Wednesday 11 July 2018

9 July to 15 July, 1868

Dispelling the sinister influence.

Blue quartz

Thursday, 9 July
At Madman’s Gully, a branch of the Moanataiari Valley, a great rush takes place and every inch of available ground is taken up for miles beyond. Several claims in the long neglected Karaka now look promising. The Day Spring claim, Waiotahi, have purchased a second hand engine, formerly used in printing the old New Zealander newspaper.  The shareholders, who include a practical mechanic or two, have done the work of construction  themselves.

A party of men come on the Marquis of Stafford claim today and peg off afresh.  The ground is a claim that has not been properly protected.  Proceedings such as these retard the prosperity of the goldfield and such daring acts should be punishable by law. It is hoped the  Warden will see justice done in this case and show these parties that they cannot prowl about the diggings seeking whom they may devour.

Beetham, Walker and Co’s report on the Shortland sharemarket notes that the unsettled and occasionally tempestuous weather of the past week has failed to produce its usual deadening effect on business.  A larger number of shares have changed hands than during any previous week in the history of the Thames goldfield. Foreign capital begins to flow steadily into the place and Auckland speculators whose caution kept them watching but waiting are unloosening their purse strings.  Little business, however, except that of a speculative character has been transacted, the weather having been too unfavourable and the roads too deep in mud to create a desire to roam the hills in quest of hidden treasure in undeveloped ground.  

A box of specimens of amazing richness has been sent to Sydney by Beetham, Walker and Co  for public inspection.  The specimens have been selected from the Dawn of Hope, Sweeney’s, Little Angel, Deep Lead, Hokitika, Nil Desperandum, Manukau, Williams, Kuranui and Co and other first class claims.  This is a somewhat smaller collection than was sent to Melbourne about a month ago and which were procured from the Harp of Erin, Bendigo Independent, El Dorado, Tookey’s, Star of the North, Quinn and Cashell’s and others.  Beetham’s believes that the public exhibition of specimens known to be from different localities of the goldfield will have more effect in dispelling the sinister influence of the bad memories of the failure of Coromandel goldmining than volumes of reports.

Now that the Native Lands Court hearings have concluded Maori prepare to disperse from the Thames.  Before the Ngatipaoa, who live at Taupo, Waiheke and other places in Hauraki, leave Chief Taipari calls them together at the Shortland hotel to express the satisfaction of his tribe and others in the Hauraki felt towards them in consequence of their loyalty to the Queen.  The proceedings commence with two of the younger chiefs handing round refreshments to the guests, who are a mixed lot of men, women and children, after which Taipari addresses the gathering.  Mr Swan, who is present, is asked if he would use his influence to have some Maori prisoners in the stockade released.  They feel their fellows are unjustly confined, although in life they are dead to their friends.  Mr Swan says when he goes to Wellington, on behalf of the prisoners, he will do his best to have them liberated.  Taipari is exceedingly generous in his hospitality.  Only one individual has to be removed.

A meeting is announced to take steps towards celebrating the first anniversary of the Thames goldfield in a becoming manner, to be held at Butt’s Theatre, at 2pm, on Saturday afternoon.

The New South Wales temporary branch bank is opened for the transaction of business at the corner of Pollen and Richmond Streets, pending completion of their new premises.

The John Penn arrives at the new government wharf, Auckland, having experienced adverse winds throughout the voyage.  She brings over 70 passengers, principally diggers from the West Coast for the Thames diggings.

Richard Plantagenet Campbell Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.
 In March 1867, he was appointed Secretary of State for the Colonies.
Public Domain

From papers laid on the table of the House of Representatives at Wellington it is noted that Chief Taipari is the sole owner of most of the flourishing township of the Thames goldfield.  He derives £4,000 per year from rents and mining licences and has made liberal gifts of sites for churches for the Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians and other Christian communities, also for a hospital, a cemetery, a park and other public purposes.  These details come from a letter from his Excellency Sir George Bowen to his Grace the Duke of Buckingham, calling them “rather interesting”.  “Taipari employs Europeans to survey and lay out roads and streets, and to construct drains, culverts and the like.  In short, he appeared to me, on the one hand as capable of maintaining his just rights, and, on the other, as desirous to improve his property, as any English Landlord . . .  He has caused a commodious house, in the English style, to be built for himself on a slope commanding a beautiful prospect over the sea and rising town.  Taipari’s example, and the knowledge of the wealth which he is acquiring by allowing the colonists to occupy his land on equitable terms are beginning to exercise a beneficial influence over many of his Maori countrymen who have hitherto lived in sullen and hostile isolation.” 

