Monday, 24 July 2017

June 1867 - 6 August, 1867



Daily Southern Cross 30 April, 1876


“If you have any flour to spare . . .”

June, 1867
The situation in Auckland is dire.  There are empty houses and scores of unemployed.  Trade is bad, money scarce, wages low and work hard to find. Businesses crash, one after the other. A soup kitchen has opened. There has been a land  boom and it has burst.  The withdrawal of Imperial troops and the transfer of the colony’s capital to Wellington in 1865 have caused an economic depression.  There is no place to go as winter sets in.  

The Maori of Taupo* at the entrance to the Firth Thames are enjoying a feast which includes 13 tons of flour, 3 tons of sugar, 300lb tobacco, 24 tons potatoes and kumara, 3 bullocks and 1,800 sharks. Around 250 Maori are present having come from Waiuku, Waikato Heads and Raglan to cry over the graves of Wiremu Hoete and Patene Puhata, chiefs of the Ngati Paoa, who were well known to the residents of Auckland.   
This native gathering is also a runanga (Maori assembly or council) to meet with the Commissioner for Hauraki, James Mackay, and His Honour, the Superintendent of Auckland, John Williamson, as well as other gentlemen including the Maori interpreters C O Davis and J White.

John Williamson makes a long speech  in which he says,  “When I read this list of the articles laid in for the feast I could not but think of Auckland, which I have just left,  and the state of the town.  There are many there in need – there are poor, sick, lame and destitute people who have none of these good things that you have here to partake of and for whom the Government are obliged to provide, in very scanty quantities, such as bread and meat . . . If you have any flour to spare or any potatoes to spare, if you send them to Auckland, depend upon it, we shall find many poor people there who will be thankful for them.  Do not think I came here to make this request – the thought has only struck me now . . . .”   His Honour also exhorts the natives to live at peace with the pakeha. 

Wednesday, 12 June  
The cutter Emma arrives at Auckland with 20 kits of potatoes and kumara, two bags of sugar, two bags of flour and one bag of biscuit - food put aside at the time of the feast especially for the poor of Auckland.
Gold!
Ngati Maru, cheif Wirope Hoterini (Willoughby Shortland) Taipari.  
 Ref: PA1-o-249-17-1. Alexander Turnbull Library

Monday, 8 July
For three months Te Paratene Whakautu has been prospecting for gold, accompanied by his wife. Paratene is of the Ngatirarua tribe, who reside at the Collingwood (Aorere) Goldfield in the South Island and has considerable experience in the simpler methods of finding the precious metal. Several months after arriving from the West Coast he began work at Taupo, in the Firth of Thames, working his way up the Wharekawa range to Pukorokoro (Miranda). In all that ground he did not find even the colour of gold. He then crossed over to Kauaeranga, at the Thames, attracted by the appearance of the country. He was joined in the work by Hamiora te Nana of Ngati Paoa., a tribe of the Hauraki region, who has also dug for gold in the Collingwood area.** The chief of the Ngati Maru, Wirope Hoterini (Willoughby Shortland) Taipari, arranges for them to continue prospecting on his land, helped by the young men of his hapu. The two Maori have sunk to a depth of 4 or 5ft and are clearing out the bed of an old creek, sluicing as they go. Now Paratene and Hamiora find a scaly and nuggety gold.
Chief Wirope Taipari, sitting as an assessor at the Land Court in Coromandel, about 40 miles distant from the Thames, is visited by his wife who brings word that Paratene and his chum Hamiora have found gold. A Maori also arrives at Coromandel from the Thames with the information that some men in his tribe have discovered gold in one of the creeks. The gold is reported to be coarse and water worn.

Tuesday, 9 July
 At the conclusion of land court business today Mr Lawlor, Coromandel’s Resident Magistrate, Judge Rogan of the Native Lands Court, and Charles Oliver Davis the interpreter, proceed at once by the Wanderer for the Thames to see how affairs really stand. They will also be holding a land court there on the 16th.    On reaching Kauaeranga they find Paratene, his wife,  and Hamiora busily engaged at the Karaka Creek.  Local Maori sit quietly by and smoke their pipes, watching.


Stubborn and fearless - Taraia, chief of the Ngati-Tamatera
PA1-o-249-17-1. Alexander Turnbull Library

Thursday, 11 July
 Maori are stimulated into activity by the £5,000 reward.  Taraia, chief of the Ngati-Tamatera tribe of Thames, and Robert Wi Paka, arrive in Auckland on the schooner Sarah and report having found gold on the Thames but they neglect to bring a sample.  Taraia has a fearsome reputation as bloodthirsty and unscrupulous, stubbornly refusing to adapt to the changes around him.  Much of his life has been taken up in warfare and latterly land disputes.  He intended to bring a sample of gold, he says, but having heard that His Honour the Superintendent was absent in Wellington he thought it better to wait for his return to Auckland.  The master of the Sarah confirms the report, adding that as a digger he can speak for the excellent quality of the gold. Taraia gives leave for four men to go down and prospect his territory but reports from the Thames are so stale that there is little interest. Every dish washed contains a few specks, but that is to be met nearly everywhere in Coromandel.  Prospects a little further up are rumoured to be richer but as the land belongs to Maori unfriendly to the pakehas, no white man is allowed there.  

Walter has something to say.


Monday, 15 July  
 Paratene and Hamiora’s find begins to make headlines.  The Daily Southern Cross says “the locality of the find is the Karaka Creek and is spoken of by experienced miners who have attempted to prospect the district as the most likely ground.” Several men leave Auckland in a coaster for Kauaeranga to work at the gold but the Maori will not allow them to work until some understanding is come to with the government as to the terms on which digging is to be permitted. 

Tuesday, 16 July
Walter Williamson, an experienced prospector, has been fretting over the Thames gold discovery and the £5,000 reward.   He is a man of genial humour and gentlemanly manners, but he has something to say.  In April 1865, two years previously, he had applied to Mr Mackay for permission to prospect for gold at the Thames, along with Joseph Smallman and William Middleton.  A party was organised and placed on the land known as Kauaeranga, at the mouth of the river.  During the years of 1865 and 1866, they found gold.  Walter and his party thoroughly tested the creeks in that locality and also the highlands and gullies and in every instance where a shaft was sunk, gold in fine scaly particles was found.  There was also a piece of ground separated from Kauaeranga by the Karaka Creek, owned by a Maori woman named Lydia, which contained alluvial gold. She was not willing for them to prospect upon it.  Lydia is a Maori Princess named Rinia Karepe, a niece and heiress of Paora.  Her name has been anglicised.

