Wednesday 22 August 2018

18 September to 24 September 1867

A drinking doctor.

View from Hauraki Mission Station at Parawai, over the Kauaeranga River, towards Shortland.
Ref: 1/2-096131-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, 18 September
In Shortland Town there is, as usual on a goldfield during most days of the week, except Saturday and Monday, little doing.

 All the men are on the claims are working away as hard as they can, but heavy rain during the early part of the week has required a day or two to repair the shafts and this morning the rain comes on heavier than ever. 

Many of the men at work are more than satisfied.  In one claim the crushing is done in a very primitive way.  Some of the claims are working ‘dolly’s’ or small crushing machines, but the quantity crushed in this way can never make any show. 

Amongst the most recent arrivals at the Thames are a chemist and a doctor.  Dr George Augustus Merrett is the first doctor on the Thames goldfield.  He was active in early goldfield meetings at Auckland’s British Hotel sounding a note of caution about men making mad rushes to the Thames or upsetting the Maori.  He is a kindly and good natured man who was educated in London and undertook medical studies there and in Bengal.  For some years he has practiced in Auckland and, although skillful in his profession, a drinking problem has prevented him gaining a large practice there.  Now, aged 37, he divides his time between Auckland and the Thames where he is his own worst enemy – attending any and every case regardless of whether or not  he gets a fee.

From noon there are fine clearing-up showers which have been so frequent since the goldfields opened.

At Howick, where things have been in quite a state of stagnation, an exodus is taking place with numerous parties leaving for the diggings.  Today some 12 or 14 more go down to try their luck.  Several who have already gone down from Howick have been rather successful – one named McGlashan having sold his sixth share in a claim for £40.  Coombes, of Coombes and Townley’s claim, is from Howick and has done well and several others hailing from the settlement are earning good wages at the Thames.  Most of Howick’s young men are determined to make a trial of the goldfields. 

Matthew Barry, the discoverer of the No 2 claim at the Thames, is carousing in Auckland when he assaults E G Steers of the City Club Hotel.  Barry is subsequently released on two gentlemen becoming his sureties.

The night is wild and furious driven by a strong south easterly wind and at the Thames captains of the coasting craft remain at anchor. The creeks rise to a height that sweeps away the sluice boxes on the Waiotahi and Kuranui.  

Thursday, 19 September
The wind and rain cause a cessation of all work.   The weather wets men through to the skin if they stick their heads out and a 16ft weatherboard is blown off a cart and carried for several yards.  There is no steamer in sight.

The Berdan brought down by William Hunt for the Shotover claim  is not acting as well as expected.

The popular locality just now is the spur on the Hape on which Murphy found a leader a month back.  Murphy is tracing this leader steadily and surely, the quartz is crushed in a dolly or one stamper box – the process is tedious, but no gold is lost.

Kennedy is on Tookey’s reef, Kelly a little way further up, all doing well.  It is not an unusual occurrence for a rush to take place at midnight, when the ground is marked off by the light of the moon, or in one instance, by torchlight.

 It is now raining and blowing a gale. 

NZH 19 September 1867

Samuel Cochrane, auctioneer and champion of the Thames district.
(Image supplied by family)

An alluvial field would be the salvation of Auckland.

Thursday, 19 September
A public meeting is held in Fort Street, Auckland, at the rooms of Samuel Cochrane, auctioneer, to hear Captain Butt’s report on the work done on the prospecting claims on the Karaka flat. Many of the principal citizens of Auckland attend.  The room becomes so crowded that the four or five hundred people assembled adjourn to the large hall below.

Two shafts are now sunk, one down 60ft and the other 45ft. Great difficulty has been encountered in consequence of the wetness of the ground and some delay experienced waiting for the slabbing timber to arrive.

There are now 24 men sinking the shafts. They are working day and night and receive no wages, merely their food and timber. The men have had to abandon one shaft at a depth of 18ft after striking a spring. At 40ft they have struck shell and sand.

The object of the meeting is to form a committee in Auckland to raise funds for the purpose of carrying down the shafts whether they go another 50 or even 2000ft. In Victoria shafts have been sunk to a depth of 600ft and there are wealthy banking companies that have risked money to put them down.

Captain Butt says the committee at the Thames is only paying for the rations of the men and the timber. They find their own clothes and tools and take their chances. Surely the men - experienced miners - must themselves have the greatest confidence in the undertaking, or they would never work like this.

He trusts that the people of Auckland will come forward liberally. An alluvial field would be their salvation. True there were rich quartz reefs in plenty at the Thames but it was only an alluvial goldfield that would attract population.