A meeting is held at the Royal Hotel, Waiotahi, regarding the building of a bridge over the Karaka Creek.  The meeting is attended by several businessmen but the bad weather prevents a full attendance and the meeting is adjourned.

At the Albert Street Congregation Chapel Anniversary Soiree in Auckland a stirring speech is given by the Reverend W Davies on the topic of the early days and the  progress of Thames goldfields. “Crossing over to the Hauraki Gulf we should see, perhaps a canoe or two filled with savage warriors bound on some expedition, for plunder or revenge.  The notes of the bellbird, or the hoarse cry of the morepork, alone broke the stillness of the forest ravines.  Perhaps if they had dropped in unexpectedly into the solitary raupo whare, they might have found a party enjoying a dish . . . and now, in contrast, what would they see? A town of some 10,000 inhabitants – steamers and sailing vessels traversing the waters – vast cuttings and shafts in mountains, and bush felled in all directions  . . . The whole aspect of life was rough and its justice was equally rough.”  He relates an anecdote told of a reverend gentleman who had been collecting funds among the diggers for building a church.  Whilst engaged in this pursuit he was one day suddenly shouldered by his admirers and carried into a hotel where he was made to ‘shout’ for all hands out of the money he had collected.  There was no harm intended but it was a rather rough sort of joking.  The absence of women, he thinks, is a remarkable feature at the Thames.  He believes that no community can be prosperous in the highest sense of the term if women are absent from it.  The Reverend J Buller adds a word of warning to many who, he is afraid, are burning their fingers by injudicious speculation at the Thames.   He even sometimes fears that there will be a return next year of some of those dismal days through which Auckland has just passed.

At Auckland a fire bell sounds – a small two roomed cottage in Edwin Street is ablaze and within a few minutes totally destroyed.  The owner of the house is Mrs Walker, a widow, whose two sons are away at the Thames. The cottage is the property of one son and she and her daughter resided there.  Mrs Walker, finding the house lonely, moved about 10 days ago to lodge at the house of Mr Hunt, shoemaker, about 100 yards away.  Mrs Walker had visited the house earlier today to retrieve some articles, locked the door and took away the key.  No reason can be seen for the origin of the fire and two cottages on either side of the house escape the blaze.

Friday, 10 July
The incongruously named Lovers’ Walk on the Collarbone Range exasperates the Daily Southern Cross correspondent when he passes through it on his way to some of the principal claims up the Waiotahi.  A worse track cannot be imagined, he thinks.  The negligence in making some passable tracks is very bad policy on the part of the shareholders in these very rich claims.  Speculators will not risk themselves along the road, much less think of getting machinery up, which is greatly needed at this creek.

At the Lucky Hit claim in Tradesman’s Gully, beyond Nolan’s, some rich specimens of blue quartz are taken out of the main leader. This claim has been worked five months and is ten men’s ground.  Some 120 tons are ready for machinery.  A considerable amount of work has been expended in facing down the creek, laying down a tramway and timbering drives.  Men are now engaged in sawing timber for the five stamper battery which the shareholders are to erect on the spot.  The stampers have been ordered from Melbourne.  A small hand stamper has been found totally inadequate.  A site for a water wheel has been cleared near a good fall of water.

A barmaid at one of the Shortland hotels has a crushing of the specimens given to her from time to time by frequenters of the hotel.  The result is £80 worth of gold.

At the Police Court, Auckland, George Rolton, brought up on a warrant from the Thames by Constable McGinn on Thursday, is charged with a breach of the 17th clause of the Destitute Persons Relief Ordinance, by refusing to contribute to the support of his family.  A short time ago the defendant was brought before the Bench and ordered to pay £1 per week for the support of his wife and family.  He has, however, neglected to do so for the last month.   It is now stated that he has paid up all arrears to his wife and he is therefore ordered discharged.

The Poverty Bay district is gradually becoming smaller in respect of population as tradespeople and others either make a start to try their luck at the Thames goldfields or leave the district in disgust.

Catherine for Tookey’s Flat and Shortland with bricks

The Midge hauls alongside Auckland's Queen Street wharf.  She will not, as anticipated, resume her trade to the Thames today, but the alterations which she has been undergoing will probably be completed on Saturday, so she can sail off on Monday.

