Tuesday 21 August 2018

25 September to 1 October, 1867

Should a single shot be fired.

A tent in the bush in a Thames goldfield gully (possibly Moanataiari)              
                                             Sir George Grey Special Collections 4-3681A-49

Wednesday, 25 September
“We were to have been all eaten before this but no-one has come to the feast,” writes the weary NZ Herald correspondent.  “It is still a steady drenching rain; either the night passed very quietly or I had heard nothing probably because I had been up all the previous night.”

Mr Lawlor, acting Resident Magistrate, addresses 300 to 400 assembled men. Captain Butt has been called to the chair and presides.  A motion is proposed that 250 men be sworn in as special constables.  The men who enroll themselves are to have 2s 6d a day.  They are not satisfied without seeing Major Von Tempsky, and after many consultations, the major comes out and addresses them.  He advises them not to be disorganised and not to neglect their work.  He says that they must fall back on the town should a single shot be fired.  There are arms and ammunition enough to hold their own should there be need until help comes, but in the meantime the men had best go back to work.

Two hundred and fifty stand of arms and proper ammunition are expected from Auckland by the Enterprise.  “As some will be anxious about us we are all well at 11.30,” notes the NZ Herald correspondent.

Rumours fly around the diggings - Rapana was at Mr Douglas’s store at the Kirikiri and overheard him saying something to the effect that the Hauhaus were to attack some place or other – maybe Rotorua.  Rapana perhaps misunderstood him and came and reported that they were coming to the Thames to attack the place.  Mr Douglas vehemently denies this. He has not seen Rapana since the diggings were opened and Rapana has never been to his store at Kirikiri.

The Thames Maori dismiss the threatened attack as an idle report got up by some wicked Pakeha to unsettle the minds of the European settlers. It is absurd to believe anything of the kind as Te Moananui is up at Ohinemuri and most of the Maori there are waiting to receive the tribes who are coming to cry for William Paka, Taraia's grandson.

The fact that arms have been sent for is condemned -   it will be thought of by all the Maori up the river that the Europeans are going to commence hostilities against them.  This could make them more stubborn in not allowing their land to be prospected.

The Daily Southern Cross says “There can be little doubt that the report is much exaggerated.  There is undoubtedly something going on just now in the interior that is not at all reassuring, but it is not at all likely that the Hauhaus would make an attack upon the men at the Karaka, as they are on Ngatimaru land, which has been opened up with consent.  Probably the rumour has arisen from some meeting of the King party having been held at the Upper Thames, at which there was some strong talk about keeping Europeans out.”

Over 400 miners’ rights have been issued but this most untoward interruption had caused the attention of the men to be taken off their work.

Arms and ammunition.

There is quite a race between the Midge and the Enterprise on coming in to the Thames, the Midge leads, but she touches the mud bank about two miles out, anchors, and is passed by the Enterprise amidst loud cheering.

A sample of quartz from the claim of William Messenger junior is sent to Mr Sceats’ British Hotel in Auckland.  Messenger lost the ground first marked out on the reef but he has got gold first.

Private letters from diggers on the Thames goldfields to Wanganui strongly urge friends and mates to come up to Auckland at once.  The most favourable accounts are continually being received from the Karaka diggings, they say, and there is no doubt that a rich payable goldfield has been discovered.

A general opinion is that the diggers at the Thames are very confident of the success of their work.  A competent judge of the value of the quartz estimates that there is gold to the value of some of some ten thousand pounds in the stone for the crushing.  Machinery will soon be ready.  There is a desire on the part of those who have capital to invest in mining and crushing operations, although the experience of Coromandel acts as a great check on the expenditure of capital in the Thames district.

 Saucy Lass from Napier arrives at Auckland bringing 14 passengers for the Thames goldfield.
Severn to the Thames with 200ft timber, 6 hhds beer, 2 cases wine, 4 cases champagne, 2 cases wine, 2 cases ale, 1 dozen chairs, 2 pkgs, 2 cases, 2 tons sundries, 6 sheep, 12 passengers.

Thursday, 26 September
Dr Pollen, accompanied by Allan Baillie, proceeds to the Thames by steamer this morning.  Instead of complying with the request for arms and ammunition Pollen intends to ascertain the facts for himself.

