Tuesday 14 August 2018

13 November to 19 November, 1867

Relieved of a surplus population.

Tawhiao, the Maori King
Ref: PA3-0184. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

Wednesday, 13 November
The ss Airedale arrives at the new government wharf at Onehunga from Wellington.  Among the 120 passengers in steerage are 80 West Coast gold miners for the Thames goldfield.  A large number are following.

A meeting at Mr Mackay’s house today results in the district between the Thames and Hikutaia being thrown open as a goldfield.  This will extend the mining district 85 miles southwards and is expected to be officially declared open towards the end of this month.  Heading in the opposite direction are numbers of men going down the coast to try the new ground north, which will be declared open tomorrow.   Shortland Town looks set to be relieved of a surplus population.

The Mahurangi and Matakana Agricultural Show discover that the Thames diggings have carried off some of their floating population, so that the show yard is not as crowded as it would otherwise have been.  While the men are at the diggings, if they make their pile, it is hoped they will return and spend it back in their own district.

The Thames newspaper correspondents are discovering it is either feast or famine in the matter of steam communication.  Either  the Midge, the Enterprise and the Tauranga all go away together, or they all stay away together.

On the Shotover claim, relays of men are working so that mining operations are carried on day and night without interruption.

The Wellington sails from Southern Ports to bring passengers to the Thames goldfield direct.

Samuel Hamilton’s party, prospecting at Te Mata over the past two days, have not been successful.  They join up with Walter Williamson as they travel the ranges and gullies at the back of their camp.  Walter shows them a lead of copper he discovered three years ago, at which he had worked all alone for four months finding specimens of great richness. The lead is about two feet thick and has been traced for thirty or forty yards along the beach, after which it heads into one of the ranges which rise very abruptly from the beach.  Walter and party have applied for a considerable tract of country on the supposed line of this valuable lead with a fair chance of their application being granted.

NZH 13 November, 1867

The Press 13 November, 1867

William Buckland
Public Domain

The Upper Thames opens!

Thursday, 14 November
William Buckland telegrams the Daily Southern Cross at an early hour with startling news from the Maori King  regarding the Upper Thames -

"Cambridge — From W. Buckland to the Editor of the Daily Southern Cross, Auckland.  Matutaera (Tawhiao) and his principal advisers have resolved to come in. The country is at once to be opened."

William Thorne Buckland is a Member of Parliament who was elected to the Auckland Provincial Council  for the Raglan electorate, which he currently represents, in 1861.

Behind the scenes intense negotiations have been going on.  George Graham, another Member of Parliament, has long been consulting with the Kingite Maori.  About three weeks ago he wrote to Ngapora, the King's uncle, and to Rewi. He received a reply through a third party, to the effect that Tawhiao, the King, was absent,  but a direct answer would be given on the 10th of the month.  Tamati Ngapora stated that if the King and head chiefs consented to allow the Upper Thames to be opened, he, Ngapora, would go down to Auckland to make the necessary arrangements. An  indirect offer has evidently also been made by Te Hira to arrange for the opening of the Upper Thames country. 

Englishman George Graham is a vigorous politician who consistently defends the causes of the Maori. His political opponents call him ‘Maori Graham’ in derision.  A Royal Engineer, George has been to Ireland, where he observed the troubles there, before coming to New Zealand where he witnessed the first Maori disturbances in the early 1840s. He was later ordered to China where he suffered the appalling shock of seeing a man being buried alive.  A  doctor advised the over- wrought Mr Graham, whose nerves were shot, to resign and go back  to New Zealand.  Now returned to health he has turned his attentions to liaising with the Maori in the opening of the Upper Thames for gold mining. 

George Graham
Cyclopedia of NZ, 1902

The prospecting party at Te Mata start after breakfast to explore among the ranges again.  One who stays behind sinks a hole in the Puru Creek but cannot get down more than two feet on account of the water.  He tries several dishes of stuff, in each getting a slight colour.   A party travelling towards Shortland say gold has been struck in the Tapu Creek five miles from where their camp is situated.  

Nearly all the Thames officials have gone north. Mr Warden Baillie is away north on duty and Mr Mackay is in Auckland on account of illness in his family. 

