Sunday, 28 January 2018

29 January to 4 February, 1868

The right man in the right place.

Captain John Butt

Wednesday, 29 January
About midnight at Sussex Street, Newton, Auckland, Mrs William Fleming is awakened when her youngest child, who has been sick, calls for a drink.  The Flemings are a family of five with the father away at the Thames diggings.  On reaching the kitchen Mrs Fleming is astonished to discover it on fire.   She immediately screams for assistance and in a few minutes several neighbours are on the spot but little can be done and the four roomed cottage is completely destroyed.  Mrs Fleming had been boiling potatoes shortly before retiring to bed and the fire is believed to have originated in the grate where burning embers had been left.  Mrs Fleming was possibly tired and distracted with an ill child and a husband away at the diggings.  Police are present but spectators are not numerous owing to the distance from town.

The NZ Herald correspondent is greatly fatigued after visiting a large number of claims at the Thames over the past two or three days. That and the pressure of other business have prevented him writing up his account.  However he now puts pen to paper noting that the Thames is likely to lose Mr Mackay.  It is thought that he is about to relinquish the active part that he has been taking.  “If this be so,” notes the correspondent, “it will be a great loss to us.”

The Tauranga arrives in Auckland with William Hunt and George Clarkson of the Shotover bearing two bags of gold weighing 1,432 oz  which is lodged at the Bank of New Zealand to await the departure of the mail steamer.  Another gentleman by the Tauranga is the bearer of about 25 oz gold from Tapu Creek. 

Thursday, 30 January
The fine new clinker built screw steamer Jane, recently launched from the yards of Thomas Thwaite at Smales Point, makes her official trial trip today. The Jane is to be employed on the Thames trade.  A number of invitations are issued for the occasion, and the weather being fine and favourable, a good many visitors enjoy a pleasant excursion on the waters of the Waitemata.  The Jane’s cabin, which is capable of accommodating a large number of people, has been beautifully fitted up and varnished throughout. 

Avon for the Thames with six hhds ale, one spring cart, ½ ton sugar, ten cases sundries, six packages, machinery.   

Whau for the Thames with 1,000 bricks, six sheep.
Wahapu for the Thames with 6,000 bricks, six sheep, four bags potatoes, four bags sugar.  

Tay for the Thames with  stores.

Detective Crick arrives at Tapu on business, however he is scarcely there two hours when he spies two men, brothers Edward and Thomas Mooney,  suspected of several robberies at Shortland.   They made their way to Tapu last night in a boat.  He follows them but loses them for a short while in thick scrub.  He searches the place where he saw them and finds a quantity of articles.  He watches the place and a short time later Edward Mooney comes back and retrieves a bag of flour and a pick.  Crick asks him what he is going to do with them and he replies he is going to return them as he has taken them by mistake.  Mooney is arrested and taken back to Shortland.

Captain John Butt, from the start of his residence at the Thames, has shown himself to be gentleman of much enterprise; he goes heart and soul into the general advancement of the place – whether in business or amusement.   It would be difficult to find anyone at the Thames who can be more appropriately referred to as being the right man in the right place. Visitors from Auckland and elsewhere are at once surprised to find in the few months old township of Shortland a building of such excellent pretensions as his American Theatre.  The success of its opening, though,  is disappointingly briefly noted in the Auckland journals.  At his American Theatre the Auckland Amateur Company have been playing nightly to at first small, but during the last week, rapidly increasing audiences.  The stock of scenery is fast increasing and is very effective.  The general management regarding the  change of programmes and variety of entertainments selected is best shown by improvement in receipts of the house. There is nightly dancing and singing of more than average order.

Stewed oysters and potatoes. 
Friday, 31 January
There are not so many men to be seen in the township of Shortland – many have left for other places, the Tapu Creek and Manaia being fancied most

Mr Mackay, Dr Hector, the government geologist,  and Mr Lundon, customs officer, arrive at Tapu Creek and go up to McIssac’s reef.  Dr Hector expresses a favourable opinion of the district as gold bearing.  It exhibits a similarity to the Whakamarina, in the province of Marlborough, where gold was discovered in 1864.  Dr Hector then boards the Tauranga for Auckland and Mr Mackay goes on to Shortland.

The miners at Tapu are restless in consequence of rumours that new ground had been discovered out on the ranges. Weatherboard buildings are going up on the flat, giving an appearance of business to this until very recently unfrequented district.  The tapu portion is being fenced in.  After being dull at Tapu Creek in mining and business there are now visible signs of improvement.  Kelly and party’s claim is successful beyond a doubt. They are in great spirits over their future prospects.  They have got protection from the Commissioner so they can erect a water wheel and other appliances for pumping.  Numbers of claims both north and south of McIssac’s have been taken up and some of them are being worked with great energy.  The alluvial gullies are still doing pretty well, some are getting good gold, others are making wages, and many tucker.

Mr Sandes, surveyor, and his party are still surveying and marking out Tapu township.  The first quarter has to be paid for Tapu business sites on 1 February at Shortland; this arrangement has caused a great deal of dissatisfaction amongst the Tapu business community.  They do not see why they should be compelled to go to Shortland to pay their ground rent, besides the inconvenience of leaving their businesses for a time.

