Friday, 31 August 2018



Patupaiarehe, tūrehu and other inhabitants

The following story was written by Hoani Nahe, a Ngāti Maru (Hauraki) elder of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He writes graphically of a people called the patupaiarehe and the tūrehu, who inhabited the land prior to the arrival of the Polynesian peoples.

"Now listen. When the migration arrived here they found people living in the land – Ngati Kura, Ngati Korakorako and Ngati Turehu, all hapu or sub-tribes of the people called Patupaiarehe. The chiefs of this people were named Tahurangi, Whanawhana, Nukupori, Tuku, Ripiroaitu, Tapu-te-uru and Te Rangipouri. The dwelling places of these people were on the sharp peaks of the high mountains – those in the district of Hauraki (Thames) are Moehau mountain (Cape Colville), Motutere (Castle Hill, Coromandel), Maumaupaki, Whakairi, Kaitarakihi, Te Koronga, Horehore, Whakaperu, Te Aroha-a-uta, Te Aroha-a-tai, and lastly Pirongia, at Waikato. The pa, villages, and houses of this people are not visible, nor actually to be seen by mortal (Tangata Maori) eyes – that is, their actual forms. But sometimes some forms are seen, though not actually known to be these people … Sometimes this people is met with by the Maori people in the forests, and they are heard conversing and calling out, as they pass along, but at the same time they never meet face to face, or so that they mutually see one another, but the voices are heard in conversation or shouting, but the people are never actually seen.

On some occasions also, during the night, they are heard paddling their canoes … At such times are heard these questions: ‘What is it?’ ‘Who are the people who were heard urging forward their canoes on the sea during the night?’ or, ‘Who were heard conversing and shouting in the forest?’ The answer would be as follows: ‘They were not Tangata Maori, they were atua, Patupaiarehe, Turehu, or Korakorako.’ "

Polynesian seafarers 
(Wiki Commons)

1200 -1300

Polynesian migrants arrive in the Hauraki Coromandel region. Settlements on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula date from here.

The people of Ngāti Hako settle the Hauraki region. Their origins are not known, but it is suggested that they belonged to the ancient Toi people, who were descendants of the Polynesian navigator Toitehuatahi.

1350 AD

Tradition says that a great migration of several sea-going canoes takes place from the Central Pacific and two of them , the Arawa and the Tainui, arrive in the Thames Coromandel area. The Tainui arrives at Tararu, Thames Coast. It is tied to a perforated rock at Rocky Point where the travellers shelter in a nearby cave. The Tainui people then take their large canoe across the gulf anchoring at Whakatiwa (near Kaiaua). They later travel further afield and by the late 1500s tribes are reported all along the western shores of what is now the Firth of Thames.

At Waipatukakahu (now Tapu) the Ngati Huarere, an Arawa subtribe, settle the area. The fortified pa is called Rauwhitiora, probably after a chief of the same name who drowned near Te Mata while gathering shellfish. There are at least two other pa in the area - Te Mata pa and a small pa above the Diehard stream.

When Totara Pa was first occupied by Maori is unknown. When the canoes of the great migrations arrived the Arawa people took over from the Toi people, who then formed much of the population. Totara Pa is very important, covering the entrance to the Thames Valley with an extensive view over sea and land.

Arawa dominance over Hauraki remains undisturbed for close to 300 years until a succession of Tainui migrations from the Waikato, probably around 1590 - 1650.

1650 - 1700

The Ngati Huarere by the mid-1600s have a network of 21 pa in the general Thames - Kopu area.  Tainui people increasingly make war on the existing tribes of the Hauraki, coming into the district from the Miranda side of the Firth. Around 1650 the invasion reaches a climax and in one battle 4,000 fall in what is now the Thames Valley. Hauraki comes under Tainui rule.   The conquered Ngati Huarere become known as the Ngati Maru.

The settlement of Ngati Maru spreads throughout Hauraki, but Totara Pa is their great stronghold.

On the evening of 19 November the Endeavour, Captain James Cook, anchors six fathoms off Te Puru. The next morning Cook and party head south down the river in two ship's boats on a short excursion. They name the river ‘The Thames’ due to its resemblance to the Thames river in England.

Friday, 28 November 1794

The Fancy sails into the Firth of Thames anchoring some 8 miles north of the entrance to the Waihou. In July she had conveyed a cargo of food from Bombay to Sydney and was then commissioned to collect spars and planks in New Zealand for the Bombay Marine. The vessel is armed and carries a large number of officers, Indian troops and Indian labourers. The Fancy is almost at once met by three canoes and trade starts immediately. This began a mostly peaceful relationship with Ngati Maru.

From 1795 onwards other timber ships in search of kauri suitable for masts and spars begin to appear off the peninsula.

By the 1800s large areas are under cultivation for trade between the Maori and the Europeans. Kauri grows within easy reach of the shore. Potatoes have been adopted and are grown by the Maori. Fish, kumara and turnips are also traded.

Nga Puhi war parties from Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands frequently raid the Ngati Maru but are unable to take Totara Pa though they inflict heavy losses on other tribes. Many River Thames women are taken and held captive in the Bay of Islands. Tribal wars continue on a large scale.


Samuel Marsden's first service in New Zealand.  Christmas Day 1814, Oihi, Bay of Islands.

National Library of NZ Ref: B-077-006  (Clark, Russell Stuart Cedric, 1905-1966)

Sunday, 15 January 1815
The Reverend Samuel Marsden visits the Firth of Thames on the brig Active. He is the principal chaplain of New South Wales and is ambitious about establishing an evangelical mission to Maori. He visits in response to invitations from Hauraki chiefs.

Summer of 1818- 1819

Nga Puhi war parties invade Hauraki and Coromandel Peninsula.

The ancient and formidable fortress at Totara Pa is attacked but not penetrated and a siege commences. Food and water at the pa ran out and the situation becomes desperate. About 60 men, wrapped in heavy flax cloaks, make a run for it to a spring, fighting all the way there and back, losing some of their number. The survivors wring out their garments into calabashes and the mouths of women and children. The incident becomes known as Waiwerweu – the Battle of the Dripping Garments.

Those not killed flee inland to hidden valleys. The people of all Hauraki then migrate to the head of the Thames Valley.

Tuesday, 13 June 1820

HMS Coromandel, a British Navy ship, anchors off Colville.  She is there to acquire timber spars for the Royal Navy and carry out coastal work. The previous year she was fitted as a convict transport for a voyage to New South Wales, arriving in Hobart with 300 convicts. The Coromandel remains for a year loading kauri timber for spars and the town, harbour and entire peninsula are named after the ship

Gold is noticed at Preece’s Point by sailors on from Coromandel. Small amounts are  also said to have been found by visiting whalers. Over the next 30 years there will be unofficial reports in gold discoveries in different peninsula localities.

The Maori chiefs Hongi Hika and Waikato prior to their fateful departure to England which would have dreadful consequences for the Maori of the Thames.
 Ref: G-618. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, 5 September 1821

Hongi Hika, the dreaded chief of the Nga Puhi tribe at Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, with his armed and tattooed warriors and a great quantity of weaponry,  sets off for the River Thames. The year before Hongi, and another chief, Waikato, had traveled to England and returned with firearms and ammunition. Two thousand men, half armed with guns, are in a fleet of more than 50 canoes. They attack various villages along the way, killing hundreds of men, women and children, cannibalising some and capturing survivors to take back to the Bay of Islands.


Nga Puhi war expedition 1820s 


On arriving at Totara Pa the Nga Puhi find it almost impregnable.  The pa is occupied by only one hapu of the Ngati Maru, the others being away on a war expedition. The pa is sheltering people from other tribes but is not fully defended. The Ngati Maru have no guns. The Nga Puhi are held off for two days before making a fake offer of peace. This is accepted and gifts of cloaks and greenstone meres are presented to the Nga Puhi who leave, paddling their canoes out of sight around Rocky Point at Tararu.  Under cover of darkness they come back, entering the pa unchallenged, attacking and killing Ngati Maru warriors, many of whom are eaten afterwards. Nga Puhi claim to have killed 1,000 while Ngati Maru claim to have lost 200. Captives are taken back to the Bay of Islands.

After the defeat Totara Pa becomes tapu. Most of the Ngati Maru abandon the district taking refuge between Matamata and Cambridge.

In the memory of survivors this disastrous time becomes known as 'the time of Hongi’.


Hongi Hike dies and Ngati Maru war parties drive the last Nga Puhi raiders off the Coromandel Peninsula.

Great chief Te Waharoa of Matamata forces the Ngati Maru to return to Hauraki. After a two day battle they appeal to Te Waharoa for a safe passage home; he gives them hostages to safeguard their return.

After nine years in exile the Ngati Maru return to Hauraki but Totara Pa remains empty because of the great killing there.

Resettlement of Hauraki begins. The Ngati Tamatera return to the Thames Coast. The Ngati Hei of Oturu Pa at Coroglen resent this. One day when the men are fishing Ngati Hei enter the pa, killing the very old. They take about 40 women prisoner, plaiting their hair in pairs to prevent escape. They set up off the valley towards Coroglen but are hampered by the captive women. The returning Ngati Tamatera warriors catch up with them and slaughter all but three of the Ngati Hei who fall to their deaths. The victims are buried near the mouth of the stream. The area is a labelled as a sacred or forbidden place, and the place name Tapu comes in to use.

