Sunday, 4 March 2018

5 March to 11 March, 1868

Irregular proceedings.

"Pack horses are much used for the conveyance of stores to far back claims."

Thursday, 5 March
The excitement which prevailed on Tuesday has almost subsided, and no fresh cases of jumping are reported.  The party who jumped the Shotover and Barry’s claims are still in possession of them and express their determination not to relinquish them.  Several diggers apply to Warden Baillie for new miner's rights but they are refused, the Warden stating that it would not be fair or just to accept a second payment from any of the miners.

The NZ Herald comments sternly on the illegal jumping at the Thames – “It appears from the proclamation that by the Goldfields Act any person authorised by the governor can issue a miner's right and that the Resident Magistrates court for the Hauraki or Thames district sitting at Shortland can adjudicate on all matters of dispute relating to gold mining, except partnership questions . . . the miner’s rights . . granted by Mr Mackay . . . are valid and effectual . . . Those, therefore, who fancy that they can take advantage of the decision of Mr Justice Moore . . . to create confusion on the goldfield, will find that they have made a serious mistake."  James Mackay, Henry Lawlor and Allan Baillie are now gazetted Warden’s for the Thames goldfield.  The government has taken the necessary measures to put an end to these irregular proceedings and reinstate the original holders of mining claims.

The Shotover claim is  taped off in the bed of the creek as a sluicing claim. There is a rule on all the goldfields that men cannot hold claims on reefs, and at the same time, work alluvial; but this question is not yet decided at the Thames. The claim taken up extends from Hamilton’s claim to Barry’s.  Several other likely claims have been pegged off on the same ground.  In a similar vein, in a case tried today, Commissioner Mackay sends four men down to Tapu Creek, in the nature of a jury of experts, to give an opinion as to whether or not the ground there is alluvial.

The Commissioner of Police, Mr Naughton, who was summoned to the Thames to preserve peace during the jumping frenzy, is directing his attention to the more mundane area of  the fact that wooden chimneys and slaughter yards are not allowed at the Thames by the Municipal Act. 

NZH 5 March 1868

Friday, 6 March
The truth of the alleged jumping of claims begins to filter through and newspapers backpedal.  The whole affair of jumping at the Shotover was greatly exaggerated and the Daily Southern Cross regrets that they were supplied with a report from a correspondent which did not stick closely by the facts. The only cases of jumping which occurred were those by Charles F Mitchell and Walter Williamson who have now withdrawn their applications. Chief Taipari, who was said to have jumped a claim, was actually engaged with a few gentlemen setting apart an acre for the site of the Episcopal Church.

In the Provincial Government Gazette published today the town of Shortland is proclaimed to be a slaughterhouse district, and the premises situated at Karaka Creek, erected by Mr William Walters, of Auckland, and the premises situated at Kauaeranga, erected by Messrs George McLeod and Struan Robertson are to be public slaughterhouses. The following tenders for provincial works have been accepted – the erection of a court house and custom house and a lock-up at Shortland.

 Avon for the Thames with 10 head cattle, 2 tons flour, ½ ton sugar, 6 hhds beer, 20 packages groceries.

   Miranda for the Thames with 36 tons coal.

NZH 6 March 1868

Saturday, 7 March
At the usual hour of opening the Thames Warden’s Court it is found that the safe in which are kept all the records of the Warden’s department – the register of claims, of shares sold, of protection granted, the blocks of miner's rights, and the miner’s rights themselves, the papers relative to the lease of the allotments in the township – are all missing, as well as the money that lies in the iron safe until banked. Mr Mackay offers a reward of £25 for the recovery of the safe and contents and £50 upon conviction of the offenders.  Warden Baillie also gives notice that all claims on the goldfield will be protected until further notice.  No miner’s rights will be issued.

Mr Mackay, Warden Baillie, the police, the NZ Herald special correspondent and some two or three hundred men turn out and the bush is searched. Towards one o’clock Mr Mackay, who has been on horseback down to Point Tararu after being told of  someone  running in that direction, is informed that the safe has been found. On returning to the township, he finds that Sinclair Puru and Jimmy Sinclair have found the safe around the Hape Creek buried about two feet down in the ground.  All the books and papers are untouched, as the safe has not been opened.

A Maori policeman, Nohi, who was in charge of the courthouse, had missed the safe earlier but did not say anything about it until  one of the clerks discovered it missing this morning.  Nohi is promptly discharged from his duties by Mr Mackay. A Maori and a European are apprehended on suspicion by the Commissioner of Police Mr Naughton who is still at the Thames. During the hunt Mr Mackay and Robert Graham had searched near a tent within a few yards of where the safe was afterwards found to have been planted.  The NZ Herald correspondent in noting up his report on the excitement scrawls “I am writing on the steamer, and she is pitching considerably.”