Tapu is entirely isolated from all postal communication.  There are some respectable storekeepers who would willingly take charge of a post office and now as steamers are calling daily at the bay, it would be a very easy matter to arrange this. A collection of a purse of money made by the diggers of Tapu is presented to Mrs Smith for services rendered to the unfortunate Kate Brown.  Dick Taylor, implicated in her death,  has disappeared.

Mr H Meyers of Queen Street, Auckland, receives a letter from San Francisco dated 10 December, 1867 which advises that two vessels, the schooner Alice and the barque Domingo, have been laid on for Auckland.   Both vessels are full of passengers who are coming to try their fortunes at the Thames goldfields.   A number of these passengers only just arrived in San Francisco from Auckland by the Circular Saw Liners Kate and Constance and it seems they are coming back.

The Barque Kate
NZ Electronic Text Collection

A bar of gold from the Shotover weighing 320 oz 12 dwt is on exhibition at Mr Becks, jeweler,  in Queen Street, Auckland.  Altogether four bars have been smelted by Mr Beck for the Union Bank and are to be forwarded by steamer to Sydney.

Arrangements are made with Fraser and Tinne by the owners of a claim on the Moanataiari Creek for the erection of a crushing machine, the engine to be of 10 hp, with four heads of stampers.  It will be ready in about one month’s time.

Mr Kelly, of Auckland, has just finished building a very extensive bakery at Tapu.  The oven was built by mechanics from Auckland, as was the workshop, which is substantially constructed, and covered with corrugated iron.  Tonight the first batch of bread is taken out of the oven and the superiority of it shows that Mr Kelly is a thorough master of his profession. 

Saturday, 1 February
A tangi is held over the five year old son of Daniel Tookey by all his Maori relations.  The child, a fine, chubby boy about 5 years of age, was playing without his hat under a broiling sun and received sunstroke. Dr Sam did all that medical skill could accomplish to save the little fellow’s life but his efforts were unsuccessful.

The export of gold this month, as far as can be judged by the receipts published from day to day parcels received by the various steamers from the Thames goldfields, will not prove quite so large as for January.  A total of 3,413 oz was forwarded on that occasion to England, by way of Panama and to Sydney, but it is not anticipated the export this month will exceed 3,000 oz.

 A quantity of auriferous quartz is brought to Auckland from the Moanataiari claim, with the object of finding the best method of saving the gold.  Previously in the crushing it had been supposed that the quicksilver had not taken up the gold, which must have passed over the tables and gone away in the tailings.  This is a complaint made by most of the claim holders on the Moanataiari Creek.

NZH 1 February, 1868

There is a call for Australia to assist with the Thames goldfield. Six months working at the field has shown that Auckland, while able to find the men to work the claims, needs Australia to furnish her with machinery.  Week after week the miners at the Thames have been waiting in vain for efficient machinery. Some six thousand men, it is estimated, are now working in the Thames district and thousands of tons of auriferous quartz lie waiting for the machinery to crush it.  Some half dozen attempts have been made to erect machinery, but only in one or two instances has the attempt been satisfactory.    Auckland has some clever mechanics and first class iron foundries but recently certain boxes made of pieces of wrought iron clamped together ‘gave’ with the working of the machine and let out the amalgam.  In another case the foundation was defective.  Generally the gold is not saved to the satisfaction of the miners.  In one case a quarter ton of picked rich stone crushed at one of the machines the return was actually nil. On the other hand men with tin dishes employed in washing the tailings from another machine, are earning twelve shillings per day.  The tenacity with which the miners have clung to their claims, hoping almost against hope, looking for an announcement by every mail that Sydney or Victoria is coming to their rescue, with suitable machinery and experienced men to work it, is most commendable.

Auckland is still not recovering from the deep commercial depressions that have existed for such a length of time.  Business failures during the month have been fewer than for some time, only because there are now not so many businesses.  Those who have passed through the ordeal have restricted their business to suit the limited market.  The Thames goldfield may yet be the means of reviving trade, but the majority of those who have tried their fortunes there have failed in making their work remunerative.  However, as the field is extended by the finding of new leaders in different parts of the range, and less labour is thrown away in unprofitable working, good results are anticipated for the trade of Auckland.

At Tapu, Charles Blomfield and his mates stroll up the creek and about half a mile on came across two diggers working an old fashioned cradle.  One rocks the cradle and bails the water, the other shovels in the wash dirt and stirs it with a forked stick.  Every now and then one of them snatches something out of the dirt and pops it into his mouth - they are little nuggets of gold of a rich dark colour. 

The rocks on the Tapu coast are crowded with oysters – diggers go down to the beach and fill their billies and later feast on stewed oysters and potatoes. On the river flats of the next creek, a mile or so along the beach, are some fine peach groves, all laden with fruit.  This afternoon, as with all recent Saturday afternoons,  processions of diggers return laden with kits, flour bags and  sacks full of ripe peaches, the juice running down their backs.  

 Fly for Tapu Creek with two hhds ale, five packages, one cask beef, 14 cases, one bale, five tons other stores. 

