Friday 31 August 2018



Patupaiarehe, tūrehu and other inhabitants

The following story was written by Hoani Nahe, a Ngāti Maru (Hauraki) elder of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He writes graphically of a people called the patupaiarehe and the tūrehu, who inhabited the land prior to the arrival of the Polynesian peoples.

"Now listen. When the migration arrived here they found people living in the land – Ngati Kura, Ngati Korakorako and Ngati Turehu, all hapu or sub-tribes of the people called Patupaiarehe. The chiefs of this people were named Tahurangi, Whanawhana, Nukupori, Tuku, Ripiroaitu, Tapu-te-uru and Te Rangipouri. The dwelling places of these people were on the sharp peaks of the high mountains – those in the district of Hauraki (Thames) are Moehau mountain (Cape Colville), Motutere (Castle Hill, Coromandel), Maumaupaki, Whakairi, Kaitarakihi, Te Koronga, Horehore, Whakaperu, Te Aroha-a-uta, Te Aroha-a-tai, and lastly Pirongia, at Waikato. The pa, villages, and houses of this people are not visible, nor actually to be seen by mortal (Tangata Maori) eyes – that is, their actual forms. But sometimes some forms are seen, though not actually known to be these people … Sometimes this people is met with by the Maori people in the forests, and they are heard conversing and calling out, as they pass along, but at the same time they never meet face to face, or so that they mutually see one another, but the voices are heard in conversation or shouting, but the people are never actually seen.

On some occasions also, during the night, they are heard paddling their canoes … At such times are heard these questions: ‘What is it?’ ‘Who are the people who were heard urging forward their canoes on the sea during the night?’ or, ‘Who were heard conversing and shouting in the forest?’ The answer would be as follows: ‘They were not Tangata Maori, they were atua, Patupaiarehe, Turehu, or Korakorako.’ "

Polynesian seafarers 
(Wiki Commons)

1200 -1300

Polynesian migrants arrive in the Hauraki Coromandel region. Settlements on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula date from here.

The people of Ngāti Hako settle the Hauraki region. Their origins are not known, but it is suggested that they belonged to the ancient Toi people, who were descendants of the Polynesian navigator Toitehuatahi.

1350 AD

Tradition says that a great migration of several sea-going canoes takes place from the Central Pacific and two of them , the Arawa and the Tainui, arrive in the Thames Coromandel area. The Tainui arrives at Tararu, Thames Coast. It is tied to a perforated rock at Rocky Point where the travellers shelter in a nearby cave. The Tainui people then take their large canoe across the gulf anchoring at Whakatiwa (near Kaiaua). They later travel further afield and by the late 1500s tribes are reported all along the western shores of what is now the Firth of Thames.

At Waipatukakahu (now Tapu) the Ngati Huarere, an Arawa subtribe, settle the area. The fortified pa is called Rauwhitiora, probably after a chief of the same name who drowned near Te Mata while gathering shellfish. There are at least two other pa in the area - Te Mata pa and a small pa above the Diehard stream.

When Totara Pa was first occupied by Maori is unknown. When the canoes of the great migrations arrived the Arawa people took over from the Toi people, who then formed much of the population. Totara Pa is very important, covering the entrance to the Thames Valley with an extensive view over sea and land.

Arawa dominance over Hauraki remains undisturbed for close to 300 years until a succession of Tainui migrations from the Waikato, probably around 1590 - 1650.

1650 - 1700

The Ngati Huarere by the mid-1600s have a network of 21 pa in the general Thames - Kopu area.  Tainui people increasingly make war on the existing tribes of the Hauraki, coming into the district from the Miranda side of the Firth. Around 1650 the invasion reaches a climax and in one battle 4,000 fall in what is now the Thames Valley. Hauraki comes under Tainui rule.   The conquered Ngati Huarere become known as the Ngati Maru.

The settlement of Ngati Maru spreads throughout Hauraki, but Totara Pa is their great stronghold.

On the evening of 19 November the Endeavour, Captain James Cook, anchors six fathoms off Te Puru. The next morning Cook and party head south down the river in two ship's boats on a short excursion. They name the river ‘The Thames’ due to its resemblance to the Thames river in England.

