Sunday, 29 October 2017

30 October to 5 November, 1867

 Whangapoua, Coromandel.
 Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-C1340

Attracting the gaze of the prospector.

Wednesday, 30 October
A little boy, about six years old, the son of Mr Pick, an Auckland butcher, is in Cook Street, trying to stop a horse and cart. He runs forward to get into the cart but the horse knocks him down then stands on his arm, fracturing it. The boy’s parents are at present absent at the Thames diggings

Commissioner Mackay has succeeded in securing all the country to the north towards Cape Colville and Mercury Bay and to the south up to Hikutaia and now the word gets out. The ground is to be opened in a few days.  On the East Coast the country lying between Port Charles and Mercury Bay will be explored by men who have had the occasional opportunity of trying a dishful of the wash from the banks while they have travelled from one timber mill to another.  The streams entering Kennedy’s Bay and the Whangapoua are known to be auriferous.

Several leading men of the Ngati Paoa have been willing to open their land as far as Hikutaia after they see how the Kauaeranga field is worked, but there is great impatience and even despair from the diggers to have more and more land opened.

7am - 9am
Superintendent Williams and party board the Gemini when it calls for them at the Kopu wharf. It is floodtide so there is no hindrance encountered from the shallows of this part of the river. The morning is beautifully fine and the scenery breathtaking. From the goldfield range away to Te Aroha, whose summit over- tops the legion of mountain peaks which enclose the valley of the Thames, protrude those volcanic spurs which so attract the gaze of the prospector for gold. This mountain range is circuitous and the whole of the land within this half-circle is thought alluvial and the most productive in New Zealand. The land on the right is equally rich, and extends nearly to the Piako.

There are a few whares here and there but only for shelter when the Maori are getting fish. Permanent settlements are on the tributary streams – Kirikiri, Puriri, Hikutaia and Ohinemuri. Te Moananui points out as they go up the boundaries of the blocks on the river side that have been purchased by the government.

Once above Hikutaia Creek the river deepens, and the water becomes clear. At this point the river is perhaps from 200 to 250 yards wide; the banks on either side are bordered with tall flax; above these rise cabbage trees of many branches, in flower, emitting a heavy but agreeable scent. These are alternated by manuka trees; and rising above all is a vast forest of kahikatea, from which the parson bird pours forth his note at intervals, while flights of river birds—teal, duck, water-fowls and shag - take fright, tempting the sportsman. The Superintendent however has forbidden firearms - the sound, the smoke, or the very sight of a gun may alarm the Maori and so defeat the object this visit to the district.

There is not an inch of ground which could be observed from the platform of the steamer that is not covered with the most luxuriant indigenous vegetation and as the river narrows it becomes denser. Such is the scenery the whole way up to Ohinemuri.  Major Heaphy takes full and accurate sketches of the course of the river, which has never been done before.

The Superintendent has determined to stop at Thorpe's and has sent on the announcement of the arrival of a steamer. Before the steamer touches the land in front of Mr Thorpe's, one or two Maori horsemen are observed galloping along the track by the river.

                     Pulling the wires.

2 – 3pm
When the steamer hauls alongside the paddock where some men are shearing sheep, there stands a tall Maori with a peculiar scowl named Ngakuku, a Ngati Maru chief. His bony horse, tied to a tree, is grazing at his feet, and the bridle is round the man's arm. The Superintendent, Te Moananui, Chief Paul, Ropata and Mr White, the interpreter, jump ashore to greet him. He shakes hands with them “at arm’s length”, which is a sign of uncertainty and suspicion.

The Superintendent intends to stay at Thorpe's until his wish to proceed to Ohinemuri is notified to the chiefs. Ngakuku says “Well, you have come up this length with the steamer against our wishes, and in violation of our rule, you may as well go the whole length up the Ohinemuri.”

The lashings are at once cast off, Mr Thorpe’s offer to stay is declined and the steamer goes on. Ngakuku mounts his horse and rides off and several Maori on horseback can be seen galloping along the tracks amongst the cabbage trees to convey the news to the settlements around.

Within half an hour the Gemini is in the centre of the Hauhau district. The Maori villages can be seen scattered throughout the area, through a glass, most of them distinguished by the well known pai marire pole, which is now without use, although not long ago the centre of frantic dances and demoniacal absurdity.

Pai Marire  pole
(This scene depicts a karakia held by the Te Hau fanatics at Tataroa, New Zealand, to determine the fate of their prisoners. Jan 27th, 1865.)
 Ref: B-139-014. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22664963
[Meade, Herbert (Lieutenant)], 1842-1868 

When the steamer reaches the Ohinemuri Creek her arrival is announced by some canoes, which are on the watch at the entrance. A large number of Maori men and women are on the banks waving white handkerchiefs in welcome. The steamer is the greatest curiosity - women and men come on board and put their faces down the hatches. While the Gemini is at anchor, laying in two fathoms of calm water, a shell thrown into it is visible until it reaches the bottom.

Several chiefs come down to see Superintendent Williamson, among them old Taraia, who compliments the Superintendent on his bravery in coming up the Thames. A reporter quietly observes “The poor old cannibal is, I understand, in his dotage, his mental energy having decayed with his teeth but he is still stout of limb.” Taraia tells the Superintendent that he has no objection to opening up the country if he can see the utu, a Maori concept of reciprocation or balance. 

Messengers return from the various settlements saying that the chiefs will meet the Superintendent the next morning at 10 o'clock.

When asked where Te Hira is a reporter is told he had to go over to the East Coast and he has been gone four days.  Another Maori says Te Hira went away this morning.  The reporter believes Te Hira is close at hand and though he never shows himself, he is busy “pulling the wires.” Two or three of the party who venture to walk into the bush are 'dogged' and watched.

