Thursday 19 July 2018

14 May to 20 May, 1868

 “I am the butcher of renown, and I dwell in Shortland Town.” 

Thursday, 14 May
Thomas Morrin, while stooping at a creek at Kennedy's Bay to drink, picks up a handful of gravel from the bed and on washing it in his hands finds specks of gold in it. Forty miner’s rights have now been issued at Kennedy’s Bay and as many more transferred from Shortland. There are a butcher and baker already established and provisions can be had at a reasonable rate.  

At the Thames, business is not so brisk these last few days owing to the talk about the new discovery even though some rumours about Kennedy’s Bay do not appear to be very favourable.

The Lucky Hit claim, Karaka, get out some splendid specimens of golden quartz.  Being too far from the machines now at work they have determined to put one on their own ground, to save themselves the trouble and labour necessary to get their quartz down the creek from such a distance.

An invention has been designed which promises to perform all that is required for the peculiar character of the Thames quartz.  The inventor is a practical engineer who has been employed in London and Scotland, but like many inventors has not the capital to carry out his plans.  He is seeking the assistance of some man with  capital, that each may derive a mutual benefit by the patenting and manufacture of a machine which would supply the great want now felt at the Thames. In America especially and often in England, the most useful and clever inventions are those of mechanics.  There is just now in Auckland, in reference to gold mining machinery, a wide scope for the exercise of mechanical genius.

The Shortland Post Office is appointed to be an office for the transaction of money order and savings bank business.

There are no less than 27 vessels, of a tonnage varying from 12 to 69 tons, lying at anchor opposite Shortland and Waiotahi today.

Twenty year old Matthias Whitehead, a boot maker and salesman, has arrived at the Thames to take charge of a boot and shoe store. He came  to New Zealand as an eleven year old. His father, William Whitehead, was one of the first settlers at Mangonui, Northland.   Matthias, who arrived at night after a five hour trip on the Tauranga, has his first view of the Thames,  which reminds him  of a small fishing village, dimly lit by a few shanties and tents. He walks ashore on a narrow plank. The first light shines from an oil lamp hung at the front of the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel, at the landing place.  A few yards further is another lamp – this one being the hotel of Rosie’s spacious public house.  A large room at the back of the premises is used as a dancing hall, where men have to be content with partners of their own sex, for there are still very few females on the field.There is still one more lamp and public house, kept by the popular Kate Regan. He turns Adlam’s store corner and is in Pollen Street.  He passes Renshaw’s General Store and Barnett’s spacious dining rooms.  A few yards further on are a new hotel, then the branch of the Bank of New Zealand.  A few more paces and he comes to the small boot store which is to be his future abode for some time. His employer, with keen business insight, has leased three shops – they are  just erected and mere shells, no lining – the walls of the partitions are left open at the top, and the rats have free access at all hours. Next door is a boarding house and restaurant – one can hear distinctly every word spoken by the owner, Mr Otto, who always supplies with each meal a fair slice of the politics of the day. All meals are one shilling and good beds – mere shakedowns – are 1s 6d.  On the other side of the partition is an auction mart where Mr Schultz wields the hammer on several days of the week.  Jim Gerrish acts as store man and general bell ringer for the town. On investigating the town Matthias discovers several shops of various sorts.  A boot shop, a jeweller and watch maker, a dressmaker, a bowling alley and a butcher of renown, so the proprietor terms himself.  This is Thomas Peck who likes to stops outside pubs and recite “I am the butcher of renown, and I dwell in Shortland Town.” (Come and have a drink!) The last and largest building on the west side of Pollen Street is the grocery store of Tichfield, Osborne and Co, above this is 'The Gentleman’s Club.'  From Butt’s Hotel corner there is Hamilton’s bakery, next Levy and Goldwater - wine and spirit merchants and clothiers.   Then the Karaka Hotel, Mason’s hairdressing salon, May the bootmaker, Barnett and Levy’s General store, Culpitt the saddler, Wood the tobacconist, Culpitt’s fancy pastry shop, the Pembrook Hotel, Wayte’s stationery and library, and Howell Williamson’s the draper – all book ended by another pub at the corner of Pollen and Willoughby streets.  Opposite corners are occupied by banks. One of the leading hotels is the Exchange.  Alongside is Charley Cox, the chemist, Bertram the tent maker, and Wilson draper, and nearby Hume, butcher. The roads are a mess. In Pollen Street empty drays lurch drunkenly in the mud, while the footpaths are almost impassable.  Other obstacles include diggers who accost Matthias before he has scarcely walked a dozen paces asking “Are you going to shout?”  At Grahamstown several small stores have been hurriedly erected in a rough colonial fashion.  In the main streets there, Brown and Owen, several public houses are doing a fair business.  A considerable amount of mining is going on up the two creeks, the Moanataiari and Waiotahi.  At the Shortland end mining is principally confined to the Karaka creek and Murphy’s Hill.