Friday, 28 November 1794

The Fancy sails into the Firth of Thames anchoring some 8 miles north of the entrance to the Waihou. In July she had conveyed a cargo of food from Bombay to Sydney and was then commissioned to collect spars and planks in New Zealand for the Bombay Marine. The vessel is armed and carries a large number of officers, Indian troops and Indian labourers. The Fancy is almost at once met by three canoes and trade starts immediately. This began a mostly peaceful relationship with Ngati Maru.

From 1795 onwards other timber ships in search of kauri suitable for masts and spars begin to appear off the peninsula.

By the 1800s large areas are under cultivation for trade between the Maori and the Europeans. Kauri grows within easy reach of the shore. Potatoes have been adopted and are grown by the Maori. Fish, kumara and turnips are also traded.

Nga Puhi war parties from Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands frequently raid the Ngati Maru but are unable to take Totara Pa though they inflict heavy losses on other tribes. Many River Thames women are taken and held captive in the Bay of Islands. Tribal wars continue on a large scale.


Samuel Marsden's first service in New Zealand.  Christmas Day 1814, Oihi, Bay of Islands.

National Library of NZ Ref: B-077-006  (Clark, Russell Stuart Cedric, 1905-1966)

Sunday, 15 January 1815
The Reverend Samuel Marsden visits the Firth of Thames on the brig Active. He is the principal chaplain of New South Wales and is ambitious about establishing an evangelical mission to Maori. He visits in response to invitations from Hauraki chiefs.

Summer of 1818- 1819

Nga Puhi war parties invade Hauraki and Coromandel Peninsula.

The ancient and formidable fortress at Totara Pa is attacked but not penetrated and a siege commences. Food and water at the pa ran out and the situation becomes desperate. About 60 men, wrapped in heavy flax cloaks, make a run for it to a spring, fighting all the way there and back, losing some of their number. The survivors wring out their garments into calabashes and the mouths of women and children. The incident becomes known as Waiwerweu – the Battle of the Dripping Garments.

Those not killed flee inland to hidden valleys. The people of all Hauraki then migrate to the head of the Thames Valley.

Tuesday, 13 June 1820

HMS Coromandel, a British Navy ship, anchors off Colville.  She is there to acquire timber spars for the Royal Navy and carry out coastal work. The previous year she was fitted as a convict transport for a voyage to New South Wales, arriving in Hobart with 300 convicts. The Coromandel remains for a year loading kauri timber for spars and the town, harbour and entire peninsula are named after the ship

Gold is noticed at Preece’s Point by sailors on from Coromandel. Small amounts are  also said to have been found by visiting whalers. Over the next 30 years there will be unofficial reports in gold discoveries in different peninsula localities.

The Maori chiefs Hongi Hika and Waikato prior to their fateful departure to England which would have dreadful consequences for the Maori of the Thames.
 Ref: G-618. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, 5 September 1821

Hongi Hika, the dreaded chief of the Nga Puhi tribe at Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, with his armed and tattooed warriors and a great quantity of weaponry,  sets off for the River Thames. The year before Hongi, and another chief, Waikato, had traveled to England and returned with firearms and ammunition. Two thousand men, half armed with guns, are in a fleet of more than 50 canoes. They attack various villages along the way, killing hundreds of men, women and children, cannibalising some and capturing survivors to take back to the Bay of Islands.


Nga Puhi war expedition 1820s 


On arriving at Totara Pa the Nga Puhi find it almost impregnable.  The pa is occupied by only one hapu of the Ngati Maru, the others being away on a war expedition. The pa is sheltering people from other tribes but is not fully defended. The Ngati Maru have no guns. The Nga Puhi are held off for two days before making a fake offer of peace. This is accepted and gifts of cloaks and greenstone meres are presented to the Nga Puhi who leave, paddling their canoes out of sight around Rocky Point at Tararu.  Under cover of darkness they come back, entering the pa unchallenged, attacking and killing Ngati Maru warriors, many of whom are eaten afterwards. Nga Puhi claim to have killed 1,000 while Ngati Maru claim to have lost 200. Captives are taken back to the Bay of Islands.

After the defeat Totara Pa becomes tapu. Most of the Ngati Maru abandon the district taking refuge between Matamata and Cambridge.

In the memory of survivors this disastrous time becomes known as 'the time of Hongi’.


Hongi Hike dies and Ngati Maru war parties drive the last Nga Puhi raiders off the Coromandel Peninsula.