Doady for the Thames with stores.
Mapere for the Thames with general cargo.

Friday, 15 November

The news of the opening of the Upper Thames is received with delight and astonishment.

The Daily Southern Cross is restrained, but positive –“Perhaps no single bit of news has been published of late years in Auckland which gave so much general satisfaction as this did yesterday. It produced a feeling of confidence which even the discovery of a goldfield could not give. The settlers felt that at last there was a near prospect of a return to peaceful progress. Faith in the stability of our settlements and in the future of the province was strengthened; and there was the additional satisfaction of knowing that these favorable results were brought about through the action of the old settlers of Auckland, and not by Government influence or official diplomacy.”

The New Zealand Herald is jubilant - "It would seem that unexpectedly the opening up of the Upper Thames country is about to take place. What many despaired to see effected before many months had elapsed will in all probability be secured in a few weeks. . . We rejoice at this, not only as a benefit of the very utmost importance to the settlers of this Province, and indeed to the colonists at large, but still more as indicating a change in the native mind which may turn the present condition of peace—which really is little more than a sullen and uncertain cessation from hostilities—into a thorough and cordial reciprocity of good feeling between the two races. What we desire to see is a return to that friendly state of intercourse which existed between the natives and the settlers before land leagues, new institutions, and native difficulties came between them. “

Cries of distress and anguish.

The Te Mata prospecting party, having retired early last night to get a good start to Tapu this morning, leave at 7.30 but are thwarted by the high tide. They only get as far as the Maori settlement of Waiomu.

Waiomu is a lovely spot, situated in a valley between two steep ranges running nearly east and west, backed by a high chain of hills running north and south. It has two branches, the one to the south being nearly eleven miles in length, while the one to the north does not extend more than three. The settlement is excellently kept - nearly the whole of the ground under cultivation is sown with potatoes, which have been hoed up with a degree of precision and care. Peaches and grapes are abundant. Past the cultivated portion of the Maori reserve is a small knoll, which commands a view of the whole of the lower parts of the valley extending towards the sea.  The prospecting party, enjoying the view, are forced to beat a hasty retreat on account of the remorseless sandflies. They meet some Maoris who have just returned from fishing and charter one of them to take them in his canoe to Tapu for five shillings.

At the Thames, Joseph Franklin, a highly respectable and well-known greengrocer of Auckland, and his brother, John, also a greengrocer, are walking along the lower bank of the Karaka Creek with  William Mawkes, a miner, and Matthias Twohill, when a large boulder is hurled out of the Burns claim on the side of the range above the creek.  It strikes Joseph and throws him into the creek, killing him instantly.  John frantically asks William to cut him a stick while Matthias climbs the hill to stop the men throwing any more stuff down.  John tries to get his brother out of the creek with the stick as all the men in claim descend as quickly as possible to help.

Theophilus Cooper, working in the area, is alarmed by cries of distress and anguish, but cannot work out where they come from.The dreadful event causes a deep feeling of sadness and melancholy for everyone in this dangerous locality. A Herald correspondent has been himself very recently lame for some days after a loosened boulder struck him in the calf of the leg while going down the same range, at nearly the same place. The warden and one of the police have also miraculously escaped injury at the same place. Some very stringent regulations need to be adopted to have proper fences erected.

 Brown, at her residence Waiotahi Creek, Thames, on 15 November, Mrs C S Brown, of a son.

John X Hoffray, a Frenchman, has been a gold seeker through the Australian and New Zealand diggings since 1853. He now turns his attentions to the Upper Thames. He and his mate cautiously start on a prospecting trip up the river. Thirteen miles from Shortland they find colour in a creek, but nothing to pay. They pass Thorpe’s store and continue without hindrance up the Ohinemuri finding colour in several places.

The agility of a monkey, the pluck of a bulldog.

Samuel Hamilton and party have made it to Tapu after paddling in earnest from Waiomu. They haul the canoe out of the reach of the tide and follow the upward course of the current for about a quarter of a mile, sometimes wading through the water, and at others times pushing their way through the thick fern on the bank. They come to a small blind gully, down which a gentle stream of discoloured water is rippling along. They conclude that someone must be working not far from the junction. They follow the creek for half an hour, climbing rocks, walking on slippery sideling’s, and drag themselves up steep ascents by the aid of rocks or supplejack vines, until at last they come upon a party of men who are hard at work.

