Wednesday 1 August 2018

12 February to 18 February, 1868

Broken arms and sly grogging.

The Bendigo diggings 1853, by WL Walton.
National Library of Australia.

Wednesday, 12 February
The result of yesterday’s great court case is discussed at the Thames and at Auckland with much passion.   It is being very loudly argued at the diggings that the decision will tend to make capitalists wary of investing on the goldfield.   A man has a right to what belongs to him and that was all that was sought by Captain Butt.  The NZ Herald correspondent notes “all things considered we have already a very pretty crop of litigation for a place born six months ago.” The correspondent also ruefully observes that  the filthy old whare where the case was heard is  “by courtesy  . . . called a court house."

 Catherine for Shortland via Tapu Creek with 7,500 ft timber, 23,000 shingles and 10 tons stores

There is still no news of any importance from the new country towards Hikutaia.  It is expected that the ground will be thrown open publicly on Monday next.  At the present time all men going out must have permission from Mr Mackay or they will be turned back by the Maori.

John Barron breaks his arm this evening while working on a claim on the Karaka.  He is taken up to Auckland by the Tauranga where the broken arm is set by Dr Merrett.

Otago Daily Times 12 February, 1868

DSC 12 February, 1868

Thursday, 13 February
Captain Burgess, Port Master at the Thames, is in the pilot cutter buoying the channel opposite Shortland Town.  The old buoys were washed away during the recent heavy floods inconveniencing the masters of vessels trying to navigate the river.

A port of entry at the Thames is not to be granted for some reason best known to the authorities in Wellington.

 Amongst other cases heard at the Resident  Magistrates Court  this morning are those of Messrs Allen, Barchard, Skete, Bluden and Carter - all storekeepers charged with sly grog selling at Tapu.  They plead guilty and are fined £10 each and costs.

The NZ Herald has very carefully read the proposed mining regulations for the Thames goldfield drawn up by the committee of miners appointed at the suggestion of Mr Mackay. The rules are very liberal and comprehensive and reflect a very large amount of credit on the men who compiled them. 

Fly for the Thames with 400 ft timber, sundries

 Spey for the Thames with 15,000 ft timber

The new steamer Jane leaves the Queen Street wharf on her first trip to the Thames where she will be a regular trader. Owing to some slight defect in her machinery the trip is not so fortunate, but the fault is to be rectified. 

Two miners who started on a prospecting tour in the vicinity of the Miranda Redoubt, and were furnished with packhorses and a sufficient supply of stores for a long absence, are ordered back to the Thames by a party of Maori.

DSC 13 February 1868

NZH 13 February, 1868

Friday, 14 February
John Barron, despite his broken arm, is back at the Thames, and with Thomas Horsefall, from Melbourne,  pegs off some ground close to the township.  John Barron  is a hard working man out of luck but in  a few hours today they take out five tons of stone, three tons of which is crushed at Stone’s machine and yields 13 oz 12 dwts.  The claim is just on the boundary of the township and the men want to have the machine for a month to keep the claim going.  The Inverness claim strikes fine gold today. The claims at the head of the Waiotahi and Moanataiari are still maintaining their supremacy.  The machines are all working well and with little pause.  Several parties have gone to Omahu and Hikutaia to try their luck.   

The American Theatre is drawing big crowds and the actors are very polished.  Clifford, Gibbs, Hill, Hesford and Donetti appear in ‘Bombastes Furioso’ and 'The Fast Train’ both of which pieces are praised as exceedingly creditable to the management.

Bombastes Furioso by George Cruikshank 
Reprinted in The Musical Quarterly, October 1950
Public Domain

Rob Roy for the Thames with  20,000 ft timber, sashes and doors, ½ ton potatoes, ten packages stores.

  Avon for the Thames with six hhds beer, eight barrels beer, four tons flour, two tons coal, one ton coke, ½ ton sugar, one box tobacco, two tons bran, one ton maize, four cases, four bags, one keg, ten head cattle, eight passengers.