Early 1830s
Various pa which had fallen into disrepair are restored and others built, including one at Kauaeranga. Over time the pa will accommodate a population of up to two thousand natives. The interior of the pa is divided into compartments which house the different chiefs, their families, slaves and pigs as well as their storehouses. Narrow lanes provide a means for communication from one area to another.

The return of European ships begins to increase and traders become well established in the Firth.   A European timber trading post had been set up in Coromandel as early 1825 which now has agents all along the coast.

A traveler named Griffe finds gold on the Thames Coromandel Peninsula.

October - December  1833
With peace restored, the missionaries, headed by Reverend Henry Williams, come from the Bay of Islands and choose a site for a mission station at Te Puriri (now Puriri). They arrive to an enthusiastic welcome from an assembly of over 150 Maori. James Preece is appointed head of the station arriving in December to a joyous reception. Four other men, including a priest , and their families arrive soon after to help build the mission. A store and a chapel are erected and the missionaries embark on arduous journeys to all quarters of Hauraki, Waikato and Tauranga to do their work. 


Puriri Mission Station  and settlement.  May 1836
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand Ref: A-113-001.

John Preece and William Fairburn are instrumental in purchasing the estimated 500 acre Te Puriri block for the CMS (Church Missionary Society) to the value of £300. Payment includes 16 blankets, 16 iron pots, 12 axes, 12 adzes, 18 spades, 4 shirts, 12 handkerchiefs, 18 pounds tobacco, 72 pipes, 24 scissors, 24 combs, 12 knives, 6 razors, 100 fish hooks, 20 plane irons, and 20 dollars (sic).

The low lying and swampy Puriri Mission station is impacting the health of the inhabitants. It is also crowded with other mission families seeking refuge from intertribal fighting and skirmishes. The Maori population has by now declined to about 70. Preece constructs a new station at Parawai,Thames (Hauraki Mission Station)  moving his family there in early 1837. The house and buildings are not finished and remain that way for many years.


Gold is reportedly discovered at Te Aroha but the discovery is not followed up.

Thursday, 6 February 1840

The Treaty of Waitangi is signed. Governor William Hobson establishes his official residence at Russell in the Bay of Islands. Russell is New Zealand’s first capital.


Auckland in 1841, looking south east from Smales Point showing Commercial Bay and Shortland Street.Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-9089 

March 1841
Several Maori chiefs offer Governor Hobson land at Tāmaki-makau-rau (Auckland) so he can establish a capital there. Auckland becomes capital of New Zealand.


Kauaeranga pa is now occupied by about 2000 people. The Ngati Maru tribe are industrious, continually travelling to Auckland to sell their produce in fleets of canoes perilously packed with pigs, potatoes, maize, wheat, melons, cabbages, peaches and fish.  After landing their produce the Maori hawk it up and down Auckland’s muddy streets. They depart carrying European merchandise.
Hauraki Maori soon purchase schooners and cutters to replace their canoes. A cabbage tree by a bend in the Kauaeranga River is the ‘port’ where the vessels tie up.


James Preece is transferred from Parawai Mission station and the buildings fall into disrepair.


The California Gold Rush 

Monday, 24 January  1848

The California Gold Rush begins when gold is found by James W Marshall at Sutter’s Mill, in Coloma, California.

December 1849

The Reverend Thomas Lanfear and his wife are sent to revive the Hauraki Mission Station. They arrive to a virtually derelict station, the verandah in ruins, windows broken, the garden a wilderness and the chapel, a large raupo building, falling to bits.

The plain between Kauaeranga and Tararu is now under intensive systematic agricultural use. Native houses dot the cultivation's.


Australia Goldrush 

Bishop George Augustus Selwyn arrives at Kauaeranga on board the Undine. He is the first Bishop of New Zealand, which includes Melanesia. He and his party walk three miles from the anchorage to the Hauraki Mission station.  The station, although a fine roomy wooden house,  is still in a sadly neglected state.  Three enormous pigs, tied by the legs, are grubbing under the roots of a peach tree in what used to be a strawberry patch.   Roses and sweet briars are choking the fruit trees.  The Bishop conducts a service in the chapel which is roofless with broken windows but contains a very neat pulpit and communion table. 

May 1851

In Australia, prospector Edward Hargreaves claims to have discovered payable gold near Orange, at a site called Ophir. A number of gold finds has occurred in Australia prior to 1851 but now the Australian gold rush begins in earnest.


Francis Rawden Chesney finds what he believes is gold near Te Aroha but will keep quiet about it until 1864 due to the land belonging to Maori.


Charles Ring NZ Electronic Text Collection

October 1852

Gold is discovered at Coromandel by Charles Ring, a Tasmanian sawmiller. He and his brother Frederick had sailed with the first 49 miners who went to the California gold rush in 1848. A shipwreck on their return upset their plans and they landed back in New Zealand instead of Australia as they had intended. Encouraged by a government reward of £500 for the discovery of an available goldfield in the Northern Province, the brothers head to Coromandel. Charles Ring  gets a few specks of gold from Driving Creek. There is wild excitement in Auckland. “Gold has been discovered in NZ – real bona fide gold – thin layers that will cover a shilling, and nuggets as large as peas. There is no doubt of this; it is all vouched for in Government Gazettes, so throw up your hats and shout Hurrah!” whoops the Nelson Examiner and Chronicle.


Castle Rock, Coromandel 1852/53
(Charles Heaphy) National Library of New Zealand Ref: B-043-023

Officers from H. M. S. Pandora on a digging picnic in the Coromandel, variously occupied in splitting a rock, finding gold, digging for gold, transporting a long tom gold sluice and a cradle, climbing a tree, and botanising . (Charles Heaphy -  Heaphy was Gold Commissioner at Coromandel.)  National Library NZ Ref: E-299-002

The accessible alluvial gold at Coromandel runs out - the goldfield is all over.

1856 – 1857 

Daniel Tookey, who was once a druggist in England,  arrives  the Thames and begins trading, travelling between the Thames and Auckland in his cutter Fly.  

Joseph Cook, a half caste, the son of an old Bay of Islands settler, now a trader at Hauraki, begins prospecting the Karaka, Hape and Waiotahi Creeks. He finds gold. This is most likely the first documented discovery of gold at the Thames.  Joseph  writes to the Chief Land Purchase Commissioner, Mr Donald McLean - "Hauraki, November 28, 1857 - I write to let you know that I have found some gold here, so that if it is the governments wish to have a goldfield in this part of New Zealand I think it only wants you to try and make it all right with the natives of Hauraki, or Ngatimaru tribe.  I think there would be an available goldfield here."

November 1857
Ngati Maru chiefs meet at Kauaeranga, prompted by the recent gold discoveries of Joseph Cook, to discuss gold mining in Hauraki. The presence of gold in the Kauaeranga region is now an open secret but Thames Maori are opposed to mining.


During 1857 and 1858 Joseph Cook, assisted by Maori, gets out four tons of quartz. As well as the Hape, Karaka and Waiotahi he also prospects the Moanataiari and Kuranui Creeks. He uses a long tom for sluicing and sends the quartz to Auckland in the cutter Tay, forwarding it to Mr Edward King, his agent. He is the first to send gold to Auckland from the Thames. The quartz is then transhipped to England in the Swordfish. When crushed, Cook makes a profit of £4 after expenses.


Gabriel’s Gully at the height of the gold rush.
National Library NZ Ref: 1/2-096648-F


Gold is discovered in Otago by Gabriel Read. Stimulated by this a new rush starts to Coromandel. New Zealand’s first quartz mining gets underway there.

July 1863

The second New Zealand Land War, including the Waikato War, breaks out between the colonial military forces and the Kingitanga, or Maori of the King Movement. The Reverend Lanfear is forced to leave the Hauraki Mission station at Parawai  the outbreak of this war. 

View on the Waihou, or River Thames, 
Otago Witness, 30 July, 1864


The Waikato War ends.
Colonel Chesney, who thought he found alluvial gold at Te Aroha in 1852, now writes to the Colonial Secretary, making public his discovery.


James Mackay.

 Ref: 1/2-018088-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. 


James Mackay is appointed Civil Commissioner for Hauraki District. He is expected to cement peace with the Maori tribes. He is informed of Colonel Chesney’s alleged discovery. The formation of a prospecting party though is abandoned due to the unsettled state of the country.

Gold rushes to the West Coast begin.

Ngati Maru cheif Wirope Hoterne Taipari allows William Nicholls, with his son in law, John Richard William Guilding, to live on some land behind the beach at Kauaeranga.  The men are traders.


William Nicholls now pegs off a piece of land and a lease is agreed on.  He and Guilding prospect for gold. Guilding claims to find it but Maori threaten to burn down his house.


Ngati Maru chief Wirope Hotereni Taipari.
 Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. Ref: PA1-o-249-17-1. 


