ruin.  The town appeared to be rather dirty and muddy and very damp and unwholesome in wet weather owing to the amount of drainage from the range immediately behind the town and the extensive mudflats along the foreshore, The introduction of the cyanide process and the injection of English capital brought about a brief revival at the Thames.  The government sponsored deep level prospecting until 1902, after which the field went into an accelerated decline.

The opening of the Upper Thames
After the last Maori chief had signed on 17 February 1875, the Ohinemuri field was officially opened up to prospectors on 3 March 1875. James Mackay was tasked with negotiating peace with the Hauraki tribes, and in 1873 had been appointed Commissioner for Maori Affairs. Mackay was a controversial figure who used various unscrupulous methods to persuade Maori to sign away their mining rights.

The beloved and celebrated ss Enterprise was blown up off Cheltenham Beach by Captain Coyle and the submarine corps as part of the North Shore Aquatic carnival  on 7 January 1899.  The explosion was successful, the steamer being blown into matchwood. 

The end of the Enterprise.
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-1055'


Papers Past
James Mackay report, Building Thames, Alistair Isdale.
The Hauraki Report Volume 1


© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018
Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

23 July to 29 July, 1868

The Golden Valley of the Thames.
The Waiotahi Valley. Water race on the left running down from the dammed stream, and a tramway up to the middle of the valley. Messenger Hill is at the extreme top left.
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 536-Album-285-8-1' 

Thursday, 23 July
The steamer the Duke of Edinburgh leaves the Kauaeranga creek with 60 passengers for Auckland.

The first crushing at the Goldfinder battery continues with unabated success, both in the amount of yield and in the working of the machine.  The battery performs its work as smoothly as if in use for some time past.  The retorting is busily proceeded with by Mr Muir, of the Union Bank.  Three ingots of smelted gold ready for export containing 1,800 ozs have already been turned out.

Du Moulin and Johnson’s machine on the Break O Day claim, Waiotahi Creek,  is now at work and is found to be a most compact and successful battery possessing several advantages over the other machines in use on the Thames goldfield.  Considerable delay occurred in building the battery due to  the excavation necessary for the site, felling trees and the slow process of getting machinery on the spot owing to the almost impassable state of the roads along the Waiotahi.  These difficulties have been overcome by sheer determination and at a great outlay of capital and labour.  All of the timber for the building has been sawn on the spot because of the expense of carriage along the roads during the present season and this has considerably slowed the progress of the work.  The sawyers are now cutting timber for the retorting house.  

In the Success, a claim on the Shellback (Tararu),  which was only pegged off about ten days ago, a first rate reef is found. This is another proof that the value of the ground on and about the Shellback has been very greatly underrated.

Whangarei laments the attractions of the “Golden Valley of the Thames” which has caused many to leave for that paradise of diggers.  “We have been in hopes for some time to be able to entice them back again to the diggings of our own.”

The paddle steamer Bruce, which has done good service on the West Coast, is receiving considerable repairs and alterations, prior to leaving for Auckland.  On arrival there the Bruce will run between Auckland and the Thames.  The Bruce is a very fast boat and of extremely light draught of water.

The Duke of Edinburgh, after a good passage of 5 ½ hours from Shortland against a strong NE gale and heavy sea, arrives at Auckland.  Despite the wind the steamer went through the water capitally – increasing her speed with almost every mile.  Her engines worked much better than when on her trial trip.   Captain McDougall states that she behaved remarkably well and proved herself a good sea boat against the heavy seas. The Duke of Edinburgh brings the news that up to last evening the yield of gold from the Shotover claim reached the amazing quantity of nearly 5,000 ozs.  If the yield continues to be as rich as that from the quartz crushed since the starting of the Goldfinder, Mr Hunt will most assuredly win the bet he has made that the yield will be 12,000 oz.

The Lady Bird arrives in the Manukau from Otago with a large number of miners for the Thames. The captain, Edwin Lusher, is presented with a testimonial. “We, the undersigned passengers on the voyage by your vessel to the Thames goldfields from Otago, cannot part with you without expressing our gratitude for your kindness and gentlemanly behaviour to us on the voyage, and request you to convey to your officers our thanks for their kindness, as also to the NZSN Co for the comfort provided to both saloon and steerage.  In conclusion, we hope, when we again travel, we may be under such an able commander as yourself and in parting we wish you every success, health and happiness.” Signed by 48 saloon and steerage passengers.