Great chief Te Waharoa of Matamata forces the Ngati Maru to return to Hauraki. After a two day battle they appeal to Te Waharoa for a safe passage home; he gives them hostages to safeguard their return.

After nine years in exile the Ngati Maru return to Hauraki but Totara Pa remains empty because of the great killing there.

Resettlement of Hauraki begins. The Ngati Tamatera return to the Thames Coast. The Ngati Hei of Oturu Pa at Coroglen resent this. One day when the men are fishing Ngati Hei enter the pa, killing the very old. They take about 40 women prisoner, plaiting their hair in pairs to prevent escape. They set up off the valley towards Coroglen but are hampered by the captive women. The returning Ngati Tamatera warriors catch up with them and slaughter all but three of the Ngati Hei who fall to their deaths. The victims are buried near the mouth of the stream. The area is a labelled as a sacred or forbidden place, and the place name Tapu comes in to use.

Early 1830s
Various pa which had fallen into disrepair are restored and others built, including one at Kauaeranga. Over time the pa will accommodate a population of up to two thousand natives. The interior of the pa is divided into compartments which house the different chiefs, their families, slaves and pigs as well as their storehouses. Narrow lanes provide a means for communication from one area to another.

The return of European ships begins to increase and traders become well established in the Firth.   A European timber trading post had been set up in Coromandel as early 1825 which now has agents all along the coast.

A traveler named Griffe finds gold on the Thames Coromandel Peninsula.

October - December  1833
With peace restored, the missionaries, headed by Reverend Henry Williams, come from the Bay of Islands and choose a site for a mission station at Te Puriri (now Puriri). They arrive to an enthusiastic welcome from an assembly of over 150 Maori. James Preece is appointed head of the station arriving in December to a joyous reception. Four other men, including a priest , and their families arrive soon after to help build the mission. A store and a chapel are erected and the missionaries embark on arduous journeys to all quarters of Hauraki, Waikato and Tauranga to do their work. 


Puriri Mission Station  and settlement.  May 1836
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand Ref: A-113-001.

John Preece and William Fairburn are instrumental in purchasing the estimated 500 acre Te Puriri block for the CMS (Church Missionary Society) to the value of £300. Payment includes 16 blankets, 16 iron pots, 12 axes, 12 adzes, 18 spades, 4 shirts, 12 handkerchiefs, 18 pounds tobacco, 72 pipes, 24 scissors, 24 combs, 12 knives, 6 razors, 100 fish hooks, 20 plane irons, and 20 dollars (sic).

The low lying and swampy Puriri Mission station is impacting the health of the inhabitants. It is also crowded with other mission families seeking refuge from intertribal fighting and skirmishes. The Maori population has by now declined to about 70. Preece constructs a new station at Parawai,Thames (Hauraki Mission Station)  moving his family there in early 1837. The house and buildings are not finished and remain that way for many years.


Gold is reportedly discovered at Te Aroha but the discovery is not followed up.

Thursday, 6 February 1840

The Treaty of Waitangi is signed. Governor William Hobson establishes his official residence at Russell in the Bay of Islands. Russell is New Zealand’s first capital.


Auckland in 1841, looking south east from Smales Point showing Commercial Bay and Shortland Street.Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-9089 

March 1841
Several Maori chiefs offer Governor Hobson land at Tāmaki-makau-rau (Auckland) so he can establish a capital there. Auckland becomes capital of New Zealand.


Kauaeranga pa is now occupied by about 2000 people. The Ngati Maru tribe are industrious, continually travelling to Auckland to sell their produce in fleets of canoes perilously packed with pigs, potatoes, maize, wheat, melons, cabbages, peaches and fish.  After landing their produce the Maori hawk it up and down Auckland’s muddy streets. They depart carrying European merchandise.
Hauraki Maori soon purchase schooners and cutters to replace their canoes. A cabbage tree by a bend in the Kauaeranga River is the ‘port’ where the vessels tie up.


James Preece is transferred from Parawai Mission station and the buildings fall into disrepair.


The California Gold Rush 

Monday, 24 January  1848

The California Gold Rush begins when gold is found by James W Marshall at Sutter’s Mill, in Coloma, California.