Loud cheers follow Captain Butt’s speech. There is doubt as to the existence of an alluvial goldfield but Captain Butt puts forth his request in so modest a manner that it is not thought the people of Auckland will refuse to contribute.

It is estimated that £250 will be sufficient for the work. Samuel Cochrane comes forward, remarking that nothing he could do towards developing the wealth of the Thames Goldfield should be wanting on his part.

Samuel is an Ulster Scot, an auctioneer and land agent prominent in Auckland and a champion of developing the mineral resources of the Coromandel district. He ran the government steamer Sandfly (later Tasmanian Maid) on the Coromandel trade for a number of years and was also the principal owner of the steamer Waitemata, now the Enterprise. He has a wealth of experience from the earlier Coromandel rush. He is regarded as an exemplary and energetic citizen. 

Mr Abbott adds that every nerve should be strained to respond to the request. The interests of the Province are bound up in the development of the Thames as a goldfield and every man should subscribe.

Mr Darby say that all should join hand in hand in assisting those who have not the means, but are willing to risk the loss of their labour.

A committee is formed to raise subscriptions to test the Karaka flat.

Ottoline, schooner, for the Thames with sundries.  Caroline for the Thames with 1cwt sugar, 40lbs tobacco, one box tea. 

 Fight rather than have more Europeans in his district.  

The disquieting  news of the decision made at the Maori  meeting on September 1st and 2nd,  that the Upper Thames auriferous lands in the Ohinemuri district should not be opened to the diggers and that Hikutaia should not be the boundary, begins to circulate. 

One of the chief’s requests a sample of gold given to Dr Pollen be sent back. Tukukino goes so far as to say that he will take to fighting rather than have more Europeans in his district.  

Lately a few prospectors have ventured up as far as Ohinemuri and have been watched very vigilantly and suspiciously and ordered to return.  It is thought there is a poor prospect of the Ohinemuri district being opened up by Te Hira. William Paka’s death is felt even more keenly as he was a good mediator and although some Maori are favourable to the pakeha, they are overruled by the others. 

The news is viewed as a sore disappointment.  Advice is given to let the Thames goldfield work out the problem without scheming or contriving or in any other way interfering with the Maori.   The Maori population, who still adhere to the old customs, stand aloof from the civilisation at the Thames.  It would be well not to go up to the extreme southern boundary of the open block at present, owing to the temper of some of Te Hira’s supporters.

At Coromandel Daniel Tookey unloads his quartz out of the Fly.  He burns about 2cwt of picked specimens to rid it of sulphur and copper as he considers these minerals will prevent the gold mixing freely with the quicksilver.  The specimens are so rich that he will not part with them for less than £500.  Some of the lumps of quartz are as large as two fists with gold all through; even when the quartz is in the fire the gold is distinctly visible.

NZH 19 September 1867

Friday, 20 September
The NZ Herald correspondent hears a faint sound in the night, like a boy whistling, but it is so intense he doesn’t think that it is coming from any pair of human lungs.  On getting up he finds the Enterprise has come in and anchored off Point Tararu with one of the largest cargoes of passengers she has ever brought.  She lands a few of the passengers who gamely walk through the mud and dark to Shortland Town.

Although it is late, Captain Butt,  who arrived by the Enterprise,  and many of his friends and others interested in the sinking of the two shafts on the Karaka flat call at the Shortland Hotel to hear what has been done in Auckland towards the working of the ground.  The particulars of the meeting are received with applause. 

The steamer has brought 127 passengers.    Some are returned miners, who had gone to town for tools, but the majority are new to the Thames.  Amongst the returns are William Hunt and Matthew Barry.

 Also on board is Captain Hannibal Marks, and the owner of the steamship Midge, which is about to be run on the Auckland to Thames line. The Midge has been on the Whangarei line but her draught of water has prevented her from continuing on this trade.

There is a change in the weather for the better.  For the last six weeks it does not seem there have been two bright days consecutively.  

The sluicing parties are busy repairing their races and dams and will not set in to work until Monday. Many of the shafts are damaged and some of the sides have fallen in.

Gold is struck in several new claims and is reported in two new rushes.  Seven ounces of fine gold is purchased by Mr. Levy, storekeeper, Pollen Street. 

No craft are in are the Thames except the Sydney from Waiheke with 25 tons firewood.

At Coromandel the Waihau Goldmining Company arranges to receive small parcels of quartz of one ton and upwards for crushing, at the rate of 30 shillings per ton.  As freight from the Thames to Coromandel is only 10 shillings per ton and cartage from the beach at Coromandel to the Waihau Company’s machinery only another 20 shillings, the whole cost of crushing will be confined to 30 shillings per ton.  The owners of many good claims at the Thames avail themselves of this opportunity.