Civil Commissioner James Mackay arrives at the Thames with a party of miners to prospect for gold. The prospectors are led by Walter Williamson, a veteran of the Australian goldfields, and one-time goldfields correspondent for a Sydney newspaper. Walter is also now a clandestine correspondent for several New Zealand newspapers, often writing about himself. Joseph Smallman is also one of the party. Joseph was a mineral surveyor in England and describes himself as a Mining Agent and engineer. Last year he left his wife and child in England to start a mining business in New Zealand, planning to return for them once the business is established. Chief Taipari has given his sanction and protection for the undertaking. Quartz charged with gold has been found on several occasions in the creeks and low lying land. The Hape and its tributaries are now worked as far as practicable. The Maori are anxious for the results – being quite aware of what the discovery of a payable goldfield will mean to them. They supply the Europeans with abundant provisions and a well built whare is placed at the service of the men. The prospectors are optimistic that should the Kauaeranga district not prove a payable goldfield  plenty of room will be allowed for a further search.


Robert Graham

Wednesday, 29 April

A Thames Maori comes to town looking for Mr Robert Graham, the Superintendent of Auckland. Robert Graham is a Scotsman who arrived in New Zealand in 1842. He and his brother David were general merchants at Russell and Auckland. In 1845 Robert built a hotel and spa at Waiwera taking advantage of  the hot springs there. He spent the years 1849 – 1853 in California, shipping potatoes and wheat, and starting a family. He also spent some time on the goldfields there. On his return to Auckland he bought 465 acres on Great South Road, Auckland where he  laid out gardens and built a zoo.  He named this estate “Ellerslie” after his home in Scotland. (actually Elderslie). In 1857 he bought Motutapu Island and, in 1858, Motuihi Island which he farmed with another brother. He has served in the House of Representatives from 1855.   In 1862 he became the fifth Superintendent of Auckland. He is a passionate promoter of the city. Robert Graham being away, the Thames Maori proceeds to the office of his brother David Graham, now Chairman of the City Board. He tells David Graham that he knows of a payable goldfield in the Thames district and that he has extracted from it a considerable amount of gold. When asked how much the Maori points to a tumbler saying “as much as that would hold” but he produces no samples. The story is passed on between gentlemen and by the time it reaches a third gentleman connected with the staff of the New Zealander it has morphed into the sensational story that Thames Maori have shown David Graham 2lbs of gold. They told him the diggings are alluvial but will not disclose the precise locality until they have been assured of a £2000 reward on offer.

The rumours of a large gold find at the Thames are scotched by the Daily Southern Cross. “The nearest approach to the precious metal exhibited . . . was some very fine golden sherry. Specimens have been brought from the Thames by Maori, but not at all recently and certainly not in the quantity represented.”

The New Zealander, which published the sensational report, replies rather mysteriously - “We were quite prepared for the denial with which our contemporaries in their annoyance at having missed an important piece of information have met our assertion on the subject . . . we simply adhere to our story . . . information is being withheld on this subject. The time will come when what is now going on in secret will be made public, and then it will be seen how near our statement is to the truth.”

Reports of gold found at the Thames are often met with scepticism and boredom by the press.


The prospecting party at the Thames have sunk a hole about half a mile below the Mission House at the foot of the range but only got down 16ft as they came across some boulders. They have to wait for their mates to bring down the requisite tools from Auckalnd.  In the meantime they prospect the adjacent creeks. They are loaded with produce from the Maori and find many hands are willing to give them assistance. They are shown over several pieces of tapued land and promise not to infringe on them. Several chiefs from other districts have visited to observe the progress; according to Chief Taipari they are anxious that the prospectors are successful. The prospectors find the Maori social, everywhere in the settlement is open to them. In their whare they sometimes receive over a dozen at one time to share their supper. At one Church of England service in the chapel the congregation numbers about 150 of both sexes. Many have walked over seven miles of rough country to attend. When the service concludes the natives sit for sometime on an elevation close to the Mission House, talking. One old rangatira points out several views of the river, telling the prospectors names of the places where pa had been erected to defend their settlements and pointing to the distant European redoubts on the opposite side of the Thames. 

June Walter Williamson keeps a diary of his gold discoveries.


The capital is transferred from Auckland to Wellington. Military regiments are withdrawn and Auckland’s population rapidly falls. There is a disastrous drop in land prices, businesses fold and bankruptcies escalate.


 Walter Williamson is in Auckland endeavouring to get the Provincial Government to aid him and his companions in carrying on prospecting at the Thames. A certain sum to the miners for rations and tools is allowed, the country to be prospected as far as the natives permit. Mr Williamson then returns to the Thames in the government cutter Snowflake with a supply of mining implements.

A deputation meets with Commissioner Mackay to ascertain what truth there is in a report that 50 ounces of gold have been found at the Thames. He replies he knew nothing of the matter before he read it in the daily papers.

William Nicholls, trader at the Thames, breaks his leg above the ankle after falling over a piece of wood sticking out from the ground. Dr Troop is luckily in the neighbourhood and sets the bone.

A flax mill is about to start at Kopu. They are only awaiting the arrival of men from Auckland to commence operations. Some flax has already been passed through the mill and the result is satisfactory. A pair of 12-horse power, horizontal, low pressure condensing engines, fitted with all the latest improvements, has been set up, the boiler, rollers, stampers, and steeping-vat being all satisfactorily finished. There are one or two drawbacks, the main one being a scarcity of fresh water, there being none within a mile in summer. Mr Biggs, manager of the mill, negotiates with the Maori at Kirikiri to cut a drain or lay down pipes from the fresh water creek to convey water to Kopu. Fresh water is absolutely necessary, as one of the principal agencies to which the flax will be subjected is a constant stream of fresh water. There are great hopes for the flax mill as it will be of significant assistance to the trade of the Thames district, and also to the province of Auckland. 

1860s gold prospector



Walter Williamson and his party have succeeded on the whole pretty well. Sometimes the news is hopeful, sometimes not. He has established the fact that gold exists in the Thames district and is widely diffused.

Owing to the opposition of a chief named Riwai he is unable to prospect those places where gold exists in payable quantities. In fact, he was driven off before he could prosecute his search to any extent; but not before he satisfied himself of the richness of the creek. Riwai is the only man who opposes the prospectors and he has been doing his best, for a length of time, to get up a bad feeling between the Europeans and the Maori.

For nearly four months Walter was accompanied by three Europeans but they left in consequence of Riwai becoming menacing. Since then he has been accompanied by two Maori. He has prospected from Kauaeranga to Mata Creek, eighteen miles from south to north, and found gold in nearly every creek.

On the Waiotahi there is more than payable gold, but he was not allowed to work it by the Maori. All the other creeks were entered from the beach and followed up to a distance of from four to ten miles, and more or less gold in fine particles, with quartz attached was found.

Owing to the formation of the country Walter is inclined to believe that the lighter gold has been washed down from the ranges and elevated terraces, to the mouths and surfaces of the creeks, and that heavier gold would be found farther inland.

He has also discovered a copper lode, and a silver vein attached to the copper. Samples have been forwarded to the Superintendent of Auckland and the silver ore will be tested. The ore is on Te Moananui’s land, and he is willing to let it on easy terms.

A goldfield at the Thames, or a profitable copper or silver mine there, would surely add something substantial to the trade and commerce of Auckland, which is now suffering great hardship.

February - March
Two hundred artisans and labourers out of employment throng the Superintendent’s office at Auckland in order to impress upon him the necessity of something being done to help them.

No fewer than nine “poor wretches” call at the house of an Epsom gentleman asking for food and employment. The previous day there had been several as well.   "Can nothing be done to alleviate the distress of these poor unfortunate creatures?”

In the Thames district Thomas Rawdon,  a 37 year old Lancashire man,  who is currently a contractor in Auckland, and W Brighton,  are prospecting the area.  They have recently been to  the West Coast goldfields but  returned to Auckland intending to prospect the Thames. They work their way around the east coast of the peninsula before striking westward, but do not find payable gold until they come to the west side of the river Thames.   The Maori however drive them from the spot  almost as soon as make the discovery of the payable nature of the ground.   From what they see however they conclude that the field is sufficient in extent to afford work for something like 500 diggers.   It is essentially a poor man's, or wages,  diggings on which a man can earn £3 to £5 per week. In the neighbourhood and through many parts of the district quartz reefs are to be seen but they have no means of testing their auriferous qualities.  

Saturday, 24 March 1866
A report is prevalent in Auckland that a party of prospectors has returned from the Thames with news of the discovery of a payable field.   The NZ Herald takes a swipe at Walter Williamson, a sometime correspondent for the Daily Southern Cross.  "Rumour also connected the party with the name of a well known individual, who spends much of his time at the public expense, on the skirts of the Thames district and who occasionally enlivens the good people of Auckland, through the columns of our contemporary, with accounts of his wonderful discoveries and exertions."  The Herald dismisses this latest report as another Thames hoax.

The party though, are Thomas Rawdon and W Brighton.  Rawdon was on the Australian goldfields early in their history and was in Ballarat at the time of the riots.  Afterwards he moved to southern mining districts of New Zealand, passing  some time at Gabriel's Gully and on  the West Coast. 

Less than a year after their establishment the Kopu Flax Mills are up for sale. The mills had been erected and supplied with machinery of the latest and most approved kind, at a cost of nearly £7,000. The flax manufactured there has been spoken of in the highest terms by London buyers. By the last-received mail from England, private information says there is a great demand at present existing for New Zealand flax, and the cargo per Mary Shepherd, from the Kopu Mills, had arrived in the best condition, not having suffered from heat as expected. The failure and sale of the mills is caused by the injudicious expenditure of the funds of the company.

