Tuesday 10 July 2018

16 July to 22 July, 1868

The returning tide.

Thursday, 16 July
The lack of machinery available for crushing sees operations cease and and claims start applying for protection.  At Tapu the Summer Hill claim has stopped work and the Homeward Bound at the Thames applies for protection.  

John Aicken’s new amalgamating process with an alternative way of saving the very finest quality gold is demonstrated for the NZ Herald today. Some new method is needed by which the finest particles of gold, frequently found in Thames quartz, can be secured.  Instances are known where stone has been submitted to the ordinary methods of stampers and ripple tables, and the result has been so trifling as not even to pay expenses of crushing.  Dr Aicken’s system entirely does away with the ripple boards and substitutes in their place a series of mills by which every particle of crushed material is made to pass over a bright face of quicksilver, thus nothing can escape.  A rough working model has been constructed, and Dr Aicken kindly puts the machine in motion, explaining the whole affair in detail.  Messrs Fraser and Tinne are also about to construct a working machine which in a few weeks will be open for inspection.  It will be built for an enterprising gentleman who is very optimistic as to the results of the inventions and who has ordered it for his battery on the Karaka Creek. 

The newly invented machine of Mr James Dalton, which was demonstrated on 7 July, is now exciting a good deal of interest at the diggings.  There is scepticism, however, as to the motive power - it is believed that it will be utterly impossible for one man to put sufficient force in motion to turn a two stamper machine which will crush one ton of quartz a day.

The Daily Southern Cross correspondent writes in despair from the Thames that in travelling in any direction in Shortland a slough of mud is everywhere met with.  “It is,” he says “absolutely painful to see a team of strong, heavy horses pulling at a small dray load, which has got bogged in one of the many holes in Pollen Street.”

Mr Diddams commences active operations in collecting the poll tax, and over £20 is collected today.  The collectors find the people on who they make their polite calls extremely tractable and only one or two refractory taxpayers have objected.

Mr P O’Neill writes to the Thames Advertiser  “As an old reefer from Victoria, lately arrived here, I was really surprised at the extent of the gold country opened up by the enterprise of the miners and particularly at the small amount of capital invested by capitalists on this field, where there is such a splendid chance for investment  . . .  I was really astonished at seeing so many golden leaders in several of the claims up the Waiotahi Creek, particularly the Great Republic and Golden City claims . . .   as machinery is very scarce and not up to the requirements of the goldfield, the sooner we have some Melbourne speculators  here to see this place for themselves, the better it will be for all parties.  I shall do all I can to bring some of them over, and I have been requested by several of them to give my opinion of the country.”

At Samuel Cochrane, Auctioneers, rooms in Fort Street, Auckland, a meeting is held for those interested in the opening of a stock exchange.  There is considerable attendance from brokers and others involved in share transactions.

The funeral for Walter Wilson leaves Mr Riding’s Auction Mart, Queen Street, Auckland. Mourners include fellow solicitors and Police Commissioner Naughton.

Mr Waddell gives an exhibition of his magic lantern at the Wellesley Street school room, Auckland, this evening in aid of the funds of the City Mission Sunday School.  The series of dissolving views embraces many very interesting illustrations of the scenery of the Thames and other parts of the country, as well as other amusing and instructive subjects.  Messer’s Howden and Cousins give a musical accompaniment to the exhibition with the piano and concertina, and the crowded room testifies to the pleasure derived from the entertainment by the frequent applause which follows the recognition of some of the more familiar scenes exhibited.

Magic Lantern
Andrei Niemimaki

A Thames goldfields anniversary meeting is held at Butt’s Hotel tonight but comes to nothing, the meeting not being well attended.

Friday, 17 July
The Daily Southern Cross correspondent slogs up the Moanataiari Creek to see the new camp situated at Punga Flat.  The road is exceedingly soft and anything but inviting.  The camp is located in a very picturesque spot and is the centre of several rich claims, such as the Nil Desperandum, Star of Ballarat, Golden Point and the Disputed.  There are already several stores there and business seems brisk, judging from the numbers of packhorses he passes heavily laden on the road.  The camp is several hundred feet above sea level.