The Maoris kill a pig and there is lavish distribution of potatoes.  Two tents are pitched on shore where the Superintendent's party lodges for the night. The Superintendent remains on board the steamer.  The Maoris have put down clean mats in their best whare and invite any who chose to occupy it. The night threatens to be wet and a couple of reporters head to the whare. Several Maori are seriously intent upon a game of draughts with one of the members of the  Auckland Provincial Council.  There are just fourteen people in the whare but the reporters, rolled up in blankets and trying to sleep, are driven out by the very vocal Maori men and women on either side of them.   They retreat to their tents for the night.

At Shortland, despite the news that more ground will soon be opened up, a group of individuals are secretly  holding a private meeting where they pass a resolution to form a committee to prospect Maori land to the south as far as Hikutaia.   A party, consisting of ten men, including an interpreter and a guide, are organised to start in the morning.

DSC 30 October, 1867

Assisted by no-one, interfering with nothing. 

Thursday, 31 October
8 - 9am
Commissioner Mackay moves fast.   He heard a rumour last night that a prospecting party is being organised to proceed up the river.  He instructs the police to inquire into the matter and learns that Alfred Edmonds, of Auckland, has received a letter from a Maori chief, inviting him to go prospecting with a limited number of men.  By 9am Mr Mackay has taken measures to prevent this party going and has notices posted up in the most conspicuous parts of the township.

 “A large area of country to the north of the present block, and some land to the south eastward thereof has been successfully negotiated for with the natives and will soon be thrown open in the course of a few days – as soon as some cultivation and burial ground reserves can be marked off and notices posted.  In the meanwhile all well disposed miners are most earnestly requested to keep within the boundaries of the lands at present open.  All persons found mining on native lands beyond the boundaries, or not being able to satisfactorily account for their presence there will be arrested.”
Goldfields Office, Shortland 31st October, 1867                                  James Mackay, Jun,
                                                                                                                Civil Commissioner

“As the services of about twenty five (25) persons to act as special constables will probably be required within a few days from this time – persons willing to act in that capacity when called on, are requested to send their names into this office.  Rate of pay:- Six (6) shillings per diem, from the day of swearing in until discharged.  Men who have served in the Waikato Militia will have preference."
James Mackay, Jun
Civil Commissioner for the
Colony of New Zealand
Goldfields Office, Shortland 31st October, 1867
N.B.  Claims of persons serving will be protected.

Alfred Edmonds has indeed received a letter from several chiefs and owners of land unopened as a goldfield.   It invited him to cross the Kauaeranga River and prospect as far as Hikutaia.  He received it on Tuesday and it requested him to organise a party of experienced diggers to prospect on their land south of Shortland Town, estimated at about 15,000 acres.

The party he organised last night now comes to his tent to tell him the place is in an uproar and he is wanted in town. He goes, and to his surprise, sees posted up in conspicuous places, the notices.  He asks about but can get no satisfactory answer to the question of what he is wanted for.

After receiving the letter Alfred spent few days in going over the land, and has in his possession some specimens from the area which he thinks may yield 25 ounces to the ton.  He has no doubt of the area turning out well if properly managed. The conditions of the letter stated that the party should consist of ten, and not go beyond the boundary mentioned in the letter, and be accompanied by a Maori guide, who was to be paid, and also an interpreter; and when gold was found in payable quantities, the interpreter should tell the chiefs, and they would communicate with Mr Mackay and have the land opened as a public goldfield.

The party was to return to town as soon as they found gold, but were not to dig until the land was properly opened. The prospectors had the privilege of choosing a claim wherever they thought fit, with the consent of the Maori. No one was to prospect on their lands without a pass or consent - anyone doing so would be taken prisoner and sent back to town. With the letter Alfred received fifteen passes.

 All pigs on the land were to be taken care of, with the exception of those for immediate use. They were to sell none nor waste any. The principal objection to the land being opened was that the Maori cultivations would be destroyed, both as regards their value to themselves and also in selling them, if over-run by diggers at the present time.

They would be assisted by no one, and were not interfering with any arrangement Mr Mackay had made or was going to make.  The meeting last night was held in Mr Leary's tent.  Each man subscribed a small amount to assist the guide, interpreter and in travelling expenses and an agreement was drawn up, by Mr Leary, binding them not to violate any of the terms. Ten tickets were distributed, and the meeting dispersed.

Alfred hears later today that the notices posted up are for the purpose of preventing his party going, and to take them prisoner if they should go; but as none of the authorities say anything to him about it, he takes no further notice of the matter.

At 5am the bell had sounded for Hauhau prayers waking the Gemini party.  Now two hundred and fifty Maori assemble to meet them.  It is rumoured that Te Hira is coming down but he is not seen.  This korero lasts until 1pm.   The Superintendent makes a long speech as to the reason for his visit.    A second korero takes up the whole of the afternoon.  The Superintendent says they have until the next day to think over the matter.  He adds that he has been informed that some Maori living up river wish to go in the steamer and if they come on board they will be taken up.  On hearing this there is a rush on board the steamer, but the chiefs of the King party sit still.  Aperahama says “We will not go, why should we indulge in child’s play while we have this matter to discuss.”

About 150 men, women and children are on the steamer, all talking and joking and laughing.  As the Gemini moves off, a Maori calls from the bank “there you are, all going off in the steamer to the Chatham Islands", a reference to the banishment of rebel Hau Hau Maori to those islands  by the government in 1865. 

The Gemini goes a few miles upstream, Ropata is put ashore at his place, which is nearly opposite the house of Te Hira.