The panic has had the worst possible effect. It excited the men, brought them in from their work and tended to dissipation.  About 75 men enrolled in the special defence force. 

Some 20 miles higher up the Thames some Maoris are mustering for the purpose of settling a land dispute between them. It is possible that from this may have arisen the whole report of attack on the diggings.
 A new reef is discovered, whereabouts unknown at present. Walter Williamson’s party on the Moanataiari have struck gold. The quality of the stone is fine and the gold quite a “jewellers shop.”  Some very good quartz has been brought in from the claim of some men from Howick.  The claim is called Pakuranga.

First death on the Thames goldfield.

Hector McKenzie is worried about his mate, John Brown, who has been absent from his tent since going out to prospect yesterday. Hector looks for him in the direction John said he was heading.  He is horrified to discover John Brown’s hat floating on top of a water filled abandoned shaft.  He comes into camp and reports the find to the police.  The hole is dragged and the body of John Brown recovered.   John only arrived from Auckland last Tuesday.

The Enterprise reaches the landing place.  Dr Pollen is looked for amongst the passengers to give authority from the general government for the distribution of firearms and ammunition to the diggers.  When he lands, a deputation requests Captain Butt to wait upon him with the object of learning what the government intends doing about opening Maori country to the south of the Kauaeranga.  Dr Pollen asks for time to get his tea as he has just landed.

The miners are told by Captain Butt to meet Dr Pollen at the Shortland Hotel where they will have the opportunity of questioning him.The men who have been looking for alluvial diggings have heard so many glowing accounts of the Ohinemuri that they want to get there.

The large room at the Shortland Hotel is packed with men as full as it can hold.  A digger asks, on behalf of the mining population, what the policy of the government is regarding the opening of the country south of the district now worked.  The press have published that a goldfield has been declared but he for one cannot see it.  The government has published the fact that a payable goldfield has been found in the Thames, which has encouraged many miners from the South Island and Victoria to come to the Thames.

 Dr Pollen replies that the government had induced no-one to come and certainly would not prevent anyone going away.  He has every confidence in the richness of the field, but there will be men who are not fortunate. He sympathises with the men, but the fact of their not having drawn the prize at once does not make the country less a goldfield.  The men must be patient.

The government gave no guarantee of a payable goldfield, but he has communicated with the Maoris that under certain conditions they would derive emoluments accruing from the opening of their land. The land belongs to the Maoris and it was for the Upper Thames Maoris to declare when it was their pleasure to open their land to the newcomers.  The government could not interfere.

The chiefs of Ohinemuri will not permit the Europeans to work for gold on their land, but Dr Pollen considers that when they see the Hauraki chiefs deriving a benefit from the gold operations, they might think better of the interests they would derive from opening their country.

The meeting is considerably enlivened by succession of dog fights, during which men clamber on chairs and tables, the room being too densely packed to allow this belligerents out.

Dr Pollen adds that as to those who complain of the field not being payable he would again say that the government had invited no one to come  - it prevents no one from going away.

A vote of thanks is proposed to Dr Pollen for the straightforward way in which he speaks to the meeting.

Throwing cold water on the diggings.

Friday, 27 September
The Hauhau affair is laid to rest with an explanation of what precisely took place that led to the fright at the Thames, the panic of Mr Lawlor and his co-magistrate Taipari, and to the demand for arms which has been refused.

Commissioner Mackay wants to extend the ground which might be prospected up to Hikutaia, but he does not want the diggers to go close up to the boundary line; he has some doubts about the disposition of the Maoris.  A chief at Hikutaia, Te Herewini of Ngatimaru, wrote to the Maori King and the ‘potis’  (committees) of the King tribes  giving over his land at Hikutaia to the charge of the King and asking the Hauhau ‘potis’ to come down and assist him. 

The letter was dispatched but Te Hira, hearing of it, determined to stop it, saying it would give the more violent of the King party an excuse for coming down to the Thames and creating disturbances.  The messenger was stopped near Ohinemuri and the letter taken from him.  Shortly after, several Europeans made their way to Ohinemuri.  Te Hira said to Te Moananui “You are of that side, take care of these Europeans by sending them back again.”  This was done and the Europeans were sent back to Kauaeranga. The reason for the movement of the Hauhaus had been misinterpreted as aggression.  