Mr Higgins, Soap and Candle manufacturer, of Auckland, is at present at the Thames, a fact of which two intending burglars are aware.  Mr Higgins’ house off Ponsonby Road is occupied by Mrs Higgins, their children and two other females.  Two men with masked faces come to the front parlour window and force back the catch with a knife.  In their effort to raise the sash they wake Mrs Coppell who is sleeping on a sofa under the window.  She immediately screams and tries to hold the window down.   The robbers then coolly strike a match but upon Mrs Higgins calling for her neighbour they decamp. Footmarks left in the yard and broken woodwork indicate a similar attempt to force the kitchen window.

Friday, 15 May
The roads at the Thames are in a most lamentable condition, and Pollen Street more resembles a bog than the main thoroughfare.  Three or four gentlemen, at their own cost, have laid down a good shingle path on the east side of Pollen Street, opposite their various places of business.

The Bank of Australasia intends building new and extensive premises, the present building being only a temporary office.  The Union Bank of Australia have just finished a very neat and commodious building eclipsing to some extent the Bank of New Zealand, which before was thought by some to be the best edifice in town. 

The editor of the  Auckland Free Press, after an introductory article describing the prosperity of the Thames goldfields,  favours his readers with his views on the loose population who follow the diggers and who he compares to the camp followers of an army, as men who “do not toil”, “who have an eye to the main chance” – in short, men who are loafers of the first order.

Residents of the Thames are hoping for great things from their Improvement Committee which is strongly advocating the formation of narrow gauge tramways up the various creeks, in preference to the heavy metal tramway between the Waiotahi and Shortland.

The Kuranui Company are employing a number of men embanking the beach in front of their engine house.  A substantial wall of boulders protects the space between the high water mark and where the building is situated, which is filled in with rubble and quartz, forming a good foundation for a carriage way.

The Caledonian claim, Moanataiari, which consists of four men’s ground, has been working for four months.  Today carters commence taking away 20 tons of stuff for crushing at Graham’s machine.  Sixty pounds of specimens were taken out of the claim yesterday.  There are two shafts and two drives on the ground, from which good stone of a bluish character has been extracted, indicating deep sinking. The main shaft extends a depth of 12 ft below sea level and has to be kept bailed when not worked.

Miners are informed by public notice that those enrolled in any of the Auckland Volunteer Corps, who want to be present at the review and for inspection, can obtain protection for the purpose of proceeding to Auckland.  

Louis Dihars has been at Shortland for the last few days on a visit to Mr Mackay.  He does not like the attitude the Hauhaus are assuming at Matamata.  Mr Frith’s cattle are being killed.  Louis, a very tall Frenchman now in his late 40s, came to New Zealand in a whaling ship in the early 1840s.  He settled at the upper end of the Thames Valley.  He did not speak English but soon learned Maori and assimilated into their way of life.   In 1845 married Erena Pareraukawa at Tauranga. While living among the Maori and cattle herding in the Upper Thames Valley around 1864 Louis Dihars was responsible for warning James Mackay of a pending ambush by the Maori when he was on his way to have peace talks.Louis acts as a sort of negotiator between the Maori and Pakeha. He has done some mining himself but is said to have never really worked for his living as he is a remittance man.

The Shortland sharemarket report notes that mining property has not changed hands during the week with the readiness it usually does.   Several causes combined are to blame - the approach of winter and the bad roads have had an effect on the market.  The uncertainty of ownership, in the absence of registration, has been a serious evil, as well as the exorbitant prices asked by those who do not care to sell, but wish their share quoted.  The amount of litigation and the purely legal quibbles on which cases are taken to court are seriously harmful and have  the effect of deterring many from purchasing until leases of claims are issued and surveys made.  Claims at the Puriri are fast rising in public estimation.  The opening of the ground at Kennedy’s Bay has not produced as yet the expected rush. The population of Tapu Creek is rapidly increasing and the energy displayed by the inhabitants in road making is a credit to them. Shares in claims are generally valued higher at Tapu than at Shortland, the reason for which is unknown.  Magnificent specimens are constantly being shown from there and some of the claims lately opened, among them One Tree Hill, promise as large returns as any in the district.