At the Queen Street wharf vessels from foreign ports are loading or discharging cargo from London, Valparaiso, Sydney, New Caledonia, San Francisco and Rarotonga.  In addition there are four or five of the Thames steamers which add to the  activity and business at the lower end of the wharf.  In the stream are vessels from London, France, Lyttleton and the East Coast.  The upper end of the wharf and the Custom house and timber wharves are completely lined with coasting vessels, there being between 20 and 40 craft.  The Queen Street wharf and harbour have not presented the same appearance of prosperity for many months past.

DSC 23 July, 1868

NZH 23 July, 1868

Friday, 24 July
The Tauranga resumes her trading to the Thames today having had a thorough overhaul. In addition to the fleet of steamers constantly plying between Auckland and Shortland seldom a day now passes without witnessing the departure of two or three sailing vessels with full cargoes.

Stag for Shortland with 9,000 ft timber

The Paisley Rose claim strikes gold of a very rich appearance today.  The leaders are generally little and good in this vicinity.  The Paisley Rose adjoins the Blooming Rose and Happy Go Lucky. The Kentucky claim, Moanataiari Creek, also strike gold today in a leader extending nearly three feet wide.

The Daily Southern Cross comments on the “reality of the Thames diggings – there are many, especially in the southern provinces, who have been very sceptical in relation to the genuineness of the Thames goldfields.  They have looked upon them with a jaundiced eye, and a very jealous frame of mind. Such are the assertions of those who delight in Auckland’s late troubles, and who are alarmed at the signs of the good time coming, and now, though they have chuckled and laughed, with an almost demonical earnestness, though they would almost make themselves believe that Auckland can never rise like a phoenix from the flames, they are invited calmly and very dispassionately to look at the following facts. The trade to the Thames is of such a magnitude that it has taken to itself almost the whole of the vessels which have hitherto been engaged in the coasting trade to the delight and profit of the owners . . . those who deal in firewood are at their wits end to know how to supply the wants of Auckland, and have raised the price about 40 per cent . . . the ship building trades were never so busy, and craft of all dimensions were never in such demand as at present, while the value of vessels is rapidly advancing.”

The Lady Bowen leaves on her trial trip, having on board a large number of Auckland gentlemen. She casts off from the steamboat jetty on Queen Street wharf and steams up the river as far as Stokes Point, after which she slews round and heads down the harbour under full steam.  The tide is ebbing and the wind is light. Her engines run a little stiff.  When about opposite Niccol's patent slip a temporary block occurrs in her engines and she is detained for 12 ½ minutes until her machinery is adjusted when she is again put on full steam and continues without mishap. Refreshments are on the saloon tables during the trip. About 4pm the cloth is removed and toasts are made to the Queen and Royal Family, the Governor and Lady Bowen and the builders and owners of the Lady BowenAfter speeches and a round of “He’s a jolly good fellow” the boat approaches the wharf and the guests go on deck and are shortly afterwards landed, having spent an agreeable afternoon together.  The smart little boat returned to Queen Street wharf in remarkably good style.

The Lady Bowen was built by Mr Niccol on the North Shore.   She is coppered and copper fastened and built of New Zealand timber.  The Lady Bowen is commanded by Captain Cunningham, formerly of the schooner Gazelle and the brig Flying Cloud.  She possesses a very handsome saloon, paneled and grained, with comfortable cushion seats and tables and mirrors.  The forward cabin is spacious and well ventilated.  There is a well fitted bar and on either side are convenient water closets.  She will carry about five tons of coal in her bunkers which is outside the amount that the furnaces will consume in 24 hours.

The first crushing of the Golden Crown claim at the Thames is completed tonight at Goodall’s battery.

DSC 24 July, 1868

Astonishing the civilised world.

Saturday, 25 July
The Lady Bowen begins her trade to and from the Thames today.

The first crushing of retorted gold of the Golden Crown claim is taken to the Bank of Australasia to be smelted.

The Happy-Go-Lucky’s two stamper battery and water wheel are set in motion for the first time and work very satisfactorily.

The Thames Advertiser correspondent while doing his rounds,  observes the Marquis of Waterford claim, six men, in the Waiotahi, next to El Dorado.  He cannot speak in any terms of praise of the way in which this claim is worked; in fact there is an utter want of mining experience.