At the Thames the Midge leaves for Auckland full of passengers.  Mr Levy, of the Criterion Hotel,  Auckland, is on board taking with him 56oz of gold from a sluicing claim at the mouth of the Kuranui, 36oz of which were procured with a mortar and pestle and then washed in a tin dish.    
 Rob Roy for the Thames with 4 hhhds beer, 1 qr cask brandy, 2,000 ft timber, 300 palings, 16 packages oilmen’s stores, 4 dozen drapery, 1 cow.
 Severn for the Thames with 16 barrels ale, 15 casks port wine, 1 piano, 4 casks ale, 4 tons sundries, 25 lbs powder. 
  Spey for the Thames with 5 passengers, in ballast.     
    Orpheus from Whangapoua to the Thames with timber, then loading with firewood for Auckland.  

 At Tauranga the Sovereign of the Seas is taking on passengers for the Thames diggings.       
An addition is being made to the Thames river boats.  The Maori Chief is intended to run to Shortland Town as a tender for the Tauranga and Midge, the length and draught of these boats making it difficult to land passengers from them.  The Maori Chief will be a great addition to the trading facilities on the Thames as should the upper districts be opened, she can steam 70 miles up that river without any hindrance.

Tonight at Ohinemuri the Superientendent receives a letter from Te Hira, expressing his determination to keep the country closed against the gold prospectors.

Alfred Edmonds leaves the Thames tonight.  He tells a reporter that Ngatoru of the Ngati Paoa had written to him but the reporter cannot deduce if he had any authority from the other chiefs to write this letter. 

Hau Hau flag

A determined refusal.

Friday, 1 November
The Maori are up early and from their expressions a refusal to open the Upper Thames is expected.  A King flag, 8 or 10 yards long, embroidered with stars and a cross, is stuck up and the principal Maori sit around it.    Around 9am the Superintendent comes ashore. Although he has been met with a courteous reception, his request to open the Upper Thames for gold mining is met with a determined refusal. Te Hira refuses to come and see him. The expedition has failed.

A final korero occupies the whole forenoon but it is useless to prolong the talking any longer.  The Superintendent and party board the steamer.  The whole of the Maori people assemble on the banks to farewell the Pakeha’s and the compliment is acknowledged by three hearty cheers by those on board.  On the return down the river the steamer calls at Thorpe’s where they are shown over a vineyard and magnificent orchard, where orange trees are fragrantly blossoming.

The schooner Mapere takes a cargo of cattle to the Thames and will continue as a regular trader to the goldfields.

 Messrs J Suliivan and J Ellis, enterprising Auckland men, make arrangements that will enable them to erect a powerful crushing machine at the Thames within the space of three weeks.  The machine is estimated capable of crushing from 70 to 100 tons of quartz daily.  It is to be erected at the back of the township in near proximity to a number of payable claims.

About five miles above Kopu, it now being low water, the Gemini grounds on a sandbank and is detained for five hours waiting for the tide.  Around 9pm they reach Kopu where the party will stay at the flax mill.

Theophilus Cooper, and his son of the same name - a copy boy for the Daily Southern Cross,  have arrived at the Thames aboard the Enterprise  to take a look at the diggings.  Theophilius senior will keep a diary of his experiences.  It is dark so they decide to stay on board for the night.  After strolling about the deck a couple of hours while the vessel is cleared, they turn into a bunk in the fore-cabin.

NZH 1 November, 1867

Saturday, 2 November
Theophilus and his son, on board the Enterprise, rise after a bizarre night of broken sleep. Having just nodded off at 12.30 they were rudely awakened by Mr Holmes, owner of the Enterprise who also acts as purser, and told to get out. They stubbornly stayed sitting in the cabin however as they could get no lodgings and after an hour are allowed to get back in the bunk, but only if they “behaved themselves."  After this confusing welcome to the Thames they get their luggage on to the beach and with some new friends they have made, search for a spot to pitch their tent. The flat, which had until now been covered with tents, is empty following an abrupt order that all tents and whares were to be immediately moved to higher ground near the ranges. They pitch their tent on rising ground which commands a beautiful view of the district, the various whares, tents and wooden huts giving it a very picturesque appearance. Theophilus and friends are occupied all day arranging their household effects, building a fire place and looking around the town.

By now there are some 50 houses at Shortland Town, with many more going up. 
The township has made astonishing progress in the short time it has been opened. There are comfortable hotels and eating houses, stores, bakeries, butchers, barbers, billiard and bowling rooms.  Men are hard at work shingling, building and otherwise employed. The loafer, though, is prolific and daily assembled around Butt’s Shortland Hotel. Dozens of men who have no means, no fixed principle or energy, loaf around for a day or two then return to Auckland and describe the place in the worst of terms. 

An extremely muddy road of about two miles though groves of peach and other fruit trees leads to Tookey’s Flat. Many of the fruit trees have by now been ruthlessly and wantonly destroyed. At the flat they are hoping there will soon be a store – it will save the diggers the trouble of having to “hump” all their provisions from Shortland Town. A short distance beyond the flat, Mr Fraser is erecting his steam crushing machine.

The diggers generally are in good spirits. The only great drawback is the want of proper and adequate machinery. The Berdan’s are continually getting hindered by the plates for the spring stamper frequently breaking, owing to the bad nature of the casting.

The Thames is still hoped to be the silver lining to the leaden cloud which has for so long hung over the Auckland province.