December 1849

The Reverend Thomas Lanfear and his wife are sent to revive the Hauraki Mission Station. They arrive to a virtually derelict station, the verandah in ruins, windows broken, the garden a wilderness and the chapel, a large raupo building, falling to bits.

The plain between Kauaeranga and Tararu is now under intensive systematic agricultural use. Native houses dot the cultivation's.


Australia Goldrush 

Bishop George Augustus Selwyn arrives at Kauaeranga on board the Undine. He is the first Bishop of New Zealand, which includes Melanesia. He and his party walk three miles from the anchorage to the Hauraki Mission station.  The station, although a fine roomy wooden house,  is still in a sadly neglected state.  Three enormous pigs, tied by the legs, are grubbing under the roots of a peach tree in what used to be a strawberry patch.   Roses and sweet briars are choking the fruit trees.  The Bishop conducts a service in the chapel which is roofless with broken windows but contains a very neat pulpit and communion table. 

May 1851

In Australia, prospector Edward Hargreaves claims to have discovered payable gold near Orange, at a site called Ophir. A number of gold finds has occurred in Australia prior to 1851 but now the Australian gold rush begins in earnest.


Francis Rawden Chesney finds what he believes is gold near Te Aroha but will keep quiet about it until 1864 due to the land belonging to Maori.


Charles Ring NZ Electronic Text Collection

October 1852

Gold is discovered at Coromandel by Charles Ring, a Tasmanian sawmiller. He and his brother Frederick had sailed with the first 49 miners who went to the California gold rush in 1848. A shipwreck on their return upset their plans and they landed back in New Zealand instead of Australia as they had intended. Encouraged by a government reward of £500 for the discovery of an available goldfield in the Northern Province, the brothers head to Coromandel. Charles Ring  gets a few specks of gold from Driving Creek. There is wild excitement in Auckland. “Gold has been discovered in NZ – real bona fide gold – thin layers that will cover a shilling, and nuggets as large as peas. There is no doubt of this; it is all vouched for in Government Gazettes, so throw up your hats and shout Hurrah!” whoops the Nelson Examiner and Chronicle.


Castle Rock, Coromandel 1852/53
(Charles Heaphy) National Library of New Zealand Ref: B-043-023

Officers from H. M. S. Pandora on a digging picnic in the Coromandel, variously occupied in splitting a rock, finding gold, digging for gold, transporting a long tom gold sluice and a cradle, climbing a tree, and botanising . (Charles Heaphy -  Heaphy was Gold Commissioner at Coromandel.)  National Library NZ Ref: E-299-002

The accessible alluvial gold at Coromandel runs out - the goldfield is all over.

1856 – 1857 

Daniel Tookey, who was once a druggist in England,  arrives  the Thames and begins trading, travelling between the Thames and Auckland in his cutter Fly.  

Joseph Cook, a half caste, the son of an old Bay of Islands settler, now a trader at Hauraki, begins prospecting the Karaka, Hape and Waiotahi Creeks. He finds gold. This is most likely the first documented discovery of gold at the Thames.  Joseph  writes to the Chief Land Purchase Commissioner, Mr Donald McLean - "Hauraki, November 28, 1857 - I write to let you know that I have found some gold here, so that if it is the governments wish to have a goldfield in this part of New Zealand I think it only wants you to try and make it all right with the natives of Hauraki, or Ngatimaru tribe.  I think there would be an available goldfield here."

November 1857
Ngati Maru chiefs meet at Kauaeranga, prompted by the recent gold discoveries of Joseph Cook, to discuss gold mining in Hauraki. The presence of gold in the Kauaeranga region is now an open secret but Thames Maori are opposed to mining.


During 1857 and 1858 Joseph Cook, assisted by Maori, gets out four tons of quartz. As well as the Hape, Karaka and Waiotahi he also prospects the Moanataiari and Kuranui Creeks. He uses a long tom for sluicing and sends the quartz to Auckland in the cutter Tay, forwarding it to Mr Edward King, his agent. He is the first to send gold to Auckland from the Thames. The quartz is then transhipped to England in the Swordfish. When crushed, Cook makes a profit of £4 after expenses.


Gabriel’s Gully at the height of the gold rush.
National Library NZ Ref: 1/2-096648-F


Gold is discovered in Otago by Gabriel Read. Stimulated by this a new rush starts to Coromandel. New Zealand’s first quartz mining gets underway there.