Letter to the Daily Southern Cross “. . . distress to a fearful extent abounds in our midst . . . one poor man told me he and his family were almost “clemmed” (starved). I saw them sit to their supper of small potatoes and salt with only cold water for their drink . . .”

Daily Southern Cross

Wednesday, 24 April 
The Provincial Council of Auckland offers a reward of £5,000 to any person or persons who can satisfactorily prove they have discovered a goldfield in the Province of Auckland.

Tuesday, 28 May 
The offer of the reward of £5,000 for a good goldfield has done little good.  At Hauraki a Maori has picked up a gold specimen in one of the creeks near the mouth of the river and at a meeting of 200 Maori of the Ngati Maru tribe some 30 of them propose that this district should be opened for prospecting.  This is opposed by the majority with old Riwai at their head who said that if the pakeha's are allowed to dig they will swamp the Maoris and take all their land.

For more detailed information on Maori occupation of the Thames area - click here to read Carol Fielding's very interesting  account -
Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'First peoples in Māori tradition - Patupaiarehe, tūrehu and other inhabitants', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 March 2017) Story by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, published 8 Feb 2005
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 9 – Totara Pa - A Isdale -
Hauraki Report Volume One
Christine Clements -
Puriri – A History of the school & district, Edited Rex Clark
Papers Past
Te Ara war -
The Colours - Mark Pickering
Racing for gold – Johnny Williams
The Kauaeranga Valley – Allan Berry
These hills are Tapu – Deborah Jowitt
Tapu – Kereta School and District Reunion 18?? - 1979
This is my place – Hauraki contested  1769 – 1875 Paul Monin
Douglas Graham. 'Graham, Robert', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 23 May 2017)
Anne Stewart Ball -

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Walter Williamson's diary 1865

 June 27, 1865 – I wrote to Mr Mackay, Civil Commissioner, that the prospect obtained was so good that we should feel obliged if he would forward to us a copy of the mining regulations and the bylaws relating to gold.

June 28 -   Commenced sinking a shaft in the flat about 150ft from the left bank of the Karaka Creek, came upon a  wash, panned it off; found a small prospect getting better the deeper we went.

June 29 – At a depth of 14ft the specks were coarser, but few.  Heavy boulders and water.

July 1 – Eight ft of water in the hole,  all hands baling, in two hours time had the water out, and got 2ft further down, when the bottom was found at 16ft, washed 2 or 3 buckets of stuff, same prospect as yesterday; water gaining so fast and boulders so heavy, impossible to drive – dip inclining towards creek.

July 3 – Finished the sluice box and carried it to the creek, tried the banks in several places; found fine scaly gold in all at about 2ft from the surface,

July 4 – commenced paddocking about 10ft in from the creek; piled up all the rubble to be put through rhe sluice box, occasionally panning off a dish which more or less showed the presence of scaly quartz gold.

July 5 – Found the sluice box to answer well, saving the fine gold, of which there is a good deal about here.  The chief found a quartz specimen in the box well charged with gold – appropriated it of course.  At the close of the day calculated that there might have been 1 & a half dwt to the load.  One of the party who went over to the Waiotahi Creek close to was told if he put a pick in the ground his shirt would be taken off his back.  The gold, which is very fine, cannot be separated from the heavy iron sand.

July 6 -  All day cutting a race extending about 60ft along hre creek and 15ft in from the edge of the bank, with the intention of trying the bed.

July 7 – Dammed the current of the creek.  Plenty of stiff clay on the flat, opened the race head.

July 8 – In the bed of the creek found a prospect that was payable, put about three quarters of a load through the sluice box, which showed up better than any sample yet found, and will assuredly pay.  The gold is of a description different from that usually seen here, it appears to weight well, and is evidently the tail end of a heavier deposit.  A few specks mixed with quartz were got, indicating the presence of  a gold bearing quartz reef in the vicinity.  During the afternoon several natives with motives of curiosity were anxious to render assistance.

July 10 - Tikapa, the chief who had befriended us for some months back, informed us that three large canoes had entered the river with about 60 to 70 Hauhaus, who intended landing and remaining at the settlement some days.  Deemed it prudent not to work.

July 11 – Found that the creek had penetrated through the dam – all day repairing.

July 12 – My companions have left for Auckland; will remain some time longer and see what can be done.

I am quite satisfied that, had we prosecuted the search in this quarter and been permitted to try the Waiotahi Creek, the endeavours of the party to obtain a more satisfactory result would have met with complete success.  The Ohinemuri steam, which runs in to the Thames at about 30 miles up the river, has been reported to me by the natives, as it is also well known to the few Europeans who have settled in that locality, to produce gold of an alluvial and more water-worn character than that found in  the Kauaeranga country. At present Te Hira, the principal chief is unwilling to receive Europeans whose object is gold prospecting – Walter  Williamson. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

June 1867 - 6 August, 1867

Daily Southern Cross 30 April, 1876

“If you have any flour to spare . . .”

June, 1867
The situation in Auckland is dire.  There are empty houses and scores of unemployed.  Trade is bad, money scarce, wages low and work hard to find. Businesses crash, one after the other. A soup kitchen has opened. There has been a land  boom and it has burst.  The withdrawal of Imperial troops and the transfer of the colony’s capital to Wellington in 1865 have caused an economic depression.  There is no place to go as winter sets in.  

The Maori of Taupo* at the entrance to the Firth Thames are enjoying a feast which includes 13 tons of flour, 3 tons of sugar, 300lb tobacco, 24 tons potatoes and kumara, 3 bullocks and 1,800 sharks. Around 250 Maori are present having come from Waiuku, Waikato Heads and Raglan to cry over the graves of Wiremu Hoete and Patene Puhata, chiefs of the Ngati Paoa, who were well known to the residents of Auckland.   
This native gathering is also a runanga (Maori assembly or council) to meet with the Commissioner for Hauraki, James Mackay, and His Honour, the Superintendent of Auckland, John Williamson, as well as other gentlemen including the Maori interpreters C O Davis and J White.

John Williamson makes a long speech  in which he says,  “When I read this list of the articles laid in for the feast I could not but think of Auckland, which I have just left,  and the state of the town.  There are many there in need – there are poor, sick, lame and destitute people who have none of these good things that you have here to partake of and for whom the Government are obliged to provide, in very scanty quantities, such as bread and meat . . . If you have any flour to spare or any potatoes to spare, if you send them to Auckland, depend upon it, we shall find many poor people there who will be thankful for them.  Do not think I came here to make this request – the thought has only struck me now . . . .”   His Honour also exhorts the natives to live at peace with the pakeha. 

Wednesday, 12 June  
The cutter Emma arrives at Auckland with 20 kits of potatoes and kumara, two bags of sugar, two bags of flour and one bag of biscuit - food put aside at the time of the feast especially for the poor of Auckland.
Ngati Maru, cheif Wirope Hoterini (Willoughby Shortland) Taipari.  
 Ref: PA1-o-249-17-1. Alexander Turnbull Library

Monday, 8 July
For three months Te Paratene Whakautu has been prospecting for gold, accompanied by his wife. Paratene is of the Ngatirarua tribe, who reside at the Collingwood (Aorere) Goldfield in the South Island and has considerable experience in the simpler methods of finding the precious metal. Several months after arriving from the West Coast he began work at Taupo, in the Firth of Thames, working his way up the Wharekawa range to Pukorokoro (Miranda). In all that ground he did not find even the colour of gold. He then crossed over to Kauaeranga, at the Thames, attracted by the appearance of the country. He was joined in the work by Hamiora te Nana of Ngati Paoa., a tribe of the Hauraki region, who has also dug for gold in the Collingwood area.** The chief of the Ngati Maru, Wirope Hoterini (Willoughby Shortland) Taipari, arranges for them to continue prospecting on his land, helped by the young men of his hapu. The two Maori have sunk to a depth of 4 or 5ft and are clearing out the bed of an old creek, sluicing as they go. Now Paratene and Hamiora find a scaly and nuggety gold.
Chief Wirope Taipari, sitting as an assessor at the Land Court in Coromandel, about 40 miles distant from the Thames, is visited by his wife who brings word that Paratene and his chum Hamiora have found gold. A Maori also arrives at Coromandel from the Thames with the information that some men in his tribe have discovered gold in one of the creeks. The gold is reported to be coarse and water worn.

Tuesday, 9 July
 At the conclusion of land court business today Mr Lawlor, Coromandel’s Resident Magistrate, Judge Rogan of the Native Lands Court, and Charles Oliver Davis the interpreter, proceed at once by the Wanderer for the Thames to see how affairs really stand. They will also be holding a land court there on the 16th.    On reaching Kauaeranga they find Paratene, his wife,  and Hamiora busily engaged at the Karaka Creek.  Local Maori sit quietly by and smoke their pipes, watching.