  Rob Roy for the Thames with 2 tons potatoes, six hhds ale, 2 tons groceries, 20 sheep, 500 ft timber, one ton coke.

Auckland Police Gazette - Thefts at the Thames.

From the tent of John Thompson, Shortland, during the night of 16 December, the property of James McArthur, one Crimean shirt, red, black and white stripes, one pair duck trousers, laced up the back with a small piece of twine and stained with paint, one £1 note and 15 shillings in silver, and a receipt from Robert Doran to James McArthur for repairs to a boat.

  From the whare of Henry Glover at Shortland, on the afternoon of 19 December,  a large red blanket (darned in the centre with worsted of same colour).

 From the whare of Mr Murphy, Shortland, on the night of 21 January, two Crimean shirts, one having black and red stripes, the other light coloured, one grey jumper, one towel, one pair black cloth trousers, 1 shilling in cash, two pair blue blankets.

 From the Bendigo Store, Eyre Street, Shortland, on the night of 31 January,  property of J H Drabble,  one cash box, ten inches long and varnished black, a bundle of bills of exchange amounting to about  £200 – the whole drawn in Calcutta (Oriental Bank), five promissory notes payable to Captain J H Drabble, amount about £45, one large cameo brooch, set in gold, female figures representing Morning holding a wreath, four picks, two shovels and a quantity of men’s clothing. 

From the pocket of a vest, the property of John Blackmore, Shortland, during 9 December,  an English silver watch, makers James Beck, Auckland. 

From the person of Alexander Reid, whilst in a state of intoxication at the Reefers Arms Hotel, Shortland, on 21 January, one ten pound note, seven sovereigns and upwards of one pound in silver.

Barometers start falling with ominous signs of an unwelcome change in the pleasant weather which has prevailed for several weeks.    At Auckland small vessels lying at the wharf are hauled into the stream while others are taken round and moored on the western side of the wharf.

A Great Storm.
Sunday, 2 February
The Claude Hamilton sails for Sydney with 222 ozs 8 dwts Thames gold  shipped by the Bank of Australasia, and 1,364 ozs 15 dwts 12 grams shipped by the Union Bank of Australia.  The Bank of New Zealand also has a quantity of Thames gold which will be forwarded to England.   The Claude Hamilton takes a full cargo of New Zealand produce and about 30 passengers.

Wild weather sweeps in this morning.  Heavy rain and a hard gale hammer the Thames.
The consecration of the Roman Catholic Church is postponed in consequence of the stormy weather.   

The Kauaeranga River rises several feet and so great is the rush of water that almost the whole distance between the Karaka and the Waiotahi goes two feet under water.  The shoot constructed for the large crushing machine imported by David Graham, at the Waiotahi Creek, is carried away tonight.  Several boats at anchor near the township break adrift and are carried out to sea.  A large number of small boats sink at their moorings. The cutter Tay drifts and fouls the cutter Glitter, a fine centre-board built vessel, only recently employed at the Thames.  Both vessels are carried out a considerable distance and when the Tay leaves her, the Glitter washes ashore on Tararu Point and breaks up.  Diggers have their tents and effects carried away with the heavy rainfall.  Claims are flooded and large heaps of auriferous quartz stacked and waiting to be passed through machinery are washed away.

Monday, 3 February
The heavy rains have proved most disastrous on the Thames and many claim holders have sustained serious losses.  Relentless rains and severe violent squalls continue all day.  The steamer Maori Chief and all of the vessels lying in the creek are driven out on the banks.   A small ketch drifts over to Piako, a cargo boat named Safety is missing and two other vessels of small tonnage have been carried up the Thames River by the force of the gale.  All canvas erections have suffered very severely, tents of all sorts having come to grief. 

The new Bank of New Zealand at the Thames opens today; the building, though not finished is a very neat one and adds considerably to the appearance of Pollen Street.   Mr H F Christie has been appointed agent of the bank.

Tuesday, 4 February
The wet weather has done great damage, large quantities of stacked quartz have been carried away and many of the shafts and drives have fallen in.  

Two new claims, Banbury and the Britannia, in the Waiotahi Creek, have struck gold but there is little news due to the state of the weather.

Jane and George Whittingham, of Shortland, go to the North Hotel for a drink. After awhile George leaves Jane to go home by herself while he continues on to the Reefer’s Arms.  He is very drunk on his return home and says he will have the tent down in five minutes.  He takes a knife and begins cutting the tent ropes. Around the end of July George had left Jane at Ngaruawhaia.  She and the children eventually made their way to the Thames. She did not know George was here also until one day about three months ago  when he walked into her tent and threatened to destroy her character. Sadly, this is nothing unusual for the Whittingham’s.

Wahapu  for the Thames with  4,000 bricks, one retort, sundries, six passengers. 

 Avon  for the Thames with 1 ton potatoes, 2 tons biscuit, 6 cheeses, 1 ¼ cask brandy, 6 hhds beer, four kegs butter, four tons hay, 10 bags sugar, 12 packages, groceries, one ton coal, three passengers.