Senseless litigation is daily growing at the Thames. The most frivolous grounds of action are made the causes of law suits from which few obtain any profitable result except the legal practitioners employed on either side.  Long lists of cases tried in the Warden’s court, which appears to be kept continually engaged in hearing and deciding disputes between miners and other residents at the Thames, fill columns of newspaper.   A check needs to be placed upon the litigiousness of the miners at the Thames.The situation is fanned and encouraged by members of the legal profession, who have very limited practices in Auckland.  The miners work hard for their money and are warned not to be so foolish as to lavish it away on “law” as they have been only too prone to do. Formidable batches of lawyers start for the El Dorado to take part in legal entanglements and like the eagles; they are not slow in finding out where the carcass is and gathering together there.

A sample of alluvial gold brought up from Kennedy’s Bay by Mr Mackay is tested and proved to be far superior in quality to the usual run of Thames gold.  It has 2 carat fineness.  

The Tauranga takes 30 more miners from Shortland to Kennedy’s Bay and a large number of others are preparing to leave. 

DSC 15 May, 1868

A great rush.

Saturday, 16 May
Kennedy’s Bay is proclaimed a goldfield by Superintendent Williamson. The steady flow of miners from Shortland becomes a great rush.

Daily Southern Cross

Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives
Session 1869 (A.17)

At Kennedy’s Bay a township named St Andrew’s has been marked off. Another township called Grant Town is to be surveyed above St Andrew’s and a ferry boat has been laid on. It is said the Maori contemplate throwing open the land as far as Cape Colville and that this tract of land will be amalgamated with Coromandel district as one goldfield. There is now no longer any doubt as to the value of the Kennedy Bay district as an alluvial goldfield.  The gold brought up by Mr Mackay – some 7 or 8 ozs in weight – is satisfactory proof of the paying nature of the new goldfield.  The energy and tact shown by Mr Mackay in obtaining the right of mining over this large tract is applauded as another instance of the zeal and ability shown by him in developing the Thames goldfields, a work for which he deserves the lasting gratitude of the people of Auckland. 

At Grahamstown the contract for a new wharf has been taken by Mr McNeill, and the wharf is to be completed in readiness for traffic in two months time.  It is to extend a length of 540 ft, with a breadth of 10 ft, and will have a tramway and footpath, affording every facility for the rapid discharge of vessels and the accommodation of passengers.

A set of “mischievous persons” have removed  the allotment pegs put down on Mr Graham’s property at Waiotahi and rendered a re-survey of many portions necessary in consequence.  The parties have not confined their efforts to Grahams Town alone.

An advertisement appears in the Thames Advertiser columns stating that the lands at Tararu Point have been leased by the Maoris to the government and any effort to re-lease by private individuals will be opposed by them.

At Kihikihi over 100 head of fat cattle leave for the Auckland stock market, it being the third draft of this kind this season.  It is hoped that a driving trade may soon be opened between Waikato and the Thames goldfields.

Messrs Samuel Cochrane and Son hold an auction at the George Hotel, Thames, of the valuable block of land at Waiotahi known as Grahamstown.  The land is situated between the Karaka Creek on the south side, and the Waiotahi on the north, intersected with streets; the whole comprising over 500 allotments, with an average frontage of 30 ft by 50 ft in depth.  The main street, which is named after Sir George F Bowen, is a continuation of Pollen Street extending from Shortland.  Abraham Street, Williamson Street and Albert Street, which run from the beach to the base of the range, will be the most prominent in the new township. 

Before commencing the sale, the auctioneer is questioned whether Mr Graham bound himself to carry out the construction of a wharf at his own expense which is answered in the affirmative.  Mr Graham would limit the wharf dues so that the amount received would cover charges incurred in keeping the wharf in repair, and no more.  After replying to several other questions, the sale is proceeded with, the prices obtained for frontages of corner allotments averaging 25s per foot, the intermediate lots realising 10s per foot.  As a land speculation this is one of the more fortunate to have taken place since the foundation of the province. The locality is situated in the immediate vicinity of the principal gold bearing claims, which are only as yet in their infancy, when they are fully developed and afford work to a larger population, it must increase and extend towards the government town of Shortland. The attendance is large and the bidding very good.  Samuel Cochrane possesses a great fund of humour often exhibited while discharging his duties as an auctioneer to the amusement of those assembled at his sales.  About 50 allotments are sold in this very important sale.  Many people say this new town on the Waiotahi will rival Shortland Town.  Mr Cochrane regards the result very satisfactory, considering the competing attraction offered just now at Kennedy’s Bay and the fact that there are some parties from Shortland who look with jealousy upon the new township of Grahamstown as likely to supersede the older settlement at Shortland.