Yet private letters tell a different story.  A gentleman, resident of Christchurch for many years, who owns considerable property in the northern part of the province, writes “the Thames digging is quivering in the balance.  It is pretty well ascertained that on the land already opened there is no alluvial diggings, at all events under 150 ft, and the quartz reefing will not employ all that are there now.  Over 3,000 people are congregated upon an uninviting looking block of land, where a year ago a white man could only be met with at a rate of one in 10 miles,  Some quartz reefs are yielding a good return, but of course the rich reefs are in the hands of a few.  Not a tenth part of the people are profitably employed, and starvation, the result of restless idleness, stares them in the face.”

Commissioner  Mackay and a select party of ladies and gentlemen proceed about two miles up the Kauaeranga river to Parawai to pay the Maori the first installment for the use and occupation of their land.  £1,708 in sovereigns is taken of which £708 is paid.  A portion of the balance is to be paid to the Maori at Manaia, and the rest retained by the Commissioner, pending some adjustment about transferred licenses.
The Gemini returns to the Thames and then goes on to Matariki to return Te Moananui, and from there steams back to Auckland. 

The Caledonian claim gets out some very fine quartz with gold throughout.  This claim is immediately opposite Tookey’s claim. The All Nations claim, so named because the shareholders come from  Germany, Holland, Sweden, Ireland and New Zealand,  is producing  specimens equal to any yet yielded.

 The ss Claud Hamilton leaves for Sydney with mails and passengers.  She also takes 1169oz of gold, the product of the Thames goldfield.

Otahuhu for the Thames with 5,800ft timber and one cask lemonade.

NZH 2 November, 1867

Tents on the pinnacles of mountains.

Sunday, 3 November 
Theophilus archly observes there is very little respect paid to the sanctity of the Sabbath at Shortland Town, at least among the store-keepers and hotel-keepers. The stores are almost all open; hotels have their doors closed but not fastened and a roaring trade is being carried on inside.

A sermon is preached by William Rowe, Member of the Auckland Provincial Council, and a strong Wesleyan,  in the open space opposite Butt's Hotel.  Father Nivard officiates at a Catholic service  in a building behind Mulligan's Hotel.

Close to Tookey’s claim a Primitive Methodist service is held.

 Mr Rowe again preaches, this time  in the Courthouse which is still  a filthy old whare, still doubling as courthouse, police-station, prison, and headquarters of Commissioner Mackay.

Monday, 4 November
The Gemini arrives back at Auckland with Superintendent Williamson, who after an absence of three weeks, failed to open the Upper Thames.  He fared no better than David Graham.   

The Superintendent  is praised for his most admirable patience and perseverance as is John White, interpreter, who discharged his difficult duties with skill and care.  Chief Paul of Orakei, is also commended for the way he did his utmost to further the object of the expedition. 

But a private opinion is held that Superintendent Williamson made a mistake in taking Chief Paul with him on his mission; that Paul is not considered by the Maori generally to be a rangatira of the first magnitude; they look upon him as a tool of the Provincial Government, and that Paul's tribe and the Thames people were formerly on very bad terms with each other.  John White, the interpreter, is also in disfavour with the Upper Maori.

Superintendent Williamson and David Graham used precisely the same line of argument with the Upper Thames Maori to induce them to open up the Ohinemuri for gold mining, with the difference that the parade and ostentation of the Superintendent was too loud and, possibly, that David Graham was too demure.

David Graham was treated very differently to the Superintendent.  Graham advised the Maori to receive  the Superintendent in such a way that would mark their respect for his high position and also to listen to him. The Superintendent  repaid David Graham for his kindness by forwarding Maori couriers from Kauaeranga to travel night and day with dispatches to turn back the party.

The result is deeply regretted but there is still hope that the Upper Thames will be quietly opened.

Theophilus and his friends are off early prospecting away down gullies, over hills and mountains, scrambling through supple jack and bush lawyer – he thinks going over Mount Eden is child’s play compared to it.  They find every nook and corner occupied in every direction.  The faces of the mountains are scarred every few yards with holes, shafts and tunnels.

Men stand upon brinks of precipices sending great boulders rolling, tumbling and rumbling with the sound of thunder into the depths.  Tons of rock are heaved over and sent crashing down the mountain side into the abyss below. Monstrous trees are being sawn up or chopped down. Tents are pitched at all elevations on the pinnacles of mountains.  Theophilus marvels at the labour expended in getting them up such giddy heights.   Whares are built many hundreds of feet up the mountain, in which the diggers live the week through, coming down on Saturdays to get supplies of food. He is struck at the amount of cheerfulness and hope exhibited by the men. Some though are despondent and others are grimly patient; others have had long cherished hopes dashed to the ground.  A few are finding unmistakable fortunes.

At the Shotover claim a weatherboard house has been built with a kitchen and cook house attached, overseen by an elderly female cook.

 Rangatira for the Thames with 3 ½ tons flour, 2,000 ft timber, 1 case ale.
  Severn for the Thames with 6 tons flour, 5 tons stores, 6 bags sugar, 4 tons sundries. 
Forth for the Thames with timber.

Mr Hayes, of No 2 claim, discovers a rich new leader; about 2ft wide including casing and in the space of about an hour over 1 ½ cwt quartz is taken out for crushing.  The casing also is richly charged with the precious metal.

A Warden’s Court case of interest is that of  Tuelle v Scanlan – the plaintiff sought to recover possession of a full share in a claim on the Kuranui Creek.  Plaintiff had his collarbone broken on the night of the rush to what has since been called Collar Bone Reef.  He then had to go to hospital and on his return found his share sold.  The evidence disclosed the fact that at the time the share was sold the plaintiff was not the holder of a miner’s right.  This put the plaintiff out of court at once, and lost him his share and his case.