The Young Manukau claim, situated on the Waiotahi Creek, and adjoining the Bachelor’s claim No 1, has been worked by two different parties and after some 70 ft of driving, abandoned.  On 10 July it was taken up by six men and yesterday they cut through a mullocky leader and as much as 3 dwts of pure metal was obtained.  Today several fine specimens are found and a rush to the place sets in. Where a few days ago plenty of spare ground was to be had now there is not a foot that is not pegged off.  It is the opinion of several parties that the celebrated Manukau leader runs through this claim.

The paddle steamer Bluenose on the Waikato River
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-3800' 

Families are now continually leaving Hamilton by the ps Bluenose every Friday for the Thames goldfield.   The high rate of living and scarcity of labour are the cause of this exodus.

The Westport Times and Charleston Argus both publish warnings to those from the South thinking of going to the Thames goldfield. “By the John Penn we have news from the Thames and other Auckland goldfields.  A large number of persons have come back in her, preferring the certainty of the West Coast to the rich but rare prizes in that part of the colony.  The news varies in no respect from that of some time ago.  Many are doing exceedingly well, in fact making fortunes, but for every lucky man of that kind, there are at least 20 that are doing literally nothing.  The goldfield is limited, prospecting, excepting at the risk of life, cannot be carried on to any distance, and though provisions are plentiful and reasonable in price, credit is unknown and if the amount necessary for the support of life can't be paid, those lacking it must starve.  The wages of labourers are 3 shillings per day, but no large amount of work even at that price is to be had.  We have not the smallest desire to cry down these goldfields for their value is immense, but the fact of the returning tide having already set in so soon, should be a warning to those who think of recklessly setting out."

Wahapu for Shortland with 8,000 bricks

  Rangatira for Tapu Creek with machinery, ironmongers wares and sundries

NZH 17 July, 1867

Otago Daily Times 17 July, 1868

"Come and see some women at the Karaka."

Saturday, 18 July
Ernest Braber, a miner living at Shortland, leaves Butt’s Hotel and proceeds down Willoughby Street.  After turning the corner of the Bendigo Hotel he walks on 30 or 40 yards and then crosses the road.  Immediately opposite Mr Spencer’s, the chemist, he hears some footsteps behind him.  A person passes him and says “Come and see some women at the Karaka.”  Ernest refuses to go with him.  The man then takes him by the sleeve of the coat saying “You ____ fool, come along.”  At that moment Ernest hears another person close behind.  He attempts to turn round, when the man slips his hand under his coat, draws Ernest’s sheath knife and throws it across the road.  At the same time someone else catches hold of Ernest's elbows.  While in this position the offender passes his hands into Ernest’s pockets.  He feels his purse being drawn out and catches the offender by the wrist.  Ernest recognises the man as William Ryan and says “I know you and won’t submit to being robbed in this way.”  He struggles to recover his purse and then receives a blow which stuns him.  He says to the assailant “You have got my purse; don’t be so cowardly as to strike me now.” Ernest is hit again and, being knocked down, another attempt is made to take his pocket book which luckily he has left at Ford’s.  Ryan knows Ernest always carries a pocket book with him.  He takes a one pound note and 2 or 3 shillings in silver, as well as a penknife with a broken blade, a wooden pipe, a pocket handkerchief and the sheath knife.  They are taken violently and Ernest is in bodily fear. After robbing Ernest Braber, Ryan severely beats him about the head and face and leaves him almost insensible on the road.

The Halcyon lands a large number of passengers at the Thames, amongst them Reverend David Jones, of St Matthews, Auckland, who will hold divine service tomorrow.

Fine weather at the Thames makes a great improvement in the roads so that travelling on foot is much easier.

Around 10am Constable Lipsey is informed of the robbery and assault on Ernest Braber.  Lipsey knows the man from Ernest's description.   Lipsey searches and finds the offender and two others in Butt’s Hotel.  He takes him to the Police Station for Ernest to identify. William Ryan is locked up. Ryan has become notorious, having been twice apprehended and twice discharged through insufficient evidence during the past fortnight.  He is now charged with highway robbery with violence. 

The Warden’s Court sits today and several cases are disposed of.  The bellmen of the Thames are loud in their endeavours to attract notice to the sales of goods in the auction rooms. Great complaints are made as to the inconvenience and delay experienced in obtaining letters at the Shortland Post Office.  One small delivery window for such a populous district is totally inadequate and those that chose to wait for their turn have to exercise a very considerable amount of patience.  A barrier needs to be placed in front of the delivery window to give everybody a far chance at inquiry for letters.

