Sunday 5 August 2018

15 January to 21 January, 1868

Alluvial gold.

Abundance in the ranges.
Wednesday, 15 January
Despite the initial negativity about Tapu Creek there are now hundreds of miner’s there. Parcels of alluvial gold from Tapu are appearing on the market. Mr Hogg, of Hogg and Co, Shortland Town, takes in to the NZ Herald office a fine sample weighing 33 ozs which has been purchased from miner’s arriving from Tapu Creek. Another sample of fine gold, of some 12 oz, is shown by Mr Sceats. The gold is at present chiefly obtained from gullies leading into Tapu Creek. The sinking varies from one to seven feet, and in some places the whole of the ground will pay for washing. The gold is worth considerably more money than that obtained from the Kauaeranga reefs. Quartz too, is found in abundance in the ranges. McIssacs has struck a very promising leader. A considerable amount of gold is in the hands of individuals - nuggets vary from half an ounce to a piece the size of a walnut. There is a large extent of country at Tapu which has every appearance of being auriferous and from which alluvial gold has been obtained, while for quartz reefing there is in the neighbouring hills a large field for exploration.

 Otahuhu  for the Thames with  2,000 ft timber, 5 tons stores.
A meeting is held at Butt’s Hotel for those interested in the establishment of the first newspaper on the Thames goldfield with the proposed name of the Thames Advertiser.   It is adjourned for a fortnight.

DSC 15 January, 1868
NZH 15 January, 1868

Thursday, 16 January
A yacht is being built on a corner of the Caledonian claim at the Thames. This is quite a novelty and the skeleton craft is well visited and not a little criticised by brother miners.  Mr Richard White, of Auckland, is the builder, and has made considerable progress in the work of her construction. The spirited owners of the claim, who have always taken a deep interest in the Auckland annual regatta, plan to put in an appearance this year with this brand new yacht, to be named the Prince Alfred. 

The Caledonian claim itself is turning out most satisfactory. The owners have this week struck a continuation of the leader at a depth of three feet.  Twenty seven ounces of gold from the claim, crushed at a Berdan, are sold to Mr Goodall.  The men have elected Alfred Pollard manager.

Thames tribes begin to leave for a great Maori meeting to be held at Tokangamutu (Te Kuiti) in a few days. They intend to discuss goldfield boundaries.

A new map of Shortland Town, drawn by Messrs Hamilton and Fisher, and lithographed at the office of the NZ Herald, is published.  The map is accurately drawn and the lithographic printing well executed.  It will be in considerable request as it is published by Messrs Wayte and Batger at the low price of 18 pence. The positions of the various reserves and creeks are plainly marked off, and the layouts of the different streets and allotments can be seen at a glance.

Cornstalk for the Thames with cattle.

  Avon  for the Thames with six tons flour, six tons potatoes, 1 ½ tons maize, 11 hhds ale, two casks beef, four bags salt, 10 packages, 30 bundles luggage, two passengers.

  Rob Roy  for the Thames with 4,000 ft timber, 9,000 shingles, two tons flour, five bags sugar, ten packages groceries, five packages furniture, three bags potatoes.

A miner named Wardle, passing along the same creek where Joseph Franklin was killed by a boulder, has a miraculous escape from a similar fate.  Wardle has not a moment to spare in his flight from a descending boulder.  The notice posted warning people of the danger is only legible on close examination.

NZH 16 January, 1868

Friday, 17 January
Kate Brown, at Tapu Creek, is still alive.  Doctors Hooper and  Groth say that it is possible she may live, but not probable.  She is being cared for by a Mrs Smith.

A very beautiful sample of gold is to be seen at Tapu – it has evidently undergone a process of friction as it is perfectly smooth and water worn.  There are now between 700 - 800 miners on the ground and fresh arrivals daily.  Cutters arrive by almost every tide and the steamers bring a good number of passengers from Shortland.  The flat is dotted with the tents of storekeepers.  A party arrives today with baking apparatus and flour, so there will be a bakery started in a day or two. It is difficult to arrive at any conclusion as to the quantity of gold that is being found there; the diggers generally are very reserved and keep things extremely quiet.

Diggers are cautioned not to rush to Tapu Creek – there are a great many challenges there.  The nature of the country renders it almost inaccessible  with its steep ranges and undergrowth of timber.  The labour needed is considerable and none but experienced miners should undertake this kind of work.  Nothing short of the greatest perseverance can ensure the diggers' success here.  Despite the reservations, the cutter Fly is today laid on as a regular trader between Auckland and Tapu Creek,  and McIssac has a Berdan machine conveyed to his claim. All the ground in the neighbourhood of this claim has been taken up.

Fly for Tapu Creek with two casks ale, one case soap, one case pickles, one case jam, one bundle bags, two parcels, one ream paper, eight cheeses, seven bags potatoes, two tents, three bags coals, 4,000 ft timber, eight cases, three kegs, one cask, three dozen pannikins, one bundle pans, two cases bitters, four passengers.

A settler from the Miranda Redoubt has come this week to see Mr Mackay, in company of a clergyman, and states that in digging a post hole he has come upon gold.  He wishes to put in a claim for the reward.  Mr Mackay and Mr Heaphy leave today for the Miranda Redoubt to investigate the matter.