This evening a lecture is delivered at the new Shortland court house by the Reverend Charles Hyde Brooke, in aid of the funds for St George’s church.  Owing to the very unfavourable weather the attendance is limited.  The subject chosen is 'Voyages among the North Western Islands of the South Pacific' and is an interesting narrative of the observations of the lecturer during his labours among those islands in connection with the Melanesian Mission.  The manners and customs of the natives are discussed and illustrated by diagrams of a fascinating character.

NZH 10 July, 1868

An agglomeration of weatherboards.

Saturday, 11 July
Great inconvenience is felt at the non arrival of any steamers today. The Halcyon arrived yesterday at Auckland but does not leave again for the Thames until tomorrow. 

Two additional steamers are to be placed on the Thames trade.  The Duke of Edinburgh  gets up steam for the first time today and progresses round the harbour.  Her engines work well and her official trial trip will take place during the week.  The Lady Bowen is the other steamer.

At the Resident Magistrates court before Major Keddell, Archibald Campbell, John E Spence and Ernest Baber are each fined 20s, or in default ordered to undergo 48 hours imprisonment with hard labour, for drunkenness.  James Ryan is charged with stealing a hat, value 9s, the property of Frederick Pym, of Tapu, on 3 July.  The case is dismissed.  George Roberts pleads guilty to stealing on the 5th, one pair of trousers, value 15s, the property of John Shaw.  A previous conviction is disposed of and he is sentenced to three months imprisonment with hard labour.

Business transactions at the Thames have picked up briskly during the week, a large number have changed hands showing marked confidence in the stability and richness of the field.  Interest amounting on value to nearly £1,000 sterling have changed hands almost daily for the past fortnight and share brokers are reaping a rich harvest of commissions on these accounts.  Inquiries are constantly being received from Australia and elsewhere respecting the real state of mining matters on the Thames field.

The Commercial Report states that at C Arthur and sons, Auckland, there are good stocks of potatoes, cheese, bacon, ham, onions, butter, soap, oats and colonial ale.  There is a great demand for fowls, but only a few young ones are in stock.

A bet of £100 a side is entered into between two well known gentlemen of Auckland that the yield from the Shotover claim will prove to be ten thousand ounces at the expiration of one month from the commencement of the operations of their machine, the Goldfinder.   The machine will commence crushing on Monday 13 July.

A letter from a digger is published in the Wellington Independent “It is reported that three vessels are about to leave Sydney for the Thames goldfield, similar reports have been received from Melbourne.  The rate of living is from 8s to 10s per week,  There is at present comparatively little doing on the Thames goldfield  owing to the impossibility of getting the quartz to the machines, for all the roads and tracks are knee deep in mud.  The quantity of quartz stacked is enormous.  Some apprehension is being felt of insufficiency of water when summer comes.  The kauri forest has been destroyed in the ranges.  Kauri ranges and the necessity of letting off the water from the claims is likely to cause immense waste.”

The Taranaki Herald also publishes an extract of a letter, from James Butterworth, of Taranaki  “This town of Shortland has the aspect  common to all digging townships at new rushes – on paper it has compactness and symmetry – in reality, however it looks but an agglomeration of weather boards, hastily run up and save but in a few instances in the principal streets, none of the buildings have a very pretentious appearance, or owe much to the decorative ability of the builder or the house painter . . . from the water it has a picturesque appearance . . . the discovery of this goldfield has proved a boon indeed to the Auckland people – hither have flocked all classes of its population, who have amongst themselves an intensely clannish feeling, very discouraging to those who came from other parts of the colony  . . .  the necessaries of life are cheap, and imported goods are 25 per cent cheaper than in Taranaki.  The demand for labour is not so great  - many claims being idle.  As to government works, such as roads and bridges, nothing has been done . . .  expectations are centred on the coming spring.  I hesitate to advise any to follow my example, suffice it to say, however, that he who has a little money, much energy and can stand up to hard work, might do worse than venture here . . .”

On the Wellington wharf large quantities of machinery for quartz crushing, imported from Melbourne, are waiting for transhipment to Auckland.  The principal machine has been sent to the order of the Thames Quartz Crushing Company.