The Pukehinau claim, Kuranui Range, strike another leader in their ground today, specimens from which surpass anything previously taken out.  Shares in this claim have lately been sold very cheap as the party began almost to despair of it.  Gold is also struck on the Monarch Claim, Moanataiari Creek, and an excellent sackful of samples sent to Shortland.  Mr Swan has for a long time held a share in this claim and was about to dispose of it at a low rate when the auriferous quartz was brought in.

The recent crushing of Tookey’s quartz at Goodall’s battery fully realises the most optimistic expectations.  As the gold was not visible in the stone, the yield was not expected to exceed 2 oz per ton, the actual result, however, turned out to be 4 ½  oz, giving 81 oz for the 18 tons of stuff passed through the battery.

At Upper Mahurangi the Daily Southern Cross correspondent writes “For a long time past there has been a total dearth of anything in the shape of news to impart, and even now I can scarcely say why I am writing, unless it be from fear that your readers might think that this district had been entirely deserted for the Thames goldfield."

Beetham, Walker and Co’s Shortland sharemarket report notes that prices continue to advance steadily in those claims returning a dividend, but shares in second and third rate claims hang heavily on hand. There are a large number of these in the market at present, suffering under the impossibility of getting a crushing until fine weather sets in.  The locality of a claim is beginning to be taken into consideration and fancy prices have been obtained for shares in claims that have never produced an ounce of gold.  A prejudice exists against the Hape and Karaka which can only be removed by satisfactory crushings.  This prejudice is unwarranted, for, although not so rich as the Moanataiari or Waiotahi, the quantity of stone produced is generally much greater.  Why the Collarbone has fallen into disrepute with the speculators is a puzzle as there is more than one very rich claim in the valley.  The Shellback, too, is only now emerging from the cloud that has obscured it for three months past, and in the long-despised Tararu valley the British Empire claim has struck rich leaders during the past week.

The Karaka creek, has until very lately borne a bad a name among the mining community at the Thames, but is now advancing rapidly in public estimation since it has had a fair trial. For a long time the Karaka was entirely neglected then a few miners went to work on it, but not striking gold immediately, quit it in disgust.  Subsequent trials, however, gave good yields of gold to several parties.  People threw aside the old prejudices and  entered the creek in hundreds and now it is pegged on both banks for miles, indeed the ground is taken up as far as the Lucky Hit, with the exception here and there an abandoned claim.  Many of the claims are turning out remarkably well, although there are many blanks.  The gold, though not so much in quantity, is far superior in quality to that found at any other part of the Thames.

Mr O’Keefe’s report notes that the small return of gold is a thing often spoken of but no one who passes a few days upon the ranges returns without a full conviction that the day is fast approaching when the results of the vast labour expended upon the Thames goldfields will result in a large return of the precious metal. The window of Mr O'Keefe’s office presents a very attractive appearance today from the number of specimens displayed to view.  Among the more prominent are some exceedingly rich ones from the Pretty Jane Claim.

Two new steamers destined for the Thames trade go through their trials at Auckland this afternoon. The paddle steamer the Lady Bowen leaves the wharf  and steams up and down the harbour for more than an hour in order to test the capabilities of her engine.  The weather is very much against her however and she returns to her moorings off the wharf.

The official trial trip of the new paddle steamer the Duke of Edinburgh takes place under the scrutiny of James Stewart, Government Inspector of Steamboats.  There has been a strong breeze all morning from the west and it has gradually hauled round to the north and about half past 3 o’clock, the time that the start is made, the wind is about NW, blowing fresh.  All possible preparations have been made for a start and the vessel is hanging on by a line off the eastern side of Queen Street wharf. The Duke of Edinburgh was launched some two months ago and is not intended for carrying cargo being fitted fore and aft for the convenience of passengers.  The saloon is extremely comfortable and remarkably well lighted; on either side are two tiers of bunks fitted with cushions of American leather.  Right aft is the ladies saloon, which is airy, well lighted and well ventilated, and possesses separate conveniences.  Its cushions are also of American leather fringed with crimson.  The paneling of the saloons, the skylight engine house, and inner sides of the paddle boxes are grained and varnished. The steaming apparatus is arranged so that the vessel can be steered either from the top of the engine house or from right aft on the poop.  The pilot on top of the engine house can communicate with the engineer by means of a gong. The number of crew will be about 12. Captain John McDougall, formerly of the transport Alexandra and late of the Enterprise No 1 is master.  Captain McDougall  is well known and respected for his kindness and urbanity to passengers and for his thoroughly seaman like qualities.  The trial trip is considered on the whole most satisfactory and in the course of a few days the Duke of Edinburgh will be laid on for the Thames.