July 1863

The second New Zealand Land War, including the Waikato War, breaks out between the colonial military forces and the Kingitanga, or Maori of the King Movement. The Reverend Lanfear is forced to leave the Hauraki Mission station at Parawai  the outbreak of this war. 

View on the Waihou, or River Thames, 
Otago Witness, 30 July, 1864


The Waikato War ends.
Colonel Chesney, who thought he found alluvial gold at Te Aroha in 1852, now writes to the Colonial Secretary, making public his discovery.


James Mackay.

 Ref: 1/2-018088-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. 


James Mackay is appointed Civil Commissioner for Hauraki District. He is expected to cement peace with the Maori tribes. He is informed of Colonel Chesney’s alleged discovery. The formation of a prospecting party though is abandoned due to the unsettled state of the country.

Gold rushes to the West Coast begin.

Ngati Maru cheif Wirope Hoterne Taipari allows William Nicholls, with his son in law, John Richard William Guilding, to live on some land behind the beach at Kauaeranga.  The men are traders.


William Nicholls now pegs off a piece of land and a lease is agreed on.  He and Guilding prospect for gold. Guilding claims to find it but Maori threaten to burn down his house.


Ngati Maru chief Wirope Hotereni Taipari.
 Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. Ref: PA1-o-249-17-1. 


Civil Commissioner James Mackay arrives at the Thames with a party of miners to prospect for gold. The prospectors are led by Walter Williamson, a veteran of the Australian goldfields, and one-time goldfields correspondent for a Sydney newspaper. Walter is also now a clandestine correspondent for several New Zealand newspapers, often writing about himself. Joseph Smallman is also one of the party. Joseph was a mineral surveyor in England and describes himself as a Mining Agent and engineer. Last year he left his wife and child in England to start a mining business in New Zealand, planning to return for them once the business is established. Chief Taipari has given his sanction and protection for the undertaking. Quartz charged with gold has been found on several occasions in the creeks and low lying land. The Hape and its tributaries are now worked as far as practicable. The Maori are anxious for the results – being quite aware of what the discovery of a payable goldfield will mean to them. They supply the Europeans with abundant provisions and a well built whare is placed at the service of the men. The prospectors are optimistic that should the Kauaeranga district not prove a payable goldfield  plenty of room will be allowed for a further search.


Robert Graham

Wednesday, 29 April

A Thames Maori comes to town looking for Mr Robert Graham, the Superintendent of Auckland. Robert Graham is a Scotsman who arrived in New Zealand in 1842. He and his brother David were general merchants at Russell and Auckland. In 1845 Robert built a hotel and spa at Waiwera taking advantage of  the hot springs there. He spent the years 1849 – 1853 in California, shipping potatoes and wheat, and starting a family. He also spent some time on the goldfields there. On his return to Auckland he bought 465 acres on Great South Road, Auckland where he  laid out gardens and built a zoo.  He named this estate “Ellerslie” after his home in Scotland. (actually Elderslie). In 1857 he bought Motutapu Island and, in 1858, Motuihi Island which he farmed with another brother. He has served in the House of Representatives from 1855.   In 1862 he became the fifth Superintendent of Auckland. He is a passionate promoter of the city. Robert Graham being away, the Thames Maori proceeds to the office of his brother David Graham, now Chairman of the City Board. He tells David Graham that he knows of a payable goldfield in the Thames district and that he has extracted from it a considerable amount of gold. When asked how much the Maori points to a tumbler saying “as much as that would hold” but he produces no samples. The story is passed on between gentlemen and by the time it reaches a third gentleman connected with the staff of the New Zealander it has morphed into the sensational story that Thames Maori have shown David Graham 2lbs of gold. They told him the diggings are alluvial but will not disclose the precise locality until they have been assured of a £2000 reward on offer.

The rumours of a large gold find at the Thames are scotched by the Daily Southern Cross. “The nearest approach to the precious metal exhibited . . . was some very fine golden sherry. Specimens have been brought from the Thames by Maori, but not at all recently and certainly not in the quantity represented.”

The New Zealander, which published the sensational report, replies rather mysteriously - “We were quite prepared for the denial with which our contemporaries in their annoyance at having missed an important piece of information have met our assertion on the subject . . . we simply adhere to our story . . . information is being withheld on this subject. The time will come when what is now going on in secret will be made public, and then it will be seen how near our statement is to the truth.”

