Tuesday 31 July 2018

19 February to 25 February, 1868

Promises of money.

Wednesday, 19 February
The Maori discoverers of Thames gold, Paratene Whakautu and Hamiora Ahepene, have written to the Daily Southern Cross.  They want to claim the £5,000 reward. “Sir- Will you please let us know through your valuable newspaper whom we should apply to for our reward for first discovering gold in the Karaka Creek?  We found the gold by sluicing a long time ago, and Mr Lochan (sic) (Lawlor) and Mr Davis took our specimens to Auckland.  Soon after they returned, Mr Mackay and Dr Pollen succeeded in getting the land opened to miners.  At this time Mr Mackay took us aboard the steamer to Mr Williamson, the superintendent, and Mr Williamson then promised us the money when he saw plenty of gold.  – Paratene (signed with an X )  Hamiora Ahepene  (signed with an X).  February 17, 1868.

The editor replies applications must be made to the Superintendent, Mr Williamson.   There are several claimants for the reward.

The Thames Quartz Crushing Company is now in the course of formation, the manager being Mr Smart, of the firm Cruickshank and Smart.   Another company in the course of development is the Karaka Gold Mining Company, known as the Monster Claim. 

This evening in the Commercial Room of Butt’s Hotel a meeting is held for those interested in the building of a Presbyterian Church.  The Reverend James Hill occupies the chair. The Thames goldfield has been under the direction of a special committee and has been visited and supplied with divine service once a month by clergymen connected with the Presbytery, as they were called upon.   These services have had numerous and attentive audiences. Church services had originally been held in the old courthouse whare but since the building  of the American Theatre, Captain Butt has granted his commercial room, adjoining the theatre, most readily for religious service on the Sabbath – but this is only a temporary arrangement. At the commencement of the goldfields the presbytery appointed a committee to provide a monthly supply of sermons and it was believed they would soon be able to give a fortnights supply.  A site for the church has kindly been given by Chief Taipari and a building must now be erected.  It is stated by several that many who at present can not give money can and will willingly give labour.

Another meeting tonight is held at the Victoria Hotel which may go some way towards inducing men who have the means to do so to go into mining. A proposal is made to shareholders that the two claims known as Mulligan’s and Williamson's amalgamate, so as to throw the whole into a joint stock or limited liability company.  Both claims are well situated and are as likely as any claim on the ground.  It is resolved to amalgamate the claims.  This is a move in the right direction, for until the Thames has some capital with the almost superabundant labour market, it will continue to be in a bad fix.

DSC 19 February 1868

Thursday, 20 February
Commissioner Mackay declares the country extending south to the Puriri Creek now open for mining.  About 200 men follow Mr Mackay, and disappear among creeks and gullies.

DSC 20 February, 1868

A new rush takes place this morning to ground discovered within the last few days, at the head of the Tararu, in the line of the Te Hape, Karaka. The reported discoverer is Mr Seymour.  Some very rich stone has been got out of an 80ft shaft in Tookey’s claim. 

 Catherine for the Thames and Tapu Creek with six tons flour, nine tons furniture, two tons potatoes, two tons doors and sashes

DSC 20 February, 1868

Friday, 21 February
After fossicking at Puriri for a day or two, dejected miners return to Shortland announcing the new ground to be a duffer.  Others more experienced in mining remain. Old miners and storekeepers at Puriri are cynical as to the place containing gold bearing reefs; all agree that the colour can be got on the flat and in the creeks but no one has yet seen quartz that will pay for working. 

A party of men have been prospecting on the creeks entering the Ohinemuri River. These men now return to Shortland, having prospected from Thorpes store inland, again across the ranges to the east coast, and in no instance did they discover alluvial gold.  In portions of quartz the colour was perceived, but when the bottom was reached, no gold was found. One Maori and one European accompanied the party, who were advised to hide themselves in the boat until they had passed the Maori settlement, after which the prospectors were not interfered with. The surface gave indications similar to the Karaka Creek, and the prospectors agree that auriferous leaders may be discovered.  In one branch entering the main creek on the left bank a wash was found, giving no more indications of gold then in any other point in the Thames below Ohinemuri. Their opinion is, that if there is alluvial gold in the Thames district, it is lying between the upper districts and the Waikato.

At Captain Butt’s hotel Pratt, Clayton and Co’s new patent lever crushing machine is extensively used today.  The general opinion of the diggers seems to be that it is just the thing required.  It will enable them, by a little manual labour, to test the quality of their quartz, and its portability will allow it to be carried to the claims furthest away from the town.  The first of these machines will be erected on the Happy-Go-Lucky claim.

A man named Barber and his mate are caught prospecting between Waihi and Matoora by a Maori named Tara, who threatens them with numerous pains and penalties. This is not the only time they have been detected – this time they are told they will be decapitated. 

The share market is to some extent in a more flourishing condition than it has been. Several speculators have invested in various claims, and fair prices, considering the scarcity of the money market, have been obtained. 