The Halcyon arrives back at Auckland this evening from the Thames with well over 1,000 oz of gold on account of the Bank of New Zealand.

Late this evening news is brought into the Thames that alluvial gold has been discovered at Puriri.

DSC 18 July, 1868

NZH 18 July, 1868

A manner peculiarly his own.

Sunday, 19 July
People leave the Thames all day today for Puriri.

The Reverend David Jones, of St Matthews, Auckland, holds Divine Service both morning and afternoon in St George’s church at the Thames and delivers two excellent discourses.  He was to have preached here last Sunday, but owing to there being no steamer from Auckland on the Saturday was unable to.

Divine Service is also held at Tapu, the Reverend Mr Norrie (Presbyterian) officiating.  The reverend gentleman is very much indisposed, having caught a severe cold on the passage down.  Many come from a long distance to attend.  The services are held in Mr Coombes’ new building, as the weather is very inclement.

A person walking on the Queen Street wharf observes an object floating in the water between the schooner Coquette and the Ivanhoe. The police boat, which is just shoving off from the Watermen’s stairs, is hailed and directed to the spot where a body is found.  It is recognised as that of Henry White, 54, a well known contractor, builder and bricklayer who lives in Remuera.  The police boat immediately conveys him to the dead house in Official Bay awaiting an inquest tomorrow.

Monday, 20 July
At the Police Court, Thames, before Major Keddell, William Ryan is brought up on a charge of highway robbery with violence.  He denies it and says it’s unlikely Ernest Braber could recognise him on a dark winter night.  He pleads not guilty and is committed to trial at Auckland Supreme Court.

The Clyde has been laid up at Shortland for some days past for painting and cleaning.  It is expected she will resume the Tapu Creek and Shortland trips today.

Raglan, with its population of 19 adult males, now have eight of whom are preparing to migrate to the Thames.

Raglan 1860s
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 5-2745_08' 

The Shotover battery commences crushing today with the starting of the Goldfinder. Operations have been delayed several days awaiting the completion of pumping apparatus to supply the engine. Just  eleven months ago when this ground was discovered  everything was in a state of nature and it was with the utmost difficulty a human being could thread his way through the thick bush to the now famous reef which was impregnated with the precious metal.  Now the place is a busy hive of industry, affording profitable employment to no less than 40 persons.  Only nine weeks have elapsed from the time the first piece of machinery arrived on the ground, and every portion of it had to be parbuckled up the hill like logs in the bush.  The battery is divided into three sets, containing four heads each of revolving stampers, which are considered the most effective now used for crushing purposes.  The successful treatment of the tailings has at all times been a matter of the greatest concern in reducing the ore; this difficulty appears to have occupied the attention of William Hunt, and having no belief in existing schemes, he has resolved to treat them in a manner peculiarly his own.  It is one, however, based on the soundest of principles.  One of the neatest pieces of work on this extensive crushing mill is the kiln for calcining the quartz.  It cannot be equaled on the field or excelled on any older goldfield.  It is built of bricks, lined with fire bricks and crucible shaped, capable of containing 25 tons of quartz at a batch.  The machine has been put up under the personal superintendence of Mr Fraser, and reflects the highest credit on a firm who have turned out a plant perfect in every respect.  The cost of the battery, engines, building and kiln will be about £3,000, the owners having spared no expense in securing the most perfect appliances for saving gold.  The buildings consist of 24,000 ft of timber and the chimney 16,000 bricks. 

Now the whole battery is started but owing to the small supply of water on the ground, it is found that only four out of the 12 head of stampers can be used at once.  After crushing for a short time, the amalgam is found to form so fast that the next set of four stampers has to be set going while the boxes of the first set are cleaned out.  The three sets of stampers are used alternately, as it is found impossible to keep one set continually going on account of the enormous amount of amalgam which is deposited.