The inquest on John Brown is held.  Evidence shows that returning to his tent late in the evening he must have fallen in the abandoned shaft.  The shaft is the second or third one sunk since the field opened. A verdict of found drowned is given.

John Brown is interred in a place given by Taipari  at the back of the courthouse.   He is the first of the Thames’ unrecorded dead.

The Day Dawn arrives at Auckland from the West Coast with three passengers for the Thames goldfield.

Saturday, 28 September  
The crushing of Tookey’s quartz was completed on Thursday and the gold is retorted and smelted at an early hour this morning, the result being two ingots weighing 14lbs troy.  This was ten days work for four men.  Daniel Tookey expresses himself perfectly satisfied as a result of the crushing and also at the way in which it was managed.

The Daily Southern Cross, having being accused by the NZ Herald of “throwing cold water” on the diggings, responds that the charge comes from a newspaper which is anxious above anything to create a rush.  The Cross says that nothing as yet been discovered to warrant a rush or even to justify the least excitement.  That gold has been found in the quartz already tested is true, that the stone crushed has proved eminently paying is otherwise true, but as yet there has not been an ounce of water-worn gold taken out of the district. They regret this as much as anyone, because nothing could be more fortunate for Auckland at the present time than a payable goldfield.

The Daily Southern Cross estimates the population is now around 750 people, 500 who have taken out miner’s rights.

From Barry’s claim 12lb weight of gold goes up to Auckland by the Midge. His party have 70 tons of quartz stacked up ready for crushing.

A NZ Herald correspondent writes cynically “I think it is a pity that the papers make so much about the Thames goldfield as it will give a wrong impression at a distance.  People are constantly arriving with the idea of diggings at the Thames when there is no such thing.”   It ought to be called the Thames Gold Reefing district he suggests. Any person with but a small knowledge of geology can see that all the flat land from Cape Colville to Ohinemuri is of too recent a formation to prove alluvial.

Recently arrived diggers from the West Coast put up a handbill offering a reward to any person who can show them the diggings,

NZH 28 September, 1867

Sunday, 29 September
There is a rush late this morning to a new reef called Break O’ Day.  Men are seen humping a quantity of quartz from a claim on Messenger’s reef.

Monday, 30 September
1.30 - 2am
The Midge arrives at Auckland with 157 6dwts of gold from Barry’s Reef.  It is originally stated as being 160oz.  About 3ozs will have to be returned as it has not been sufficiently cleaned. There are very imperfect apparatus for weighing on Barry's and the Shotover's  claims.  The Midge also brings five bags of very rich quartz from a new reef to be crushed and assayed.  The reports from the field are very encouraging, quartz leaders containing gold being daily discovered by prospectors, and nine claims are now producing valuable quartz.

At Cambridge two or three settlers receive letters from their friends at the Thames, speaking very favourably of the quartz reefs there. At Opotiki the usual monthly muster parade of the militia takes place, but owing to the encouraging accounts from the Thames goldfield, there is a visible decrease in the number of their inhabitants.

Pearl for the Thames with 6,500ft timber, 6 tables, 4 bedsteads, 6 kegs, 2 cases and 2 bags.  
Cornstalk for the Thames with timber, shingles, 10 passengers

The HMS Charybdis, Captain Algernon Lyons, comes to anchor five miles out near Point Tararu. The Charybdis is an English 21 gun Royal Navy screw corvette recently assigned to Australia.  She is on a cruise around New Zealand.  She left her anchorage at Auckland this morning for a cruise off Waiheke where the crew procured water and engaged in a big gun exercise.  She sails  across to the Thames this afternoon.

   The gastronomic wants of a digger.

Tuesday, 1 October
Captain Lyons, the doctor and the officers of the Charybdis proceed in one of their boats up to the landing place at Kauaeranga and are taken round the reefs.  They are highly delighted with their first views of a goldfield.  Amongst the places visited is the claim of Walter Williamson and party where they are breaking down a quartz leader and the stuff is splendid.