The NZ Herald publishes a grim editorial stating that the diggers who have gone to the Thames are, as a rule, men of very small means indeed.  They went there with the feeling that they were playing their last card, staking their chance in the Thames gold hills.  Consequently there is a curious state of things -  poor men with quartz full of gold, unable for want of machinery to separate the gold from the stone.

Again there is  a period of dullness of trade in Auckland.  The scarcity of gold, the scarcity of labour for workers is sending, and has for some time been sending, traders through the bankruptcy court.  Property has greatly depreciated in value and the scarcity of money, of which there is a vast quantity in the shape of gold in the Thames reefs, is the cause of all this depression, loss and ruin.

Alfred Edmonds this evening takes a letter into the Cross office in Auckland for publication, explaining the facts of his attempt to prospect as far as Hikutaia at the invitation of the Maoris.  A few minutes after leaving the office he is promptly arrested by Detective O’Hara.  A warrant for his arrest had been issued by the Resident Magistrate at Shortland on the charge of obtaining the sum of 12s by false pretenses from one John Williams, the warrant being sent up by steamer from the Thames. The charge against Edmonds is founded on his receiving subscriptions from the prospectors to pay expenses.  The hour is late so there is no possibility of bail and Alfred remains in custody all night, to be sent down to the Thames by the Midge in the morning.

NZH 4 November, 1867

Turn your attention from the Upper Thames.

Tuesday, 5 November
This morning Mr Mackay, Mr Sandes, surveyor, Walter Williamson, and party of prospectors leave the Thames in Mr Mackay’s cutter Emma, which is initially towed by the Enterprise into deep water.   They are going to Manaia Harbour near Coromandel to run the boundaries and mark the tapus of the land.  At the last moment of departure Mr Mulligan comes on board and requests that he should be taken. Mr Mackay agrees, and waits for him after the cutter is cast off from the steamer.  Mr Mackay takes the tiller and with three hearty cheers for Mr Holmes of the Enterprise, they make their way for the boundary of the old ground where the surveyors landed.   Several diggers set out on foot intending to walk down the coast.   Walter Williamson lands at the Puru preferring this district to Manaia.  Hamilton and party are landed at the Mata creek.  Three of Dr Pollen’s original prospecting party, with Major Von Tempsky and others, remain on board and continue on to Manaia. This district will be immediately proclaimed and steps at once taken to test its capacities as a goldfield. There is a pretty wide and apparently well founded belief that the locality will be productive in gold. News from the party is anxiously expected by the diggers. Closer to the Thames there has already been an advance party of seven working on the Puru Creek – it looks a very likely spot.

Alfred Edmonds is brought back to the Thames for trial this morning in the custody of Detective O’Hara. His letter of explanation regarding prospecting is published in the Cross along with a translation of the invitation to prospect from the Maoris.

The Cross is annoyed following the arrest of Alfred after leaving their office last night -  "the Government party, on the whole, made indifferent progress, and managed, in our opinion, to do far more mischief than they can easily undo. But it would appear that the Government, through their officers, although unable to open the country to the diggers, will not permit anyone else to do so. Even the natives must not make arrangements with Europeans whom they know, and in whom they have confidence, to prospect their own land. If they attempt to do this, the Civil Commissioner interferes and puts a stop to it.”

The miners are encouraged to turn their attention, for the present, away from the Upper Thames country. The new land opened to Cape Colville and over to the east coast contains large tracts over which no man has ever trod, and if there is no alluvial ground,  there may be hundreds of reefs equal to that even at the Kuranui Creek.  Around Buffalo Bay and Tairua River there must be extensive plains, if the maps of the Thames lately published are at all reliable.

One thing is very certain - there is a vast tract of country open to the miner, and this country, so far as it has been traversed, is of the same formation as that about the Thames, where the rich quartz veins have been found.

It is difficult to imagine what the next step will be as to the opening of the Thames district, after the flat refusal which Superintendent Williamson got on Friday. As long as there exists a belief that in the Upper Thames there are deposits of alluvial gold, or that auriferous quartz reefs are in the hills, there will be attempts to get there.

The opening of the country as far north as Coromandel,
and as far south as Hikutaia, may absorb a number of those who are waiting in Shortland Town for a larger extent of ground to be opened to prospectors, but there is a good deal of talk about "rushing" the Upper Thames.

Extreme east of Cape Colville by Nicholas Chevalier.
Te Papa (1912-0044-271)

 Willie Winkie to the Thames with 6 tons machinery, 1,000 ft timber, 3 tons coal.

The Wellington Independent  notes "There are several thousand people - diggers and others – assembled in the Lower Thames district, and their numbers are being every day augmented.  The field is small and the labours are many, so it is no wonder that the latter wish to extend their investigations to the fresh districts further up the river.  The natives want the diggers to stay where they are and object in the strongest manner to any inroad in their country; while the diggers are eager to start prospecting and can scarcely be restrained.”

Theophilius Cooper and party are prospecting on the Collarbone mountain.  They find it a frightful mountain to ascend, some parts being almost perpendicular - enough to break the hearts of the men who toil upon it.  Once up they dig a hole and in the course of a few hours come to some likely looking stuff.  But they think they couldn’t possibly stand the wear and tear of a daily ascent of such a dreadful place, and even though a man offers to carry their tent up for £1, they doubt they could ever get their tent up so high in the clouds. 

DSC 5 November, 1867

NZH 5 November, 1867

Otago Daily Times 5 November, 1867

 Alfred Edmonds was probably Alfred Samuel Strickland Edmonds, a gumdigger and trader,  born December 7, 1833, Hobart, Tasmania, on the Edmond's family's journey to NZ.   Died 1898, aged 64, at Tairua.  He had a brother named Reuben, born Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, 1836, intriguingly known as 'The Rover.'  