At Tapu two additional claims have been found which promise well.   McIssac’s claim is still yielding largely and two new claimholders have gone to Auckland for machinery.  A number of miners have left the Tapu for Puriri.  Mr Barchard’s and Mr Sceats’ hotels are rapidly going up and a large new store is about to be built for Messrs Read and Co.

The Fly on its way to Auckland from Tapu Creek sights what appears to be a portion of a wreck in the Hauraki Gulf – the stern post of a vessel is visible above the choppy water at intervals.  

 Avon for the Thames with 11 barrels ale, one case gin, one case wine, 3 ½ tons flour, ½ ton maize, ½ ton bran, six boxes candles, one case bacon, 6 ½ tea chests, three bags salt, six kegs butter, one case stout, one keg porter, two casks soda water, one cask lemonade, three hhds bottles, ten packages, four sheep, one dray, five head cattle.

DSC 21 February, 1868

Saturday, 22 February
The Waiotahi flat, now commonly known as Tookey’s Town, is extending daily.  Three hotels -  Mr Mulligan,  Mr Burke (of Onehunga) and Mr MacDonald have been granted licenses. Provision stores are being built and every trade is represented in this rising place, the population of which must exceed 1,000 persons. The large number of stores have been doing roaring trades there for some time past - by far the majority of miners reside in the vicinity of the flat.  The granting of the publican’s licenses is considered to be a grave act of injustice on the part of the Provincial Government. There seems to be a somewhat disgraceful trade in licenses for the sake of revenue at the Thames.

 Willie Winkie for Shortland and Tapu Creek with ten bags flour, two sides bacon, one bag sugar, one case bread, two bundles bags, ½ ton coals, ½ ton potatoes, 15 cases stout, three hhds beer, six packages, five cwt iron, three cases brandy.

Sunday, 23 February
The Wesleyan church, Willoughby Street, Thames,  is opened by Reverend George Sawden Harper this morning.  The building, which is calculated to seat nearly 400 persons, is crowded.  The church was to have been opened earlier but owing to the damage received from the hurricane on the 3rd, the opening was deferred until today. The building of the church has cost  £130 pounds,  £100 pounds of which has been raised.  John E White, of the Shotover claim,  who has become wealthy, gives the balance needed to free the church of the debt.  The church is 50 ft by 30 ft and no money has been wasted in ornament but the Wesleyan's have a place of their own in which to hold preaching and Sunday School and where classes might meet.   Classes have previously been held in Mr Fletcher's grocery store, Grey Street, with members making themselves comfortable by sitting on flour bags and candle boxes.  Wesleyan's were among the first arrivals at the Thames and initially held services under the spreading branches of a large peach tree, looking out over the waters of the gulf.  Lately Mr Manners has been preaching from a rock in Grahamstown.  The industrious Wesleyan's  opened a school on the Thames goldfield on 1 December,  1867 - the object of the their missionaries being to teach reading, writing and calculating as well as Bible translation and learning the Maori language.  

The Rev Harper preaches again this evening to a large crowd.  Englishman George Harper  arrived in New Zealand in 1865, and was appointed to Christchurch. A few weeks later he proceeded to the West Coast goldfields at Hokitika, where he became the first resident minister of any church in the whole area. He has a ready wit and can knock about among diggers with ease, having a great empathy for the difficulties of their lot.  His first impression of the Thames in August 1867 was of a flat and rising ground covered with scanty scrub and a few native trees.  Rev Harper usually comes to the Thames every few weeks from Auckland to preach.  He holds outdoor services at Tookey's Flat, the foot of the Moanataiari gully and outside the courthouse to dense crowds.  He is content to sleep in the tent or whare of a friend, or even under a store counter. 

Shortland is illuminated.

Monday, 24 February
A large piece of quartz thickly studded with gold is brought into Shortland in this morning by Mr Stevenson from  Puriri.  It is shown to the Daily Southern Cross correspondent who sceptically thinks it is too heavily covered with gold to be an auriferous piece from any part of this district.  He suggests that the stone would look better if some of the gold was scraped off.  The stone is then taken to Mulligan’s hotel with the intention of having a lark with the NZ Herald correspondent, who is completely fooled.  The stone has in fact been neatly patched with minute bits of gold leaf by Mr J H Clifford, who has 'got up' a nugget to appear on the stage in “Aladdin in the Wonderful Scamp.”

A Polish man named Farmel, one of the shareholders in the Homeward Bound claim on the Moanataiari creek, is working near the mouth of the tunnel when a great quantity of stuff falls on him.  When he is picked up he is thought to be dead.  He is attended to by Dr Sam. Farmel has a serious injury to the spine.   It seems that very little care has been taken in the timbering of the tunnel.

Most of the claims at the Thames are turning out well. A new rush has taken place about five miles up the Karaka.  Every claim above the Carpenter’s report having struck gold.  All the machines are at full work and still great numbers cannot get their quartz crushed.

The local newspaper project, so much talked of some time ago, seems to have died a natural death.

The Enterprise is laid up this week for an overhaul and improvements and will not resume the Thames trade before Monday next.

 Rob Roy for the Thames with  20,000 ft timber, 10 packages groceries. 