Gold has been found at Kaipara, and some quartz from Waitakare, when placed alongside a Thames specimen, is found indistinguishable from it.  There is also a report that gold has been discovered in the Waikato district, 100 miles south of Auckland.    Prospectors at Mercury Bay find rich shotty gold in a creek but as soon as the Maori, who live lower down the creek, discover the water discoloured, they approach the diggers and send them away, threatening to kill them if they come back. 

Kaipara Maori.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 661-144

NZH 17 January, 1868

Saturday, 18 January
At Tapu there are several men out on the reefs who have not been seen for the last 10 days.  Others are looking for them.  The country between the Tapu Creek and the Mata, barring smoke, could conceal a hundred men for some time.

Thomas Sandes, government surveyor, is instructed to survey a piece of land to form a township at Tapu.  A pier is planned to extend from the landing place there - at present coasters are driven up and at low water freights are discharged into waiting drays. 

Kate Brown is defying the odds and is rapidly recovering.  She is said to have repented of her rash act.  A good constitution and the careful attention of Dr Hooper have carried her through.

 Rangatira  for the Thames with five bags maize, four bags bran, one cask sundries,  one parcel pepper, one axe, one package handles, one case Vesta matches,  two dozen tins, ten bags, five cases biscuit,  nine packages,  three cases whisky, two casks ale, one cask wine.  

 Bessy  for the Thames with 15,000 ft timber, 5,000 shingles.

The Waterlily arrives at Thames with 16,000 ft timber from Whangapoua then returns for another load.

The Tauranga is floated off Mr Niccol's patent slip at Devonport after a thorough overhaul and will leave for Tapu Creek and Shortland Town on Monday.   Niccol’s slip is extremely useful and beneficial to the shipping trade.  In shipping, the coastal business is brisk and most of the small craft are doing well.  About 15 cutters, in addition to the regular steamers Tauranga, Enterprise and Midge, are kept constantly running to the Thames with timber, provisions and passengers.

A party of three diggers leave Shortland to test the truthfulness of a report of the Wairoa being a gold bearing district.  

NZH  18 January, 1868

DSC 18 January, 1868

Sunday, 19 January
The Reverend Mr Hall of the Wellington Street Presbyterian Church,  Auckland, preaches at Shortland Town in the American Theatre. The congregation is the largest indoor attendance seen there yet and the reverend gentleman is listened to with the greatest attention.

Monday, 20 January
At Tapu, gold has been struck in McIssac’s reef and other miners, of whom there are now between 800 and 1,000,  appear to be generally doing well.  Large offers for shares have been refused.  Stores and buildings are going up rapidly and the place is swiftly increasing in size and population. For the benefit of ingoing vessels, Mr Sceats, with his customary enterprise, has devised a kind of lighthouse on a small scale, by erecting a pole with a lamp at the top of it.  Although there is at least 10 ft of water in the mouth of the creek at high tide, it is not a safe anchorage - when the water subsides vessels are left resting upon the boulders.

Cornstalk for the Thames with horses.  

Henry for the Thames with six head cattle, two horses, one ton bran, one ton potatoes, eight packages, two passengers.

Tuesday, 21 January
Things are looking a good deal livelier at the Thames than they have done since the holidays.  A NZ Herald correspondent visits the claims of Edinbro’ Castle, the Star of the South, Flying Cloud, Carpenters and Dixons.   In all these claims he finds the men well satisfied.  Not more than six weeks ago only one-sixth of these claims were known; now the men are talking of having some ten years of work on hand.

Dr Seth Sam is approved as a medical officer under the Vaccination Act, 1865, for the district of Franklin, to attend at Shortland and such other places, for the purpose of performing vaccination from time to time, as required.

Tay for the Thames with  ½ ton flour, ten cases bread, eight boxes candles, six boxes soap, three tons furniture, four cases sundries, ½ ton sugar, six boxes tea, 23 packages furniture and ten packages for Tapu.  

 Fly for Tapu with  one hhd ale, one box, one parcel, one bale leather, one tent, three parcels sundries, two bags bran, two passengers. 

 Avon  for the Thames with  one case drapery, four cases spirits, 15 tons coal, 2 ½ cases potatoes, 22 mats sugar, five tons general stores.  

 Albert for the Thames with 38 Maori passengers (the Albert is a Maori owned cutter)


Dr Julius Groth was a qualified medical practitioner, trained at the University of Kiel, Germany. He appears to have been an Auckland doctor who was sometimes at the Thames. His horse – a plucky little animal - raced in the hack race of the Thames Caledonian games in the New Year.

Henry Niccol, a Scotsman, arrived at Auckland on the Jane Gifford on 9 October 1842. With other members of his family, Niccol established his first rudimentary shipyard at Waiheke Island and in 1843 completed the 16 ton schooner Thistle, which was soon sold for a little over £60. With the benefit of this money Niccol moved his yard to Auckland, where, on a site now well inland, at the corner of Queen Street and Vulcan Lane, he built three yachts for the sheriff of Auckland, Percival Berry. For his next contract, the government schooner Albert, Niccol moved to a site in Mechanics Bay, further away from the growing town, and there he remained until 1865 or 1866, when he moved his yard to Garden Terrace (Queens Parade), in Devonport. Niccol was famous in his day: the launching of a ship from his yard became a social occasion, where crowds gathered and prominent citizens officiated.

Papers Past
W. A. Laxon. 'Niccol, Henry', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1990, updated June, 2015. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 September 2017)


© 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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