The NZ Herald waxes lyrical over the “pioneer claim of the Thames  . . . the machinery at Hunt’s claim was started today and the golden harvest of its fortunate proprietors may be said to have fairly set in . . . Hunts, we need scarcely say, was the beacon light which guided Auckland, the almost foundering ship to a position of safety."

The inquest on Henry White is held at the Royal Hotel, Eden Crescent, Auckland.  Henry appeared to the publican of James’s Q.C.E Dining Rooms and Hotel, Victoria Street, to have been drinking, and had got into his head that his son was coming up on the Thames steamer. He may have inadvertently stepped over the wharf, the night being dark and stormy.  Three steamers came up between 11 and 12pm from the Thames and that may account for him being at the wharf.  The Queen Street wharf is pretty well lighted, but there is a good distance between one lamp and another. There is no security at the sides to prevent falling over.  Saturday night was very dark and windy.  Since the reduction in the police force there has been no policemen stationed at the landing place on the arrival of the Thames steamers. The verdict is reached that Henry White was found drowned without marks of violence, and that there is no evidence to show how he came by his death.  The jury adds a rider  that they are of the opinion that with the existing large passenger traffic on the Queen Street wharf, and the frequent arrival at night of steamers conveying passengers from the Thames, it is absolutely necessary in order to prevent loss of life, that a police constable should be continually stationed on the wharf; that the wharf itself should be better lighted, and fitted with side chains, removable as the convenience of the shipping might require. Henry White, who had been in the province about 23 years, was a builder of some of the finest and handsomest buildings in Auckland including Wesley college, Wesleyan chapels in High and Pitt Streets, Messers Thornton, Smith and Frith’s mill, the lunatic asylum,  a large portion of the new Post Office and custom house,  and the Daily Southern Cross printing office.

The Hawkes Bay Weekly Times sounds a note of caution about the Thames goldfield. They see the recent falling off in the yield of gold, notwithstanding the increase of machinery, as very striking. The yield of gold in ounces, divided by the number of diggers does not fairly represent the share falling to the lot of each man.  There are several claims of very rich quality and the bulk of gold yield is produced from these, and does not affect the diggers as a whole.  If these claims or any of them suspend operations an immediate effect is produced upon the total yield, but the actual earnings of the main body of diggers per man is not affected and is found to be nothing so tempting as to induce any who are otherwise employed to risk a change.  Careful thought should be given by those who may feel unsettled by the bits of news of “great finds” and “rich claims” on the Thames goldfield that from time to time may reach their ears.   

A letter to the Thames Advertiser  is slightly more optimistic  “....No man shall, in our opinion, come to these diggings with the intention of holding his claim, unless he can afford to “hang out” for several months, as we see there is considerable difficulty in getting quartz to the machines now on the ground.  Not that the gold bearing quartz is at all difficult to be got, but the cartage to the machine is too far, and the roads are too bad to take a large quantity at a reasonable expense.  The machinery at present on the ground is not capable of crushing in sufficient quantity to meet the requirements of the digging community . . .  machines such as are at Clunes and Sandhurst  (Bendigo)  with powerful engines to drive them and good managers to attend them, are what are wanted here . . .with a few such machines . . . the yield would rival, if not surpass the famous Bendigo quartz mines in richness and permanency.  Those claims that are only turning out from one to two ounces to the ton scarcely pay, owing to the enormous charge for crushing . . . It is a pity that more of the Victorian capitalists do not take advantage of this field for investing their money . . .It is astonishing to think that no more have been over here to have a look, considering you are only a few days sail from Melbourne and five hours sail from Auckland, and the reefs are just at the back of the town.  None of them can know the natural advantages that these mines have, or they would flock over to make their fortunes at the Thames goldfield in the spring . . .There is nothing in this climate to deter anyone, and in the summer it must be very agreeable . . .Hoping some Victorian will see this letter and be encouraged to benefit by it.  J Robertson and J McArthur.”

Messrs Sully and Wardell’s sharemarket  report sounds a more postive note.  The favourable weather of the last four days has had a good effect on the sharemarket, prices having advanced considerably in promising claims.  They draw attention to capitalists to the splendid opening for investment in this auriferous field.  Machinery of the first class is now lying idle in Victoria, and would, for a reasonable amount, be placed to great advantage on the Thames goldfield.  Until the Thames gets machinery, large amounts of gold cannot be obtained and it is the fact of there being so little exported that keeps the Victorian speculators from this rich district.