Many men quietly prospected on unopened land  with the unofficial consent of Maori.  Alfred, known to the Ngati Paoa, was likely one of them. 

There is slight confusion with Theophilus’ diary initially muddling the days and dates – he says November 2 was Sunday, when it was actually Saturday.

You can read the full diary of Theophilus Cooper here  -

Papers Past
Nick Tūpara, 'Tūranganui-a-Kiwa tribes - Contacts and conflicts', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 17 June 2017)
Thames Miner -  David Arbury

© 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.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

23 to 29 October, 1867

The thump and roll of machines.

Tracks through hills  of the Thames with miners tents visible.
Sir George Grey Special Collections 4-RIC 318

Wednesday, 23 October
The Gemini leaves with Commissioner  Mackay and Te Moananui for Matariki, Manaia, where there is to be a large meeting of Maori regarding opening up more of Coromandel for gold mining.   Mr Mackay has alluded to this in recent speeches but an earlier planned meeting could not take place as all Te Moananui’s people could not be assembled and with Moananui coming to the Thames the korero was postponed.

Superintendent Williamson has been living at the house of Mr Eyre, the government surveyor, at the Thames.  All the party have been more or less attacked with diahorrea.  Major Heaphy has been ill with dysentery.

The leader in the Shotover reef has run out but in exchange they have found one of even greater richness.  This new run of reef is opened this morning.

Mr Mackay instructs the government surveyor to reserve the ground between the Moanataiari creek and the point towards Kuranui for the erection of machinery.  Mr Goodall has selected a position on the ground and will have his plant here this week.  Mr Fraser’s machinery is on the Kuranui and when Hamilton and party have agreed to permit a tramway to be constructed over their claim to enable the parties working beyond to convey their quartz to the engine, it will be in operation.  The claims now worked will give employment to 30.  The Berdan’s and dolly crushers are in operation.

There is also a Berdan worked in the yard behind the Shortland Hotel.  The men bring their quartz in small quantities to be tested and from day break until dark there is a continual thump, thump and rolling of the machine.

There are around 1,000 men prospecting and looking for work. Many now have their families at the Thames.   Blacksmiths, carpenters and shoemakers are doing well.  There is a class of men trying their chances who are unfit to work on the ranges, many of whom were they to strike a leader, would not know how to follow it.

The Tauranga arrives at the Thames but she brings no Auckland papers.  The supposition is that all the newspaper compositors have taken themselves off to the diggings.

A private letter is sent from Shortland Town noting “the Tauranga steams to Auckland with 270 oz gold from Barry’s reef.  This is six men’s labour for two weeks, working eight hours per day.  If machinery was on the ground you would soon see the result.”

Clarissa Anne for the Thames with 400 cwt flour, one box sundries.
Susan for the Thames with  a cargo of bricks and lime and other building materials.
 Catherine for the Thames with bricks and timber.  

The ss Claud Hamilton
Victorian Collections 62-09e-054a claudham.tif

 The arrival of the ss Claud Hamilton is anxiously looked for as she is bringing a return on the value of the Thames gold from the Sydney mint.

Things are dull at Wangarei (Whangarei) where work is scarce, no is money stirring and business is very low.  It is hoped the Thames diggings will improve matters - a great many have left for there already.

Scene near Whangarei 1867

William Eastwood sketch,  Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A16880

DSC 23 October, 1867

Thursday, 24 October
Superintendent Williamson  is still at the Thames.  The Gemini has not returned from Manaia.

The Maori at the Kauaeranga settlement are busy at their cultivation's and ploughs are hard at work.  The Cross correspondent fills in time looking around and in discussion with an old Maori woman concludes there is a disinclination to give up more land for gold working.  She says that a mountain a few miles to the south of the present goldfield boundary is hers.  “Is there any gold there?” asks the correspondent.  “None at all,” she replies “I have already given plenty of land up to be dug for gold.”

DSC 24 October, 1867

Existing on hope.

Of the men attracted to the Thames in the hope of bettering themselves many have gone taking all the ready money they can raise, some of their savings if they have any, others by selling household effects or any articles that they can best afford to do without. A great number have left wives and children in Auckland, and a considerable proportion of these families are being maintained in their absence by credit at the bakers and retailers who supply them in the hope of “luck turning up at the diggings”, when they make certain of being repaid.

Unless very rich surface diggings are discovered at the Thames, it is thought the majority of men will be disappointed and the Auckland traders will be unpaid. If the goldfield had attracted men with money, the result would have been different, but it has simply diverted surplus capital labour to an enterprise which has yielded no equivalent result.

A storekeeper at the Thames says he does not think any of his class is making more than tucker, but is existing, like most of the diggers, on hope. It is distressing to see loafers who stand about on corners, waiting for rushes.

Richard Matthews is at the Thames staying with two experienced Australian diggers in their camp about three quarters of a mile from the back of the township. Their tent is close to the banks of a fresh water stream. He believes that to get a true feel for the progress of the diggings the best way is to join a working party and remain with them, which he is doing. He visits almost every claim and after a minute investigation comes to the conclusion that there is not a payable goldfield at the Thames. There are only four to six good claims being worked. He is doubtful that a ‘reef’ in the full meaning of the term has actually been discovered.

As for alluvial gold, there is none. It is remarkable that anyone could have suspected its existence in the Karaka Flat, looking at the surrounding aspect of the country. Matthews thinks such a person must possess a very strong imagination and very little common sense, to say nothing of a total want of geological knowledge.