About 60 diggers arrive in the Manukau by the Ahuriri today and more are expected immediately in the Airedale and Wellington.  A good many of those who arrive in the Ahuriri are from Otago.  They came from Dunedin to Wellington in the Lady Bird and were then transhipped to the Stormbird which brought them on to Whanganui, where they went on board the Ahuriri.  Diggers coming up from Otago show that a widespread interest is beginning to be felt in the Thames goldfield, which will ultimately lead to numbers of them coming from every part of the Australian colonies.

 Rosina for Shortland with 6,000 bricks etc

 Rangatira for Tapu Creek with 2,500 bricks, 12,000 shingles and sundry stores

  Whau for Tookey’s Flat with 2,000 bricks

A public meeting is held at Butt’s Theatre this afternoon to discuss the celebration of the first anniversary of the Thames goldfield.  Captain Butt is called to the chair.  There is a moderate attendance of miners.   Dr Merrett says he thinks it desirable that some steps should be taken to celebrate the anniversary.  If it had not been for the pluck of those around him, there would be no goldfield.   He feels convinced that if Ohinemuri was opened no country in the world would excel the Thames as a diggings. A committee is appointed to arrange the details of the celebration.

At Butt’s American Theatre tonight the house is crowded to excess.  A number of men are standing on the portico over the door,  including William Robertson,  who starts a fight.  Several men jump down to make room. William is knocked down and then struck as he stays down.  He appears anxious to discontinue the fight while his antagonist is struggling in the arms of bystanders trying to reach his opponent.  William then jumps down from the portico and the audience cries out “Ring.”  The parties then start to fight again close to where Major Keddell, JP, happens to be standing.  There are no constables to be seen so Major Keddell  takes hold of one of the combatants.  There is great confusion and considerable excitement.  Parts of the fittings of the theatre are broken down.  Almost immediately Constable Bond appears and comes to Keddell’s assistance and removes William.  As soon as they get clear of the crowd, William, who appears sober, says, “I will go home quietly with you.”  Major Keddell afterwards bails the prisoner.  The cause of the row is attributed to a large mob of diggers who have come back from Puriri after a long absence.

DSC 11 July, 1868

NZH 11 July, 1868
Otago Daily Times 11 July, 1868

Tapu people will mob him.

Sunday, 12 July
At Tapu the Reverend J Atkin, of the Church of England, who arrived by the Halcyon yesterday afternoon, holds divine service.  Although he was not expected, there are large and attentive congregations, both in the morning and evening.  Both services are conducted in the open air, under the large pohutakawa at the end of the flat.

The steamer Halcyon is chartered by William Hunt of the Shotover today in the absence of any steamers proceeding to the Thames.   Mr Hunt wants to be present at an extensive crushing which is to commence at 12 tomorrow, of quartz from his claim.  Considerable interest is manifested in the result, when the yield during the next 12 months is anticipated to amount to 15 cwt of gold, of the approx value of £57,480.

Mr Walter Monro Wilson, Auckland Solicitor and author of Practical Statutes of New Zealand, is in a terribly distressed state at Tapu. He arrived there from Shortland, where he and his friend John O’Donnell, of Great Barrier,  have spent the past two days looking into some mining interests of O’Donnell’s.  They have since looked over some claims at Tapu.  Suddenly today Walter begins repeatedly saying to Mr O’Donnell that he is tormented with the idea that the Tapu people will mob him and that Mr O’Donnell is behind it all.  Nothing that can be said or done will relieve him of this strange fancy.  He wants to get a boat and start for Auckland at once, although it is blowing half a gale of wind and is bitterly cold.  He has been horrified at the thought of staying at Tapu until today although nothing whatever of an unpleasant nature has happened to him since his arrival.  He steadfastly refuses to listen to his friend’s entreaties to return to the hotel for tea.   Night has now set in and they are on the spit which is formed by Tapu Creek and the bay in front of Sceats' Hotel.   At 8.30pm John O’Donnell returns to the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel for his tea but soon becomes uneasy, as Walter does not follow him as he had expected.   Mr Steadman, publican, asks him where his friend is and he replies he is on the beach and will not come.  Mr Steadman says he doesn’t think it is safe to leave Walter alone; he doesn’t seem in his right mind.

John O’Donnell starts off for the spit with a miner named Henry Whelan and they find Walter lying on the beach.  He starts up when he sees them and appears to be sick.  After much cajoling during which Walter goes into the water a couple of times, O’Donnell tells Whelan to watch him while he goes to fetch Mr Sceats, who is personally acquainted with Walter.  Returning with Mr Sceats they discover Whelan has lost Walter.  Whelan is afraid to follow him for fear that he would go further into the water.   He did not like to go near him as Walter said he was afraid of strangers.