Saturday, 15 February
It pours bucketsful’s of rain and the men are all wet to the skin.

The Tauranga arrives shortly after 6pm at Auckland this evening with 185 oz gold, 120 oz of which is from Scanlan and Co’s claim, and the product of the first quartz crushed by their new machinery.

15 February, 1868

Sunday, 16 February
It is rumoured in Shortland this morning that a party of two men who ventured too far up the river have been seized by the Maori of the Upper Thames and taken away to be tried by the Maori King. These are men who were prospecting and were stopped some time ago, when a gun was taken from them, causing Te Moananui to go to Te Hira to demand restitution in which he succeeded.  There are still two parties of prospectors out on the ranges between Ohinemuri and the east coast.  Te Hira’s tribe warn that if any persons are found in a similar situation they will be dealt with in a like manner. The occurrence has been reported to Mr Mackay who goes up to Kirikiri tonight and it is speculated he may go up country to sort out the matter.

Monday, 17 February
The Shotover's 'Goldfinder' machine  commences crushing this morning. At Manaia there are about 25 men at work, but the diggers are now tempted in a different direction. The Karaka is maintaining its character as the leading gold producing district in the Thames

The chiefs Te Moananui and Pita Taurua, from Coromandel, pass through the Thames and stay in the tent of the Daily Southern Cross  correspondent. The chief topic of conversation is the removal of the tapu from the entrance of the Waipatukahu (Tapu) Creek, and the portion of the ground situated on the southern bank.  Should this be done vessels drawing five feet of water can enter and anchor in ten feet of water at high tide.  At low water there is only a running stream at a depth of two feet.  Major Heaphy  is now at  Tapu making a survey of that part of the coast.

A party come into Shortland Town for provisions and report Puriri as worth trying.  There are about 50 men prospecting on the ground at present but when Mr Mackay officially declares the ground to be open to Europeans, a larger rush of men is expected to take place.

Little London at Puriri.

The NZ Herald correspondent, along with a gentleman who has been several times up the Thames River, attempts to visit the new ground at  Puriri.  They come across two boatmen who have never been up the river before and whose boat ought to have four oars, but  has only two, one of which has a broken blade. After a good deal of getting ready, they start off.

It is nearly top of flood tide and they hold their course across the mud flat that divides the Kauaeranga Creek from the channel of the Thames River.  After a little mud larking, that is, getting stuck in the mud and sticking there, they get into the channel of the Thames that is broad enough to carry a 150 ft vessel.  The little craft catches the breeze and they hoist sail.  Five miles up the river they pass Kopu, the site of Purchas and Ninnis’ flaxmill.  Here there is a wharf and a fairly big house. There is no sign of life though and they conclude that it is a deserted village.

The left bank of the river shows fine country; the right bank is low lying, but evidently good land, covered with an  apparently inexhaustible supply of flax.  About four miles from Kopu they come upon a number of canoes with Maori fishing from them  and near some whares on the bank are  several  women and children. This is a fishing place of the Ohinemuri people.

 As they sail along flocks of snipe rise from the riverbank, one flock being estimated at 500 strong.  The men have now come  so far that all eyes are straining to find the opening of the Puriri Creek.  They hail a boat standing downstream and are told they are a mile and a half from the Puriri.  The land is so low and so overgrown with flax that it is difficult to see more than a mere opening that may or may not be the mouth of a creek.  They have been told to look out for an island in the middle of the river.  They sight a boat that had preceded them pulling steadily down the stream for a small opening out of the river.  They follow suit and find themselves in a fine deep creek with the most delicious water.  Although the Thames is a tidal river it also has very fine, sweet water at this distance (around 16 miles) from the gulf of the Hauraki.