 Walter writes to the Editor of the Daily Southern Cross, sending extracts of a diary kept by him during part of the time and the result is published today. “I am quite satisfied that, had we prosecuted the search in this quarter and been permitted to try the Waiotahi Creek, the endeavours of the party to obtain a more satisfactory result would have met with complete success.  The Ohinemuri stream, which runs in to the Thames at about 30 miles up the river, has been reported to me by the natives, as it is also well known to the few Europeans who have settled in that locality, to produce gold of an alluvial and more water-worn character than that found in the Kauaeranga country. At present Te Hira, the principal chief is unwilling to receive Europeans whose object is gold prospecting."


Don't repeat the Coromandel blunder.

Saturday, 20 July
 This evening the cutter Eclair arrives at Auckland from the Thames bringing Judge Rogan, Charles Davis, J White and Chief Taipari and a small phial containing a few particles of gold.  Taipari and his old father Hotereni are willing, and even anxious, that the land should be worked, but Taipari wants future confusion to be avoided by the work being conducted under proper regulations. The diggers that came down from Auckland have been sent packing. 

Scepticism is rife. The fact that gold exists in this creek is thought no great new discovery.  There are warnings not to repeat the Coromandel blunder when accessible alluvial gold ran out within weeks.




James MacKay.
 Ref: 1/2-018088-F. Alexander Turnbull Library 

Daniel Pollen
Ref: 35mm-00132-f-F. Alexander Turnbull Library

Monday, 22 July 
The gold is shown to the Commissioner for Hauraki, James Mackay, and Dr Daniel Pollen. Mackay is a 36 year old educated Scot, once the assistant native secretary in the Nelson goldfields district, and resident magistrate, justice of the peace, and warden at Collingwood. Mackay is fluent in Maori, viewed as a perfect type of frontiersman, extremely tactful but with a Highland temper.  Whenever there is trouble with the Maori the Government sends Mackay to deal with it.   Pollen is a genial 54 year old Irishman, a medical man, coroner, and now the Deputy Superintendent for Auckland.  The gold they are shown is of a shotty and water worn appearance, the largest piece being about the size of a pea.  Excitement sweeps through Auckland. Taipari, accompanied by Judge Rogan and the interpreter Mr Davis, visit the NZ Herald office bringing some specimens of gold.  “Positively then the Thames goldfield, so often alluded to by Auckland journalists . . . is a reality and no sham.  All that remains is that it should be opened,” decides the NZ Herald.  The gold is tested and found to be of a superior quality.  Taipari puts in a claim for the £5,000 reward.

Tuesday, 23 July 
 Commissioner MacKay leaves Auckland this evening in the cutter Alabama for Kauaueranga  with Taipari, Dr Pollen and several others experienced in gold mining to make arrangements to open up the Thames district.  If Mackay considers it necessary, he will engage an experienced party of miners to prospect on the part of the government.  It is highly probable that there is a payable goldfield.    There are warnings against a ‘storekeepers rush’.  There is talk that the Maori have taken care for years to conceal the gold, and some of the precious metal which they got by mere accident, they disposed of surreptitiously. Without access to the Kauaeranga land it would be worse than useless for a European to go down yet.  There are fears that the presence of a number of Europeans in the Thames Valley will excite the Kingites *** to a considerable degree. There is great disapproval against a rush -   such a thing would startle the Maori, hinder the opening up of the Thames country and embarrass the operations of the government.

Thursday, 25 July
An indignant Walter Williamson takes up his pen to berate the editor of the Daily Southern Cross for a report which refers to him and his prospecting party of 1865  as “the loafers who squatted for three month on Taipari’s land, eating his kumara’s  or killing his pigs, and doing a day’s work once a month.”
“Whatever supplies we had from the natives were purchased, with the exception of the kumara’s, which were freely given to us by the chief.  Had we attempted to kill a pig and were it known to any of the natives that we had done so, our stay there would have been but short – all the country being held tapu.  Not a day passed without one or more of the natives accompanying us wherever we went.  As to working only one day in each month, the number of shafts sunk and the paddocks on the  sides of the creeks will point out what has been done.  In the vicinity of the ground now being tested by the two natives there is sufficient evidence to show to the Deputy Superintendent and Mr Mackay that the original prospectors did their work systematically.  Looking over the diary kept by me (and which I can produce) I do not see that a single day was lost during six months, unless through stress of weather.  The result of the work done was so far satisfactory that I reported it to the Civil Commissioner describing the banks of the Karaka River as payable ground, and capable of affording profitable employment to our 50 or 60 men during 12 months.  From the day we placed foot on Kauaeranga in March until leaving it in August; we received no assistance from either the government or the citizens of Auckland.  In March 1866 Mr Shirley Hill called upon a few members of the Chamber of Commerce to assist me with the means to prospect the east side of the peninsula from whom I received the sum of £16.  The copy of a report in the probability of a payable goldfield being found in the Thames, written by me to the Superintendent, will show that although no success attended my endeavouring to discover payable gold in the several places I prospected, their money was not wastefully used. – Walter Williamson. And for Joseph Smallman.”

The NZ Herald had made the comments; in his vexation Walter confuses the two papers.

The Alabama, on which Dr Pollen and Mr Mackay left Auckland on Tuesday, does not reach the Thames until today.  They go to the Karaka and Waiotahi streams and look for alluvial gold in the soil and gravel beds.




NZH 25 July 1867



 Rapana Maunganoa. He Rangatira no Ngati Maru.
(Used with kind permission Ngati Maru kei Hauraki)


Rapana is much frightened.