A claim of six men’s ground situated in Wiseman’s gully, Punga Flat, and called the Domain View, crushes a sample of 50 lb of quartz taken off the heap at Bull’s machine this week, the yield is 3 dwt.  The claim is near the El Dorado and Lundon’s ground.

At Tapu nothing has been done in the way of the numerous machine sites which have been pegged off during the past two months.  Most of the available sites have been selected, but it is aggravating that the parties taking them up still have the right to them after a month has elapsed during which time objections may be sent to the Warden.  Such sites should be considered as abandoned and the deposit forfeited so as to prevent the country being blocked up by persons who do not intend to erect machinery at once to the detriment and inconvenience of those who would do so.  A great deal of blasting powder is being used in the claims north and south of Tapu Creek, some of the shots are of great power and shake the ground for a considerable distance.  Business is very brisk and a new public house is to be opened tonight.  This will make the sixth at Tapu. Numbers of miners are getting their wives and families down from Auckland and female faces are to be seen now on nearly all parts of the goldfield.  

At the Shotover battery the four head of stampers continue their work with unparalleled success since steam was got up last Monday. 

It is mis-reported that William Hunt, of the Shotover, intends to establish a line of express, on the American principle, for the conveyance and delivery of mail and parcels of all descriptions between the Thames and Auckland, where there will be kept messengers and means to facilitate the discharge of business.  Branch offices of Mr Hunt’s 'steamboat and city express line' will be established at every place on the goldfield, and a round trip made daily, which will be a great convenience to parties doing business.  The proprietor is actually a Mr Robert Hunt and his parcel's delivery company guarantee's to deliver all mail entrusted to his charge with safety and dispatch.  This will be a great improvement on the old system of putting parcels on board the steamers and not knowing whether they reach their proper destination or not.

A few hundred weight of stuff from the Golden Crown at Puriri  is crushed at Bull’s machine and gives a prospect of 14 oz to the ton. 

John Robertson writes to the Daily Southern Cross  of the new rush to Puriri – “I have just returned from Puriri, having gone up there a few days ago.  When I went there I found about 300 diggers on the ground, and nearly the same number I met on my way coming back, making their way to Puriri.  There are six or seven claims on good gold. The gold is in the quartz reefs and leaders . . . but in the new Prospectors claim they struck a rich mullocky leader which they sluiced and the tailings they put to one side, and intend to crush them as soon as a machine is on the ground.  The original prospectors have a reef in their ground from four to five ft thick . . .  they also have a good looking leader, which I think will surpass the reef in richness . . .  The claim next to them, on the east side, held by Messrs Beetham and Walker is also a good claim, but, owing to some mismanagement, is not at present worked . . . There are a few more claims on gold . . . the ground on each side of both Prospectors is marked out to a considerable distance.”

A waiter at one of the Thames hotels finds a cheque for £5 which has been dropped in one of the passages of the house.  The cheque is handed to a gentleman at the hotel, for the owner, but once claimed the waiter is not even rewarded with  any thanks.

Stag for Shortland with 9,000 ft timber etc

  Rosina for Shortland with 6,000 bricks

  Diamond for the Thames with 3 horses and 10 tons cargo

  Sumter for Shortland with stores

 Rangatira for Tapu Creek with stores

Beetham, Walker and Co’s Shortland report notes that business has not been as brisk as some previous weeks but prices are firmly maintained, and many claims little known are taking position in the front ranks.  A considerable number of men have gone up to Puriri during the week.  It has been no precipitous rush, but rather the deliberate movement at the first favourable weather of a number of cautious and steady men.  No great results have been shown, and no amazingly rich ground has at present been opened, but there is reason to believe a large extent of country to be rich there.

The Westport Star publishes an extract from a letter about the Thames goldfield from a miner in Auckland to his mate “I would not advise you to come here, anyhow, if you can struggle on unless you have a mind to go prospecting, which is the only show.  For goodness sake pay no attention to the glowing anticipations shadowed forth in the Auckland papers as the people here, having had dull times and trade stagnating, are anxious for a rush at any price.  Even now, the returned miners from Rangiriri are talking of getting up a demonstration condemnatory of those who must have fabricated the report of the goldfield . . .  There is, in my opinion, a show at Shortland for one or two smart coast (West Coast) publicans, that is, if  a rush should set in . . . I think prospecting is the best game, if a man chances a period of six or 12 months.  As for store keeping, butchering and baking things are so ridiculously cheap, the profits would be next to nil.  Indeed business is like carpentry – a dead letter . . .  This will give you an idea of the position that skilled artisans are supposed to occupy in the social structure of this very select community.