 Susan for the Thames with four casks ale, three kegs butter, two kegs brandy and other stores.

NZH 24 February, 1868

Tuesday, 25 February
The man Farmel injured at the Homeward Bound claim is now in a fair way of recovery. Dr Sam has been indefatigable in his attendance on the unfortunate man, night and day.  Here again is shown the great need of hospital accommodation at the Thames.  This man is lying in a tent far from medical or home comforts, and requires such care as can only be given in a well-regulated hospital. 

Captain Butt is dangerously ill and has been confined to his bed for several days.   Butt is widely regarded with affection, the Daily Southern Cross referring to him as “our worthy pioneer.” The NZ Herald correspondent reminds readers that he  deserves the thanks of all who have benefited by his enterprise and of the many who have been assisted by his money – although in his case, as in many others, there is  truth in the old saying that “eaten bread is soon forgotten.”

A rich gold bearing reef is discovered in the Bachelor’s No 2 claim on the Waiotahi range.  It is exceedingly hard blue stone and the gold, which is very fine, is visible throughout.  “Lucky fellows some of those claimholders,” observes the Daily Southern Cross correspondent.  “If I were to mention every new claim in which gold is daily being discovered, I should fill columns of your paper.”

At Tapu things are rather dull compared to what they were and trade is somewhat slack.  The township however, is assuming a more stable and permanent character.  The place was at first somewhat overstocked, and by persons of the wrong class for diggers. Many diggers in the gullies and creeks at Tapu have been disappointed so have turned their attention to prospecting for quartz reefs and in this they have been singularly successful.  Scarcely a day has passed within the last fortnight without the discovery of some new reef and those previously hit upon have continued turning out well.  The place is daily proving itself an extensive goldfield district and confirms the opinion lately expressed by Dr Hector, the government geologist,  of it being more promising than Shortland.  Puriri continues to draw miners away from Tapu but some parties are returning disappointed. The talked of opening up of the Manaia is yet a thing of the future.

The erection of substantial buildings at Tapu continues.  There are now five wooden structures, besides a number of marquees, as stores.   The ‘Melbourne Store’ of Messrs Allen and Hall, has recently been enlarged and painted, and is a credit to the place, the enterprising proprietors having firm belief in the advancement of this township. Three hotels are being built – Mr Sceat’s British Hotel is near completion, the other two are delayed for want of timber.  The British Hotel bears the same name was Mr Sceats'  Auckland establishment is to be conducted in his liberal style.

Application has been made to the Chief Postmaster for a post office at Tapu.  Men have had to go or send to Shortland for their letters, a distance of 15 miles. Through the kindness of Messrs Allen and Hall, letters for Tapu Creek are now allowed to be sent from Shortland to their store, but still letters even now are most unaccountably detained and great dissatisfaction is expressed.

Great credit is due to the miners at Tapu for their steady and peaceable behaviour. There is no policeman at Tapu but even a slight disturbance is almost unheard of. Quantities of kauri gum are being constantly picked up on the beach, evidently washed from the hills, and the Maoris say that a considerable quantity of it is to be obtained with little labour.  Messrs Allen and Hall have proposed to parties of unsuccessful diggers that one-half of the party go gum digging, while their mates are prospecting and they, Messrs Allen and Hall, will provide rations and purchase the gum.  A party with this object starts out this morning.

A number of miners by the ss Murray arrive back in Westport from the Thames diggings – all of whom proclaim the field to be a “regular duffer.”

The Midge and the Tauranga bring large crowds of people to the Thames tonight.

This evening a Wesleyan tea meeting is held at Shortland.  Several ministers deliver addresses and collections are made. The event is a success and well attended, arrangements having been made to convey purchasers of tea tickets from Auckland at a greatly reduced rate.  “But,” says the NZ Herald correspondent, “I was not favoured with the usual courtesy extended to those representing the public press.”

The whole of the kahikatea bush along the Piako is on fire tonight and the sight is magnificent.  Though the distance across to the Miranda Redoubt is something like nine miles, the reflection is so great that for the first time, Shortland is illuminated.

DSC 25 February, 1868
NZH 25 February, 1868


The starting of the Wesleyan Sunday School on 1 December is  likely the first school on the Thames goldfield.  Sunday schools (also referred to as Sabbath schools)  were originally literally schools: they were places where poor children could learn to read. The Sunday school movement began in Britain in the 1780s. The Industrial Revolution had resulted in many children spending all week long working in factories. Christian philanthropists wanted to free these children from a life of illiteracy.  In essence the missionary education efforts in New Zealand  were no different from any of the earliest Sunday schools in England.  There are numerous accounts in their journals and letters of how they went about this, sometimes in school rooms, sometimes in huts or the open air, sometimes on a week day, sometimes in a Sunday.

Twenty years after leaving the Thames Rev Harper visited the area and noted that instead of the first humble day schools there were now the Boys and Girls High School, primary schools and the School of Mines.


Papers Past
Touchstone Magazine February 2018 http://www.methodist.org.nz/touchstone

Methodist papers, David Arbury collection, the Treasury, Thames

© 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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