Mr Warden Baillie holds a meeting at which he tells miners and inhabitants that he has received His Excellency Governor Bowen’s reply to the Thames address which is read aloud by Dr Sam.  The Governor  thanks the inhabitants of Shortland Town and the Thames goldfield for the address they sent him and for the hearty welcome which they accorded to him on his recent visit.  That welcome was more acceptable, as it was so entirely spontaneous and unpremeditated.  He congratulates them on the rapid growth of the town and the cordial relations existing between the Europeans and Maori, and the good order and harmony maintained in the pursuit of gold.  He anticipates  further pleasure observing increased development of the town and goldfields which have already done so much to renovate the trade and commerce of Auckland.

Mr D Lundon, landing waiter at Shortland, pens his reports for the 1st to 16th May.  “The quantity of gold deposited at the various banks within the above period is 924 oz.  Some of the machines are at a standstill for want of stuff to crush, the roads are so bad that carters are demanding £1 per ton for cartage and the miners do not feel inclined to pay such high rates, they prefer to do without crushing until the roads are in better order. “

The schooner Julia has been put on trade between Auckland and Tapu Creek and leaves on her maiden trip today with 32,000 shingles 5,500 ft timber and sundries.

Wahapu for Shortland with sundries
Avon for Shortland with sundries
 Rosina for Shortland with sundries

DSC 16 May, 1868
NZH 16 May, 1868

Sunday, 17 May
The Tauranga leaves Kennedy’s Bay.  There are 200 to 300 people on the field who have come overland from the Thames, Coromandel, Cabbage Bay, the Whangapoua sawmill and other places.  A large portion of the ground is already pegged off and the diggers have commenced sluicing with very good results, gold in small quantities having been found in all the creeks.  According to present prospects there will be sufficient alluvial ground for about 500 persons, who, it is calculated could make 12s a day.  None of the reefs, however, which are expected to turn out very rich, have been searched for, the whole of the diggers at present being engaged in sluicing.  Captain Sellars says that vessels of any size can obtain a good anchorage at Kennedy’s Bay and during spring tides the Tauranga will be able to proceed up the creek.

Parties of diggers from the Thames and elsewhere are passing through Coromandel enroute for Kennedy’s Bay although reports in the newspapers are regarded as rather exaggerated by some.   The exact locale of the works is about half a mile between Kennedy’s Bay and Coromandel, just on the other side of the dividing range.  In all probability Coromandel will become the high road to the new diggings.  Possessing a good harbour, and being the nearest point of approach, boats could come from Auckland and the Thames and land their passengers there.  It is only about a four hours walk to reach the scene of the operations.  The other route by Cape Colville is both long and dangerous and sailing vessels cannot get round there at all times.  At present there is only a foot track from Coromandel to Kennedy’s Bay.

Tapu is visited by the Rev Mr Warlow Davies of the Congregational Union church.   His audience listen to him with the greatest attention.  There is also a probability of both a Sunday and day school being started, which is much needed, for Tapu has quite a crowd of juveniles, many families having settled down and made this spot their home. 

Thunder-like harmony.

Monday, 18 May
Good gold is being got from all the creeks at Kennedy’s Bay but it appears that no-one has yet attempted reefing.  A fortnightly protection has been granted to the claimholders.  The Maori of the area have become considerably demoralised since the advent of the pakeha’s and have indulged very freely in the use of spirituous liquors.

The Happy-Go-Lucky claim, Karaka, make a discovery of a very encouraging character.  The men are engaged in cutting a track from the main road to a private house belonging to Mr Chapman, one of the shareholders, when they come across a gold bearing leader, from which they take 50 lb of specimens.  An offer of £1,000 is made for this claim and refused.  The True Briton claim, consisting of six men’s ground, are now working day and night in anticipation of coming upon the object of their incessant search – the Manukau leader.  The men commenced this search four or five months ago but have so far been unsuccessful.  They are not down on their luck yet and continue to work, as only True Britons can work, with a single eye to the opening of this valuable auriferous ground.

The Puriri, which has been gradually engaging the attentions of miners and speculators, is now entering into a position as a goldfield that places it in the same estimation as the Tapu.  

The formation of a Saloon Packet Company is in contemplation, and a fast and powerful steamer for passenger traffic between Shortland and Auckland is proposed to be built, her speed to be no less than 15 knots.

A man named Patrick Connelly is brought up from Shortland this evening on the Midge, in charge of his brother, having been committed as a lunatic on the testimony of  Dr Sam and Dr Lethbridge. 