Friday, 26 July
This morning a meeting of the Thames Maoris held.   A great number of the tribe Ngati Maru are absent gum digging, but about 90 of the principal men are present including Hoterini, his son Taipari, Riwai, Rapana Maunganoa and Hohepa Paraone.  Dr Pollen informs them through Mr MacKay, that hearing that gold has been found on their lands, and that they are willing to let Europeans dig, he has come down on the part of the Government to make arrangements.  After discussion Taipari agrees to allow his land to be worked.  A more difficult man to deal with is Rapana, the owner of the land through which the Waiotahi Creek runs, from which Walter Williamson was formerly turned off.  Rapana  is much frightened about the Europeans taking his land.  Several other Maori who were present urge him not to give it up.   After a very long discussion, Rapana agrees to give up his land as far as the northern boundary of the proposed field. A large part of the Moanataiari and the whole of the Waiotahi are excluded.
At the British Hotel, Auckland, a meeting of intending diggers is held for the purpose of forming a party and to make arrangements to proceed at once to the Thames to prospect for gold.   After a long consultation among themselves it is resolved to call a public meeting tomorrow evening.


The British Hotel, Auckland,   scene of  feverish and excited  meetings..  (Looking west showing Queen St, Auckland, the premises of J Wiseman, the Nevada Hotel, City Buffet Luncheon Rooms and the British Hotel on the corner of Durham St circa 1880s)
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-261


"Man! There is gold by the ton at the Thames."


Saturday, 27 July
At the Thames an agreement is reached with the Ngati Maru over the Karaka block.  They will be paid £1 each for each annual miner’s right and 25 shillings for each kauri tree taken.  They will also receive rents for the lease of land for a township.

 A sample of gold from Kauaeranga on display at the premises of Messrs Gilberd and Manley, Wyndham Street, Auckland, causes excitement.  The sample is something less than a couple of grains of very light reef gold intermixed with black iron sand.  The gold is a portion of what was taken out of the Karaka Creek in July 1865, at the workings of Mr Middleton, assisted by Walter Williamson’s party.

Tonight a spirited meeting of ‘the diggers of Auckland’ is held at the British Hotel to decide on the best steps to take relative to the discovery of gold.  About 150 men are present. The flickering lamps cast strange lights and shadows on the flushed and eager faces of the elbowing crowd.  The usually spacious room of the British is literally crowded.  Throngs of people outside who cannot get in stand on the street listening and watching through open windows. The chairman, Mr Rawdon, says they do not want to take the land from the Maori, or go against the government, but they want to ascertain the best and most reasonable way to get at the ground.  Mr Rawdon is himself an old digger and the reason he has agitated in this manner is because of the distress he sees amongst the working classes of Auckland.   

Samuel Alexander, another experienced miner, asks if there has been any prospect from the supposed diggings.  He suggests that if there really was a payable goldfield it would be time enough in six months to go.  He does not like to see poor men fooled and advises waiting until a prospect is seen. 

Mr Jerome Cadman, a Coromandel sawmill owner and successful builder and contractor in Auckland, is aggrieved - what right has any man to go onto another’s private estate to take what belongs to him?  The idea is absurd, and the people who advise ‘rushing’ were not friends of the province or of the diggers.  He believes it won’t be long before the whole of the Thames district will be opened without bloodshed or rushing.  He has known that there was gold at the mouth of the Thames, but there had been difficulties in the way, such as the late stupid, suicidal and insane war.  He has as much interest as any man in opening up the goldfield, but he earnestly advises the meeting to do nothing which would complicate the matter.    

A deputation is appointed to present Dr Pollen with the resolution made at this meeting - that it is the duty of the superintendent of this province to initiate means of opening the Thames goldfield.  From beginning to end the meeting has been feverish and excited with loud outbursts of applause. 

For some two to three weeks past fourteen men, Hokitika and West Coast miners, have been quietly working at the Thames, with consent of the Maori.   They state that if the goldfield should officially be opened they will send a correct report of it one way or other to their friends on the West Coast.  It is hoped that no false rumours will be sent down there as authentic to lure  large numbers of diggers to the Auckland  province.


Monday, 29 July
Daniel Pollen  and James Mackay return to Auckland on the Alabama, together with five miners who had gone down with them who  have returned for provisions and tools.  They report having made arrangements with Taipari and other natives for the throwing open of a tract of country comprising 7000 or 8000 acres for mining purposes. In the  meantime a few eager diggers who hastened to the Thames find satisfactory prospects, but little can be done as the Maoris jealously guard their proprietary rights. 

Twenty three year old Alfred Newdick meets William Hunt in Queen Street, Auckland. Alfred tells William that he is thinking of going off to Hokitika in search of gold. “But you can’t run away from gold to look for gold!” exclaims Hunt. Alfred asks what he means. “Man! There’s gold by the ton at the Thames, right at your back door! Come with me, I’m off in a day or two.” Alfred tries hard to arrange his finances in time to get away with William Hunt.



Daily Southern Cross 30 July 1867

"It is a beginning"

Tuesday, 30 July
The weather deteriorates as  heavy wind and rain sweeps in.

10am 
The deputation appointed at Saturday night's meeting leave the British Hotel for  Dr Pollen’s office where they are received by Dr Pollen and Commissioner Mackay.  The deputation urges them to open the Thames goldfield.  Pollen and Mackay are one step ahead though.  “This is precisely the business that Mr Mackay and myself have been on – to endeavour to open a piece of land for gold mining .  With respect to the piece of land that has been handed over to the government, you will see that it is a very small piece, but it is part of the country that has been obstinately closed against European’s, the natives not having allowed anyone to look at it since Mr Williamson was turned away.  But it is a beginning  . . . Mr Mackay – who knows more about the matter than anybody else, and to whom all credit in this affair is certainly due – thinks a great deal more ground might be thrown open shortly.”

Commissioner Mackay shows the deputation a sketch  which he has made of the district, with the boundaries of the goldfield, the courses of the streams and the run of the ranges and spurs.  Dr Pollen reminds any of those who think  of going down that there is  no house accommodation and no stores yet so they must be prepared to take care of themselves.  The Maori will give nothing without being paid for it, nor should anything be asked,  There are  very few Maori houses at the Kauaeranga. Commissioner  Mackay says there were 14 prospectors working on the ground when Dr Pollen and himself  left, all of them men of experience.  He has certainly seen nothing to warrant a rush.  

The deputation waits some time at Mackay’s request for a sample of gold  from Kauaeranga to be brought from his house, where he has left it but it doesn't arrive.  He promises to send the gold to this afternoon’s meeting.   Commissioner Mackay intends proceeding to the Thames this morning, to arrive there before the miners.

Carried away by the ferment.