Stubborn and fearless - Taraia, chief of the Ngati-Tamatera
PA1-o-249-17-1. Alexander Turnbull Library

Thursday, 11 July
 Maori are stimulated into activity by the £5,000 reward.  Taraia, chief of the Ngati-Tamatera tribe of Thames, and Robert Wi Paka, arrive in Auckland on the schooner Sarah and report having found gold on the Thames but they neglect to bring a sample.  Taraia has a fearsome reputation as bloodthirsty and unscrupulous, stubbornly refusing to adapt to the changes around him.  Much of his life has been taken up in warfare and latterly land disputes.  He intended to bring a sample of gold, he says, but having heard that His Honour the Superintendent was absent in Wellington he thought it better to wait for his return to Auckland.  The master of the Sarah confirms the report, adding that as a digger he can speak for the excellent quality of the gold. Taraia gives leave for four men to go down and prospect his territory but reports from the Thames are so stale that there is little interest. Every dish washed contains a few specks, but that is to be met nearly everywhere in Coromandel.  Prospects a little further up are rumoured to be richer but as the land belongs to Maori unfriendly to the pakehas, no white man is allowed there.  

Walter has something to say.

Monday, 15 July  
 Paratene and Hamiora’s find begins to make headlines.  The Daily Southern Cross says “the locality of the find is the Karaka Creek and is spoken of by experienced miners who have attempted to prospect the district as the most likely ground.” Several men leave Auckland in a coaster for Kauaeranga to work at the gold but the Maori will not allow them to work until some understanding is come to with the government as to the terms on which digging is to be permitted. 

Tuesday, 16 July
Walter Williamson, an experienced prospector, has been fretting over the Thames gold discovery and the £5,000 reward.   He is a man of genial humour and gentlemanly manners, but he has something to say.  In April 1865, two years previously, he had applied to Mr Mackay for permission to prospect for gold at the Thames, along with Joseph Smallman and William Middleton.  A party was organised and placed on the land known as Kauaeranga, at the mouth of the river.  During the years of 1865 and 1866, they found gold.  Walter and his party thoroughly tested the creeks in that locality and also the highlands and gullies and in every instance where a shaft was sunk, gold in fine scaly particles was found.  There was also a piece of ground separated from Kauaeranga by the Karaka Creek, owned by a Maori woman named Lydia, which contained alluvial gold. She was not willing for them to prospect upon it.  Lydia is a Maori Princess named Rinia Karepe, a niece and heiress of Paora.  Her name has been anglicised.

 Walter writes to the Editor of the Daily Southern Cross, sending extracts of a diary kept by him during part of the time and the result is published today. “I am quite satisfied that, had we prosecuted the search in this quarter and been permitted to try the Waiotahi Creek, the endeavours of the party to obtain a more satisfactory result would have met with complete success.  The Ohinemuri stream, which runs in to the Thames at about 30 miles up the river, has been reported to me by the natives, as it is also well known to the few Europeans who have settled in that locality, to produce gold of an alluvial and more water-worn character than that found in the Kauaeranga country. At present Te Hira, the principal chief is unwilling to receive Europeans whose object is gold prospecting."

Don't repeat the Coromandel blunder.

Saturday, 20 July
 This evening the cutter Eclair arrives at Auckland from the Thames bringing Judge Rogan, Charles Davis, J White and Chief Taipari and a small phial containing a few particles of gold.  Taipari and his old father Hotereni are willing, and even anxious, that the land should be worked, but Taipari wants future confusion to be avoided by the work being conducted under proper regulations. The diggers that came down from Auckland have been sent packing. 

Scepticism is rife. The fact that gold exists in this creek is thought no great new discovery.  There are warnings not to repeat the Coromandel blunder when accessible alluvial gold ran out within weeks.

James MacKay.
 Ref: 1/2-018088-F. Alexander Turnbull Library 

Daniel Pollen
Ref: 35mm-00132-f-F. Alexander Turnbull Library

Monday, 22 July 
The gold is shown to the Commissioner for Hauraki, James Mackay, and Dr Daniel Pollen. Mackay is a 36 year old educated Scot, once the assistant native secretary in the Nelson goldfields district, and resident magistrate, justice of the peace, and warden at Collingwood. Mackay is fluent in Maori, viewed as a perfect type of frontiersman, extremely tactful but with a Highland temper.  Whenever there is trouble with the Maori the Government sends Mackay to deal with it.   Pollen is a genial 54 year old Irishman, a medical man, coroner, and now the Deputy Superintendent for Auckland.  The gold they are shown is of a shotty and water worn appearance, the largest piece being about the size of a pea.  Excitement sweeps through Auckland. Taipari, accompanied by Judge Rogan and the interpreter Mr Davis, visit the NZ Herald office bringing some specimens of gold.  “Positively then the Thames goldfield, so often alluded to by Auckland journalists . . . is a reality and no sham.  All that remains is that it should be opened,” decides the NZ Herald.  The gold is tested and found to be of a superior quality.  Taipari puts in a claim for the £5,000 reward.

Tuesday, 23 July 
 Commissioner MacKay leaves Auckland this evening in the cutter Alabama for Kauaueranga  with Taipari, Dr Pollen and several others experienced in gold mining to make arrangements to open up the Thames district.  If Mackay considers it necessary, he will engage an experienced party of miners to prospect on the part of the government.  It is highly probable that there is a payable goldfield.    There are warnings against a ‘storekeepers rush’.  There is talk that the Maori have taken care for years to conceal the gold, and some of the precious metal which they got by mere accident, they disposed of surreptitiously. Without access to the Kauaeranga land it would be worse than useless for a European to go down yet.  There are fears that the presence of a number of Europeans in the Thames Valley will excite the Kingites *** to a considerable degree. There is great disapproval against a rush -   such a thing would startle the Maori, hinder the opening up of the Thames country and embarrass the operations of the government.

Thursday, 25 July
An indignant Walter Williamson takes up his pen to berate the editor of the Daily Southern Cross for a report which refers to him and his prospecting party of 1865  as “the loafers who squatted for three month on Taipari’s land, eating his kumara’s  or killing his pigs, and doing a day’s work once a month.”
“Whatever supplies we had from the natives were purchased, with the exception of the kumara’s, which were freely given to us by the chief.  Had we attempted to kill a pig and were it known to any of the natives that we had done so, our stay there would have been but short – all the country being held tapu.  Not a day passed without one or more of the natives accompanying us wherever we went.  As to working only one day in each month, the number of shafts sunk and the paddocks on the  sides of the creeks will point out what has been done.  In the vicinity of the ground now being tested by the two natives there is sufficient evidence to show to the Deputy Superintendent and Mr Mackay that the original prospectors did their work systematically.  Looking over the diary kept by me (and which I can produce) I do not see that a single day was lost during six months, unless through stress of weather.  The result of the work done was so far satisfactory that I reported it to the Civil Commissioner describing the banks of the Karaka River as payable ground, and capable of affording profitable employment to our 50 or 60 men during 12 months.  From the day we placed foot on Kauaeranga in March until leaving it in August; we received no assistance from either the government or the citizens of Auckland.  In March 1866 Mr Shirley Hill called upon a few members of the Chamber of Commerce to assist me with the means to prospect the east side of the peninsula from whom I received the sum of £16.  The copy of a report in the probability of a payable goldfield being found in the Thames, written by me to the Superintendent, will show that although no success attended my endeavouring to discover payable gold in the several places I prospected, their money was not wastefully used. – Walter Williamson. And for Joseph Smallman.”

The NZ Herald had made the comments; in his vexation Walter confuses the two papers.

The Alabama, on which Dr Pollen and Mr Mackay left Auckland on Tuesday, does not reach the Thames until today.  They go to the Karaka and Waiotahi streams and look for alluvial gold in the soil and gravel beds.

NZH 25 July 1867

 Rapana Maunganoa. He Rangatira no Ngati Maru.
(Used with kind permission Ngati Maru kei Hauraki)

Rapana is much frightened.

Friday, 26 July
This morning a meeting of the Thames Maoris held.   A great number of the tribe Ngati Maru are absent gum digging, but about 90 of the principal men are present including Hoterini, his son Taipari, Riwai, Rapana Maunganoa and Hohepa Paraone.  Dr Pollen informs them through Mr MacKay, that hearing that gold has been found on their lands, and that they are willing to let Europeans dig, he has come down on the part of the Government to make arrangements.  After discussion Taipari agrees to allow his land to be worked.  A more difficult man to deal with is Rapana, the owner of the land through which the Waiotahi Creek runs, from which Walter Williamson was formerly turned off.  Rapana  is much frightened about the Europeans taking his land.  Several other Maori who were present urge him not to give it up.   After a very long discussion, Rapana agrees to give up his land as far as the northern boundary of the proposed field. A large part of the Moanataiari and the whole of the Waiotahi are excluded.
At the British Hotel, Auckland, a meeting of intending diggers is held for the purpose of forming a party and to make arrangements to proceed at once to the Thames to prospect for gold.   After a long consultation among themselves it is resolved to call a public meeting tomorrow evening.

The British Hotel, Auckland,   scene of  feverish and excited  meetings..  (Looking west showing Queen St, Auckland, the premises of J Wiseman, the Nevada Hotel, City Buffet Luncheon Rooms and the British Hotel on the corner of Durham St circa 1880s)
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-261

"Man! There is gold by the ton at the Thames."

Saturday, 27 July
At the Thames an agreement is reached with the Ngati Maru over the Karaka block.  They will be paid £1 each for each annual miner’s right and 25 shillings for each kauri tree taken.  They will also receive rents for the lease of land for a township.

 A sample of gold from Kauaeranga on display at the premises of Messrs Gilberd and Manley, Wyndham Street, Auckland, causes excitement.  The sample is something less than a couple of grains of very light reef gold intermixed with black iron sand.  The gold is a portion of what was taken out of the Karaka Creek in July 1865, at the workings of Mr Middleton, assisted by Walter Williamson’s party.