Miner’s rights issued at the Thames are now something over 7,500.

Mount Albert for the Thames with hay etc

NZH 20 July, 1868

Panning with a frying pan.

Tuesday, 21 July
Great numbers leave for Puriri early this morning on the Maori Chief with her deck well crowded.  The scene of the new rush is a small spur near the first creek between the Thames and Puriri. The gold is said to be found in small veins of quartz running through a bed of sandstone. Six hundred men are on the ground and several claims have already been pegged out.  The rush is owing partly to some discoveries of alluvial and the result of a crushing of some stuff from the Golden Crown mine there – a few hundred weights recently crushed at Bull’s machine which gave a prospect of 14 oz to the ton. The Golden Crown contains the largest fine blue reef seen anywhere on the Thames and it is without exception one of the best worked claims on the goldfields.  Mr Stevenson, who has been prospecting at Puriri for the past week, brought down a handful of mullock and rubble and panned it off with a frying pan.  The prospects were a fine wiry gold, from the smallest speck to half an inch long.  Some West Coast men are now prospecting for the alluvial on the flat – a track of about four miles of fine country.  The great want felt at Puriri is machinery, a supply of stores and accommodation although there are now plenty of vacant whares on the flat and three of the claims are getting  berdans and two or three parties are to erect machinery. The ground is taken up for two miles on the main reef.

The Goldfinder, which has continued working through the night, stops crushing and the whole battery is cleaned up.  An extraordinary yield of 1,500 ozs of retorted gold is obtained after 16 hours crushing.  It is estimated that by the end of the week the proceeds of the crushing will exceed 5,000 oz.  It is planned to sink a well to double its depth, in order to ensure a regular supply of water, as it is the want of this valuable element which forms the only drawback, everything else connected with the machinery giving perfect satisfaction.

The fine weather of the past week has made a great improvement to pathways at the Thames; the same cannot be said for the cart roads.

It is intended to extend the tramway now being built from Tookey’s Flat to the Victoria machine, Moanataiari, and from there to Punga Flat.   Application has been made for permission, the area to be covered being 2,000 yards.  This will prove, when completed, a great boon to the district now springing up at Punga Flat, the difficulty of receiving goods being very considerable.  The Alabama claim, taken up only a few weeks ago, have built a comfortable whare and have three drives going.

Thames goldfield Panaroma from top of Punga or Fern tree flat ( Daniel Mundy)

At Auckland the new steamer the  Duke of Edinburgh hauls alongside the Queen Street wharf between the second and last Ts to get her final touches before being thoroughly ready for sea and the Thames trade.  In getting round from the side of the second T, and just after leaving her moorings, she drifts foul of the wharf, her bowsprit going underneath and jamming her hard and fast for a few minutes but she is soon got clear without any damage.

A rumour sweeps Auckland that George Clarkson has disposed of his share in the Shotover claim for £30,000, to the Kuranui Gold Mining Co.  Looking at the immense and unprecedented yield of gold which is confidently expected from the hundreds of tons of quartz and picked specimens, the sum is considered to be not at all improbable.

The Lyttleton Times publishes an extract from a private letter – “Everybody is in high glee about the Thames and if they continue to strike gold as they are doing now, the north will completely outstrip the South this summer."

A gentleman of considerable experience in mining matters in Victoria is now in Wellington enroute for the Thames goldfield.  It is his intention to examine and judge for himself and his report will have a decided influence upon the numbers of miners and capitalists in Otago and elsewhere. Diggers are leaving different parts of Victoria in large numbers for Queensland, believing that the mines of that colony are unusually productive. The Thames goldfields are also attracting a large number of miners from Victoria and elsewhere.

Constable Lapin, of the Shortland police, arrives at Auckland from the Thames in charge of William Ryan committed for trial on a charge of having robbed, with violence, the miner Ernest Braber.  Ryan was only liberated from the stockade during the present month.

Owing to the arrival during the last three days of a few vessels for the Bay of Islands and from Whangarei, and of small craft from the coast with firewood, the scarcity of fuel, which was becoming serious at the end of the past week, has been to some degree lessened.  Both coal and wood are,  however, very scarce. There is plenty of wood cut and ready waiting for conveyance to Auckland at the landing places near the several firewood bushes in the country but owing to the special trade created by the Thames goldfield, the smaller coasting craft which usually bring the firewood supplies to Auckland have been employed running to Shortland and Tapu.  There is room for a larger number of cutters and schooners than now ply these waters.