The Thames goldfield is proclaimed by Dr Pollen  and although the weather is bad enough to put a damper on anything, the excitement  increases rather than diminishes.   Dr Pollen and Commissioner Mackay warn all who are inclined to be carried away by the ferment to consider the cautions given by them.  Dr Pollen adds most pointedly that the government does not encourage any man to go down.   An arrangement has been entered into with the Maori  that miner’s license fees of £1 per annum shall be handed over to them.   The land will be thrown open generally to miners, but Maori cultivation's, dwellings and burial grounds and tapued places will be reserved.  Gold has been found in payable quantities in two creeks within the block – the Waiotahi and the Hape. 

 ‘The Karaka goldfield’ is believed to be the official title of the goldfield, Kauaeranga being the name of the district. It is formed by a flat running along the eastern shore of the Thames for a distance of two miles and by a hilly country extending backward ten miles.  The hills are broken and most irregular, intersected by frequent creeks, and throw out spurs of unequal length across the upper portion of the flat on each side of which these spurs carry themselves close down to the beach, thus enclosing the place and giving it the appearance of a distinct locality.  Six creeks cut through the hills. The Karaka creek divides the block almost in the centre. The whole of the country is covered with dense bush, except where close to the sea, and the streams are all mountain torrents with large boulders occupying their beds. If this piece of land can but afford employment to a couple of hundred of the men who are out of work in Auckland, it is thought it will be of great benefit to the province. 

3pm 
A large number of anxious diggers again assemble at the British Hotel to hear the report from the deputation that met with Dr Pollen.  The room is crowded and many are unable to get in. Dr Merrett takes the chair and states that the proper terms have been made with the Maori owners and that a piece of ground 7,000 acres in extent has been opened legally and fairly.    The specimen of gold that  had been promised to be brought to the meeting has not turned up.  Dr Merrett hopes the men will look at the matter in  serious light, for nothing could be more grievous than for them to make a mad rush to a place that had not been properly prospected.  He urges the men to get the best possible information, form their own judgments and then act.    The substance of what Commissioner Mackay and Dr Pollen stated is, there is gold, but whether in payable quantities or not they do not know.  Joseph Smallman adds there is a tapu there which covers a few acres and which the chief calls his mother’s tapu.  Gold might be found there, but if they dig there they will be driven away,  He hopes that every digger will hold that land as sacred as the chief does himself.  The meeting has been called at this hour so that parties who have decided to  go to the Thames might have time to make preparations for the rest of the day.

A rush to the Thames is preparing to take place from Auckland despite the dreadful weather.  Several vessels are laid on for Wednesday morning. 

The diggers who met at the British Hotel form themselves into parties, with a view of taking advantage of the opening and proceeding to the spot without delay.  Between 40 and 50 men resolve to go immediately.

7pm 
The British Hotel is again crowded with men meeting to hear the written report of Dr Pollen.  The gold sample not available  earlier is now on exhibit.  Someone cynically asks “How many shovellsful did it take to produce the sample?”  Dr Merrett replies he believes only two.

The steamer Tauranga is announced to sail for the new goldfields this evening but she does not go, owing to the state of the weather.


DSC 30 July 1867

DSC 30 July 1867

DSC 30 July 1867


DSC 30 July 1867

DSC 30 July 1867

Daily Southern Cross 30 July 1867

“Don’t Rush!”


Wednesday, 31 July

In Auckland the excitement persists but there are misgivings that a large number will go down and won’t be able to earn even tucker.  A number of men are idle and work is slack and ill paid but caution is strongly urged.  Resourceful storekeepers are already preparing to cater for the requirements of a large number of men on the goldfield.  They announce that owing to the close proximity to Auckland, prospectors are encouraged not to fear a scarcity or dearness of provisions - an abundant supply can be easily procured from the Auckland merchants.  Bright shovels are piled temptingly at the shop doors.

Closer to the Thames, heading for the diggings also is a Maori named Prince – he is aboard a canoe with two other men who have come overland from Kopu.  Somehow the canoe is upset and Prince is drowned.  The other men are saved.  The body of Prince is not found.


*******************************************************************************************************************

*Taupo (Kawakawa Bay) – a stretch of coast between Orere Point and the mouth of the Wairoa River.
**It has also been suggested that Te Paratene Whakatutu and Hamiora te Nana were both 
from Collingwood and known to Commissioner Mackay from his time there. 

***The Maori King Movement or Kīngitanga is a movement that arose among some of the Maori tribes of New Zealand in the central North Island in the 1850s, to establish a role similar in status to that of the monarch of the British colonists, as a way of halting the alienation of Maori land.

**************************************************************************************************************



Daily Southern Cross , published 8 August 1867

1 – 6 AUGUST 1867
Thursday, 1 August
Shortly after midnight there is a heavy downpour of rain and around 2am the wind freshens and continues with great violence until daybreak.  Between 4am and 6am the gale is terrific.  Vessels at Auckland are damaged and swamped and wrecked while others are detained in harbour wind bound including a number for the Thames.

Between 8.30 and 9am 
After a delay by bad weather the paddle steamer Enterprise No 2, Captain Davies, prepares to  leave Auckland for the new goldfields. The wharf presents an unusually lively appearance crowded with diggers and their kits.  On board are 60 people including Commissioner James Mackay, Allan Bailey - his clerk,  one member  of the Water Police and two of the Armed Force police.   Mr John  Sceats, licensee of the British Hotel, has chartered the Enterprise for this maiden trip to the Thames. 

A favourable change in the wind enables several coasting vessels to take their departure for the Thames.   The cutters Bluebell and Cornstalk take down full complements of passengers followed by the cutter Tay with 50 to 60lb of sundries.  Upwards of 150 passengers leave throughout the day to try their fortune on the field.  It is feared they might cause a collision with the Maori canoes.

A party of seven men, one or two who are also carpenters, leave Freeman’s Bay in a 10 ton cutter of their own.   They take with them stores, timber and tools.  Several diggers have been compelled to borrow money to defray their passage down.