The leader of the party is Allan Mclsaacs. He has named the creek they are working in after himself. He shows his visitors a prospect which is washed from a dishful of dirt in their presence; there is nearly half a pennyweight of gold in it and he says this isn’t the best one he has obtained. McIssacs party are compelled to work the ground by the slow process of cradling, simply because there is not sufficient water in the creek to supply them with a sluice-head.

Samuel Hamilton's party take their leave and push on. On reaching the top of a range they hear a sound like the fall of an axe coming from the gully below echoing through the bush. They soon come upon the second creek and a man named Tom Jones. They are shown a beautiful sample of gold, superior to anything they have ever seen on the Thames.  The creek is known as ‘Poor Jones' last shift’ because he was on his last legs and three days without food,  when he discovered the auriferous nature of the place.

The party sincerely hope the future may be brighter for Jones. It is no easy matter to prospect a country like this, and unless a man possesses the agility of a monkey, combined with the pluck of a bulldog, he need not attempt to do it. Many start out with the intention of searching the hills for indications of quartz, but having ascended one, their courage fails them, and they sit down, smoke a pipe until they are cool, and then quietly return.

Joseph Small, an entertainer of noted popularity in New Zealand and Australia, has been doing the rounds of the diggings in the new area north recently opened.  He delights diggers when they return to camp in the evenings, over a billy of tea and a pipe, listening to his yarns and songs not yet known to the public. 

Colonial songster Joe Small looking miserable, illustrating his ballad titled 'The unfortunate man' which details his unlucky search for gold, including being robbed and imprisoned for digging without a licence.
National Library Ref: E-309-q-1-003

Severn for the Thames with 2,000ft timber, 100 bricks, 5,000 shingles, 6 bags maize, 10 cases ginger beer, 10 tents and 10 tons general stores.
Rob Roy for the Thames with 8 head cattle, 20 sheep, ½ ton flour, 6hhhds beer, 3 tins nails, 1 ton biscuits, 2 tons coals, 20 packages groceries, 10lb tobacco, 1 ¼ cask brandy, 50lb bacon, 4,000 shingles.
Avon for the Thames with 5 cases sherry, 10 cases biscuits, 12 casks beer, 4 bags sugar, 10 packages, sashes and doors, 3 cases lamps,  600ft timber,  12 packages, 1 horse, 4 passengers.

The schooner Excelsior arrives in Auckland from Wanganui, bringing several passengers for the Thames diggings. The schooner Donald McLean arrives  in Auckland from Nelson, with nine miners from the West Coast for the Thames.

At a meeting of the Primitive Methodist Sunday School in Auckland it is noted that in consequence of the commercial depression, several teachers have been removed and another four teachers have gone to the Thames.

A vaguely incoherent and distressed  letter is published in the NZ Herald under the heading ‘Starved out of the Waikato settlements’ -  No less than 35 souls cleared out of Hamilton on last Friday, and as many more are preparing to leave in five or six days. The men who are going now were determined to stop if possible, their neat and comfortable homes show their industry, and their intentions. You may now purchase a town acre from £15 to £5, with a house on it which cost from £15 to £25— besides fencing etc, and no end of labour bestowed upon it. Plenty would be glad to work from dawn to dark for 4s per day, sooner than leave -what cost them so much from first to last. Can the Government do nothing for us? Are there no swamps to drain, no roads to make? Why put us in this out of the way place and abandon us ? Why not have placed us at Queen's Redoubt, or even Rangiriri; a railway way to Mercer would cure most of our troubles. People in Auckland do not know that their shilling will buy three loaves, and ours only two. How can we live here ?—Yours &c, A Would-be Settler.”

Mercury Bay map 1852
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 881'

Strike while the iron is hot.

Saturday, 16 November
At the Shotover claim William Hunt is seen working away like a young mill horse and a number of “wages men” pelt away alongside him. Tookey’s and Mulligan’s are all busy. 