DSC 4 February, 1868
NZH 4 February, 1868


The Great Storm of 1868 was a violent tempst that swept across much of New Zealand between 1–6 February, wrecking 12 ships and causing extensive flooding. About 40 lives were known to be lost and at the time an estimated £500,000 to £1 million worth of damage was caused. The storm is currently thought to have been an ex tropical cyclone which peaked in New Zealand over the period between the 3rd and 4th. Events from the storm inspired Michelanne Foster’s 2008 play, The Great Storm of 1868.

I have come across some curious  information about Captain John Butt in local books -

 He was a ‘Dutch seaman’ who was born in Sussex, England in 1830.

· He arrived in New Zealand in 1845.

· He was a trader with the Maori at the Thames between 1845 – 1853, trading provisions and horse hacks between the Thames and Auckland.

· In 1853 he sold his ship and hired himself out as a captain in NZ and around the world.

· In 1855 he invested money in a partnership with ship chandler William Anderson who had started trading in the Kauaeranga area in 1825. Their ambition was to create a town there.

· In 1855 John Butt and William Anderson established the first store, post office and wharf at the mouth of the Kauaeranga River. This was a thatched raupo building  and operated by Mr Niccol (sic).

· In 1863 Butt and Anderson replaced the old thatched raupo post office and store with a new timber one called the “Landing Store”. This was a large two storey building designed to hold timber and joinery.

· In 1866 John Butt started the first coach and mail service – called Cobb & Co – from Auckland to Waikato.

· In 1867 he was Captain of the
Enterprise bringing the first miners to the Thames.


John Butt was a man of great initiative, a champion of the Thames and a prominent figure early on but I could find no supporting evidence for most of these claims.

If he was "trading with the Maori at Thames" in 1845 he would have only been 15.

There is no evidence of a ship chandler named  William Anderson trading with the Maori at Thames in 1825. In 1825 most of the district had been abandoned by Maori after the dreadful Nga Puhi raids.

The only ships chandler with the surname Anderson was Hugh Falconer Anderson, a Scotsman who emigrated to Australia, then in 1854 came to Auckland.  He  traded for some time between Auckland and Sydney in the barque Spray.

There are no mentions of a  store, post office or wharf at the mouth of the Kauaeranga River in 1855. William Nicholls was a trader in the area and leased land  at the Thames, establishing  a store there nine years later in 1864, but he didn’t ‘operate’ it for John Butt. 

I have found no mention of anything called a ‘Landing Store’ of the size or dimensions stated. With the arrival of the first miner’s this would have been a godsend for shelter and surely noted somewhere in descriptions of the buildings then existing at the Thames. 

A newspaper report states of Captain Butt's hotel and theatre that  "It is astonishing that this building, which on the 1st of August, 1867, was being built as a Maori whare to be occupied by Chief Taipari, is today enlarged and extended into a handsome hotel, with extensive accommodation and a theatre."

Cobb and Co at this time was under the proprietorship of the aptly named Quick’s. (C G and F Quick.)

The Captain of the Enterprise bringing the first miners in 1867 was Captain Davies, not Captain Butt. 

There are two obituary's for John Butt - one says he arrived at the Thames on the cutter Tay on 31 July,  1867, the other says it was the Enterprise  on 1 August, 1867.  This report mistakenly says Captain Seon was the Enterprise's master. 

Newspaper reports at the time say Captain Butt  actually arrived on the Severn with provisions on 1st August. 

John Butt's obituary states that in the years before he arrived on the Thames goldfield  he was employed by Henderson and Macffarlane,(sic) as master of one of the largest vessels in their fleet, the Constance, which traded between Auckland and California. He had sailed to nearly all parts the globe. After leaving Henderson and Macffarlane’s employ, he started a business as a shipchandler and stevedore in Auckland, in conjunction with Captain Anderson, and did very well, but sold out when Thames was proclaimed a goldfield. Here, with a considerable amount of foresight, he erected business premises on the spot where the Shortland Hotel now stands. This was soon demolished and the large hotel known as Shortland Hotel/Butts American Theatre was erected. 

Captain Butt married Mary Ann Bell at St Marks, Remuera in 1858. Their first son, John Bell Butt, was born in 1859. Their daughter, Annie,  was born in 1866 but died in February 1867 at their Moore Street residence in Smales Point, aged six months.  His first wife, Anne, had died in November 1856, at their Albert Street, Auckland home.  


Papers Past
Racing for Gold by Johnny Williams
This building, this site, and its creator, Captain John Butt, has the greatest historic history of Kauaeranga Shortland Thames : development of the area, 1855-2010 : the life, of the restorer, 1930-2010, by Dennis Larking (Declla)

© 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, 21 January 2018

22 January to 28 January, 1868 (Week 26 - halfway there!)

Auckland Provincial Hospital
Sir George Grey Special Collections Reference: 4-305  

A bundle of clothes.
Wednesday, 22 January
The Tauranga reaches Auckland wharf early this morning with 800 ozs gold from the Kuranui Reef Company’s claim. Mr Rowe, manager, bears the parcel.  The Shotover claim is intending to send up 1,000 oz in a day or two for export by the next Sydney steamer.

James Mackay walks from Manaia to Tapu Creek and on arriving marks out a small 
township.  Once the allotments are pegged out, all 49 of them are promptly taken up for business sites. McIssac’s claim at Tapu is yielding gold in the casing and when the solid reef is met with there are expectations it will rival the Shotover.