A letter from Gustavus Von Tempsky is published in the Daily Southern Cross.  Von Tempsky is a Prussian adventurer, soldier and newspaper correspondent.  He has worked on the California goldfields and settled for a time as a gold miner at Coromandel.  His opinion of the goldfield at Kauaeranga has been sought.  He believes Kauaeranga gold is heavier and of better quality than Coromandel gold and better returns may possibly result.  One thing, however, people will have to guard against is that the present season is the worst in which to carry on creek washings.  Men should not rush blindly, trusting to the worst of all things – chance.  By the end of August the creeks will be in a reasonable condition to work.

The Enterprise No 2
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-2925 



5.30 – 6pm
The Enterprise arrives off  the landing place at Kauaeranga.  They arrive in wretched weather. There are hills covered in  masses of dense scrub and tangled undergrowth and on the flat nothing better than raupo swamp and ti-tree. One of the few Europeans on the Thames is Daniel Tookey, who rows off in a small dingy to meet the steamer with an offer of piloting her up the creek to the Kauaeranga landing,but Commissioner Mackay is on the bridge and Daniel's services are not required. The Enterprise lays off until tomorrow morning.   During the night some of the original prospecting party who were left at Kauaeranga by Commissioner Mackay come in and report that one place at least is very satisfactory on the newly opened ground.

The cutter Alabama leaves Auckland this evening with Commissioner Mackay’s luggage and 10 diggers.  

There may be some gravediggers.

Tonight another meeting of diggers is held at the British Hotel in Auckland. A considerable number attend.  The meeting is called for the purpose of making public any news of the progress of the Thames goldfield that may have come to hand since the last meeting.  Mr Griffin says they have no news one way or another but he thinks it is a good thing to have a rendezvous at which the diggers might meet for the purpose of learning any authentic information instead of trusting to flying rumours.  Several people state that these meetings are being held for the mere purpose of attracting customers to the hotel.  Dr Merrett says the success of the new goldfield depends in a great degree upon the conduct of the diggers, because he knew there were few diggers in the room. (A VOICE: You don’t know that.  There may be some grave diggers.)  He hopes no man will go down to the Thames unprepared to maintain himself and that no man will do anything to complicate relations with the Maori.  Mr Harper says he has been five times down to the Thames and every time he went down (A VOICE:  You came back).   He knows there is gold there but prospecting was obstructed by the Maori.  Mr McInning, master of the Otahuhu,  offers to take passengers for 5s per head and back again.  A miner’s cradle, upon an improved mode of construction, is exhibited – it is the work of Mr Plaice and very neatly and serviceably made.  The meeting is adjourned until next Saturday evening at 7.30 when it is expected some news will have been received from the Thames.



Men panning for gold, Waitekauri Valley, Coromandel .  A similar scene is now taking place at the Thames. 
Charles Heaphy sketch Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A8928



Friday, 2 August

It is raining.  Passengers are brought from the Enterprise to the beach in a boat which gets stuck in the mud. John Guilding, a trader at the Thames and a very heavy man, tries his best to pull through but the more effort he makes, the deeper he gets in the mud.  The men land on the beach amidst mud and rain.   Some erect their tents as best they can.  Most shelter in a large Maori whare.  They make their beds of Long Toms – devices shaped like a long trough, used in alluvial mining.   

A temporary camp of tents is set up in a clearing. The tents are mostly bell topped ones formerly used by the troops during the Waikato war. There is one store, belonging to 27 year old William Nicholls.  He lives as a Pakeha Maori, as does Daniel Tookey.  William arrived in Wellington from England in 1840, but found the place not to his liking.  He moved north, began trade with the Maori and married a cheiftaness of the Ngai Te Rangi and Ngati Haua tribes.   Last year he moved to the Thames and opened a general store near the landing place.

On the banks of the Kauaeranga Creek is the Church Mission Station and exactly opposite is a large Maori settlement of  huts and whares and crops.   Near to the Mission Station is where Daniel Tookey trades to the Maori, travelling between Auckland and the Thames in his cutter Fly.

The ground opened up is a small portion from the Karaka to Kuranui, a distance of not quite two miles.  Within this boundary is an extensive flat – mostly covered in peach trees and very swampy.  A desolate area, part of which is a Maori burial place, is thickly studded with carved posts, the leering heads and thrust out tongues greatly unnerve the diggers.

8.30am 

As the Enterprise leaves the Thames this morning, the cutter Alabama comes into anchorage.    The Tay is passed in the Sandwich Passage.  She is loaded with 120 bags flour, 20 bags biscuit, 20 barrels pork, 1 ton potatoes, 1 dozen picks, 2 dozen frying pans, 5 nests billies, 4 cheeses, 4 bags salt, 1 case herrings, 2 tons flour, 3 tarpaulins, 2 bags onions, 2 ½ chests tea, 10 boxes candles, 1 case gin, 1 case brandy, 1 case stout.

A start is made on prospecting, but the party organised by Mr Mackay and Dr Pollen  are warned off by Moananui and his men. Reality sets in. The field has been very partially tested and money will be required to work a claim.  Sluices will have to be constructed; food, unless taken down, will be scarce and therefore sold at fancy prices.  Miner’s rights will have to be paid for - all of which will add up before the gold can be touched.  It is thought wise not to go without taking at least 10 days or a fortnight’s provisions and enough money to pay a return passage.
The Cornstalk leaves Auckland early this morning with 25 diggers.

Mr Mackay directs the staking out of the channel for the guidance of masters of sailing vessels entering the locality.
There are now around 75 people on the field.  Until those arriving find somewhere to camp Commissioner Mackay places the ‘Court House’ at their disposal – an ancient, dirty raupo whare partitioned in two and unfortunately scented with kauri bug.  A tent has been designated as the police station.  Tickets are posted up directing strangers to the miner’s camp. Commissioner Mackay is attending to the comforts of the miners, and has granted them a few days grace to test the creeks before calling on them to pay the licences. Several prospects have been taken out of the creek but they prove to be merely a few specks to the dish. Although not as satisfactory as anticipated, several men express themselves pleased with the appearance of the land.

There is a meeting of the Maori where an angry discussion is held. Riwai is against permitting the Waiotahi Creek being opened as a portion of the Karaka goldfield.  The Waiotahi Creek is thought to be the most gold bearing and is coveted by the European’s. 