The poll tax is causing outrage and prompting indignant letters to newspapers, among them some bordering on hysteria.  One to the NZ Herald states “...on returning from my business one evening I was informed by my wife that a person had called for the tax, the nature of which she knew nothing,  and said that she was threatened that in the event of its not being paid he (the collector) would put in a distress (the seizure of personal property) at once.  Of course this threat had no effect, but it is no manly action to obtain the payment of the tax from the wives in the absence of the husband.  In my neighbourhood I am told of Mr Diddams repeating this threat to another woman – was told if he did not make “tracks”, he would have a kettle of boiling water over him and he speedily vanished. Signed  WHO”

The adjourned meeting of the committee appointed to receive the tenders for the building of the Karaka Creek Bridge is held this evening at Stephenson’s Royal Hotel, Grahamstown.  Tenders are received but it is found that subscriptions are much wanted before the acceptance can be decided on and the meeting is consequently adjourned until Thursday evening, same place, to give time for the consideration of the tenders and collection of subscriptions.

The evening edition of the Hawkes Bay Weekly Times says the reports which from time to time have reached the province of the continued success of the Thames goldfield has had the effect of draining the Hawkes Bay of a large number of labouring people.  The ss Rangatira, which leaves for Auckland this evening, is the bearer of no less than 34 passengers – most of them no doubt, will soon find their way to the diggings.

DSC 21 July, 1868

NZH 21 July, 1868
Otago Daily Times 21 July, 1868

The last straw breaking the camel's back. 

Wednesday, 22 July
A large number of spacious and substantial buildings are in the course of construction at the new township of Grahamstown.  A new hotel  is about to be built  there by Messrs Holmes and Bros, of the North Shore, Auckland, who are the proprietors of the steamer Enterprise, which will eclipse any building of the kind at the Thames and rival in extent and accommodation any hotel in the province.  The site chosen comprises four allotments at the corner of Brown Street and fronts the wharf now also being built. On the basement floor there will be a billiard room, sitting, dining and drinking rooms, kitchen sculleries etc, together with two bars, one having a frontage to the beach and counter accommodation.  The wine and beer vaults will also occupy the basement and consequently be of easier access.  On the upper floor there will be 14 bedrooms and on the floor above 16 bedrooms.  The upper storeys will be reached by means of three staircases.  There will be a side bar and a dining room fronting the beach and the whole will be finished in the highest style. 

Over the past two days 250 miner's rights have been issued at Shortland.

M P Bennett, having heard of more gold being struck at Puriri, visits the ground and finds 400 miners there, some engaged in pegging off claims and others building their whares. At the Prospectors claim he observes half-a-dozen hard working miners.  The party have sunk a main shaft to a depth of 40 feet within four weeks, through hard sandstone rock, and have struck rather a rich leader about 12 feet from the first discovered lead.   On the new ground is a claim known as the Perseverance. Bennett gets a dishful of stuff from the leader, which he pans off, and the result is around from four to five pennyweights to the dish.  The next claim to the Perseverance is known as the Pactolus and is situated on the same line of reef. The men working this claim were the original prospectors of the Puriri district.  They are engaged in sinking a main shaft on the boundary between their claim and the Perseverance ground known as the Sluicers. The same party are putting in a drive on the northern boundary of the ground, a distance of 200 feet in length, and about 150 feet below the summit of the hill. They are also busy at another drive on the southern boundary of the ground, a distance of 100 feet, and have come across some mullocky leaders, gold-bearing. The principle topic of conversation and speculation at present among those on the ground is as to who is likely to strike the main lead.

Mr Diddams, poll tax collector, writes indignantly to the NZ Herald -   “Sir – whoever your correspondent WHO may be, I unhesitatingly assert that the statements made by him . . . respecting myself, are entirely false from first to last.  On the contrary I have been met with the greatest civility from all with whom I have had to do.  It is hardly necessary for mischievous persons to render a duty which at any time is unpleasant still more so by scribbling such untruthful statements as those of WHO, who evidently retails the gossip of his neighbourhood.  J W Diddams.”