William Hunt, of the Shotover,  arrives in Auckland and lodges 5,270 ozs of gold in the Union Bank  the result of one week's crushing.  Besides this there still remains over 2,000 ozs which have been retorted but require to be smelted so the total yield of the Shotover claim from one week's crushing is between 7,000 and 8,000 ozs.   Mr Hunt may now safely congratulate himself on having won his bet of £100 that the yield of gold from the claim would exceed 10,000 ozs within one month of commencing crushing.  When the requirements of the Thames goldfield  in the way of machinery have been adequately supplied, and the extensive network of known auriferous quartz veins developed – the returns of this goldfield looks set to astonish the civilised world.

The Thames’ Golden Crown claim completes smelting.  There is an enormous yield of gold. Two large ingots and some odd pieces are obtained, making a total weight of 877 oz. 

At Butt’s American Theatre the performance tonight proves very attractive judging from the crowded state of the house.  ‘Black eyed Susan’ and ‘The Irish Tutor’ are acted out and keep the house in a continual state of merriment.  Mr and Mrs Hall carry off their parts remarkably well as do the other performers.

Black Eyed Susan performance

Around Midnight
The cutter Tay leaves Shortland with six passengers.  About an hour after starting out a heavy gale of wind and rain springs up.  The night is pitch dark.  At quarter to 2 the mainsail is lowered to half mast and the boom nearly amidships, for fear she should give.  A few minutes later, with land close, she grates on boulders and at 2am the vessel goes ashore at half tide. The Tay sends out distress signals for nearly an hour until the sail halyards give way.  Passengers on the Midge, passing, see the signals.  At low water Captain Marks lays both anchors out but they won't hold.  He places about two tons of stone on each anchor, but this does not prevent the anchors coming home at flood tide and the Tay goes further up the beach.  The Tay beaches at a place called Tuwhitu. The captain and passengers are found by Maori who provide them with potatoes and shelter.

DSC 25 July, 1868

Sunday, 26 July
Early this morning the Tickler is engaged in bringing a cargo of firewood to Shortland from Taupo (Kawakawa Bay).  She experiences very heavy weather crossing the Thames.   As she arrives off Tararu Point a fierce squall strikes the vessel, instantly capsizing her and plunging her crew and passengers into the water.  Captain Stuart, of the Midge, which is lying at anchor off the point, immediately despatches two boats to the scene of the catastrophe, and two other boats from cutters lying at anchor also go to the assistance of the drowning people.  John Tiller, master of one of the cutters, is one of the first on the scene followed by the Midge’s boats.  The crew of three and a passenger named Marks are all saved, the latter gentleman experiencing an almost miraculous escape, having just arrived on deck from below when the vessel capsized.  Marks is picked up almost insensible. After the crew have been rescued, the firewood from the vessel floats out and she is gradually righted, but her hold being full of water, her gunwales are level with the waves.  The cutter then drifts towards the land but is subsequently anchored, Captain Stuart having bent a kedge for that purpose.  This is the second time this boat has come to grief, having been beached during a previous gale and severely damaged. 

A great quantity of rain falls today and the creeks rise rapidly.  The Karaka creek cuts a new channel through the beach.  The shipping in harbour at Shortland suffers from the gale, several vessels dragging their anchors.  The Shotover battery takes advantage of the rainfall to work their 12 head of stampers.

At Wellington Mr Swan has brought down with him some splendid specimens from the Thames.   They almost make the mouth water.  Specimens of various degrees of richness are being exhibited in the shop windows.  Mr Swan is said to be sending up to Shortland for a large chest of more specimens.  These are looked anxiously for.

Small footprints.

Monday, 27 July
At Shortland’s Resident Magistrates court an action is brought to recover the sum of 1s for damages done to the lock of a house.  The case is dismissed.  A boy, in the employ of Mr Orme, builder, pleads guilty to a charge of furiously riding on the footpath in Pollen Street.  He is fined 10s and costs, in consideration of the boy’s youth and it being his first offence.  James C Boyd is charged with being drunk and disorderly but does not appear.