Tonight a spirited meeting of ‘the diggers of Auckland’ is held at the British Hotel to decide on the best steps to take relative to the discovery of gold.  About 150 men are present. The flickering lamps cast strange lights and shadows on the flushed and eager faces of the elbowing crowd.  The usually spacious room of the British is literally crowded.  Throngs of people outside who cannot get in stand on the street listening and watching through open windows. The chairman, Mr Rawdon, says they do not want to take the land from the Maori, or go against the government, but they want to ascertain the best and most reasonable way to get at the ground.  Mr Rawdon is himself an old digger and the reason he has agitated in this manner is because of the distress he sees amongst the working classes of Auckland.   

Samuel Alexander, another experienced miner, asks if there has been any prospect from the supposed diggings.  He suggests that if there really was a payable goldfield it would be time enough in six months to go.  He does not like to see poor men fooled and advises waiting until a prospect is seen. 

Mr Jerome Cadman, an early Coromandel resident connected with the mining industry there, and a  politically minded man,  is aggrieved - what right has any man to go onto another’s private estate to take what belongs to him?  The idea is absurd, and the people who advise ‘rushing’ were not friends of the province or of the diggers.  He believes it won’t be long before the whole of the Thames district will be opened without bloodshed or rushing.  He has known that there was gold at the mouth of the Thames, but there had been difficulties in the way, such as the late stupid, suicidal and insane war.  He has as much interest as any man in opening up the goldfield, but he earnestly advises the meeting to do nothing which would complicate the matter.    

A deputation is appointed to present Dr Pollen with the resolution made at this meeting - that it is the duty of the superintendent of this province to initiate means of opening the Thames goldfield.  From beginning to end the meeting has been feverish and excited with loud outbursts of applause. 

For some two to three weeks past fourteen men, Hokitika and West Coast miners, have been quietly working at the Thames, with consent of the Maori.   They state that if the goldfield should officially be opened they will send a correct report of it one way or other to their friends on the West Coast.  It is hoped that no false rumours will be sent down there as authentic to lure  large numbers of diggers to the Auckland  province.

Monday, 29 July
Daniel Pollen  and James Mackay return to Auckland on the Alabama, together with five miners who had gone down with them who  have returned for provisions and tools.  They report having made arrangements with Taipari and other natives for the throwing open of a tract of country comprising 7000 or 8000 acres for mining purposes. In the  meantime a few eager diggers who hastened to the Thames find satisfactory prospects, but little can be done as the Maoris jealously guard their proprietary rights. 

Twenty three year old Alfred Newdick meets William Hunt in Queen Street, Auckland. Alfred tells William that he is thinking of going off to Hokitika in search of gold. “But you can’t run away from gold to look for gold!” exclaims Hunt. Alfred asks what he means. “Man! There’s gold by the ton at the Thames, right at your back door! Come with me, I’m off in a day or two.” Alfred tries hard to arrange his finances in time to get away with William Hunt.  For some months Hunt and a party of diggers have been up north prospecting with most satisfactory results in the Hokianga district, but the Maori there were  so suspicious and watchful that little progress was made.  

Daily Southern Cross 30 July 1867

"It is a beginning"

Tuesday, 30 July
The weather deteriorates as  heavy wind and rain sweeps in.

The deputation appointed at Saturday night's meeting leave the British Hotel for  Dr Pollen’s office where they are received by Dr Pollen and Commissioner Mackay.  The deputation urges them to open the Thames goldfield.  Pollen and Mackay are one step ahead though.  “This is precisely the business that Mr Mackay and myself have been on – to endeavour to open a piece of land for gold mining .  With respect to the piece of land that has been handed over to the government, you will see that it is a very small piece, but it is part of the country that has been obstinately closed against European’s, the natives not having allowed anyone to look at it since Mr Williamson was turned away.  But it is a beginning  . . . Mr Mackay – who knows more about the matter than anybody else, and to whom all credit in this affair is certainly due – thinks a great deal more ground might be thrown open shortly.”

Commissioner Mackay shows the deputation a sketch  which he has made of the district, with the boundaries of the goldfield, the courses of the streams and the run of the ranges and spurs.  Dr Pollen reminds any of those who think  of going down that there is  no house accommodation and no stores yet so they must be prepared to take care of themselves.  The Maori will give nothing without being paid for it, nor should anything be asked,  There are  very few Maori houses at the Kauaeranga. Commissioner  Mackay says there were 14 prospectors working on the ground when Dr Pollen and himself  left, all of them men of experience.  He has certainly seen nothing to warrant a rush.  

The deputation waits some time at Mackay’s request for a sample of gold  from Kauaeranga to be brought from his house, where he has left it but it doesn't arrive.  He promises to send the gold to this afternoon’s meeting.   Commissioner Mackay intends proceeding to the Thames this morning, to arrive there before the miners.

Carried away by the ferment.

The Thames goldfield is proclaimed by Dr Pollen  and although the weather is bad enough to put a damper on anything, the excitement  increases rather than diminishes.   Dr Pollen and Commissioner Mackay warn all who are inclined to be carried away by the ferment to consider the cautions given by them.  Dr Pollen adds most pointedly that the government does not encourage any man to go down.   An arrangement has been entered into with the Maori  that miner’s license fees of £1 per annum shall be handed over to them.   The land will be thrown open generally to miners, but Maori cultivation's, dwellings and burial grounds and tapued places will be reserved.  Gold has been found in payable quantities in two creeks within the block – the Waiotahi and the Hape. 

 ‘The Karaka goldfield’ is believed to be the official title of the goldfield, Kauaeranga being the name of the district. It is formed by a flat running along the eastern shore of the Thames for a distance of two miles and by a hilly country extending backward ten miles.  The hills are broken and most irregular, intersected by frequent creeks, and throw out spurs of unequal length across the upper portion of the flat on each side of which these spurs carry themselves close down to the beach, thus enclosing the place and giving it the appearance of a distinct locality.  Six creeks cut through the hills. The Karaka creek divides the block almost in the centre. The whole of the country is covered with dense bush, except where close to the sea, and the streams are all mountain torrents with large boulders occupying their beds. If this piece of land can but afford employment to a couple of hundred of the men who are out of work in Auckland, it is thought it will be of great benefit to the province. 

A large number of anxious diggers again assemble at the British Hotel to hear the report from the deputation that met with Dr Pollen.  The room is crowded and many are unable to get in. Dr Merrett takes the chair and states that the proper terms have been made with the Maori owners and that a piece of ground 7,000 acres in extent has been opened legally and fairly.    The specimen of gold that  had been promised to be brought to the meeting has not turned up.  Dr Merrett hopes the men will look at the matter in  serious light, for nothing could be more grievous than for them to make a mad rush to a place that had not been properly prospected.  He urges the men to get the best possible information, form their own judgments and then act.    The substance of what Commissioner Mackay and Dr Pollen stated is, there is gold, but whether in payable quantities or not they do not know.  Joseph Smallman adds there is a tapu there which covers a few acres and which the chief calls his mother’s tapu.  Gold might be found there, but if they dig there they will be driven away,  He hopes that every digger will hold that land as sacred as the chief does himself.  The meeting has been called at this hour so that parties who have decided to  go to the Thames might have time to make preparations for the rest of the day.

A rush to the Thames is preparing to take place from Auckland despite the dreadful weather.  Several vessels are laid on for Wednesday morning. 

The diggers who met at the British Hotel form themselves into parties, with a view of taking advantage of the opening and proceeding to the spot without delay.  Between 40 and 50 men resolve to go immediately.

The British Hotel is again crowded with men meeting to hear the written report of Dr Pollen.  The gold sample not available  earlier is now on exhibit.  Someone cynically asks “How many shovellsful did it take to produce the sample?”  Dr Merrett replies he believes only two.

The steamer Tauranga is announced to sail for the new goldfields this evening but she does not go, owing to the state of the weather.

DSC 30 July 1867

DSC 30 July 1867

DSC 30 July 1867

DSC 30 July 1867

DSC 30 July 1867

Daily Southern Cross 30 July 1867

“Don’t Rush!”

Wednesday, 31 July

In Auckland the excitement persists but there are misgivings that a large number will go down and won’t be able to earn even tucker.  A number of men are idle and work is slack and ill paid but caution is strongly urged.  Resourceful storekeepers are already preparing to cater for the requirements of a large number of men on the goldfield.  They announce that owing to the close proximity to Auckland, prospectors are encouraged not to fear a scarcity or dearness of provisions - an abundant supply can be easily procured from the Auckland merchants.  Bright shovels are piled temptingly at the shop doors.

Closer to the Thames, heading for the diggings also is a Maori named Prince – he is aboard a canoe with two other men who have come overland from Kopu.  Somehow the canoe is upset and Prince is drowned.  The other men are saved.  The body of Prince is not found.


*Taupo (Kawakawa Bay) – a stretch of coast between Orere Point and the mouth of the Wairoa River.
**It has also been suggested that Te Paratene Whakatutu and Hamiora te Nana were both 
from Collingwood and known to Commissioner Mackay from his time there. 