Hugh Coolahan steps from the top of an oven now in the course of construction for him at Shortland, treads on some loose bricks and falls.  When picked up he is discovered to have two broken ribs.  Mr Coolahan is immediately attended by Dr Hooper and  prescribed a few days rest. Dr Hooper has also been continuously attending Kate Brown at Tapu but she is now in a dying state. 

There is another ill woman on the goldfields.  Dr Groth, on his way to the Waiotahi Flat, is called by several people to a tent. The Waiotahi Flat is a sort of sub-township which is springing up on some land that until very lately was supposed to have been reserved for Maori cultivation, but is now being leased

Dr Groth finds Mary Lapine lying on the ground with a bundle of clothes under her.  She is a Frenchwoman of about 25 or 26.  Since Saturday she has been vomiting and in great pain. Dr Groth concludes she has an inflammation of the bowels and recommends her immediate removal to the Provincial Hospital in Auckland.  He gives her an injection, prescribes some medicine and advises hot water poultices be applied to her stomach.  A woman with several children is also present.

The Wesleyan's are building a chapel at Shortland -  the timber has been purchased at a cheap rate and the nails etc have been contributed by several gentlemen in Auckland.

Willie Winkie for the Thames with one case bacon, five cases brandy, one package currants, one box candles, one case pickles, one parcel Vesta matches, one half chest tea, four barrels ale, two hhds ale, three barrels ale, one case ale, 4,500 ft timber, 5,000 shingles, one case glass, two packages sashes, five doors, two kegs nails, six packages.

The report of Auckland's Medical Officer for the year ending December 31, 1867 is published and makes grim reading.  Owing to the continued depression of trade and commerce, and consequently diminished demand for labour of all kinds, the number of patients who have applied for relief during the year again increased. The exodus of the labouring population from Auckland to the Thames goldfields does not seem to have alleviated the distress existing in the city, as in the great majority of cases the wives and families of miners are left in Auckland and are supported on government rations or by charity. 

Numerous cases of dyspepsia and debility have come under treatment, owing no doubt to the want of sufficient nutritious food; the staple diet of a large number of the poor being bread, tea and sugar.  Animal food in any form is quite a luxury to many. Amongst the dispensary patients there does not seem to be any case in which remittances have been sent to support the family of a Thames miner in Auckland. During the past year there has been no outbreak of disease of an epidemic character, with the exception of a slight one of scarlet fever.  There has been remarkable immunity from typhoid fever, due most probably to the lessening of the overcrowding of dwelling houses in Auckland which was so common until recently.

At Tapu a meeting of miners is held this evening in a large marquee adjoining Mr Sceats’ hotel.  John Chute, an old experienced digger, is unanimously called upon to the chair.  The object of the meeting is to secure due representation for Tapu Creek mining interests – the peculiarity of this place, consisting of both quartz reefing and alluvial sinking, require different regulations to what is applicable to the Karaka, where all is quartz reefing.  In many cases where a claim is struck at Tapu, it requires experienced diggers to say whether the claim should be defined as quartz or alluvial.

Thursday, 23 January
A crushing for Daniel Tookey is finished this morning at Goodall’s machine. There is some 47 lbs weight of amalgam – about 200 oz of smelted gold.  The gold is the produce of eight tons of quartz, most the result of fossiking in the claim during the Christmas holidays.

The Papatoetoe claim on the Moanataiari Creek has discovered some exceedingly fine stone -  as fine as flour. For the last four months auriferous quartz has been got out at Messengers claim, now a very rich leader has been struck, from which nearly 50 tons quartz have been taken and stacked ready for crushing.  The partners in Messenger’s claim are waiting for the completion of a crushing machine brought from Sydney.

Dr Groth finds Mary Lapine in a worse condition and she appears to have been drinking as a bottle is lying close to her. She has not followed his advice in taking the medicine he prescribed for her.  No-one appears to be looking after her.   

Otahuhu for the Thames with 10,000 ft timber, two cases port, case oil, three passengers.

  Rob Roy for the Thames with  two tons potatoes, 1 ½ tons hay, 2,000 ft timber, four hhds beer, eleven barrels beer, one bale, one cart and harness, four cases sundries, one fly wheel, ten drums oil, ten tins paint, one horse, one dray.

Sarah for the Thames with two casks ale, one box soap, six bags sugar, two cases drapery, one bale drapery, one cask rum, one box candles, one parcel, two boxes biscuit, three packages drapery, one keg rum, one passenger.

The rush continues to the diggings at Tapu Creek.  It is the opinion of experienced diggers that this place will turn out a good poor man’s diggings, the gold being more equally distributed than at Shortland, with a chance of turning out what is called by miners a “heavy pocket.”

Kate Brown is still living as the Fly leaves Tapu this evening with the newspaper correspondent’s reports.

An absolute necessity for a hospital.

Friday, 24 January
The Resident Magistrate and Warden’s Courts at Shortland sit for some hours today with a large number of cases.