The Herald correspondent visits Puru, and gets wet to the skin in getting to the boat, which he then has great difficulty in getting off.  He observes that for many miles of the coast, the ranges run out abruptly to the sea and there is from four to twelve feet of water at their base in high water.  There is a very pleasant little flat at the Puru.

Gold has been found on the banks of two creeks at Tapu.

 A prospecting party, headed by Matthew Barry, who went across to Mercury Bay have sent news – they have found nothing so far.  They still have 14 days tucker on hand and they will not come in until that is gone.

The Great Expectations crushing machine.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19061220-8-2

The first quartz to be crushed by steam power on the Thames goldfield is crushed at the Great Expectations crushing machine.  It consists of four wooden stampers, shod with plates of iron, the whole worked by a donkey engine. The stone, 1 ½ tons, is from a poor leader in Mr Campbell and party’s claim, the Poverty.  No gold is seen in it but the result is 6 ½ oz of retorted gold.   Bay of Islands coal is used and is entirely satisfactory.

The inquest on Joseph Franklin, greengrocer of Shortland Street, Auckland, is held before Warden Baillie at the Thames.  It finds that Joseph was accidentally killed by a rolling boulder striking him.  The jury add the rider that notices should be posted on all creeks where rubble is thrown from a claim down the hill. 

Theophilus Cooper notes the usual great gatherings of men in the township common on a Saturday.  There seems less drunkenness than usual, but the majority are ready for a lark. Two inebriated  Irishmen entertain the crowd, one being on horseback while the other keeps the horse continually on the move among the diggers, who do their best to unhorse the rider. Others get up foot races among the naked Maori boys, 16 in number, at a penny per race to the winner.

The Union Bank at Auckland have erected retorting and smelting furnaces.   A good deal of inconvenience has been felt by the miners owing to there not being proper retorting and smelting appliances in Auckland.  If gold is brought up from the Thames on the day of the Sydney steamers, it can now be prepared at once for shipment.  The men bringing up their gold can stay in the smelting room and see the whole process through which their metal is put.  The Bank of New Zealand has recently got several of the finest of Avery’s scales, capable of weighing to the smallest of grains. In this bank there is a considerable quantity of gold for export by the next steamer from the Eureka, Caledonian and other claims.  Part of this is in bars and part in amalgam.

The Midge and Tauranga have brought up to Auckland 300 oz of gold from the Thames during today and yesterday, the product of  Barry and Co’s reef.  Captain Butt, who arrives on the Midge, brings upwards of 200 oz and Mr O’Brien, who came up on the Tauranga yesterday, brought up 100 oz from the same claim.

The NZ Herald publishes  the translated letter in which Te Hira consents to confer with Mr Mackay regarding the opening of the Upper Thames “ November 7,  1867 – Friend, Mr Williamson – Salutations to you.  O father, we are still working in respect to the object of your talk with us.  This is the word of Te Hira.  “If Mr Williamson does come again I will then see him.  The people (iwi) have led me to do wrong.”  O father, great is our work, but do you keep to your thoughts (as expressed to us), because this work is to guide us aright.  Enough from your loving friends – Ropata Te Pokiha.”

In this letter, says the Herald,  Superintendent Williamson is distinctly informed that Te Hira will now see him; that he, Te Hira, has been led wrong (in refusing to arrange for the opening of the lands) by the people (the bulk of the Kingites).  “Our own opinion is that the Superintendent should strike while the iron is hot.   He has a clear ten days before the Council opens on the 28th, and if he can meet the council with the intimation that an extensive alluvial goldfield within the Province is about at once to be opened to European enterprise, the council may be saved much useless and unprofitable discussion.”

At the Thames James Craig holds a sale of bankrupt stock and effects at his new auction mart, on the corner of Albert and Davy Streets.  There is a large attendance and spirited competition.  One of the leading mercantile men of the Thames says it is the best sale of bankrupt stock ever held there. The sale realises about £300.

At the High Street Wesleyan Church meeting in Auckland, during a discussing on church debts, the Rev Chairman says they have  discovered goldfields at the Thames, and if only they would bring some nuggets to him, he would get them crushed. (Laughter)

 Rangatira to the Thames with 7,000 shingles, 400 palings, 4 packages sashes, 50 rails, 20 posts, 10 tons sundries.
 Otahuhu to the Thames with 3,000 ft timber, 10 cases nails, 6 doors, fittings of oven, 4 passengers.
 Whau to the Thames with 5,000 bricks.
Rob Roy to the Thames with timber, cattle and general merchandise.
  Mapere to the Thames with cattle.