Every portion of the ranges has been well examined by the diggers. You can scarcely go over 50 feet without finding the surface scratched, in some cases to a considerable depth. An immense amount of labour must have been expended. In the most unlikely places, near the summit of peaks double the height of Mount Eden, there are drives piercing the solid rock for several yards. Down the sides of the gullies and along the margin of the streams it is evident that days and even weeks of persevering labour has been applied by the indefatigable miners before they gave up.

There are no gold agency offices in Shortland Town. The precious metal is not exhibited in any of the shop windows. It doesn’t seem to be a goldfields town at all.  It is a busy little town for the transaction of ordinary business. The public houses are usually thronged —in fact, it is a common saying that they are the only payable reefs in the district. The grocery stores are doing pretty well but they are in the habit of giving large credit to persons who assume to possess a ‘payable reef’ and who have a specimen or two to show — a very dangerous practice.

Land speculators, however, have done well. Business sites have exchanged hands at a most enormous profit. There is a good deal of ‘gambling’ going on in the way of purchasing and selling shares in assumed gold bearing quartz reefs. Many have made nice little sums by this practice, others have lost by it.

Richard Matthews observes that there are now nearly 3,000 Europeans at the Thames. The way things are there is not permanent employment for more than 600 miners. Unless more country is thrown open, or something extraordinary happens he thinks a dreadful state of things will ensue in this overcrowded small district. Hundreds of hardworking men are unable, after the most determined labour, either to find a payable reef, or to get employed as labourers. Many would return to Auckland if they could raise the five shillings to do so.

A further rush must be discouraged. A fearful responsibility may yet rest upon those who have been instrumental in causing large bodies of men to break up their homes and leave their occupations in Auckland, by the publication, either privately or in print, of grossly exaggerated and over coloured pictures of what can be done at the gold diggings. Men must live and Matthews would not be surprised to hear in future of cases of ‘sticking up’ and other violence being perpetrated at the Thames.

Rob Roy for the Thames with 2 tons flour, 4 hhds beer, 6 cases ale, 2 garden hoes, 5 cases wine and spirits, 10 gallons spirits, 4 cases brandy, 4 cases biscuit, 2 boxes candles, 3 horses, 3 drays, 2 passengers.

Queen Victoria in 1867

Three cheers for Queen Victoria.

Friday, 25 October
The Gemini arrives back from Manaia but without Mr Mackay or Te Moananui.  Moananui’s people are busy at their cultivations and the korero with respect to opening up the Coromandel country could not take place.  There is speculation at Shortland Town as to whether the Superintendent will persist with seeing Te Hira to open up the Upper Thames. Ropata is a chief of considerable authority and he has sent his boat to announce to his people the coming of Superintendent Williamson into their neighbourhood.  The Superintendent  wants to bring a large amount of Maori influence to bear as possible.

Doady to the Thames with 6,000 ft timber, 10,000 shingles, 2 doors, 2 windlasses, 3 casks beer.

The Tauranga, returning from the Thames tonight, passes a large raft of timber adrift in the harbour.

NZH 25 October, 1867

Saturday, 26 October
There is marked growth in Shortland Town.  A fortnight ago there were not 20 wooden structures – now there are upwards of 50.  An iron structure of considerable dimensions has been erected; it will be known as the British and used as a music hall.  It will be kept by Mr Boulter.   

The Reverend Mr Hill arrives at the Thames this morning.  There is public worship held in the township every Sunday by various denominations.

The Gemini is running short of coals and Captain Casey goes back up to Auckland to organise a fresh supply, which will come down on the Enterprise on Monday.  Captain Eyre takes over the Gemini.

There are rumours that the Enterprise will discontinue running to the Thames, and will be engaged in conveying the passengers for the Midge and Tauranga up the river, the Enterprise being the only steamer at present capable of entering the Kauaeranga River.  Messrs Holmes Bros state that no such arrangement has been made, and the Enterprise will continue to convey passengers to the Thames from Auckland.

Severn to the Thames with 8,000ft timber, 6 tons oilmen’s stores, 6 passengers, 12lbs blasting powder.
  Willie Winkie to the Thames with 3 tons coals. 1 ½ tons flour, 5 bags sugar, 8 boxes tea, 1 bag maize, 2 dozen rum, 1 load timber, ½ ton potatoes, 29 axes, 5 boxes, 1 package.

During the past week there has not been so large a rush to the Thames as that which preceded it.  The surplus population of Auckland had been pretty well cleared out.  

As the Enterprise leaves the Thames for Auckland it passes the cutters Diamond, Alarm, Kate, Harriet, Emma, Sydney and Pearl all lying at Kauaeranga.

The Gemini leaves the Kauaeranga.  Precisely at 5pm she enters the Thames (Waihou) river.  Captain James Cook first sighted New Zealand in October and today significantly is the birthday of the great navigator*.  Superintendent Williamson  proposes that, on this great occasion of the first steamer entering the Thames river,  three cheers should be given for Queen Victoria.   Cheers are then given for Ropata and the Maori inhabitants of the river.  They steam past the site of the famous Totara Pa, where people of the district were slaughtered by the dreaded Hongi Hika in 1821. The Europeans on board the Gemini think this would be a splendid river were it not for the shallowness of water at the entrance, which makes it impossible for larger vessels to enter.   They soon arrive at their destination, Kopu, where at the old flax mill they disembark and are kindly received by Mr McGregor.

The Gemini is to return to Manaia to collect Mr Mackay. 