James Mackay married Eliza Sophie Braithwaite in 1862 at Nelson.  They moved to Parnell in 1864 and had a son, Edward James, who died aged 8 months in March 1866.  A daughter, Emma Beatrice, was born 1 March 1867.

***The Maori King Movement or Kīngitanga is a movement that arose among some of the Maori tribes of New Zealand in the central North Island in the 1850s, to establish a role similar in status to that of the monarch of the British colonists, as a way of halting the alienation of Maori land.


Daily Southern Cross , published 8 August 1867

1 – 6 AUGUST 1867
Thursday, 1 August
Shortly after midnight there is a heavy downpour of rain and around 2am the wind freshens and continues with great violence until daybreak.  Between 4am and 6am the gale is terrific.  Vessels at Auckland are damaged and swamped and wrecked while others are detained in harbour wind bound including a number for the Thames.

Between 8.30 and 9am 
After a delay by bad weather the paddle steamer Enterprise No 2, Captain Davies, prepares to  leave Auckland for the new goldfields. The wharf presents an unusually lively appearance crowded with diggers and their kits.  On board are 60 people including Commissioner James Mackay, Allan Bailey - his clerk,  one member  of the Water Police and two of the Armed Force police.   Mr John  Sceats, licensee of the British Hotel, has chartered the Enterprise for this maiden trip to the Thames. 

A favourable change in the wind enables several coasting vessels to take their departure for the Thames.   The cutters Bluebell and Cornstalk take down full complements of passengers followed by the cutter Tay with 50 to 60lb of sundries.  Upwards of 150 passengers leave throughout the day to try their fortune on the field.  It is feared they might cause a collision with the Maori canoes.

A party of seven men, one or two who are also carpenters, leave Freeman’s Bay in a 10 ton cutter of their own.   They take with them stores, timber and tools.  Several diggers have been compelled to borrow money to defray their passage down.

A letter from Gustavus Von Tempsky is published in the Daily Southern Cross.  Von Tempsky is a Prussian adventurer, soldier and newspaper correspondent.  He has worked on the California goldfields and settled for a time as a gold miner at Coromandel.  His opinion of the goldfield at Kauaeranga has been sought.  He believes Kauaeranga gold is heavier and of better quality than Coromandel gold and better returns may possibly result.  One thing, however, people will have to guard against is that the present season is the worst in which to carry on creek washings.  Men should not rush blindly, trusting to the worst of all things – chance.  By the end of August the creeks will be in a reasonable condition to work.

The Enterprise No 2
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-2925 

5.30 – 6pm
The Enterprise arrives off  the landing place at Kauaeranga.  They arrive in wretched weather. There are hills covered in  masses of dense scrub and tangled undergrowth and on the flat nothing better than raupo swamp and ti-tree. One of the few Europeans on the Thames is Daniel Tookey, who rows off in a small dingy to meet the steamer with an offer of piloting her up the creek to the Kauaeranga landing,but Commissioner Mackay is on the bridge and Daniel's services are not required. The Enterprise lays off until tomorrow morning.   During the night some of the original prospecting party who were left at Kauaeranga by Commissioner Mackay come in and report that one place at least is very satisfactory on the newly opened ground.

The cutter Alabama leaves Auckland this evening with Commissioner Mackay’s luggage and 10 diggers.  

There may be some gravediggers.

Tonight another meeting of diggers is held at the British Hotel in Auckland. A considerable number attend.  The meeting is called for the purpose of making public any news of the progress of the Thames goldfield that may have come to hand since the last meeting.  Mr Griffin says they have no news one way or another but he thinks it is a good thing to have a rendezvous at which the diggers might meet for the purpose of learning any authentic information instead of trusting to flying rumours.  Several people state that these meetings are being held for the mere purpose of attracting customers to the hotel.  Dr Merrett says the success of the new goldfield depends in a great degree upon the conduct of the diggers, because he knew there were few diggers in the room. (A VOICE: You don’t know that.  There may be some grave diggers.)  He hopes no man will go down to the Thames unprepared to maintain himself and that no man will do anything to complicate relations with the Maori.  Mr Harper says he has been five times down to the Thames and every time he went down (A VOICE:  You came back).   He knows there is gold there but prospecting was obstructed by the Maori.  Mr McInning, master of the Otahuhu,  offers to take passengers for 5s per head and back again.  A miner’s cradle, upon an improved mode of construction, is exhibited – it is the work of Mr Plaice and very neatly and serviceably made.  The meeting is adjourned until next Saturday evening at 7.30 when it is expected some news will have been received from the Thames.

Men panning for gold, Waitekauri Valley, Coromandel .  A similar scene is now taking place at the Thames. 
Charles Heaphy sketch Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A8928

Friday, 2 August

It is raining.  Passengers are brought from the Enterprise to the beach in a boat which gets stuck in the mud. John Guilding, a trader at the Thames and a very heavy man, tries his best to pull through but the more effort he makes, the deeper he gets in the mud.  The men land on the beach amidst mud and rain.   Some erect their tents as best they can.  Most shelter in a large Maori whare.  They make their beds of Long Toms – devices shaped like a long trough, used in alluvial mining.   

A temporary camp of tents is set up in a clearing. The tents are mostly bell topped ones formerly used by the troops during the Waikato war. There is one store, belonging to 27 year old William Nicholls.  He lives as a Pakeha Maori, as does Daniel Tookey.  William arrived in Wellington from England in 1840, but found the place not to his liking.  He moved north, began trade with the Maori and married a cheiftaness of the Ngai Te Rangi and Ngati Haua tribes.   Last year he moved to the Thames and opened a general store near the landing place.

On the banks of the Kauaeranga Creek is the Church Mission Station and exactly opposite is a large Maori settlement of  huts and whares and crops.   Near to the Mission Station is where Daniel Tookey trades to the Maori, travelling between Auckland and the Thames in his cutter Fly.

The ground opened up is a small portion from the Karaka to Kuranui, a distance of not quite two miles.  Within this boundary is an extensive flat – mostly covered in peach trees and very swampy.  A desolate area, part of which is a Maori burial place, is thickly studded with carved posts, the leering heads and thrust out tongues greatly unnerve the diggers.


As the Enterprise leaves the Thames this morning, the cutter Alabama comes into anchorage.    The Tay is passed in the Sandwich Passage.  She is loaded with 120 bags flour, 20 bags biscuit, 20 barrels pork, 1 ton potatoes, 1 dozen picks, 2 dozen frying pans, 5 nests billies, 4 cheeses, 4 bags salt, 1 case herrings, 2 tons flour, 3 tarpaulins, 2 bags onions, 2 ½ chests tea, 10 boxes candles, 1 case gin, 1 case brandy, 1 case stout.

A start is made on prospecting, but the party organised by Mr Mackay and Dr Pollen  are warned off by Moananui and his men. Reality sets in. The field has been very partially tested and money will be required to work a claim.  Sluices will have to be constructed; food, unless taken down, will be scarce and therefore sold at fancy prices.  Miner’s rights will have to be paid for - all of which will add up before the gold can be touched.  It is thought wise not to go without taking at least 10 days or a fortnight’s provisions and enough money to pay a return passage.
The Cornstalk leaves Auckland early this morning with 25 diggers.

Mr Mackay directs the staking out of the channel for the guidance of masters of sailing vessels entering the locality.
There are now around 75 people on the field.  Until those arriving find somewhere to camp Commissioner Mackay places the ‘Court House’ at their disposal – an ancient, dirty raupo whare partitioned in two and unfortunately scented with kauri bug.  A tent has been designated as the police station.  Tickets are posted up directing strangers to the miner’s camp. Commissioner Mackay is attending to the comforts of the miners, and has granted them a few days grace to test the creeks before calling on them to pay the licences. Several prospects have been taken out of the creek but they prove to be merely a few specks to the dish. Although not as satisfactory as anticipated, several men express themselves pleased with the appearance of the land.

There is a meeting of the Maori where an angry discussion is held. Riwai is against permitting the Waiotahi Creek being opened as a portion of the Karaka goldfield.  The Waiotahi Creek is thought to be the most gold bearing and is coveted by the European’s. 

NZH 2 August 1876

NZH 2 August 1867

“The goldfield is now in everyone’s mouth”

“The goldfield is now in everyone’s mouth, not only in Auckland, but in surrounding townships,” reports the Daily Southern Cross.  Although a rush to the goldfield would probably entirely depopulate outlying districts of the working classes, this would ultimately be of benefit. Something is needed to give the province impetus and render the population more content and encourage them to quietly settle down. 

William John Messenger, known fondly as the People’s Butcher at Auckland, is moved by the spirit of the times and is offering intending diggers at the Karaka goldfields a cheap supply of mutton.

The Severn leaves Auckland this afternoon with 30 diggers and 20 bags bread, 40 bags flour, 5 bags sugar, 1 case tobacco, 9 cases matches, 500 ft timber. One of the Severn’s passengers is Captain John Butt, who goes down with stores on Messrs Cruickshank, Smart and Co’s account. Thirty seven year old Englishman John Butt has sailed to nearly all parts of the globe, captaining ships for Henderson and MacFarlane’s Circular Saw Line following a triangular route from Auckland to Newcastle to San Francisco. He is now in business with Captain Hugh Falconer Anderson, as ship chandlers and stevedores in Auckland but he has his eye on the new goldfield.