Poverty Bay Herald, 16 November, 1867

NZH 16 November, 1867

Sunday, 17 November 
Religious services are conducted this morning by the Rev Mr G S  Harper.  Just as he is about to announce his text the coffin containing the body of Joseph  Franklin is brought to the spot and placed in a boat to be taken to the steamer. Reverend Harper, standing an empty beer barrel in front of Sheehan’s hotel, preaches to 400 men. 

Primitive Methodist local preacher, Mr Manners, also gives an exhortation to his flock.

The Margaret arrives at Auckland from Opotiki and Tauranga with 20 passengers for the Thames diggings.

While at dinner the tent of Theophilus Cooper and party collapses about their ears.  They immediately  move to another spot which they name 'Mount Pleasant'.  It is delightfully situated, commanding a splendid view of the township and the surrounding scenery. All around them are numerous peach trees, within arm's reach; fine times for them when they are ripe, they think.

The Tauranga arrives at Auckland with the body of Joseph Franklin.

NZH 17 November, 1867

A wet day of difficulties.

Monday, 18 November
A party of four of the very best prospectors, who started out with a special pass to see what is to be had between Shortland Town and Kirikiri, return this morning.  They found no gold, and no indication of gold, quartz, or alluvial, the whole of the way to the Maori settlement at Kirikiri. One of the party, supposing that the Maori might know something about gold, offered £5 down, which he placed in their hands, to show him gold. There was no gold to be shown, and none to be found.

The new land south has still not been thrown open.

Kate to the Thames with 12,000 ft timber

The funeral of Joseph Franklin, killed at the Thames, takes place in Auckland.

Fraser’s machine works until a late hour tonight; there is heavy wind and rain.

DSC 18 November, 1867

Tuesday, 19 November
It is pouring with rain.

Shortland Town is crowded this morning with men waiting for Mr Mackay to let them know something definite about the opening of the country to the south.  Parties who have gone upriver have been sent back.  Rewi has a block over which he will not permit anyone to pass.  The river, however, is open to all.  The Hikutaia River is not expected to be a duffer.

Te Hoterene, the chief priest of the Hauhaus at Ohinemuri, arrives at the Thames to see Mr Mackay. He says that it will be all right about the opening of the land at the Upper Thames and there seems to be some truth in a report that all the Waikato’s have agreed to keep on good terms with the other tribes.  

The three masted schooner Rifleman arrives at Onehunga from Westport with 60 diggers for the Thames goldfield.  She reports large numbers of more diggers coming from Westport.

The Wellington Independent publishes the opinion of a Hawkes Bay correspondent - “Private letters received in Napier from the Thames Goldfield give a very gloomy account of the state of affairs.  Three or four claims are doing very well, all the rest are “duffers” . . . a feeling of annoyance and disgust reigns supreme amongst the miners.  Altogether the Thames goldfield is a myth.  The Auckland papers (more especially the Herald) contain glaring accounts of the success of the goldfields; but this is heartless and cruel, and your readers – that is, anyone who ever contemplated a visit to the new El Dorado – would do well to pause before they take the decisive step.  One gentleman writes to state his firm belief that the Thames will be abandoned as a goldfield in a very short time. “

For Theophilus Cooper and party it is a wet day of difficulties. It is difficult to work, as the rain descends in torrents; it is difficult to get home, the roads are so bad; difficult to cook, as the fire will not burn; difficult to eat, for they have no appetite; difficult to sing, for they have no voice; and difficult to write, for they are out of temper, and cannot think. On going to bed it is difficult to go to sleep and forget, as they are so cold. Theophilus eloquently writes in his diary “Of all miserable wretches, the wet, half-drowned, dirty, disconsolate, disappointed digger is the most pitiable. To see him dragging along tired, dispirited, cast down, his hat slouched over his eyes, his clothes torn, his face begrimed with mud, his hair uncombed, his eyes sunken, and cheeks hollow, and clay up to his hips - oh, dear! it is enough sometimes to give one the horrors, when we see this picture of misery. And what a home he has to go to! - a miserable cloth, full of holes, thrown over a few sticks, which he calls a tent, and which lets in as much water as it keeps out. What is the interior? On the floor are heaped some dirty fern, a few ragged, dirty articles of clothing, an old pot or two, and a tin dish, a pick, and a shovel, and in the corner, perhaps, the remains of a loaf. Such is a true picture of many here at the present time. Of course there are many in comfortable tents, and comfortably clothed and fed. Such, however, as the above, are my reflections this day - tomorrow my thoughts may be directed to other and brighter objects.”