A smart new customs boat is towed to the Thames by the Tauranga. It was built at Messrs Clare and Waymouth’s yard in Custom House Street, Auckland, for the use of the Acting-Sub-Collector of Customs at the Thames and on arrival is duly handed over to the Custom officer, Mr Lundon.

Constable John Wallace is at Waiotahi Flat when a person approaches him and says there is a woman dying in a tent and a doctor is attending her.  At the tent Dr Groth tells Constable Wallace that it is imperative Mary be removed to the hospital.  He gives the constable a certificate stating her disease and recommending her removal to Auckland.  Constable Wallace takes the certificate to Commissioner Mackay who gives him authority to have Mary conveyed to town.  Constable Wallace takes a spring cart down to the tent but on arriving finds Mary in a very weak state.  Wallace goes and gets Dr Groth who accompanies him back to the tent but within ten minutes, around 1pm, Mary dies.  A woman present scornfully says “Look at this poor woman.  It should be a warning to others not to drink.”  She adds she believes from marks she has seen on the body that she has been ill treated - Mary appears to have a black eye and her arms are blue.  Archdeacon Lloyd, of Auckland who is at the Thames, has been informed of the unhappy state of the woman, and though greatly fatigued, he rushes to visit her, but is too late.  Rumours sweep the gold field that Mary Lapine has been grossly maltreated.

The Venerable Archdeacon Lloyd is announced to preach at the diggings on Sunday,  and on February 2 the Right Reverend Bishop Pompallier is to open a new Catholic Church at the diggings, according to the Daily Southern Cross.

Avon for the Thames with 12 head cattle, nine tons flour.

    Rangatira  for the Thames with ten cases wine, 22 cases spirits, three kegs spirits, ten tons potatoes. 

Fly for Tapu Creek with 15 sheep, one cask beef, ten packages, two parcels, three cheeses, three cases, one cask etc.

DSC 24 January, 1868

Saturday, 25 January
An inquest on Mary Lapine, who died horribly in a tent on the Waiotahi Flat, is held at Frank Furlong’s Reefer’s Arms Hotel, on the corner of Pollen and Richmond Street’s. The jury views the body which has been removed to the outer portion of the hotel. Mary is described as being of slight build and middle height, with dark hair and features.  She seems to have been a person who had both education and position.  Mary was a single woman who had been living in a tent at the Thames  with the Kennedy family for about five weeks. She had been in New Zealand for two years.  Mary never seemed to eat but took milk and brandy in quantities of a cupful at a time.  She was addicted to drink and was always falling about and had recently been in a quarrel.  Dr Groth believes the cause of death was typhlitis brought on by constipation of the bowels and accelerated by the excessive drinking of ardent spirits.  Some evidence is elicited showing that she had been maltreated.

After more than two hours consideration the verdict is given that Mary died of typhlitis (inflammation of part of the large intestine) accelerated by excessive drinking and want of proper care and nourishment.  Contrary to gossip,  there were no marks of violence on the body.

Mary’s death causes outrage.  There is a gross want of humanity in leaving a fellow creature, and a woman too, to die alone and uncared for.  There is an absolute necessity for some hospital accommodation at the Thames.  Mary may have lived had she been cared for.  The Provincial Government will give some old beds and bedding towards hospital accommodation at the Thames but a building is needed, and a medical officer, medicines and attendants.

A sample of gold obtained from Thompson’s claim, Karaka Hill, is shown around.  The gold is of a very fine quality. Mr Thompson disapproves of the practice at present adopted of squeezing the amalgam through chamois leather - all the fine gold is lost.  The whole of his amalgam shall be retorted, without using the chamois leather.

 A great Maori meeting of the King tribe is held at Tokangamutu (Te Kuiti).  There are between 3,000 and 4,000 assembled.  The Kawhia people are still on their way, bringing up supplies of fish etc, anticipating a prolonged meeting.   Information leading up to this meeting has been vague and uncertain – evidently discussions on the question of peace or war will be carried out.  Thames tribes attend to discuss the goldfields boundaries.  However no discussion whatever takes place.  The assembled tribes form themselves into a circle – the King and his councillors in the centre.  The meeting opens with a religious service after which there is silence for some time - silence ultimately prevails for the rest of the day.

The company performing at the American Theatre at Shortland have had several very successful performances during the week and as the ‘rawness’  gets worn off, they are coming to their work very well.  Tonight they have one of best attendances yet.  In addition to the amateurs themselves the singing and dancing is of more than average order.  Each and every one connected with the theatre seem determined to pull well together.  A really enthusiastic audience tonight enjoys a very full programme opening with a one act drama – ‘The clock on the stairs', followed by a vocal, acrobatic and terpsichorean interlude. The farce of 'The four wheeler’ is well played and received capitally,  as is the burlesque opera. Captain Butt’s American Theatre is now open every evening.

DSC 25 January, 1868 

Labouring under great difficulties.

Sunday, 26 January
Archdeacon Lloyd preaches this morning in the American Theatre at Shortland before a crowded congregation.