They come to the settlement of Puriri - a number of whares, all now inhabited by Europeans.  There are numerous indications of cultivation from some 700 previous occupants. ‘Little London’,  as the diggings are known, are a mile and a half away towards the base of the ranges.  A  Maori who worked on  New Zealand Gully in Bendigo shows them the road.  After wading through water above the knee they start for the diggings.  They pass a field on their right of rather poor looking potatoes behind a brush fence. 
The land is watered by several small streams and has a view of the Puriri creek and Thames, winding like molten silver in the distance.  The country is swampy, but still very rich and easily drained with no timber or stones. The land, observes the NZ Herald correspondents  companion,  belongs to the Church Missionary Society, 700 acres of it belonging to the Reverend Barrows, who resides in Parnell and who purchased it for knives, blankets and other sundries. 

The sun is so hot on their backs that they are obliged to tie their handkerchiefs round the back of their heads and necks.  After five Irish miles of travelling, they come to one of the greatly talked about claims – that of the Maoris, and on hailing the whare, out comes a Maori known as Jimmy Sinclair. They want a cup of tea they tell him. Jimmy says he hasn’t any tea, hasn’t any bread, hasn’t any grog – however he does raise a pot of something like tea, the colour of strong sherry. While this is being prepared the NZ Herald  correspondent examines all the stone that there is to show, but can find no show of gold in any of it.

At the settlement a miner shows them a half ounce sample of what he calls alluvial gold.   They cannot see that it is alluvial and disgust the miner by saying so.  Gold is being got by washing in the creeks at the base of the ranges here.  They are now prepared for another start but as the sun is getting low down in the west they do not make it to Little London.  They can see it is a city of some half a dozen bell and two square tents.  They head back to the settlement, taking with them Jimmy Sinclair, on the promise of some tea and sugar in lieu of what they have consumed. It is just dark when they reach the whare and they find the younger men there entertaining themselves playing a game called the Parish priest.

The new screw steamer Jane leaves Auckland for the Thames.  The defect in her machinery which hampered her first trip is now fixed and this trip is very exciting and thoroughly enjoyed by the passengers. The Enterprise having started some 8 or 10 minutes before the Jane is overtaken by her after a short race of about six miles, and while the boats are abreast of each other there is a little good tempered chaffing indulged in by the passengers of each boat.  In about three hours the Enterprise is “nowhere”.  Now the Tauranga appears, and under full pressure of steam and canvas, follows hard after the Jane.  The new boat very cleverly manages to keep away from the Tauranga until each boat takes a different route - the Tauranga for Tapu and the Jane for Shortland Town.

The NZ Herald correspondent at Puriri is a little anxious about their provisions, although he and his companion have provided for themselves.  They have somehow collected  three  extra to provide for up the river and two more are now added for their guides down. They discover their grog is all gone although they left a man in charge of the stores and another man in charge of the boat.  Owing to the heat  a keg with a gallon and a half of colonial beer in it when they left for the ranges is now found to contain one quart only of the beverage.

What is to be done?  Could the storekeeper have a little rum?  No, owing to the recent sly grogging  cases at Tapu and Waiotahi he has determined not to keep any. What grub has he?  None.  They sold out yesterday and again today, the rush of men being considerable. But as it is the NZ Herald correspondent he will give him a little rum which is kept for medicinal purposes and then there might be something done for a feed. They have the grog and Jimmy, having ascertained he is going to get some, disappears and in a moment  reappears  bearing in triumph a billy full of potatoes.  With the addition of some salt, these are devoured.

And now for the boat.  Which is the best road Jimmy?  The boat is high and dry.  They have come too far up the creek and have to carry the boat into deep water, wading above the knees.  If they cannot get down to the mudflat at the mouth of the river by high water they will be  stuck on the bank in sight of Shortland for five or six hours. But for the indefatigable Jimmy, who is said to be a great scoundrel, they would  never have got out into the river.  He jumps overboard and pushes the boat sideways and lengthwise, helped by a  European river pilot.

Shortly before 10pm
The Jane reaches Shortland Town having made the run from Auckland in five hours and 50 minutes.  Captain Thwaites is highly complimented by his passengers on the smartness of his boat. 

DSC 17 February, 1868

Tuesday, 18 February
 After some hours of hard pushing and pulling in the boat from Puriri the exhausted NZ Herald correspondent and his companion  reach the landing place at Shortland. As they have arranged to go up a mountain at 8 this morning they make what haste they can to bed.