NZH 18 May, 1868

Tuesday, 19 May
Away down in the Moanataiari Gully on the left, white and yellow patches dot the hillsides, showing the numerous claims, while the sounds of pickaxe and shovel mix with the deep droning monotonous tones of the various Berdans hard at work crushing specimens.  It sounds like the deep note of some cathedral organ running through and through in an undercurrent of thunder-like harmony.

The orderly conduct of the diggers is noticeable in the way in which strangers are admitted to view many of the claims, and the pains even with which the shareholders will, in many cases, explain to the uninitiated, the direction, depth,  dip and other vagaries connected with reefs and leaders.

There is a great deal of building going on at Tookey’s Flat and there is little doubt that Shortland and it will, by the end of next summer, be connected forming one large street. 

There is a crushing machine about to be erected on the Deep Lead by Mr Buckland and party.  The contract for taking the boiler and engine up to the claim has been given to Daniel Tookey.  This will be conducive to the prosperity of three or four claims in that direction.

Gossip at Shortland says that a gentleman long connected with Coromandel - and one of the first who acknowledged and foresaw the future richness of the Thames – has invented a process of saving the finest particles of the precious metal, to release and save even that fine gold dust imprisoned in the minute atoms of iron sand and mundic. 

In the Puriri district there are six claims – the Golden Crown, the Waitemata the Ko-hi-noor, the Prospectors, the Alliance and Matthies – these claims have an aggregate length of seventeen hundred feet and gold is found throughout them.  The quantity of quartz that these six claims alone produce is enormous – 50 head of stampers could be kept continuously going.  There is already a large amount of stone packed on the ground, only awaiting machinery.  

At Tapu a meeting of residents is held this evening at Messrs Allen and Hall’s store to consider the advisability of building a hall for public worship and other purposes.

 Tartar for the Thames with 16,000 ft timber

The Thames Improvement Committee meets, with Mr Beetham in the chair.  A letter from the Superintendent is read acknowledging receipt of the committee’s letter requesting that no further steps be taken in the formation of a tramway until its utility has been recognised by the inhabitants of the district. Respecting a mining board, Mr Beetham says he has not written to the Superintendent on the subject as Mr Mackay has told him he thinks the petition has not been sent in consequence of some informality.  Inquiries are to be made.  With reference to the transfer of mining and other properties  the Superintendent has sent a Provincial Government Gazette containing notification of the appointment of a mining registrar for the district.  Mr Beetham has seen Mr Mackay regarding the certificate of native titles through the Native Lands Court.   No application has yet been made to the land court respecting  the lands of the township, but a special sitting of the court will be held shortly. The leases issued for the township would be from the general government, but if desirable, the leases might be granted from the Maori direct. The committee also resolves to write to the postmaster at Auckland requesting that the hours of attendance of the Thames post office be extended to 8pm, and calling attention to the impossibility of one gentleman performing alone the duties of the office.

DSC 19 May, 1868

DSC 19 May, 1868

DSC 19 May, 1868

NZH 19 May, 1868

Wednesday, 20 May
An extraordinarily rich leader is discovered by Messrs Allen, Hall and Walker in a claim on Golden Point, Tapu.

There is a marked and decided improvement in the rapidly rising township of Tapu, which despite the name change to Hastings, is mostly still referred to by its old moniker. Even those storekeepers who built at the first onset now see the necessity of extending their business premises, while at the same time there are plenty of new arrivals.  Several of the new claims have struck gold and the old claims are briskly and steadily improving and shares are selling at very high figures.  The amount of quartz now waiting for crushing is something astonishing and many of the claims are not doing full work, owing to the want of machinery.  The new rush to Kennedy’s Bay does not seem to have had much effect on the population at Tapu. They all seem contented in every sense of the word, and keep to the principle that a rolling stone never gathers any moss.

Some workmen engaged in the formation of a footbridge along Grey Street near the Maori burial ground find a valuable greenstone mere.  The property is claimed by Chief Taipari as a relic of his ancestor which had been buried with the remains, and the finder having been rewarded, the mere is handed over to Taipari.

At the time of the census in December the population of Raglan appears to have been 326 souls, but this number has since been considerably reduced through many of the young men resident in the settlement leaving for the Thames goldfields.

 Avon for Shortland with stores and machinery

A man named Rogers is brought up to Auckland by the steamer Midge this evening from the Thames, in charge of Sergeant Lipsey.  The prisoner was charged yesterday morning at the Shortland court with having stolen a silver watch, gold guard, greenstone and gold key from G Brothwell.  He is committed to the Supreme Court.

DSC 20 May, 1868

NZH 20 May, 1868

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© 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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