This morning the Union Bank of Australia ships per the Tauranga on account of the Shotover party 5,207 ozs 12 dwts 12 grains of melted gold, the result of the first four days of work.  The gold is made up into 15 ingots. Besides that, the bank has 1,000 ozs from other claims for shipment this week.  The Bank of Australasia also received 877 ozs from the Golden Crown claim yesterday making the total product of the week above 10,000 ozs.
The great complaint about the Thames goldfield has been the insignificance of its gold exports.  The amount passed through customs at the Thames is very small in comparison with the extent and richness of the field and even allowing for the quantity taken up to Auckland in private hands, of which no record is kept, the figures quoted do not represent the actual amount produced on the field.  There are constantly amounts produced, and in some cases melted on the claim, of which the public hear nothing, and the banks are usually very solicitous that the actual amount passed through their hands should be kept secret.  There is a feeling of rivalry as to the amount of business transacted by each branch established to which the withholding of actual gold purchases is attributed.  The heavy rate of duty may have something to do with keeping back the actual returns.  During the week three nameless claims have deposited gold at the banks and refused to disclose the locality of their ground or the nature of their yield.

At her residence, Hauraki Cottage, Willoughby Street, Thames
 Mrs Claude F Corlett, of a daughter.

The first installment of the Tapu Creek Tramway and Crushing Co’s machinery is ready to start today and will, until the water power arrangements are completed, be driven by a portable 14 hp engine.  The batteries are two of five stamps each and a third will be added on its arrival from Sydney.

A new rush between the Shellback Creek and Madman’s Gully has been fortunate for the lucky finders and now they christen the claim.  They have sent to the Flat for half a dozen of Martell’s best, and bread and cheese is there by the square yard.  The prospectors name their claim the Isabella, which is drunk with all the honours of a true Briton, afterwards the next claim on the same line of reef is christened Annabella.  First class specimens are admired  in which the gold is as thick in the stone as if it had been peppered.

The Enterprise leaves the Auckland wharf this afternoon for the Thames literally crowded with diggers.  The Tauranga leaves shortly afterward, also carrying a large complement of passengers.  The Halcyon and Duke of Edinburgh were both to have started for the Thames today, but not being able to secure a supply of coal – which is not to be had in Auckland either for love or money – were unavoidably detained in harbour.  It seems remarkable that in such a place as Auckland a sufficient supply of fuel cannot be obtained to enable the Thames boats to keep working.

The Lady Bowen has been chartered to leave Shortland for Manaia today and will consequently not return to Auckland before next Thursday.

At Tuwhitu the stranded passengers and captain of the Tay leave for Auckland in Mr Baker’s open boat.

Tuesday, 28 July
The Tay’s exhausted passengers and crew arrive in Auckland in an open boat after nearly 12 hours and a heavy pull with intermittent use of sails.

The North Otago Times observes that the accounts from the Thames goldfield "give almost fabulous news of the extraordinary richness of the finds, and if half that we read be reliable, we should say that the hundreds of diggers now rushing to Queensland would do better by turning their steps Aucklandwards.  In going to Queensland they will probably 'go farther and fare worse.'"

Rain sets in at the Thames today.

The cutter Tickler, which capsized on Sunday morning, is lying with her masthead barely out of the water as the Enterprise leaves the Thames today.  She remains a dangerous impediment in the passage of steamers, especially at night – no attempt has been made to warn captains of steamers of the danger by placing a light on the mast.

At the Police Court, Auckland, Thomas Hall is charged with having, on 27 July, taken from the Auckland Hotel,  one pair of elastic sided boots, a box of collars and a cap, value £1.  The prisoner pleads guilty and says he is very sorry.  He came to New Zealand in the Strathallen from London to Wanganui and was now a digger at Shortland.  He is sentenced to four months imprisonment with hard labour.

A theatre is planned for Tookey’s Flat and tenders are already issued for building a new one at the back of Butt’s Hotel.

A reef is discovered near Tararu Point and several claims are pegged out.  The Pioneer, the name of the first claim taken up there, strikes gold.

The Aquila sails today for Tairua to load with timber for the Thames.

NZH  28 July, 1868

The schooner Aspasia arrives at the Thames with a cargo of sawn timber from Whangapoua.