They search the beach and go to the Duke of Edinburgh hotel thinking he has perhaps gone back of his own accord but he is not there.  They are immediately joined by several others in the search.  They go back to where they left Walter and also cross the creek thinking he may have gone across.  At 9.15 they hear a shout from another party and learn they have discovered Walter, cold and apparently lifeless.  The water is not more than about 9” deep, and the tide is coming in.  Means are immediately used to restore life, but failing to have any effect, the body as carried face downwards to Mr A Caddil’s Exchange Hotel and laid in front of a large fire.  Every known means of restoring life is put into practice and continued most energetically for the space of an hour, but without effect.  Mr Clayton, dispensing chemist, and Mr Pond, formerly of Dr Fischer’s establishment in Auckland, are praised for the zeal and skill with which endeavour to resuscitate Walter.

Monday, 13 July
A messenger leaves for Shortland from Tapu this morning to report the death of Walter Wilson to the authorities.

The anticipated crushing of the Shotover's Goldfinder battery is thwarted  as a necessary appliance has been inadvertently neglected - the pumping apparatus to supply the engine needs to be completed.  The crushing will now not commence until Monday next, 20th. 

The last few days of fine weather have improved the roads and augmented the supply of quartz to the various machines.  Grahams, Waiotahi, and Scanlan and parties, Karaka, are again started today, after being idle for some time.

The number of miner's rights issued for the Thames goldfield to date is no less than 7580. 
Warden Baillie leaves Shortland this morning for Tapu to hold an inquest on Mr Wilson.

A new leader is discovered at McIssac’s (the Tapu Goldmining Co).  Several rich specimens are got out in a few minutes.

The schooner Success arrives at Auckland from Lyttleton with 494 bags of wheat, 130 bags of flour and 26 diggers for the Thames. Another 120 or so arrive by the ss Airedale and the ss Wellington.  Another batch may be expected in a few days by the ss John Penn. The influx of diggers from the southern ports and more especially from the West Coast does not in any degree diminish.  Scarcely from Napier does a steamer arrive without an accession of from 12 to 30 souls to the mining population of the Thames goldfield.

The Lady Bowen makes a short trial trip down the harbour today, but the expectations that were entertained as to her steaming qualities are not realised.

Robert Kelly alias McKenna is apprehended at Shortland.  He escaped from the Mt Eden stockade in March and made his way to the Thames where he has stayed undetected until now.

At the Resident Magistrates Court, Shortland, William Robertson is charged with unlawfully causing a breach of the peace on Saturday night at the American Theatre, Butt’s Hotel.  He pleads not guilty.  Constable Bond says the police force at present is totally inadequate to preserve law and order in such a populous place.  His Worship orders the prisoner be discharged and observes that he will suggest to the government as soon as possible that a proper police force be arranged for  the Thames.  Philip Patten, James Weld, Henry Martin, Joseph Williams and Michael Sheehan are severally brought up before the Bench and charged with drunkenness.  They are fined 10s and costs each, or in default, suffer 24 hours imprisonment.

D J O’Keefe’s Shortland stock exchange report notes that the Thames goldfield continues to attract the attention of the moneyed interests of the colony.  A few representatives acting for Melbourne and Sydney mercantile houses have been visiting the Thames. There is a demand for allotments of land and some of the best properties on the Thames are now available to purchasers.   Tapu is a fine field for mining enterprise and fair speculating.  The Tapu creek is a wonderful rapid stream running nearly east to west for some 20 miles, and would give employment to a considerable number for puddling purposes,  The Mata Creek, distant about two miles from Tapu, is available for similar work and as larger tracts of surface ground are known to be auriferous in the Tapu district, this class of mining could be carried on cheaply either by tub and cradle, long tom or the well-known puddling machine and ultimately steam puddling machinery might be applied.  The want for crushing machinery is a great drawback to the immediate prosperity of Tapu and many claims in consequence are commanding low prices.

At Kennedy’s Bay one of the southern creeks is being washed up to the mountains by five separate parties, and Mr McDonald brings 5cwt of quartz from there to Shortland to be tested.  Prospecting has been satisfactory at Mercury Bay and the gold is said to be of a superior quality to that obtained at Kennedy’s Bay.  Prospecting is also going on at Wairoa and though nothing has yet been found of a payable character, optimistic expectations are entertained in respect to that place, a great many auriferous specimens having been discovered.  News is anxiously looked forward to from the Wairoa regarding the alleged recent gold discovery there.