NZH 2 August 1876

NZH 2 August 1867



“The goldfield is now in everyone’s mouth”


“The goldfield is now in everyone’s mouth, not only in Auckland, but in surrounding townships,” reports the Daily Southern Cross.  Although a rush to the goldfield would probably entirely depopulate outlying districts of the working classes, this would ultimately be of benefit. Something is needed to give the province impetus and render the population more content and encourage them to quietly settle down. 

Mr Messenger, known fondly as the People’s Butcher at Auckland, is moved by the spirit of the times and is offering intending diggers at the Karaka goldfields a cheap supply of mutton.

The Severn leaves Auckland this afternoon with 30 diggers and 20 bags bread, 40 bags flour, 5 bags sugar, 1 case tobacco, 9 cases matches, 500 ft timber. One of the Severn’s passengers is Captain John Butt, who goes down with stores on Messrs Cruickshank, Smart and Co’s account. Thirty seven year old Englishman John Butt has sailed to nearly all parts of the globe, captaining ships for Henderson and MacFarlane’s Circular Saw Line following a triangular route from Auckland to Newcastle to San Francisco. He is now in business with Captain Hugh Falconer Anderson, as ship chandlers and stevedores in Auckland but he has his eye on the new goldfield.


The Enterprise’s return from the Thames is eagerly awaited by the shipping reporters.  These men race to the wharf and hire a boatman to row them out to the incoming steamers to be the first to get the news.    A flagpole at Mt Victoria runs up a signal whenever a vessel is sighted.  When the ship is reached parcels of papers and notes are tossed over and caught then rowed back to shore and into print.   Competition is fierce between the newspapers and shipping reporters are skilled, courageous and physically fit.  No matter what the weather they go out to meet the incoming ships in the Rangitoto channel. 

3.30pm
On the Enterprise’s  return this afternoon the sought-after news is disappointingly meagre due to her short stay at the Thames.

 New filters back to Auckland however via other returning vessels.   Men who go to the Thames must bring tents, tools and food.  There is a store there but their twelve months supply is only worth one  day’s food to those already on the ground.  Small sawn stuff, 12 in wide and 1 in or 1 ¼ in thick, is wanted for sluice boxes.  There is none at the Thames.  The diggings will be sluicing, but they first must be prospected.  Commissioner  Mackay  will not issue miner’s rights  until Monday.



NZH 3 August 1867




Shortland Town
Saturday, 3 August
The weather clears and for those arriving by sea the view is breathtaking – in the distance is the impressive Thames River, the vast Kahikatea forests spreading across the head of the firth to the Thames to the Piako River, the picturesque ranges of Pateroa and Waiora to the right and Cape Colville and Coromandel to the left.  The mountains at the back of the new settlement tower 4,000 ft above sea level; dwarfed beneath them are the Maori settlement, the Mission House buildings and a small tent town near which the Kauaeranga River flows.

Work begins in earnest.

Commissioner  Mackay discovers  people starting to erect buildings promiscuously,  and with Charles Mitchell, a onetime publisher now trying his hand at mining, marks out the first lines for a town  on the flat near the landing place. It is laid out as a standard grid.  Mackay and Mitchell line out Pollen Street and lay out the first block of allotments.   A portion of the flat, extending from the landing place to a quarter of a mile inland, is pegged out in 66 feet allotments, that nearest the river being taken up for business.  The occupiers, if doing business, will be charged a licence if from £2 to £5.  Those not in business will be charged a rental. 

The settlement is named Shortland Town after Willoughby Shortland (Chief Wirope H Taipari).  There has been a call to name the area New London, but Kopu, four miles to the south, is already known as New London.

The store of Mr Oughton ( Oughton’s Bendigo store), already half built, is finished today.  Mr Mulligan, of the Queen’s Head Hotel, Victoria Street, Auckland.  is also building a large wooden store at Shortland and one is going up for Messrs Lewis Bros, of Queen Street, Auckland.

The cutter Tay is up the creek, opposite the settlement and lying so close to the shore that a gangway has been placed ashore and the vessel converted into a permanent floating store.

The issuing of miner’s rights is now announced to start on Wednesday the 7th.

A prospecting party returns to Auckland in a small boat, for the purpose of procuring an American pump.  These men, who formed a companionship of six, express the greatest confidence in the field.   The greatest drawback against which they have had to contend is the flow of water in the small creek where they have dug, five or six buckets of water having to be sent up to one of earth.

Men are warned that it is no use for men to go down unless they are well provided with tools, tents, clothing and all the necessaries for commencing a digger’s life.  While provisions are to be got at a fair price in Shortland, clothing and tents are at enormously high prices or unprocurable.

The cutter Maryann leaves Auckland for the Thames with stores and about 30 diggers.
 Another party attempts to leave for the Thames goldfield in a dinghy belonging to the cutter Wangarei, which one of their number has borrowed under false pretenses.  They are equipped with prospecting luggage and are bent on surveying the district for them at the least possible cost.



NZH 3 August 1867


Diggers camp about 1867
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries 19130220-11-3


The work is very heavy
Sunday, 4 August  
Most of the men have now got their food and clothes under cover. It is raining again.  There are potatoes, flour, tea, sugar but there is no beef or mutton, salt or fresh.  Provisions are abundant and sold at Auckland prices.  Mr Nicholls’ store is kept busy by new arrivals. Close to him a man is doing a brisk trade in native pork

There is no post office but letters care of either the Herald or Southern Cross agent will be delivered free until some arrangement is made.   The Resident Magistrate has notified that all vessels are to land or load their cargoes as quickly as possible and to haul into the stream above Mangrove Point.  The channel is now staked – vessels must keep the first stakes on the left hand, otherwise they will get stuck on the mud flats.  About three quarter flood is the best time to come in.  Mining licences will now be issued on Monday so those who are only starting out now for the Thames have lost nothing by the delay.

Two men heading back up to Auckland for tools and supplies in a small boat are picked up in difficulty near Maraetai by the Cornstalk and brought to Auckland. Meanwhile the Otahuhu, Bessy, Dusty Miller, Petrel, Henry, Martha, Severn, Peter Cracroft and Catherine all leave for the Thames. A small boat also leaves Official Bay on behalf of the government and is the bearer of instructions from Dr Pollen to Mr Mackay. The Enterprise steams for the goldfield with a cargo of timber, stores and some 60 passengers, amongst whom are numerous leading Auckland tradesmen.