Captain Issac James Burgess

Ref: PA2-0804. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22337063

Some months ago, when it was evident that the shipping traffic to the Thames would be considerable, a post was fixed on the outside of the mud bank on the Thames side of the channel of the Kauaeranga stream.  This post, which was fixed by Captain Burgess, serves as a beacon during the day and contains a lamp at night.  In running up the channel, vessels have to go pretty close in shore, near Point Tararu, and then steer out to where the post is fixed, and from that point they can go up to the town in a straight line guided by the lights of the stores.  For some time the light was placed on the post every night by a waterman for which £1 a week was charged which was paid by the owners of the Enterprise.   Within the last few days, however, the lamp has been stolen, and in consequence the steamer Enterprise has to lie out in the stormy firth all tonight.

The provincial authorities are called upon to at once see that a lamp is properly fixed, and lighted every night;  if this is not done chances are that there will be a fatal accident soon. As well as no signal light to guide the steamer or coasters, the channels are not properly buoyed off, and there is no  wharf for accommodation of passengers.

Tay for the Thames with 5 tons coals and a quantity of household furniture.
   Avon for the Thames with 1 ½ tons flour, 3 ½ tea chests tea, 4 cases brandy, 3 casks ale, 6 bags sugar, 4 boxes candles, ½ ton coals, 1 box tobacco, 500 ft timber, 7 cases and sundry other stores, 2 passengers. 
  Willie Winkie – 6 sashes, 1 hhd, 1  keg, 1,000 ft timber, 6 mortar and pestles, 6 hhds beer, 6 barrels, 10  lanterns, 7 sheets iron, 2 basins, 4 bulls, 2 pillow blocks, 3 spindles, 6 pulleys, 3 steps, 4 sashes, 1 skylight, 13 mattresses and sundry ironmongery.
Wahapu for the Thames with 1,100ft timber.

NZH 19 November, 1867

DSC 19 November, 1867


*John Franklin had come to Shortland Town about nine weeks previously, possibly to start a greengrocer’s.  His brother Joseph appears to have still been an Auckland greengrocer and was perhaps visiting.

George Graham, the MP who intended opening up the Upper Thames for gold mining, was an unpopular figure. At Cambridge, in October, crowds of people gathered to see an effigy of him lynched, shot and burnt. A reporter noted “it was really amusing to see even our little ones taking a delight in lynching this well-got-up representation.”   After hanging for the usual space of time recognised by the laws of English execution, the effigy was taken down, and paraded through the main streets to the tune of “The Rogues' March" and " Old John Brown."  One individual gave vent to his feelings with roars of “My dear old Georgy Graham, Why did Cambridge folks slay him?” before demanding to have the first shot.  After the figure was  satisfactorily riddled through with bullets, it was again carried back in procession to the gallows, where it remained until  it was burnt in the evening amidst groans and hisses.

Joseph Small, from Australia, was  a digger of varied success who wrote a song called “The Unfortunate Man” which described his unfortunate career.  He joined up with several young men who were organising a party of serenaders.  They thought they had made a hit but the public thought otherwise and Small was soon back to his spade and shovel.  He later teamed up with the New Orleans Minstrels and this began his successful career.  “The Unfortunate Man” became an immense hit especially among the diggers.   He was gifted with theatrical taste, was a thorough elocutionist and a capital actor.

The image of the Great Expectations machine is wrongly captioned on Heritage Images which incorrectly says the battery was erected on December 27, 1867. 


Papers Past 
Tapu – Kereta school and district reunion 18?? –1879
Thames Miners Guide.
© 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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