The declaration of the poll for the electoral district of Franklin takes place at the Toll House, Panmure Bridge.  The numbers for Mr Swan are 619, and Mr Buckland 548, the majority for Swan is 71.  Mr Buckland is a sore loser – he complains about how the election was carried out at various places.  He is disappointed with the result of the election.  He insinuates polling at Shortland was obstructed and that polling was closed 15 minutes before it should have been at Newmarket.

Despite evidence to the contrary,  the Evening Post pours cold water all over the alleged success of the Thames diggings.  “A telegram has been received this morning to the effect that the ss Wellington had left Hokitika for Auckland, and from the small number of passengers she carried, stated to be only 14, the extensive migration from the West Coast to the Thames has not taken place.  The distance from Wellington to Hokitika is some 300 miles and from thence some 700 miles.  In noticing this subject we are given to understand that the last official return from the Thames and Auckland only gave 1500 oz received during the preceding fortnight.  These dry hard facts and figures certainly would not justify a general or even considerable move from the West Coast to the north as yet.”

A meeting is held this evening at Stephenson’s Royal Hotel, Waiotahi, to discuss the building of a bridge over the Karaka Creek on the beach road from Shortland to Waiotahi.  There is a good attendance of business people.  A request will be made to the Warden for advice and assistance in making the bridge and improvements in the beach line of road from Shortland to Tookey’s Flat.  A committee is appointed to collect subscriptions and it is agreed to advertise for plans and tenders.

DSC 13 July, 1868

NZH 13 July, 1868

Never saw gold lying so thick.

Tuesday, 14 July
At Tapu this morning the inquest of Walter Wilson is held before Alan Baillie and a jury of miners and storekeepers.  Mr O’Donnell says when they left Auckland Walter was perfectly sober and in his right mind and he had had little to drink since being on the diggings.  A verdict is returned that the deceased died from apoplexy and a rush of blood to the head.  Walter was a married man who had been in the colony about 18 months to two years and was aged about 30.

The recent rush to Tapu has turned out bona fide, the ground being unusually rich, and a large number of claims marked out.  There is a rich mullocky leader, which lies NE by SW in a direct line with McIssac’s.  Large numbers of people, including several Auckland capitalists, have visited the ground and all express their surprise at the rich find.  Old West Coast diggers say that in all their experience they never saw gold lying so thick.  A small sample has been taken to Shortland and another sent to the Bank of New Zealand, Auckland, to be tested.

Mr D J O’Keefe takes his collection of specimens to the NZ Herald office.  The specimens altogether weigh 60 or 70 pounds and were taken from a variety of claims extending over an area of five square miles. These specimens afford a valuable history of the Thames reefing claims. They comprise every variety of stone, from the mullocky leader to the hard blue and white quartz of the Dawn of Hope claim.  Each stone is labelled with the name of the claim it comes from.  The Herald says “ It is gratifying to us as journalists, independently of the fact that our interests are, in common with those of all Auckland men, bound up in the prosperity of the Thames, that this goldfield shall have verified the expectations which we formed of it from the first and which when others attempted to pooh pooh them, we consistently, through good report and through evil report, adhered to . . . The Thames, before another year has passed will come to be acknowledged as the most extensive and richest goldfield ever yet discovered in the world.  And as to the area of the field, for sometime after it was opened the miners, then of course much fewer in number, kept to the coast as nearly as they could, . . . parties are now working 11 miles back from the Hauraki Gulf coast, and finding still the same rich prospects as were found nearer the coast.” 

The men working in the Edgecombe claim are on a very rich golden leader and today take out some of the richest stone seen on the Thames.

A party of West Coast diggers report that another party have returned to Shortland from prospecting in the interior 45 miles up and that they have discovered some rich beds of alluvial gold,  They were, however, driven back by the Maori, and unable to continue their search.  They speak well of the country and predict a bright field for future operations.