Monday, 5 August
 Commissioner Mackay and the Maoris hold a korero at the disputed Waiotahi Creek.  While there Mr Mackay discovers two parties of men prospecting the ground.  He gives them ten minutes to pack and be off.  Licenses have not been issued and Maori look upon all unlicensed miners as trespassers. Some anxiety prevails regarding the permission to work on the Waiotahi Creek.  Not a day passes without a discussion taking place between the Maori and Mr Mackay. The commissioner is firm and will not withdraw from the agreement made when he and Dr Pollen met the Maori a fortnight ago. Later, privately, Mackay notes the utter wretchedness of the Maori of this settlement.  In wet weather the flat at Waiotahi is nearly all submerged. 

Chased off the Waiotahi, Mr Mulligan, one of the prospectors, tells his friends he found good prospects but takes up his pen and writes cautiously to the NZ Herald - “On behalf of the diggers on the Thames goldfield I beg to state that I would not recommend anyone to leave town at present until there is some gold found or more ground thrown open for mining purposes.  I have myself had a payable prospect but it was on forbidden ground and therefore no good to me or those who may come.  I was turned away at ten minutes notice – although the claim was in the bounds of the ground proclaimed by the government as open for mining purposes.  Mr MacKay is I know doing all he can to get the ground opened . . .” J Mulligan.
Not getting gold by the shovelfulls


The weather is fearfully wet.

There are now about 150 men on the field.  Men on the Karaka Creek are put on a “night shift” -  working day and night.  One of them is a 12 year old Bendigo “man” who thinks he knows a thing or two about mining.

The eleven Government prospectors take up a slope at a bend in the creek, where they cut a race 250 yards in length.  They sink two surface paddocks – at a depth of 5ft, several colours are found. 

Two Maori are working a tail race in an old current of the creek by means of a sluice.  They have done a great amount of labour which a Victorian (Australian) miner would have avoided.

Walter Williamson and Joseph Smallman are back on the field with a party of six others.  Their claim is called the British, after the British Hotel, and has been paid for by donations from Aucklander’s.  A flag flies alongside their claim, presented to the shareholders by Mr Sceat’s.  They dig down in the flat, on the south side of the Karaka.  The work is very heavy; boulders are found all the way down.  One takes six men to left it. They sink two holes where the creek enters the flat.

Beyond them, farther in from the bank, a party of Ballarat miners dig into a shaft sunk by the original prospectors.   It is hoped when these holes are bottomed it will provide the character of the flat.  The men at work are determined to go down and if gold is found in the bedrock it is reasonable to suppose that a large portion of the flat between the Hape and Karaka Creeks may have several leads going through it.

The country behind the diggings is very precipitous, from which slips of land have fallen.  Considerable quantities of water are found in holes sunk, but it is just surface water causing no difficultly.  Several pumps are being constructed. Those working in the shafts are more or less wet all day; they sleep on the ground covered by fern or manga manga and they cook for themselves.

Commissioner Mackay announces that mining licences will not be granted until Thursday, in order that the prospectors might have a better opportunity of testing the ground.

A whale boat leaves Official Bay, Auckland, with a prospecting party of 12 men.

Private letters begin to reach Auckland -  “I arrived here all right and pitched my tent, and started to work the next day.  We are not getting the gold by shovelfuls, but we have had one day’s washing and got about 10 grains to the dish and are satisfied as far as we are concerned . . .There are a good many people speaking about going to Auckland, but they have not given the field a fair chance yet.  We have only had one dry day here since we have been down.  One of us is coming to town by the next steamer to get some stores and other materials.”

A rumour surfaces that a gold nugget had been found.   Indications of gold are to be found nearly everywhere along the field but there is not as yet anything known to diggers as a ‘lead’.  Of 60 prospects washed out, three pans only had no show and the highest was nine specks to the tin dish.  This is quite good and some old diggers think that there ought to be a lead somewhere – but where, is the thing to find out.

Captain John Butt, along with other prominent businessmen, are watching and waiting to see how the prospects will show.

11pm 
The Enterprise steams into Kauaeranga, bringing 60 passengers, but not many diggers.  Many have come to see how things are progressing.   Also on board is Mr Messenger, the People’s Butcher.  He brings several carcasses of sheep intending to retail mutton amongst the prospectors. The steamer’s whistle, the first heard in these waters until just a few days ago, blows through the darkness.

No one thought to bring blankets

Tuesday, 6 August
The cutter Severn arrives early this morning, just before day break, bringing about 25 diggers.  She mistakes the channel and goes high and dry on the bank, about three miles above the landing place. The passengers and her crew are landed in a boat, and the whole of the ballast is thrown overboard in order to lighten the vessel.  It is thought she will have to remain there until the next spring tides.  Some say the vessel will not float again, as she went on the flat at high tide, but it is the general opinion that she will get off in about a week. 

The passengers from the Enterprise are seen at an early hour this morning heading out with the intention of securing business sites in the event of the field turning out good.  They all seem to forget there is no sleeping accommodation for them and not one of them thought to bring blankets.

There are now around 200 men at the Thames and a good many have gone into the bush.  Diverging tracks on the ranges and in the bush are innumerable.  At low tide the track along the sea beach is by far the most pleasant, and may be followed for some miles, skirting the foot of the ranges which have so far proved to be gold bearing.  The tracks in some parts are generally well defined, but the prospector’s paths across the ranges are sometimes very intricate.  There is little to distinguish the country for some miles from any other part of the New Zealand bush, except that the lines of ranges running along for miles inland are here and there covered with small particles of white quartz. 

At Ngaruawhaia the news of the goldfield causes a great stir; fully one-eighth of their population are leaving next week and some have already departed.

In the South Island the report of gold being discovered in the north creates ferment amongst diggers on the West Coast.  Several prospecting parties organise themselves for the trip to Auckland; one, a party of about 30 men, is formed at the Buller. The men are nearly all capitalists and they intend to take one or two Maori mates to act as interpreters.

Commissioner Mackay has a meeting  with the Maori willing to throw open the other 10,000 acres for prospecting but the final settlement of the lease has been put off until tomorrow  when the whole of the tribes concerned are to meet Mr MacKay for the final arrangements.  It is on this account that Mr MacKay was anxious to do nothing with the issuing of the licenses until he had acquired the rights of prospecting the whole area of 10,000 acres. This much larger tract of land extends some miles down the river, on Te Moananui’s land.