The Rev Father Nivard officiates today at the newly opened Roman Catholic Church at the corner of Willoughby and Baillie Streets.  Matthew Barry has undertaken to have the church lined and provided with 28 seats before the end of this month at his own expense.  The body of the building is well lighted and passing through the entrance the appearance of the altar and rails is striking.  Adjoining the church is a four roomed cottage built as the residence of Father Nivard.   A large congregation attends.   The ceremony is very imposing and Father Nivard is praised for the efforts he has made to obtain a place of worship. 

Meanwhile the members of the Church of England at the Thames are in need of a church and still have to walk a long distance to the Maori mission station.

Kate Brown dies at Tapu this morning thirteen long days after shooting herself.  It is thought she too may have survived had there been a hospital at the Thames.

At Tokangamutu, on the second day of the great Maori meeting, another silent gathering is held.

This evening Archdeacon Lloyd preaches again to a large congregation in the American Theatre.  The theatre is nearly full to its capacity of 600.  The attendance on the previous Sunday for the Rev Mr Hall’s sermon at the American Theatre was 537. 

Archdeacon Lloyd
Webster, Hartley, -1906. Webster, Hartley (Auckland) fl 1852-1900 :John Frederick Lloyd. Ref: PA2-1475. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22893790

Monday, 27 January
Two raupo sheds in Grammar School Road, Parnell,  go up in flames.  They are the property of a Mr Anderson who is at the Thames diggings.   There is a considerable quantity of oats, hay and other inflammable material in the sheds.  Two pigs are burnt to death but several calves are saved.  The wife of Mr Anderson had left a few days before to stay with friends during the absence of her husband at the Thames.   The premises were temporarily in charge of a woman named McIndoo.  Just before the outbreak she saw a boy running across the gully from the direction of the shed. 

The inquest on Kate Brown is held at Tapu in Mr Sceats’ marquee, Alan Baillie, coroner, having arrived from Shortland by the Midge.  Dick Taylor isn’t at the inquest having gone to Auckland with a view to getting Kate admitted to hospital there.  Dr Hooper says he considers the cause of death to be injuries received by a pistol shot.  Kate had a wound to the spine and spinal cord ending in extreme debility and fatal paralysis.

The evidence taken is withheld at the request of the coroner for the furtherance of the ends of justice, there being some suggestion Dick Taylor was involved.  The verdict reached though is that Catherine (Kate) Brown died from injuries received from a pistol shot by her own hand while labouring under mental anxiety caused by reasons unknown.

Arrangements had been made to remove Kate to the Provincial Hospital and the Midge was to have called at Tapu this morning for that purpose.   Kate is buried in the tapu ground to the north of Waipatukahu (Tapu) Creek.  Photos of her brothers and sister are placed in her coffin.

At Tapu a gully on the right bank going up the main creek has been rushed and the ground pegged out.  Weatherboard stores are going up.  Pumping gear has been sent for and Mr Sceats is building a substantial hotel, 40 ft by 24.  Trade at Tapu in general is very dull; business people are living in hope but diggers are apparently satisfied, many making more than average wages.

There are rushes towards the Manaia block where about 60 miners are on the ground.
At Waiomu, specimens of silver and copper ore are gathered from the lode of the indefatigable Walter Williamson and Joseph Smallman.  The lode is 3 ft wide and crosses the beach from the sea, passing up the hills.  The mine is leased for a term of years and it is the intention of the proprietors to commence operations at once.  About 30 tons will soon be ready for shipment to Auckland from where it will be sent on to Australia for more thorough testing.

By now the appearance of the Thames diggings has a striking quality which highlights the difference between them and other diggings.  On other fields, especially alluvial, there is nothing but calico shanties, but all doing a very brisk trade both day and night with constant arrivals pouring in, increasing the lively and business like appearance of the township.  At the Thames diggings though – a place of only five or six months standing - the calico shanty is the exception, and the wooden building is the rule.  The trading part of the community is not nearly so busy and work appears very dull.  A short distance from Shortland into the bush in any direction on the eastern side of the Karaka creek the claims generally are worked in a systematic manner. There is no doubt that many of the claimholders at present labour under great difficulties, some not knowing the proper way to work their claims and others suffer from the want of roads to a machine. Despite the difficulties there is strong anticipation that the Thames goldfields will last for years, and afford many a poor man a decent reward for his labour. The claims now producing gold bearing quartz have over two thousand tons weight waiting for machinery.  The labour employed is estimated at 1200 men. 

On the Kuranui Creek there is an area of ground worked extending over one thousand acres.  The miners have named the ground ‘Golden Hill’ and from the yield of gold in the Shotover, Barry’s, All Nation’s, Tookey’s, Levy’s and the Homeward Bound and other claims, the name is appropriate. 

The only machines in operation now is that at the mouth of the Kuranui and Mr Goodall’s, which crush together about 16 tons in 24 hours.  In a few days two more engines will be at work, one at the Waiotahi and the other at Karaka. Besides these there are several Berdan machines worked by single claims. 

A party of experienced miners who went to Hikutaia to prospect return to Shortland today without success.

A building is very rapidly being built upon Lot 28 Pollen Street and is intended as a branch of the Bank of New Zealand.

At Tokangamutu, on the third day of the great Maori meeting, silence again reigns. The meeting which was expected to last for weeks disperses in sadness, uncertainty and bad humour. Many are sorely grieved that not one subject out of the many which were to have been submitted to the meeting is settled, including the Thames tribes and the goldfield boundaries question.