A meeting is held at Mulligan’s Governor Bowen Hotel, Tookey’s Flat, for those interested in getting up races to celebrate the first anniversary of the Thames diggings.  There are not many present.  Robert Graham is voted chairman and says that he is very sorry to see so few present, the meeting has been advertised twice in the Thames Advertiser and he fully expected to see a larger attendance.  A committee is to be appointed to draw up a programme of the races and another meeting is to be held in the same place at 4pm tomorrow for the purpose of electing stewards and office bearers.  Subscription lists are to be prepared and distributed to various parts of the diggings.  It is proposed to hold the races on Tararu Flat  - this will be a capital spot as the ground is in fair condition and the hills at the back will afford spectators a fine view of the sports. The Daily Southern Cross correspondent writes “It is to be hoped that people here will bestir themselves to do their best to make these races a success.  As this is the first anniversary of the diggings, it should be in every respect worthy of the place and everybody should feel more or less interested as a result.”  

Around noon Isabella Turner, living in a tent at the Digger’s Camp, Shortland, with her husband William and their son, William junior, aged two years nine months, gives the child a piece of bread which he has asked for.  He then toddles off in the direction of the bush, towards the hill.  She calls him back and he turns round.  She watches him coming home and once he has safely crossed the creek she thinks he is all right and will be back soon. Quarter of an hour after calling him he is not back and she goes out to look for him but he has vanished. Charles Hodson, miner at the Digger’s Camp, lives about 50 yards from Mrs Turner’s tent. He had seen William pass the opening of his tent and asked him where he was going. Charles tells Isabella he has just seen William junior and he can't be far away. A search is got up.

The schooner Huntress discharges her cargo of much needed coal at the Thames and is then towed out by the Enterprise.  She proceeds to the Bay of Islands to reload.

Charles Hodson has been to town and has returned to discover the child Turner has not been found.   He joins the search. Small footprints are seen within two feet of the edge of a waterhole which is about 30 yards from the Turner’s tent.  Charles gets a long pole and makes a grapnel with some spikes and a line and drags the hole. The hole is about 33 or 34 feet deep and full of water.  The men who try the hole fancy they can feel something but the grapnel is not strong enough. The search continues all through the night with only two hours rest being taken.

DSC 28 July, 1868

Wednesday, 29 July
The search for little William Turner continues.  A proper grapnel is procured. William Ashby, miner, who lives on the Star of Auckland claim in Madman’s Gully, has called round at Mrs Turner's and hears she has lost her boy. He has an impression that the boy has fallen in the open shaft and decides to drag it.  He gets a rope and a hook and brings up the child’s body about 12 noon.   He sends for the father, who is out searching, and carries the body to the tent of his parents, then goes with the father to the police station.

A Thames goldfields anniversary meeting is held at the Governor Bowen hotel.  Robert Graham is again voted to the chair.  In a very pithy and appropriate speech he explains the origins of horse racing and his belief that the Thames' first anniversary will prove eminently successful.  He alludes to his connections with the racing movement in Auckland for the previous 20 years and is delighted to see so much interest now displayed in the anniversary preparations.  He is confident they will be able to gather ample funds.  The business of electing stewards and office bearers is proceeded with. A well arranged programme is drawn up, containing five events for each day.  Subscription lists are handed to the newly elected stewards. It is hoped the public will contribute towards celebrating in the good old English style, the first anniversary of the goldfield.  All future management now rests with the stewards.

The Presbyterians of the Thames meet in the church at Shortland this evening to elect a preacher. The Reverend J A Taylor of Hamilton presides.  The Reverend Messrs Hill and Bruce, and the Reverend Dr Wallis are proposed.  Scotsman Reverend Mr James Hill is duly chosen. Although suffering from ill health, Reverend Hill accepts the call.  From Mr Hill’s ability as a preacher and general popularity there can be no doubt there will soon be a flourishing congregation of Presbyterians at the Thames.

Reverend James Hill.
NZ Electronic Text Collection

A benefit is given at Shoptland's American Theatre this evening in aid of the funds for a hospital at the Thames.  The house is crowded to excess.  'Othello' was to have been performed but owing to the difficulty experienced in procuring suitable scenery another programme is substituted which proves a very attractive one.   The first piece is the musical comediatta ‘The Waterman’ followed by a piece called ‘Snapping Turtles’.  Mr and Mrs Hall act with their usual ability and the other characters are carried off most effectually.  The result of the benefit is highly gratifying; the sum collected amounting to between £40 and £50, which will be handed over to the hospital trustees.

DSC 29 July, 1868


Papers Past 

© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018
Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.