Reports of gold found at the Thames are often met with scepticism and boredom by the press.


The prospecting party at the Thames have sunk a hole about half a mile below the Mission House at the foot of the range but only got down 16ft as they came across some boulders. They have to wait for their mates to bring down the requisite tools from Auckalnd.  In the meantime they prospect the adjacent creeks. They are loaded with produce from the Maori and find many hands are willing to give them assistance. They are shown over several pieces of tapued land and promise not to infringe on them. Several chiefs from other districts have visited to observe the progress; according to Chief Taipari they are anxious that the prospectors are successful. The prospectors find the Maori social, everywhere in the settlement is open to them. In their whare they sometimes receive over a dozen at one time to share their supper. At one Church of England service in the chapel the congregation numbers about 150 of both sexes. Many have walked over seven miles of rough country to attend. When the service concludes the natives sit for sometime on an elevation close to the Mission House, talking. One old rangatira points out several views of the river, telling the prospectors names of the places where pa had been erected to defend their settlements and pointing to the distant European redoubts on the opposite side of the Thames. 

June Walter Williamson keeps a diary of his gold discoveries.


The capital is transferred from Auckland to Wellington. Military regiments are withdrawn and Auckland’s population rapidly falls. There is a disastrous drop in land prices, businesses fold and bankruptcies escalate.


 Walter Williamson is in Auckland endeavouring to get the Provincial Government to aid him and his companions in carrying on prospecting at the Thames. A certain sum to the miners for rations and tools is allowed, the country to be prospected as far as the natives permit. Mr Williamson then returns to the Thames in the government cutter Snowflake with a supply of mining implements.

A deputation meets with Commissioner Mackay to ascertain what truth there is in a report that 50 ounces of gold have been found at the Thames. He replies he knew nothing of the matter before he read it in the daily papers.

William Nicholls, trader at the Thames, breaks his leg above the ankle after falling over a piece of wood sticking out from the ground. Dr Troop is luckily in the neighbourhood and sets the bone.

A flax mill is about to start at Kopu. They are only awaiting the arrival of men from Auckland to commence operations. Some flax has already been passed through the mill and the result is satisfactory. A pair of 12-horse power, horizontal, low pressure condensing engines, fitted with all the latest improvements, has been set up, the boiler, rollers, stampers, and steeping-vat being all satisfactorily finished. There are one or two drawbacks, the main one being a scarcity of fresh water, there being none within a mile in summer. Mr Biggs, manager of the mill, negotiates with the Maori at Kirikiri to cut a drain or lay down pipes from the fresh water creek to convey water to Kopu. Fresh water is absolutely necessary, as one of the principal agencies to which the flax will be subjected is a constant stream of fresh water. There are great hopes for the flax mill as it will be of significant assistance to the trade of the Thames district, and also to the province of Auckland. 

1860s gold prospector



Walter Williamson and his party have succeeded on the whole pretty well. Sometimes the news is hopeful, sometimes not. He has established the fact that gold exists in the Thames district and is widely diffused.

Owing to the opposition of a chief named Riwai he is unable to prospect those places where gold exists in payable quantities. In fact, he was driven off before he could prosecute his search to any extent; but not before he satisfied himself of the richness of the creek. Riwai is the only man who opposes the prospectors and he has been doing his best, for a length of time, to get up a bad feeling between the Europeans and the Maori.

For nearly four months Walter was accompanied by three Europeans but they left in consequence of Riwai becoming menacing. Since then he has been accompanied by two Maori. He has prospected from Kauaeranga to Mata Creek, eighteen miles from south to north, and found gold in nearly every creek.

On the Waiotahi there is more than payable gold, but he was not allowed to work it by the Maori. All the other creeks were entered from the beach and followed up to a distance of from four to ten miles, and more or less gold in fine particles, with quartz attached was found.

Owing to the formation of the country Walter is inclined to believe that the lighter gold has been washed down from the ranges and elevated terraces, to the mouths and surfaces of the creeks, and that heavier gold would be found farther inland.

He has also discovered a copper lode, and a silver vein attached to the copper. Samples have been forwarded to the Superintendent of Auckland and the silver ore will be tested. The ore is on Te Moananui’s land, and he is willing to let it on easy terms.