The Otahuhu and  Henry for the Thames - 30 passengers and general cargo.

Severn for the Thames  - 2 tons blankets, tents, timber, 25 passengers.

Petrel for Kauaeranga and Coromandel – 1 ton hay, 1 case ale, ½ ton potatoes, 400lb meat, 5 tons stores, 18 passengers Kauaeranga, 6 Coromandel


It is reported that Captain Butt is the holder of the finest specimens found at the Thames yet. He has obtained a number of nuggets.

The NZ Herald publishes a glowing account of the goldfield, gleaned from the passengers of the Severn and private letters received by gentlemen in Auckland.   These sources report that with scarcely an exception, gold is being found in every panful of dirt washed.  The field is a fine, healthy and most picturesque spot, and the place where the diggers are located in their tents is a nice sheltered flat; the place where the main prospecting is carried out is about ten minutes walk up the ranges at the back of this.  Some of the diggers have sunk shafts seven feet down and found gold all the way.


NZH 6 August 1867


No sign of a payable goldfield

This evening another meeting is held at the British Hotel in Auckland to hear the report of Mr Watkinson who has gone down to the diggings.  The room is literally crammed. Mr Watkinson says he had met several friends there and asked how they were getting on.  Some said they did not know and some said “all right; no fear.”  He could not get much definite information to what was doing.  A great impediment to the working is the number of boulders.  There were seven or eight parties sluicing and eight or nine holes were being put down.  The men were anxious to get down to the bottom as soon as possible, and American pumps were at work.  He believed that by Wednesday the bottom would be reached.  Difficulties still take place amongst the Maoris as to land rights.  He understands from Commissioner Mackay that more land will soon be opened. 

 Mr Watkinson shows the meeting piece of quartz with some gold in it which he had picked up.  His firm impression is that there is a good gold field there and that the further they go up the river, the gold will get better.  He thinks there is payable gold for 60 men.  He advises, however, that no man go down until some further information is received. 

Mr Townley, who has also been down at the Thames, disagrees.  He says he has seen no sign of a payable goldfield.  The ground is very limited and a great deal of it is tapued. Not one hole has been bottomed and the stuff they were working appears to be slip from the ranges.  Some men he knew had gone up the creek and had found quartz reefs but the further they went up the creek, the scarcer the gold became.  They got colour from the surface down perhaps a distance of 5 to 6 feet, but the greater part was reef gold. Unless more ground is opened up, there is not much chance of doing well at the diggings now.  He has seen the gold that is been shown in town from Mr Mackay but he does not think it is from Thames at all, because all he has seen was so light that it could be blown away.  This statement is met with roars of disapproval.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. This first post is fairly long in order to provide the backstory leading up to the opening of the Thames goldfield. Future posts won't be so lengthy!

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History Mysteries!

When did the Enterprise No 2 first arrive at the Thames? 


I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dick Wilkins who has straightened out the knot of when the Enterprise arrived and when the miners actually landed. There are several conflicting accounts giving the date as either 31 July or 1 August. Dick's Great Grandfather Richard Ross gives an eyewitness account of the Enterprise unloading on 1 August - he piloted another cutter down to Thames.  Although some accounts I have read say the miners began unloading and landing in small boats during the night the bulk of miners and cargo would have unloaded on the incoming tide of August 2nd.  You can read  about Richard Ross in an article by his great grandson Richard Wilkins here - http://www.thetreasury.org.nz/ross/partII.htm

How many passengers were there? 
The number of passengers has been stated as being 40 or 60 or 64 or even 100. The number of passengers was  60 according to Captain John Butt.  In an irate letter to the Daily Southern Cross regarding reporting, he says “I can also assure you that the reports of the number of persons having left Auckland are quite erroneous.  Instead of the number given, by the Enterprise, it is 60 by the first trip . . .”  (Daily Southern Cross, 10 August 1867)

Who was the Captain?
Captain Davies was in command.
Captain John Butt is sometimes named as the captain of the Enterprise on that day.  He wasn’t - Butt and Anderson were the shipping agents for the Enterprise.
Captain Seon is also occasionally named as the captain of the Enterprise on her first trip to the goldfields.  Thomas Seon  took over from Captain Davies in early September 1867.
The Thames Star, on the twelfth anniversary of the Thames goldfields, incorrectly  states that Joesph Smallman, a mineral surveyor,  originally navigated the Enterprise “up the tortuous windings of the Kauaeranga Creek.”

(For brevity the Enterprise No 2 is referred to as the Enterprise in this blog.   There was also an Enterprise No 1 at this time, on ferry service at Auckland)

What happened in the Thames district prior to June 1867? 

See my previous post 'Before'.


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

Sources

Papers Past
This is my place – Hauraki contested  1769 – 1875 – Paul Monin
Harry C. Evison. 'Mackay, James', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/1m29/mackay-james (accessed 27 March 2017)
http://www.thetreasury.org.nz/KoroMackay/KoroMackay.htm - Treasury Journal Volume 3 – My koro James Mackay Junior and Kuia Chieftaness Puahaere
POLLEN, Daniel (1813–96)', from An Encyclopedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966.
Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand
http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/1966/pollen-daniel (accessed 27 March 2017)
The colours – the search for payable gold on the West Coast from 1857 to 1864 -  Mark Pickering
Thames Miners Guide, 1868.
The History of gold mining in New Zealand -  J H Salmon
The Thames Goldfields Diamond Jubilee  1867 – 1927 - Fred Weston
Thames Borough Centenary  - 1873- 1973, L P O’Neil (ed)
Building Thames -  David Arbury
Early recollections - David Arbury,
Diggers, Hatters and Whores – Stefan Eldrid Grigg
This building, this site, and its creator, Captain John Butt, has the greatest historic history of Kauaeranga Shortland Thames: development of the area, 1855-2010: the life, of the restorer, 1930-2010 – Dennis C Larking (Declla)
 Hunt, Robert L. Captain John Butt: The enterprising gold miners’ true representative in Shortland (1867-1870) [online]. New Zealand Legacy, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2011: 7-13. Availability: < http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=125346553668787;res=IELNZC>ISSN: 0114-4189. [cited 29 Mar 17].
Extra! Extra! How people made the news – David Hastings