The cutter Emma arrives at Coromandel to convey Mr Lawlor, RM,  to the Thames where he is to take the duties of Resident Magistrate during Commissioner Mackay’s absence.  Mackay has gone to Wellington and is not likely to be back for a month; during this time the Thames will be without a Magistrate or Warden.  Mr Lawlor has been RM at Coromandel since 1863.

Commissioner Mackay has had a rather busy time, for as the ground becomes valuable by discovery after discovery he is called on to say how far each claim has a right to hold.   Fifteen cases in all have been decided upon the ground and three in court.  A claim taken up by one of the prospectors in 1865 was lost by not having proper corner pegs in.

Doady for the Thames with 8 passengers and merchandise. 
 Annie for the Thames with timber and building materials.

Branded with tar.

Saturday, 21 September
Benjamin Turner writes to the Daily Southern Cross suggesting the formation of a company of 10 or 12 persons subscribing £20  each to enable young men of good character, out of employment, to go down to the Thames and prospect the ground.  He has been spoken to by many young men who would apply themselves to the work, if they had money for tools and to maintain themselves.  Should anything good be found, they then should all share alike in the profits.

Philanthropos writes to the NZ Herald about a cheap mode of crushing quartz - “Have a 6” plank, six or eight feet wide, firmly put together by being covered on the surface with sheets of wrought iron riveted firmly on the planks, have a heavy stone roller, such as are used by gardeners on gravel walks or bowling greens, this will effectually crush the quartz and nothing will be lost.”

Catherine for the Thames with 3,000 bricks, 30 bushels lime, 25,000ft timber.  
Sarah for the Thames with 1 ton flour, 4 bags sugar, 1 bag maize, 1 bag wheat, 2 pkgs tobacco, 1 pkg drapery.   
Severn for the Thames with 2,000ft timber, 1 ton sundries, 8 passengers.
Enterprise -  60 passengers, stores and timber.

 A meeting between the claimholders on the Kuranui and Mr Fraser, of the firm Fraser and Tinne, of Auckland, takes place at the Shortland Hotel.  It is arranged that machinery of sufficient power to put through 100 tons of quartz a week will be placed on the Kuranui creek to crush the stone taken out of those claims.  The engine house will be placed at high water mark, so as to enable the owners of adjoining claims to send their quartz.  A small machine of a single stamp will be provided to crush the specimens, so that discoverers of quartz leaders may form an estimate of the stone and whether it will be worth their time to continue.  Mr Fraser promises to place the machinery on the ground without delay. The Kuranui and Moanataiari reefs are on the surface and easily got at; it is hoped that in two weeks the claims will be fully manned and worked. 

Sunday, 22 September
The Rangatira, attempting to leave the Thames at flood tide yesterday, on tripping her anchor touched the bank, and was obliged to stay until this morning's flood, when she finally gets away.

The Enterprise arrives from the Thames alongside the T’s of the Queen Street wharf.  The night being very dark, a passenger mistakes the distance and steps off the paddle box into the sea, while another walks across the T clear into the tide on the opposite side.  Prompt assistance is rendered.

Queen Street wharf with North Head and Mount Victoria in the distance.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W718

Monday, 23 September 
At the Police Court, Shortland, before Henry Lawlor and Taipari Hoterene, William Rose and Charles F Lloyd are charged with unlawfully selling on 26 August, James Newton, saddle and harness maker, a bottle of rum.  They are found guilty and charged £10 and costs, or one month’s hard labour. 

William Henry Travers is charged with stealing one pick, the property of James De Hirsch.    He pleads guilty, saying he was under the influence of drink.  He is fined 20 shillings and costs, or one week’s imprisonment.

Joseph and Edward, two Maoris are charged with stealing and selling one sheep, the property of William Messenger, on Saturday.   Mr Spencer is sworn as interpreter.

 Mr Messenger had nine sheep escape while being unloaded from a cutter from Auckland.   He had sent men out daily to try and catch them ever since.  He kept his sheep in a ti-tree enclosure and they were branded with tar with a large W on their backs.   Mr Messenger had heard two Maori were offering a live sheep for sale and sent for Constable Wallace.  It was unusual to see Maori selling sheep although they often sold pigs and potatoes.  Messenger suspected the sheep was his. 

Constable Wallace had examined the sheep for a brand but only found a split in its ear.  Further examination by Detective Crick found the brand.    Mr Messenger identified the sheep but said the brand had been cut out.   The sheep was taken into care of the police.