The Auckland Livestock Market Weekly Report observes that the demand for fat cattle for the Thames goldfield is considerably increasing.

At Tapu Creek the assessors are tackling the vexed question as to the nature of McIssac’s ground – whether it is alluvial or quartz.  The assessors are thoroughly experienced miners and their belief in Tapu Creek from what they see is so strong that they intend returning to commence mining operations on their own account.   The assessors are obliged to remain at the British Hotel tonight, owing to the Emma, which brought them from Shortland, leaving them in the lurch. 

A meeting is held at the British Hotel,Tapu, for the purpose of petitioning for a regular postal service, letters being, in some instances under existing circumstances, two weeks on the road.  

Spey for Tapu Creek with eight bags flour, one case, three bags coal, two kegs spirits and five tons other stores.  

Four Sisters for the Thames with 7,000 ft timber. 

Rob Roy for the Thames with 15,000 ft timber, stores.
Fly for the the Thames with 20 passengers.

Shops on the summits.

Sunday, 8 March
A cottage at Onehunga, owned by James Gallagher who is at the Thames, goes up in flames and is destroyed.  Mrs Gallagher is sleeping at her daughter’s house, as is her habit when her husband is away at the diggings. Yesterday around 2pm she visited the premises and after doing some necessary work about the place, returned to her daughter’s house.  The cottage stood in rather an out of the way place, being situated beyond a swamp.  Mrs Gallagher says there was no fire in the house since Tuesday last, so there can be little doubt it was the work of an incendiary.  Another house in Onehunga belonging to Mr Gallagher was burned last September.  Both cottages were insured.

 At the Thames the corner of Willoughby and Pollen Streets is temporarily fitted up and used as a place of worship where Rev Maunsell officiates.

A canoe laden with £300 worth of grass seed and stores forwarded from Shortland Town to Josiah Firth’s station at Matamata is stopped by the Maori at Ohinemuri pending the settlement of a dispute. The canoe is stopped under the impression that it contains stores for a party of diggers who are to follow. Mr Thorpe, also forwarding goods to Mr Firth, has been written to telling him to cease sending stores.  On receipt of  a letter from Rapata on the subject, he travels upcountry to see him.  Mr Thorpe gets Rapata’s consent to allow all future canoes to take Mr Firths’ goods up to his station provided they are not conveyed upriver by any men of his tribe (the Ngatihaua) so that the Maori King cannot blame him for breaking the King’s and Te Hira’s boundary.

Josiah Firth
Alexander Turnball Library Ref 1/2-004946

Josiah Firth (back row, second from left) on the banks of the Waihou River negotiating for the Matamata land.
Alexander Turnball Library M S Papers - 1491-09/ 1-3-04

An amalgamator invented by Mr Watson of Symonds Street is on display at Auckland.   Its construction is the most simple and ingenious of any machine yet that has been adopted for amalgamation.  All material is compelled to pass through the mercury either by atmospheric pressure, steam pressure or any other pressure, and there is no possibility of the material escaping until it passes into the tube below.  It is suitable for any claim, but they can be made to any size.  The amalgamators occupy very little space, and are inexpensive, the price ranging from £2 upwards.  It is the intention of the inventor to take the amalgamator to the Thames in a few days to be tested by the miners.

Monday, 9 March

 Hay, on the 9th instant, at Karaka Creek, Shortland, the wife of Mr H Hay, of a son.

Mr Mackay is engaged for some time this morning in taking the evidence of the jury of experts sent down to Tapu Creek in the case of McIssac’s and party against Long and party.  The evidence is strongly in favour of the existence of alluvial workings on the Tapu Creek.  One of the jury, Mr John Brown, who has been on the goldfields almost since the start, states most distinctly his opinion that the Tapu district surpasses even the Karaka.

As well as McIssac’s case Mr Mackay hears several others, including furious riding charges against  George Cornish, Patrick Bonfield, Nathaniel Issacs, Nathaniel Meyers and Issac Harrison.  The offences took place in Pollen Street, on Sunday last.  The defendants all plead guilty, one alleging that he had a Maori horse and could not hold it in.  They are fined 2s 6d each and costs.

A late evening meeting is held in Shortland Town of the Master Masons for the purpose of considering the propriety and practicality of founding a Lodge of Freemasons.  The meeting is largely attended by the brethren of different constitutions.  Brother Past Master Dr Sam is voted to the chair.  Opening the Lodge in a building of its own will avoid what is considered in many quarters the greatest drawback to Freemasonary - the holding of lodges in hotels or public houses.  All the brethren attending this meeting are actual residents on the goldfield, so there is every prospect of a very strong lodge being formed at the Thames. 