A general feeling of dissatisfaction is observable amongst all classes at the Thames in relation to the poll tax.  It is difficult to see how the collectors will set to work about it there.  They will have to travel up each creek and it is certain that, if they do not get stuck up by some indignant patriot, they will get stuck in the mud.  The expenses attendant upon collecting the tax will equal, if not exceed, the amount of receipts, although the Thames bears the name of rich diggings, the most valuable claims are principally in the hands of a few and by far the greater portion of the population are not in a position to part so readily with 10s a head.  They are as a class steady, industrious and persevering, willing and ready to share their last shilling with a hard up mate, but they will certainly demur at paying this tax.  It is only the inducement of something lucky turning up that keeps many hanging on and it needs but very little to send them to some other country to seek their fortunes.  These people have been and still are heavily taxed; the poll tax will be the last straw breaking the camel’s back.

The fitting up of the Royal Alfred, destined for the Thames trade, at present lying alongside the firewood wharf, Custom House Street, is being rapidly proceeded with and it is expected she will be ready for her trial trip in little under a fortnight. Since her launch on 30 May a great change has taken place in the appearance of this fine steamer.  A large number of blacksmiths and carpenters have been employed on her, so that the sound of hammer, either upon wood or iron, is always to be heard in her vicinity, though not always to the delight of the hearer.  There are no closed berths as in most of the other steamers running to the Thames but instead a number of raised lounges, consisting of the softest cushions, on which the weary may obtain rest whenever needed. The cabin is circular in form with seats of soft cushions running round, sleeping berths at the rear of the seats, looking glasses and appliances for washing.  Being a sacredly private apartment for ladies it will be a great boon to those of the other sex whose necessities or inclinations may take them to the Thames.  Between the ladies and the gentlemen’s cabins comes the steward’s pantry, a convenient little box in which will be found every requisite that may be required by the passengers in the shape of beer, wine and spirits.  Besides the usual set meals arrangements will made by which the passengers can get a snack at any time. The second cabin is forward and spacious and one feature of this second class arrangement, indeed a very necessary feature – although it appears to have been entirely overlooked in other vessels on this line of trading is, that if a female goes to the Thames by the Royal Alfred, whether she goes as first or second class passenger, she will find in either case there is a ladies cabin for her.  The Royal Alfred will be able to carry with ease between 300 and 400 passengers.

The old story of foolish persons giving up at the moment success is before them is exemplified today at the Golden Fountain claim.  The Golden Fountain is a piece of ground adjoining the Golden Fleece claim, and consists of a strip of land running north to south along the Kuranui and Mt Eden claims, and comprises six men’s ground.  A portion of the ground has been previously prospected and abandoned but newcomers have scarcely been on the ground half a day when they turn out some excellent stone.  The ground was only taken up this morning.

The Duke of Edinburgh leaves the Queen Street wharf on her maiden trip to the Thames taking with her a good number of passengers.

It is feared that the cutter Betsey, which has now been absent from the Auckland port for over a month, has met with some mishap.  She left Whangapoua on the 5th with a full cargo of timber for the Thames and was seen outside by the cutter Rose, which has since made two trips to Whangapoua and back.  The Betsey has never been heard of since and it is feared she met with some accident during a heavy gale shortly after leaving Whangapoua.  

Whangapoua June 1868 by William Eastwood 
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-C1340' 

Nautilus for the Thames with 15,000 ft timber, 4,000 shingles

 Whau for Tookey’s Flat with 6,000 bricks

  Avon for the Thames with 4,000 ft timber, 5,000 shingles, 50 bags chaff, 50 packages machinery

 Spey for Shortland with 5,000 ft timber, 1,600 bricks

 Catherine for Shortland with sundries

 Julia for Tapu Creek with stores

The Duke of Edinburgh arrives off Tararu Point.  She then steams up the creek to the landing place at Shortland and discharges her passengers.  She goes right up the creek, and alongside Sheehan’s Duke of Edinburgh hotel and is greeted with loud cheers by the crowd assembled on the beach to witness her arrival.  Not a single hitch occurred on her passage and all express themselves highly delighted with her capabilities.   At Shortland she is much admired; large numbers of people go on board to examine her.  She will no doubt prove a favourite with the mining community and the fact of her being able to go up the creek to land her passengers will make her very popular.

DSC 22 July, 1868

NZH 22 July, 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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