Alexander Snowdon, a miner, tells the court he had brought the sheep which Joseph had got hold of by a piece of flax round its horn.  There was a sort of auction for the sheep and about 30 people present.  Snowdon was the highest bidder.  He had no suspicion the sheep was stolen.

When challenged by another miner, Richard Kennedy, who saw Joseph leading the sheep towards Point Tararu, Joseph said the sheep belonged to Mr Lanfear, a Missionary at the Thames some time ago.  He knew the sheep from Lanfears’ mark – which was a split in the ear.

Joseph tells the court that Mr Lanfear had sheep running wild in the bush, he didn’t know a European had lost sheep and he thought a sheep being so far away in the bush could only belong to Mr Lanfear.  A long time ago Mr Lanfear had authorised them to take any sheep they found at large.  All Mr Lanfear’s goats and sheep were running wild.

Riwai, chief of Kauaeranga, says the day Mr Lanfear left the Thames  he told him he had two sheep running about and seven goats – if they found the sheep in the bush they might have them.  The mark was on the ear – the same as the sheep now in question. Mr Lanfear was now dead.

The Bench says that in consequence of the way the sale of the sheep was carried out and Riwai’s evidence, the prisoners would be discharged.  The sheep must be given up as it had been identified. The Bench then calls attention to a book in Maori, held by Taipari, stating the English law as to stealing sheep or cattle, and the clause is interpreted for Joseph and Edward by Mr Spencer. The Court rises,  having sat seven hours.  

Four men, who have been out on a spur to the north of the Karaka, come into Shortland Town and divulge the existence of payable quartz.  There is a rush and several claims are pegged off within sight of the town.

Forty miner’s rights are issued.  The total number to date amounts to 400.

Snowflake – one plough, one rake, one box, 7 passengers.

James Hector on the right,1 

 Dr James Hector, Colonial Geologist, writes a pessimistic report on the Karaka goldfield for the Colonial secretary, based on the observations of Captain Hutton earlier this month. 

Hector concludes  “This report, I consider, provides satisfactorily the existence . . . of gold bearing  formations similar in their nature to those at Coromandel . . . I see no reason, however to expect any extensive alluvial diggings in the Karaka district or that it will afford a field for the employment of a large mining population.”

The Enterprise brings some of the Auckland land speculators to the Thames.  The steamer Midge  makes her first appearance, arriving soon after the Enterprise this evening.  The run is made in six hours and she brings 47 passengers who are landed in the ship’s boats.  This vessel will leave Auckland for the Thames every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  She has two commodious cabins and 17 sleeping berths.  Splendid accommodation is also being fitted for steerage passengers.  The passengers speak in the highest terms of her accommodation and the courtesy of the captain and officers.  

There are two new rushes during the night. One good reef has been discovered and there is some chance of alluvial, but not south.  The NZ Herald correspondent is up all night waiting for news.

West Coast Times 23 September, 1867

NZH 23 September, 1868

Hauhau attack on the Thames

Tuesday, 24 September
There is a rumour afloat early this morning that alluvial gold has been discovered. During the rush a man has a bad fall and breaks his collar bone.*  He makes his way to the tent of Dr Merrett where he is cared for.   He is sent up by steamer to the Provincial Hospital in Auckland along with another sick man. 

The two gratings of the small Berdan machine of the Shotover claim smash up immediately they are put to work.  This causes the claim to be again placed under protection for 14 days.

 The Betsey, from Napier, is detained at the Big River, Turanganui,  for three weeks with 11 passengers on board for the Thames goldfield.   She is waiting for a favourable wind to come on to Auckland.

Ariel for the Thames with a number of Maori passengers.

Chief Taipari is brought an alarming letter from one of the Waihou settlements of the Upper Thames informing him that Tana, a son of the late William Thompson, is gathering a large body of Maori to make a descent on Kauaeranga. Tana had corresponded with the East Coast Maori, in the neighbourhood of Tauranga, commanding them to assemble at Matamata to make an attack on Shortland. 

Taipari communicates with Mr Lawlor, acting RM, advising him to call in the men who are out on the creeks and ranges. Lawlor in turn requests Captain Butt to send to the Kuranui, Waiotahi and other places to call the men into town, leaving it to their own discretion to do so or not.  The messengers on their way raise a cry that the Hauhaus are coming down upon them causing considerable anxiety.

Taipari orders every Maori in the township to go to Parawai village.

Men flock into town and congregate around the Shortland Hotel, where Mr Lawlor addresses them to the effect that, should the occasion demand their united force to meet the Hauhau, he has arranged with Major Von Tempsky, who is here doing a little sluicing,  to organise a protection party. 