Captain James Cook

Shortly after midnight
The Tauranga arrives at Auckland with 600 oz retorted gold from the Shotover claim.  It has been laboriously separated by only a hand stamp and small Berdan.  Mr Kelly, whose reef has been hitherto unknown to fame, brings up 99 oz of gold by the Enterprise.  The weather of the past fortnight has been anything but favourable for mining pursuits otherwise a much larger amount would have been sent up for export.  There will however be fully 1,000 ozs, which, considering the poor facilities the miners at present possess, is most satisfactory. The gold will be shipped to Sydney by the mail steamer at the start of next month.

In their tent on the Karaka Flat a digger named Gilmore is having a hard time with his mate, Thomas Munro.  Thomas is a boatman employed by the shipping department of the Daily Southern Cross.   Gilmore has been concerned about Thomas – since he came to Shortland Town he has been complaining of pain in his chest and tonight his mind seems to be wandering. Thomas is not a steady man but has not had a drink since Monday.   Thomas has some medicine which his mate fetches for him.  Thomas gives Gilmore his miner’s right, saying he will be searched the next day.  Gilmore asks why and Thomas mysteriously  replies he will find out.

Salts, senna  and a little camphor. 

Sunday, 27 October
On the Karaka Flat Gilmore is boiling the billy outside his tent when Thomas Munro comes out and tells him he is just going to the rear of the tent. Gilmore asks why, as breakfast is ready.  Thomas is gone about 15 to 20 minutes when Gilmore becomes concerned and asks another mate, Richard Clifton, to go and look for him.   Clifton finds Thomas drowned in a small creek about 200 yards from the tent and rushes back to tell Gilmore.  Constable Wallace and Dr Clarence Hooper are sent for. 

There are some hundreds of tons of stone lying on the claims waiting for machinery.  A spur bordering on Tararu Point is new ground – several claims have been pegged off there, giving employment to some of the more recent arrivals.  A portion of Mr Goodall’s machinery has arrived from Coromandel by the cutter Wanderer and will be landed on the beach close to Moanataiari Creek.

This being Sunday the Post Office is closed.  Several men grumble having come from a distance to get their letters.  It would be a great boon to those working on the ranges if the Post Office were opened for one hour at noon on Sunday’s, so as not to interfere with Divine Service.

A reporter from the Gemini party at Kopu goes up to the Kirikiri settlement which is situated in a beautiful valley, the greater part of which is under cultivation.  A good area of land has been recently ploughed.  There is a dairy with an array of pitchers.  Elsewhere he sees miles of fertile land covered with tall manuka and flax, looking dreary.   The Provincial Government have purchased and half purchased considerable blocks of land on this river and he thinks if our settlers could cultivate in confidence, there would surely be a rush to the valley of the Thames.  About 35 acres at Kopu belong to Mr Whitaker, the best situation for a township about the entrance to the river.    When the river is opened there can be no doubt that it will prove a most valuable property as it is the best landing place in the lower part of the river and is conveniently situated.

NZH 28 October, 1867

Monday, 28 October
An inquest on Thomas Munro is held at Shortland Hotel.  After much conflicting evidence is given by his mates as to his character and habits, the jury proceeds to the creek where the body was found.  Dr Hooper says he thinks the medicine Thomas was taking was salts and senna with a little camphor in it.  The jury reaches a verdict of found drowned.

The Sea Belle, heading for the Thames with four horses and several passengers from Tauranga, has to take shelter at Mercury Bay.

Mapere for the Thames with 20 head of cattle, shipped at the Custom-house Street wharf.
 Alarm for the Thames with produce and cattle.
Catherine, Cornstalk and Sydney for the Thames.

Tuesday, 29 October
The Tauranga returns to Auckland with the body of Thomas Munro.  All the ships in harbour hoist their flags half mast out of respect to the deceased, who has been connected with the shipping reporter’s department of the Daily Southern Cross for many years. Thomas is interred in the Symonds Street cemetery this afternoon.

Rangatira  for the Thames  with 3,000 bricks, 26 bushels lime, 600 ft boards, 2 passengers. 
 Wahapu  for the Thames with 7,000 bricks, 100 bushels lime.
 Frances for the Thames and Hot Springs with 1000 bricks, 4,000 ft timber and sundries.

The Enterprise on her arrival back at Auckland is laid up for her usual quarterly inspection.  During the time she is on the hard she will be fitted with a new cabin for ladies and receive many other improvements and alterations.

The Gemini arrives back at Shortland Town from Manaia this afternoon with Mr Mackay and Te MoananuI.   Shortly after they land it is rumoured that all the land extending from Kauaeranga to Cape Colville, to Mercury Bay on the east coast, and the interior will be proclaimed open to Europeans for gold mining.   

Mr Mackay rides over to Kopu to tell Superintendent Williamson that owing to the absence of Warden Baillie, it is impossible for Mr Mackay to go upriver in the steamer.  They party nevertheless will start without delay for the Upper Thames on their quest to open it up for gold mining in the morning.

*They were probably one day off  - there is some inconsistency over James Cook’s birth date. It is usually recorded as 27 October 1728; others say the correct date is 7 November 1728. Cook was born in the period before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in Great Britain and his date of birth by the Julian calendar was 27 October. In 1750, Britain passed the Calendar (New Style) Act and from 1752 transitioned to the Gregorian calendar. By the 18th century the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars was 11 days. The correct date of Captain Cook’s birth is believed to be 27 October 1728.

 Dr Clarence Hooper  - Member Royal College of Surgeons, England, 1859 & Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh in 1861.  Trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London.  Appointed assistant surgeon 1st regiment Waikato Militia in July 1863, promoted to surgeon in October 1863.  

Papers Past
Australian National Maritime Museum Blog -
Historia Nunc Vivat – Medical practitioners in NZ 1840 – 1930 – Rex Earl Wright – St Clair.

© 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.