Major Heaphy asks the Colonial Secretary in the House of Representatives today whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce to this session any bill to provide for the representation in the House of the Thames goldfield.  He says that there is at present on the field a very large population.  In previous instances when the population of a gold district became large, the government extended representation to them.  The Hon Mr Stafford says the government has not in contemplation such a bill.  It should be borne in mind that, when representation was given to Westland and other goldfields, the population at those places amounted in each case to 30,000 or thereabouts.  There is no such increase of population on the Thames goldfield, although it was likely to increase.  Another consideration should be borne in mind, namely, that the Thames population is rather the removal of people from one part of the province of Auckland to another.  If a great number of people came to those goldfields from Victoria or other colonies, then it would be incumbent upon the government to provide for the representation of such a population.  Major Heaphy also inquires whether it is the intention of the government to equalise the gold duty raised in the colony.  The gold of the Middle Island is worth £3 17s an ounce, and the gold found on the Thames is worth only £2 16s, but they both pay a duty of 2 shillings and sixpence.  Mr Stafford admits the hardship and promises that something should be done to alleviate it.

 Avon for the Thames with sundries

This afternoon at Auckland a man named Thomas Jones is apprehended by Detective Ternahan on a charge of stealing a bundle of clothing, value about £2, from the Kensington Boarding House in Wakefield Street.  It seems that Jones was stopping at the house and the bundle of clothes belonged to a young man who went down to the Thames and who left it in charge of Mrs Catherine Rogan in Barrack Street.  Mrs Rogan being about to join her husband at the Thames, left the bundle at Kensington House from where it was taken.  Jones was suspected and watched by a little girl belonging to the house until he was apprehended.

Mr Mulligan, the proprietor of the Governor Bowen Hotel, Thames, gives an entertainment to a number of gentlemen on the occasion of placing the first rafter on the large extension of the hotel made towards Pollen Street.  Champagne is freely distributed and the success of the undertaking is drunk with cheers.  This hotel is the largest and most commodious yet built in the district, the extreme length being 170 ft with a breadth of 50 ft, containing large public rooms and the accessories of a first class hotel.

Otago Daily Times 14 July, 1868

DSC 14 July, 1868
Wednesday, 15 July
The Enterprise arrives in Auckland this morning from the Thames and brings among the other passengers the convict Robert Kelly alias McKenna, who escaped from the stockade on 25 March and then hid out at the Thames.  He has been sent back to the stockade along with two other prisoners convicted at Shortland and also brought up by the Enterprise in charge of Sergeant Lipsey and Constable Bond.  George Roberts is charged with  stealing a pair of trousers, value £1 10 s, from Robert Shaw of Shortland and sentenced to three months hard labour, and Henry Barker, charged with stealing a hat, value 10 s, from Abraham Levy, Shortland, and clothing from Bernard Levy, Shortland, is sentenced to four months hard labour.   Alexander Andrews, a lunatic, is also brought up and is sent to the asylum, being found to be of unsound mind on the evidence of Drs Sam and Lethbridge. Robert Kelly is sentenced to eight months at the expiration of his former sentence which was two years imprisonment.

The Midge today resumes her trade between Auckland and the Thames.

The Daily Southern Cross correspondent visits the Shotover claim hoping to see the Goldfinder crushing machinery in operation but is disappointed to find  the process temporarily delayed. Messrs Hunt and White very courteously conduct him over the ground and into the drives, and in every stone gold is plainly discernible.  In the face of the celebrated rock over which the Kuranui creek fell, where gold was first discovered, a drive has been made.  Of the quartz from a leader several sacks of specimens have been selected.  One of the sacks is opened and a piece weighing about 30 lb is broken, showing gold thickly throughout, portions of it being gold flakes.  It contains 100 oz gold.  A remark made by an old Victorian who is present, is that after this, if there was no faith entertained by certain persons in the Thames, they were infidels.  Although a notice is posted warning the public that they are not to advance beyond a certain point indicated, the shareholders say they are always happy to show visitors over the ground.

A gentleman named Creagh sells a full share for the sum of £1,600 for which claim he had but a few weeks previously paid £25.

A slight rush takes place to Puriri in consequence of the quiet working of a party who have been making wages for some time past by sluicing ground near the Golden Crown claim.  Attracted by their success a party of eight today takes up ground below them which they have named the Golden Star.  A number of claims averaging from four to eight men’s ground have been pegged off with equal success.

There is also a small rush to some new ground which lies about a mile and a half beyond the Tararu Creek.   It has often been tried and pronounced a duffer. An old hand at prospecting had another look and, being satisfied with the appearance of the stone, has some tested by Mr Wilkes, at Mr T A Hicks, in Grey Street.  The test is very carefully applied and the result is half a grain of gold to 7 oz of stone. The report having got out, a large number of men go and peg off the ground. 