HMS Charybdis
Library & Archives Canad
PA-124061\Public Domain

British Naval Officer Captain Algernon Lyons
(Navy and Army Illustrated 1896
Public Domain)

The Tauranga, originally intended to be the first steamship to sail for the newly opened Thames goldfield, now finally leaves on her maiden trip there.  The Tauranga has kept up a hectic pace since Sunday after leaving Auckland for Tauranga where she arrived at midnight.  On Monday she discharged a large general cargo them steamed for Auckland at 7.30pm.  She arrived at Auckland at 10am this morning after a 15 hour passage.  She lands her passengers then goes alongside the hulk to load coal, after which she steams beside the wharf to take in passengers for the Thames. The Tauranga, Captain Sellars, was recently built for the Bay of Plenty Steam Navigation Company.  She will continue to make her usual trips to Tauranga as well as to the Thames.

The Enterprise arrives in Auckland bringing a parcel of gold containing 168oz crushed from the quartz taken out of Tookey’s claim.  Having had his specimens declared not gold in August,  a determined Daniel has set to work with energy, taken three tons out of a leader and having them crushed at Coromandel and this is the result.  The news is hailed with delight – the yield being much beyond anyone’s expectations. 

The Enterprise also brings up a parcel of amalgam from Matthew Barry and company’s claim which is forwarded to the care of Messrs Butt and Anderson, Ship chandlers, to be smelted and assayed in town before it is lodged in the bank.  The estimated yield is far greater than actually turns out.

 A Victorian miner and well known settler in the Auckland province, just returned from the Thames, speaks of the reefs as enormously rich and numerous, but says quartz reefers are sadly wanted – men who know how to work them. 

 A rumour is afloat at the Thames that alluvial diggings have been discovered back beyond the ranges.

Sixty miner’s rights are issued today making a total of something over 600.  

Seven Warden’s cases are heard, most of them arising out of disputes about claim jumping.

NZH 1 October, 1867

The Victoria Hotel is opened by Mr Joseph Mulligan. This makes the third licensed house in Shortland – the Shortland Hotel (Captain Butt), the Duke of Edinburgh (originally William Nicholls general store, sold to Mr Sheehan and turned into the Duke of Edinburgh)  and  now the Victoria.  There are also two very good restaurants – one kept by the celebrated pork pie man, Mr A Barnett, and the other by Mr Cummings.  All well provide for the gastronomic wants of a digger. 

The Willie Winkie comes into the Thames from Opotiki with flour and potatoes.

The Tauranga arrives off Point Tararu and lands her passengers.   She made the passage in four hours 20 minutes, the fastest passage to the Thames yet.  Her arrival increases the population by 110 and passengers include Samuel Cochrane and Mr Stewart of the Bank of New Zealand.  

Commenting on the quick passage of the Tauranga, a NZ Herald correspondent writes “It is certainly a great improvement on the passage of Dr Pollen and the first prospecting party, when they took 24 hours to get down and 48 hours to get back.”  *

The Enterprise comes up to her usual anchorage at the deep water landing.

The Karaka Flat prospecting party is now down 66ft with its upper shaft.  The indications are very good, but they have not reaped much advantage from the public meeting held to assist them in Auckland.  There are 24 men to find in tucker and these 24 men are giving their own labour to do a work that, whether successful in finding gold or not, will be a great public advantage. 

 At the Chamber of Commerce, Auckland, there is a meeting of persons interested in the development of the Thames goldfield and the putting down of the shafts on the Karaka Flat.  Only one member, Mr J Watson Bain, attends.  The meeting is adjourned until 3pm Friday in the hopes of getting a better attendance.   It is hoped that the gentlemen who allowed their names to be placed on this committee will attend - it is important that these claims should be bottomed.  They cannot be unless necessary funds are forthcoming. It would be deplorable, indeed, if they were allowed to be abandoned now.

This evening at the Thames the Captain and crew of the Charybdis return to their vessel taking with them several specimens from the reefs.

Shortland Town, deserted by day - in the evening, at the hotels, is loud with the music and singing peculiar to a digging community.

Emoluments  are a salary, fee or profit from employment or office.

Six ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Charybdis after the sea monster of Greek mythology.  The 'sea monster' was later rationalised as a whirlpool and considered a shipping hazard.

*The correspondent seems to have muddled this - it appears to be 48 hours to get down and 24 to get back. They left Auckland on Tuesday 23 July  arriving Thames on Thursday 25th,  returning Monday 29 July after negotiations to open the goldfield.
Papers Past

© 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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