A goldfield at the Thames, or a profitable copper or silver mine there, would surely add something substantial to the trade and commerce of Auckland, which is now suffering great hardship.

February - March
Two hundred artisans and labourers out of employment throng the Superintendent’s office at Auckland in order to impress upon him the necessity of something being done to help them.

No fewer than nine “poor wretches” call at the house of an Epsom gentleman asking for food and employment. The previous day there had been several as well.   "Can nothing be done to alleviate the distress of these poor unfortunate creatures?”

In the Thames district Thomas Rawdon,  a 37 year old Lancashire man,  who is currently a contractor in Auckland, and W Brighton,  are prospecting the area.  They have recently been to  the West Coast goldfields but  returned to Auckland intending to prospect the Thames. They work their way around the east coast of the peninsula before striking westward, but do not find payable gold until they come to the west side of the river Thames.   The Maori however drive them from the spot  almost as soon as make the discovery of the payable nature of the ground.   From what they see however they conclude that the field is sufficient in extent to afford work for something like 500 diggers.   It is essentially a poor man's, or wages,  diggings on which a man can earn £3 to £5 per week. In the neighbourhood and through many parts of the district quartz reefs are to be seen but they have no means of testing their auriferous qualities.  

Saturday, 24 March 1866
A report is prevalent in Auckland that a party of prospectors has returned from the Thames with news of the discovery of a payable field.   The NZ Herald takes a swipe at Walter Williamson, a sometime correspondent for the Daily Southern Cross.  "Rumour also connected the party with the name of a well known individual, who spends much of his time at the public expense, on the skirts of the Thames district and who occasionally enlivens the good people of Auckland, through the columns of our contemporary, with accounts of his wonderful discoveries and exertions."  The Herald dismisses this latest report as another Thames hoax.

The party though, are Thomas Rawdon and W Brighton.  Rawdon was on the Australian goldfields early in their history and was in Ballarat at the time of the riots.  Afterwards he moved to southern mining districts of New Zealand, passing  some time at Gabriel's Gully and on  the West Coast. 

Less than a year after their establishment the Kopu Flax Mills are up for sale. The mills had been erected and supplied with machinery of the latest and most approved kind, at a cost of nearly £7,000. The flax manufactured there has been spoken of in the highest terms by London buyers. By the last-received mail from England, private information says there is a great demand at present existing for New Zealand flax, and the cargo per Mary Shepherd, from the Kopu Mills, had arrived in the best condition, not having suffered from heat as expected. The failure and sale of the mills is caused by the injudicious expenditure of the funds of the company.

Letter to the Daily Southern Cross “. . . distress to a fearful extent abounds in our midst . . . one poor man told me he and his family were almost “clemmed” (starved). I saw them sit to their supper of small potatoes and salt with only cold water for their drink . . .”

Daily Southern Cross

Wednesday, 24 April 
The Provincial Council of Auckland offers a reward of £5,000 to any person or persons who can satisfactorily prove they have discovered a goldfield in the Province of Auckland.

Tuesday, 28 May 
The offer of the reward of £5,000 for a good goldfield has done little good.  At Hauraki a Maori has picked up a gold specimen in one of the creeks near the mouth of the river and at a meeting of 200 Maori of the Ngati Maru tribe some 30 of them propose that this district should be opened for prospecting.  This is opposed by the majority with old Riwai at their head who said that if the pakeha's are allowed to dig they will swamp the Maoris and take all their land.

For more detailed information on Maori occupation of the Thames area - click here to read Carol Fielding's very interesting  account -
Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'First peoples in Māori tradition - Patupaiarehe, tūrehu and other inhabitants', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 March 2017) Story by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, published 8 Feb 2005
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 9 – Totara Pa - A Isdale -
Hauraki Report Volume One
Christine Clements -
Puriri – A History of the school & district, Edited Rex Clark
Papers Past
Te Ara war -
The Colours - Mark Pickering
Racing for gold – Johnny Williams
The Kauaeranga Valley – Allan Berry
These hills are Tapu – Deborah Jowitt
Tapu – Kereta School and District Reunion 18?? - 1979
This is my place – Hauraki contested  1769 – 1875 Paul Monin
Douglas Graham. 'Graham, Robert', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 23 May 2017)
Anne Stewart Ball -

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