Mr Lawlor will enroll 200 special constables and order 250 stand of arms and 100 rounds of ammunition for each man. Should an armed force be required he promises they will be paid 2s 6d per day. 

The court house is besieged by applicants for the honour of serving in the newly-raised corps and there are fears work will stop on the claims.

Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky
 Reference Number 1/2-050850-F 

Major Von Tempsky consents to command the diggers, when danger is imminent, but until he calls them out, they had better go back to work.  He for one will go to his claim on the Hape Creek, and he hopes to see those around him shouldering a pick and shovel instead of a rifle. 

Taipari goes to Kirikiri, a Maori settlement past Kopu, from where he will send intelligence of the advance of any armed Hauhau. These precautionary measures give some semblance of truth to the affair and the men are expressing themselves pretty freely what they will do if the Hauhaus make an appearance.

The Hauhaus will be at the Thames at six this evening and terrible things are to be done. They will come in a great force of around 400 men and take possession of the diggings.

Mr Lawlor writes a despatch to Dr Pollen and Mr Mackay for immediate delivery to the Enterprise.

The NZ Herald correspondent hastily scribbles his report so as to make the Enterprise which has just come into the river and is returning to Auckland almost at once  - “There is some nonsensical report about the Hauhaus.  If any come here we shall eat them.  The steamer is whistling.”

The oblivious  Daily Southern Cross correspondent is also caught on the hop – “The whistle for her departure is blown to announce that all passengers must be on board as she will leave in 10 minutes.  This is a despatch with a vengeance.  The owners should have some consideration for those who have to answer letters.  I remember several occasions when this boat was on the mud when passenger’s had to land knee deep and often waited for their own convenience beyond the advertised time of sailing.”

The Enterprise leaves having only lain at Shortland Town for half an hour.

Despite the perceived peril,  dinner is eaten at the Shortland Hotel.  By now the news has spread to the outlying claims and the men come pouring into the township.  The crowds increase to a pretty dense mass.

 A special escort is dispatched to get Mr Lawlor and he comes down from the whare of Mr Mackay, where he is staying. A heavy and continuous rain begins to fall, and  the crowd make tracks for the large room of the Shortland Hotel. 

The committees of the Diggers and Storekeepers are called together for 8 o’clock tomorrow morning, so that the question of public safety can be addressed.   

There is much discussion amongst Maori and Pakeha. Kaipana, a friendly chief, scoffs that the white men are like sheep  - one day they follow gold and the next they run after a few words uttered by a Maori   He asks how is it that Thorpe and other white men who reside among the Maori up the river, and would hear what is going on, do not warn those at Shortland?

 Another Maori says the Pakeha are kuare (ignorant) to give credit to silly reports and should arms be sent for the Pakehas,  the Hauhaus might think that they were going to be attacked.

 Several Maori are indignant that the report should have been circulated by Taipari.  They are writing to the Superintendent to contradict the matter.  They say that Taipari, having heard some conversation that should the Hauhaus come down the Europeans would leave, got frightened that he should lose his revenues. 

It is not in accordance with Maori custom for one tribe to go on the land of another to exercise any authority whatever.

It was possible the Hauhaus might be coming down to observe for themselves the conduct of the Europeans.   The Maori beyond the Upper Thames are in favour of peace, and were it not for the advice of a few men fanatic in their opinion, then Te Hira would be more tractable.

 A large number of Maori were coming down the river after holding a tangi, and the report may have originated from that. 

The Enterprise arrives at Auckland bringing the very alarming news that the Thames is about to be attacked.

At Shortland Town there is some discharge of firearms and a bugle call but there is a good deal of fun going on too.   Most of the inhabitants make up their minds to go to bed.

The Hauhaus do not come.

Te Ua Haumene, who founded the Hauhau Church.
Alexander Turnball Library Ref: 1/2-005495-F

Dr Merrett – MD Michigan,1852.  Educated in London.  Medical  studies in Bengal and London.  Registered in UK 31 Oct 1859 with forenames reversed as Augustus George.  Wrote a medical thesis, University of Michigan, in 1857, on Necrosis.

*This accident leads to the area becoming known as the Collarbone.  The name of the miner is unclear - he is named as Quelly in one report;  a later court case names him as Tuelle.


Papers Past
Many thanks to Wanda Hopkins – Great, great granddaughter of Samuel Cochrane.
“Historia Nunc Vivat” – Medical practitioners in NZ 1840 – 1930 – Rex Earl Wright – St Clair.
Calendar of the University of Michigan, Harvard University

© 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.

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