Considerable numbers of diggers are still making for the new field at Puriri; amongst them Mr Joseph Newman and a fully equipped prospecting party.

A  large congregation of Maori gather at the rear of the Thames Hotel, Grey Street, to remove the bones of Titi, the first wife of Hoterene; the father of Taipari, who is buried there.  The tapued spots at the Thames have been a cause of difficulty to both Europeans and Maori.  As a rule, the miners have put themselves to inconvenience to avoid violating a tapu, but several pieces of ground are in most awkward situations.  There are a good many complaints by the miners of Tapu Creek about the problem of the tapu there.  Waipatukahu  is a most sacred spot in the eyes of the Thames tribes – a kind of Westminster Abbey of Ngatimaru and Ngatimatera, whose ancient chiefs are buried there.  Canoes passing used to go miles out to sea to avoid infringing on this tapu.

Wahapu for Tapu Creek with 60,000 shingles and sundries.

 Tay and Aloe for the Thames with sundries.

The Bank of New Zealand ship their second parcel of Thames gold to England today per the ss Phoebe.  The parcel comprises 1,745oz and a small box of silver containing 144 oz.

Clark and Kersteman, of Melbourne, launch a large boiler off Custom House Street wharf, Auckland,  to be towed down to the Thames by the cutter Diamond.  This is one of the largest boilers that has been sent to the Thames goldfields and is part of an extensive plant of crushing machinery now being erected by them.

NZH 18 February, 1868

Bombastes Furioso, subtitled A Burlesque Tragic Opera, is an  1810 drama with comic songs, that satirises the bombastic style of  tragedies that were in fashion at the time.

The companion on the Puriri trip has the purchaser of the land wrong. In 1835 James Preece and William Fairburn were instrumental in purchasing the estimated 500 acre Te Puriri block for the Church Missionary Society  to the value of £300. Payment included 16 blankets, 16 iron pots, 12 axes, 12 adzes, 18 spades, 4 shirts, 12 handkerchiefs, 18 pounds tobacco, 72 pipes, 24 scissors, 24 combs, 12 knives, 6 razors, 100 fish hooks, 20 plane irons, and 20 dollars (sic).  The Reverend Robert Burrows (not Barrows) was the secretary of the Church Missionary Society.  

The Irish mile measured 2240 yards: approximately 1.27 statute miles or 2.048 kilometres. It was used in Ireland from the 16th century on plantations until the 19th century, with residual use into the 20th century.

The Priest of the Parish is a call and response game which warms up player’s vocal cords, legs, and memory muscles. It also goes by other names, including The Prince of Paris.
The game can be for  50-150 people with  one chair for each person. The chairs are arranged in rows of equal numbers (for example, ten rows of five), half of them facing the other. Each row of chairs is given a number from one to ten. The players get into teams of five and each team sits in one of the ten rows. One person, who is running the game (who is called the Gossiper) says: "The priest of the parish has lost his considering cap. Some say this, and some say that, but I say it was team number X." That team stands up all at once and says (in unison), "Who me sir?" The team and the Gossiper have a conversation, which runs like this:Gossiper: "The priest of the parish has lost his considering cap. Some say this, and some say that, but I say it was team number X."Team X: "Who me sir?"Gossiper: "Yes, you sir."Team X: "Couldn't be, sir!"Gossiper: "Then who, sir?"Team X: "Team number Y, sir!"
At this point, all of team Y stands up and says "Who me sir?" and so on. This continues until one of the following happens: A team doesn't stand up together, a team speaks out of unison or the wrong team stands up. When one of these happens, the team that made the mistake goes to the bottom row of chairs (in our example, row 10), and all of the teams below them move up. The whole process starts again with the Gossiper talking to a team. The aim is to be Team 1 at the end of the game. The game ends when the Gossiper decides that the players have had enough.

Papers Past
Puriri – A History of the school & district, Edited Rex Clark

© 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.

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