The NZ Herald observes of the growing momentum on the Thames goldfield that it is gradually attracting more and more attention in the other Provinces of New Zealand and also in Australia. There have been many visitors to the Thames, who have gone there not to dig in the hills, but to satisfy their curiosity and to ascertain if it is a bona fide goldfield likely to give profitable employment to a large number of men. One circumstance continues to make those living at a distance sceptical. Stories are related of wonderful yields, of leaders surpassing far in excess anything which the experienced have ever seen on other goldfields, while at the same time the export of gold from Auckland has by no means been large. It is this absence of a large gold export which still makes faith weak and causes men to waver.
Every vessel that now comes from the other Provinces brings diggers and speculators to the Thames. This exodus is not confined to the West Coast goldfields.  Otago and Canterbury are also losing numbers who migrate to the Thames goldfield.  

Until recently very few experienced reef miners were to be found at the Thames.  The number is still exceedingly small. Skill is wanted to work a gold reef, science is wanted to save the gold.  Visitors are astonished that claims are so unskillfully worked and that hidden treasures are not discovered to be anything like the extent they could be.  Proper slabbing and many other practical works are greatly wanted.

The evils of the present system are great and manifold.  One or two loafers or persons of disagreeable habit  practically prevent the working of a claim.  These men have no ambition to do more than to eat and drink and smoke and are great hindrances to their go ahead and industrious companions.  The  influence of this class  has greatly retarded speculation and prevented the influx of capital to the Thames goldfield.  These defects, great as they are, will gradually vanish.  Time and experience will doubtless do a good deal to counteract this great evil, and the formation into registered companies will be the first step towards it.

The Thames goldfield is still viewed with a great amount of suspicion in Sydney and the other colonies, many believing it to be a mere ”duffer” puffed up by interested parties.

The Lady Bird arrives in Lyttleton with 47 miners en route for the Thames goldfield. The ketch Eagle, from Tahiti and Rarotonga, sails for the Thames today with the balance of her cargo of oranges.

Ringdove for Tookey’s Flat with 15,000 ft timber

There is indignation at Tapu over their postal arrangements.  It can be scarcely credited that in the year 1868 that a letter posted in one town for transmission to another about 70 miles distant would reach its destination in from seven to nine days, and that too when there is almost daily steam postal communication, yet such is the case between Tapu and Auckland.  A person residing there wrote a letter to his wife in Auckland and she got the letter nine days afterwards.  She immediately replied to it and her husband received the letter at Tapu nine days later.  Another letter was posted in Auckland for Tapu on the 2nd July - it was received in Shortland on the 3rd and in Tapu on the 10th.  Men come down from their claims day after day, expecting letters from their wives and families in Auckland and return disappointed; the same thing is enacted over and over in Auckland.  The diggers residing at Tapu would feel much obliged to the Chief Postmaster if he would be so good as to remind the public servants that England still expects every man to do his duty. 

Mr. William Griffin of the Molly Bawn claim, writes to the Thames Advertiser on the proposed Thames goldfield anniversary  “It would be a source of satisfaction to myself, and to the public generally, if the managing committee, when elected, would take advantage of this opportunity for the purpose of disseminating statistical information in reference to our goldfield - namely by getting up data showing the approximate amount of exports and imports during the last year; the number of steamers brought into requisition for the conveyance of passengers and luggage; the number of houses that have been erected and in the course of erection; the amount of timber and its value; the number of machines, and their probable cost, that have been completed, and;in course of erection the number of miner's rights issued, and total amount of gold exported up to the end of the present month.  A document such as this would convey valuable information, and tend to create confidence in our goldfield by capitalists and diggers at a distance.  It would be also a valuable document for reference and comparison at the end of next July. However, judging from the warm manner in which the matter has been taken up, and the public spirit that is likely to be evoked before the end of the month, I have every reason to hope that much will be accomplished, and the result highly satisfactory to all who give us a helping hand."

Walter Wilson’s body is brought up to Auckland from the Thames this evening in the steamer Halcyon.   Mr O’Donnell has charge of the body and accompanies it to town.  It is thought better not to take it to Mr Wilson’s residence and it is deposited at Mr H Riding’s mart until the funeral tomorrow afternoon. His death is much regretted, for he was a greatly respected and able man who made the first systematic attempt to collate the statute law of New Zealand.

NZH 13 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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