 Sarah for the Thames with two bags maize, two bags bran, one bag sharps.

Tuesday, 10 March
Mercantile establishments at the Thames are daily assuming larger proportions and several new buildings are being erected.  Two more banks will shortly commence business.  The township of  Tookey's Town, on the Waiotahi Flat, is also rapidly increasing in size.  Already many of the miners there have given up their tents and are now living in well-built cottages.

Pack horses are much used for the conveyance of stores to far back claims and a few enterprising men have built shops on the summits of some of the ranges.  The road up the Moanataiari is now finished, so that equestrians can ride to every claim near the creek.  This is a great advantage as previously the approach to some of the claims was all but inaccessible.  It is now proposed to connect the heads of the two creeks by road, as the ground between them is sufficiently level to enable a carter with his team to go across from one to the other.

The Manukau claim, near the mouth of the Waiotahi, has lately had crushed at Fraser and Tinne's machine – acknowledged to be the best machine on the ground – 220 lb weight of specimens, from which 462 oz of gold are obtained. 

Several speculators from Auckland have been visiting the goldfield, most of whom now have a vested interest in it.  Several of the Thames’ most worthy and prosperous reefers have till lately been existing on little more than biscuits and water; but now, thanks to their determined perseverance, they can afford luxuries. 

At the Resident Magistrates court Mr Mackay rules that there is alluvial in McIssacs claim at Tapu. It appears from the evidence that quartz reef and alluvial diggings on the same claim by separate parties of miners is not a new thing, at least on the Australian diggings. The defendants may retain and work the ground which had been marked out for them for alluvial mining, subject to stringent conditions.  The Resident Magistrates court sits through the entire day.

 A really good show of gold is found at Puriri.

The cutter Sea Flower from Ohore, North Cape, arrives at the Thames with a cargo of sheep.

 Spey for Tapu Creek with seven tons general stores, 1,300 ft timber. 

Willie Winkie for the Thames with three tons flour, three tons furniture, 6 hhds ale, ½ ton potatoes, two casks lemonade, 5,000 shingles, one boat, three bars iron, one ton groceries, one case brandy, five passengers.

DSC 10 March 1868

DSC 10 March, 1868

Wednesday, 11 March
Tapu Creek is now destined to supersede Karaka for its richness as a goldfield – two very rich quartz leaders are struck.  Dashell and Quinn, two of the first pioneers on the creek there, have struck gold and the richness of the specimens is almost astonishing.  Their claim is on the south side of Tapu Creek and about two miles from McIssac’s famed claim.  McIssac’s claim is again jumped; the present claimants want possession of the hill as alluvial.  They apply to Mr Mackay, who refuses their request; he gives written protection until he can examine the ground himself. 

A second rush is in setting for the Thames.  Men are warned to use prudence before they come.  It’s true there are rich claims there, but still all need not expect to be fortunate.  At Gibbon’s waterwheel in the Karaka only three of the ten stampers are at work owing to a lack of water.  In the meantime Mr Gibbons is  about to add to his battery 15 stampers for the steam and five more for water power during the winter season.

An agency of the Bank of Australasia is now open at Shortland for the transaction of general banking business and the Union Bank also intend to open an agency at Shortland.

The Governor of New Zealand,  Sir George F Bowen, is expected  to arrive at Auckland during the course of today in Her Majesty’s Falcon, but will not make his public landing until tomorrow, which will be observed as a public holiday in Auckland.  A large number of visitors from the country districts and the Thames are expected to take part in the proceedings.

 Avon for the Thames with three tons flour, 5 hhds beer, 18 barrels beer, one case whiskey, one case champagne, six bags sugar, 300 palings, 12 packages groceries. 

Henry for the Thames with ten tons general stores. 

Wahapu for the Thames with  1,000 bricks, one ton iron, one ton flour, one ton cheese, 10,000 shingles, 1,000 ft timber.


Josiah Clifton Firth, an Englishman, moved to NZ in the early 1850s settling in Auckland.  He began making bricks and also took a one third interest in a steam powered flour mill. Firth was always able to borrow finance to capitalise his many innovative schemes.  He was one of a small circle of highly influential business men known as the ‘Merchant Princes.’   Firth briefly entered Parliament for the Auckland West electorate in 1861.  In 1866 Firth purchased from the Maori 55,000 acres of land in the Upper Thames Valley which became well known as the ‘Matamata Estate.’  The property was uncomfortably close to the stronghold of hostile Maori, inaccessible either by road or river, and dense with fern and scrub. The workers engaged on the estate regularly had to protect themselves with arms, having some very narrow escapes.  On three occasions all the women were sent to Cambridge, and the work of sub-dividing the property abandoned.


Papers Past

© 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.