Willie Winkie for the Thames with  30,000 ft timber, one box meat, one can nails, one case, two bags, four barrels, 3,000 shingles, four cases, four bags, six passengers. 

  Wahapu for the Thames with 11,000 ft timber, 3,000 bricks, one horse, one dray, 24 bags lime.

This evening a meeting is held at Captain Butt’s Shortland Hotel regarding raising funds for the construction of a church for the members of the Church of England. Archdeacon Lloyd takes the chair.  Chief Taipari has given a suitable site of a quarter of an acre of land situated beyond the Willoughby Hotel.   The burden of expense must rest with the Thames, although the Diocese has contributed £10 and around £4 have already been collected.  Twenty pounds have been promised from the church committee in Auckland.  It is estimated that a build 60ft by 30ft will cost £150. It is mooted that the inhabitants of Auckland should be canvassed for subscriptions but the meeting is unanimous in their opinion that no money can be got out of Auckland.  Subscription lists will be sent round among the diggers without delay. The Rev Mr Maunsell proposes a vote of thanks to Chief Taipari for his liberality in giving a piece of ground for the church.

Tuesday, 28 January
Among the visitors to Shortland today are Mr Corbett, Chief Postmaster, Mr Grey, Inspector of Post Offices and Major Cadell.

The Resident Magistrates Court at Shortland hears the case of James Doran v David Snodgrass.  Doran had been in the employ of Snodgrass, a baker, and had sustained a fracture of four ribs caused by the carelessness of the defendant in pushing a sack of flour while it was being carried to the bake house.  Doran is claiming eight weeks wages.  Evidence is called to show that Snodgrass was labouring under excitement from drink at the time of the occurrence.  David Snodgrass denies he was drunk.  He says he had discharged Doran that day before the accident happened.  Doran had volunteered his assistance and was told that he was not wanted.  Doran at that time was standing near the trough and as Snodgrass was lifting the sack of flour, the sack fell over and fell against Doran. Doran alleges Snodgrass was not quite sober.  The judgement of the court is that there is no doubt that Doran had suffered a certain amount of injury by the act of Snodgrass, but it is not proved that it was either wilful or negligent on the part of Snodgrass.  

Other cases are heard including John Murphy v Captain Seon with an action to recover the value of a chest of tea lost on board the steamer Enterprise.    Murphy exasperatedly states this is the fourth time he has attended this case, whereas Captain Seon never appears. This case is adjourned.  

As the court is about to rise Samuel Hamilton, William Hunt, William Rowe, Captain Butt and others well known to be interested in the first three claims on the Kuranui appear in court.  They state they are waiting on the reply of Commissioner Mackay regarding a tramway through Hamilton and Robert’s claim, for the convenience of the Shotover and Barry’s claim.
Mackay reads the document aloud and it appears that while the Shotover and the Kuranui Mining Company are anxious to have a tramway which has already been contracted for the Kuranui company, the two shareholders in Hamilton’s oppose it and are backed by 34 of the shareholders in the All Nations, Homeward Bound, Goldworthy’s and other’s claims up the creek.  They say the tramway would interfere with future operations. A line of tramway has already been contracted by the Kuranui Company, sanctioned by the Shotover party, to be tunnelled through their claim into Barry’s.  Considerable capital has been invested by the Kuranui Company providing employment to a large number of men, and they are aggrieved that their operations will be stopped after being led to understand that they were working in accordance with the lay of the goldfield.  Mackay states that he will hear the case at the ground in one hour.

On going to the ground there is a large muster of men from the upper claims.  A discussion is held and Mackay, having heard the evidence decides that there should be a public road pointed out and marked by the goldfields surveyor but that anyone or party wanting a tramway or other road, must make their own arrangements with the holders of the claims through which they wish to pass and pay for this if necessary.

 Henry for the Thames with  five tons sugar, three tons potatoes, 20 packages, three horses, two drays, 15 boxes tea. 

  Caroline for Hikutaia, Thames, with one box candles.

Of the party who went to Wairoa to investigate the story of the area being a gold bearing district,  one returns to Shortland today but reports having failed to discover anything payable.  Though the look of the country is very promising, only the colour in exceedingly minute specks was obtainable.  The remaining two men are still at work.

DSC 28 January, 1868

NZH 28 January, 1868

John Frederick Lloyd had been a clergyman at St Paul’s, Auckland, for nearly twenty years and was Archdeacon of the Waitemata.  He was notable for his affectionate relationship with his parishioners.

The Daily Southern Cross report stating that Bishop Pompallier was to open a Catholic church on the diggings was an error. The opening of the church is misreported by the DSC twice giving two different dates - first saying it happened on January 9 – a Thursday. (DSC 2 March, 1868) then saying it was Sunday 9 January – when that Sunday was actually the 12th (DSC 11 February, 1868). The church actually officially opened on 26 January and Father Nivard officiated as above.

Papers Past
E. R. Simmons. 'Pompallier, Jean Baptiste Fran├žois', first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, vol. 1, 1990, and updated online in November, 2010. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 30 August 2017) 

© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018

Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.