The Enterprise’s return from the Thames is eagerly awaited by the shipping reporters.  These men race to the wharf and hire a boatman to row them out to the incoming steamers to be the first to get the news.    A flagpole at Mt Victoria runs up a signal whenever a vessel is sighted.  When the ship is reached parcels of papers and notes are tossed over and caught then rowed back to shore and into print.   Competition is fierce between the newspapers and shipping reporters are skilled, courageous and physically fit.  No matter what the weather they go out to meet the incoming ships in the Rangitoto channel. 

On the Enterprise’s  return this afternoon the sought-after news is disappointingly meagre due to her short stay at the Thames.

 New filters back to Auckland however via other returning vessels.   Men who go to the Thames must bring tents, tools and food.  There is a store there but their twelve months supply is only worth one  day’s food to those already on the ground.  Small sawn stuff, 12 in wide and 1 in or 1 ¼ in thick, is wanted for sluice boxes.  There is none at the Thames.  The diggings will be sluicing, but they first must be prospected.  Commissioner  Mackay  will not issue miner’s rights  until Monday.

NZH 3 August 1867

Shortland Town
Saturday, 3 August
The weather clears and for those arriving by sea the view is breathtaking – in the distance is the impressive Thames River, the vast Kahikatea forests spreading across the head of the firth to the Thames to the Piako River, the picturesque ranges of Pateroa and Waiora to the right and Cape Colville and Coromandel to the left.  The mountains at the back of the new settlement tower 4,000 ft above sea level; dwarfed beneath them are the Maori settlement, the Mission House buildings and a small tent town near which the Kauaeranga River flows.

Work begins in earnest.

Commissioner  Mackay discovers  people starting to erect buildings promiscuously,  and with Charles Mitchell, a onetime publisher now trying his hand at mining, marks out the first lines for a town  on the flat near the landing place. It is laid out as a standard grid.  Mackay and Mitchell line out Pollen Street and lay out the first block of allotments.   A portion of the flat, extending from the landing place to a quarter of a mile inland, is pegged out in 66 feet allotments, that nearest the river being taken up for business.  The occupiers, if doing business, will be charged a licence if from £2 to £5.  Those not in business will be charged a rental. 

The settlement is named Shortland Town after Willoughby Shortland (Chief Wirope H Taipari).  There has been a call to name the area New London, but Kopu, four miles to the south, is already known as New London.

The store of Mr Oughton ( Oughton’s Bendigo store), already half built, is finished today.  Mr Mulligan, of the Queen’s Head Hotel, Victoria Street, Auckland.  is also building a large wooden store at Shortland and one is going up for Messrs Lewis Bros, of Queen Street, Auckland.

The cutter Tay is up the creek, opposite the settlement and lying so close to the shore that a gangway has been placed ashore and the vessel converted into a permanent floating store.

The issuing of miner’s rights is now announced to start on Wednesday the 7th.

A prospecting party returns to Auckland in a small boat, for the purpose of procuring an American pump.  These men, who formed a companionship of six, express the greatest confidence in the field.   The greatest drawback against which they have had to contend is the flow of water in the small creek where they have dug, five or six buckets of water having to be sent up to one of earth.

Men are warned that it is no use for men to go down unless they are well provided with tools, tents, clothing and all the necessaries for commencing a digger’s life.  While provisions are to be got at a fair price in Shortland, clothing and tents are at enormously high prices or unprocurable.

The cutter Maryann leaves Auckland for the Thames with stores and about 30 diggers.
 Another party attempts to leave for the Thames goldfield in a dinghy belonging to the cutter Wangarei, which one of their number has borrowed under false pretenses.  They are equipped with prospecting luggage and are bent on surveying the district for them at the least possible cost.

NZH 3 August 1867

Diggers camp about 1867
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries 19130220-11-3

The work is very heavy
Sunday, 4 August  
Most of the men have now got their food and clothes under cover. It is raining again.  There are potatoes, flour, tea, sugar but there is no beef or mutton, salt or fresh.  Provisions are abundant and sold at Auckland prices.  Mr Nicholls’ store is kept busy by new arrivals. Close to him a man is doing a brisk trade in native pork

There is no post office but letters care of either the Herald or Southern Cross agent will be delivered free until some arrangement is made.   The Resident Magistrate has notified that all vessels are to land or load their cargoes as quickly as possible and to haul into the stream above Mangrove Point.  The channel is now staked – vessels must keep the first stakes on the left hand, otherwise they will get stuck on the mud flats.  About three quarter flood is the best time to come in.  Mining licences will now be issued on Monday so those who are only starting out now for the Thames have lost nothing by the delay.

Two men heading back up to Auckland for tools and supplies in a small boat are picked up in difficulty near Maraetai by the Cornstalk and brought to Auckland. Meanwhile the Otahuhu, Bessy, Dusty Miller, Petrel, Henry, Martha, Severn, Peter Cracroft and Catherine all leave for the Thames. A small boat also leaves Official Bay on behalf of the government and is the bearer of instructions from Dr Pollen to Mr Mackay. The Enterprise steams for the goldfield with a cargo of timber, stores and some 60 passengers, amongst whom are numerous leading Auckland tradesmen.

Monday, 5 August
 Commissioner Mackay and the Maoris hold a korero at the disputed Waiotahi Creek.  While there Mr Mackay discovers two parties of men prospecting the ground.  He gives them ten minutes to pack and be off.  Licenses have not been issued and Maori look upon all unlicensed miners as trespassers. Some anxiety prevails regarding the permission to work on the Waiotahi Creek.  Not a day passes without a discussion taking place between the Maori and Mr Mackay. The commissioner is firm and will not withdraw from the agreement made when he and Dr Pollen met the Maori a fortnight ago. Later, privately, Mackay notes the utter wretchedness of the Maori of this settlement.  In wet weather the flat at Waiotahi is nearly all submerged. 

Chased off the Waiotahi, Mr Mulligan, one of the prospectors, tells his friends he found good prospects but takes up his pen and writes cautiously to the NZ Herald - “On behalf of the diggers on the Thames goldfield I beg to state that I would not recommend anyone to leave town at present until there is some gold found or more ground thrown open for mining purposes.  I have myself had a payable prospect but it was on forbidden ground and therefore no good to me or those who may come.  I was turned away at ten minutes notice – although the claim was in the bounds of the ground proclaimed by the government as open for mining purposes.  Mr MacKay is I know doing all he can to get the ground opened . . .” J Mulligan.
Not getting gold by the shovelfulls

The weather is fearfully wet.

There are now about 150 men on the field.  Men on the Karaka Creek are put on a “night shift” -  working day and night.  One of them is a 12 year old Bendigo “man” who thinks he knows a thing or two about mining.

The eleven Government prospectors take up a slope at a bend in the creek, where they cut a race 250 yards in length.  They sink two surface paddocks – at a depth of 5ft, several colours are found. 

Two Maori are working a tail race in an old current of the creek by means of a sluice.  They have done a great amount of labour which a Victorian (Australian) miner would have avoided.

Walter Williamson and Joseph Smallman are back on the field with a party of six others.  Their claim is called the British, after the British Hotel, and has been paid for by donations from Aucklander’s.  A flag flies alongside their claim, presented to the shareholders by Mr Sceat’s.  They dig down in the flat, on the south side of the Karaka.  The work is very heavy; boulders are found all the way down.  One takes six men to left it. They sink two holes where the creek enters the flat.

Beyond them, farther in from the bank, a party of Ballarat miners dig into a shaft sunk by the original prospectors.   It is hoped when these holes are bottomed it will provide the character of the flat.  The men at work are determined to go down and if gold is found in the bedrock it is reasonable to suppose that a large portion of the flat between the Hape and Karaka Creeks may have several leads going through it.

The country behind the diggings is very precipitous, from which slips of land have fallen.  Considerable quantities of water are found in holes sunk, but it is just surface water causing no difficultly.  Several pumps are being constructed. Those working in the shafts are more or less wet all day; they sleep on the ground covered by fern or manga manga and they cook for themselves.

Commissioner Mackay announces that mining licences will not be granted until Thursday, in order that the prospectors might have a better opportunity of testing the ground.

A whale boat leaves Official Bay, Auckland, with a prospecting party of 12 men.

Private letters begin to reach Auckland -  “I arrived here all right and pitched my tent, and started to work the next day.  We are not getting the gold by shovelfuls, but we have had one day’s washing and got about 10 grains to the dish and are satisfied as far as we are concerned . . .There are a good many people speaking about going to Auckland, but they have not given the field a fair chance yet.  We have only had one dry day here since we have been down.  One of us is coming to town by the next steamer to get some stores and other materials.”

A rumour surfaces that a gold nugget had been found.   Indications of gold are to be found nearly everywhere along the field but there is not as yet anything known to diggers as a ‘lead’.  Of 60 prospects washed out, three pans only had no show and the highest was nine specks to the tin dish.  This is quite good and some old diggers think that there ought to be a lead somewhere – but where, is the thing to find out.

Captain John Butt, along with other prominent businessmen, are watching and waiting to see how the prospects will show.

The Enterprise steams into Kauaeranga, bringing 60 passengers, but not many diggers.  Many have come to see how things are progressing.   Also on board is Mr Messenger, the People’s Butcher.  He brings several carcasses of sheep intending to retail mutton amongst the prospectors. The steamer’s whistle, the first heard in these waters until just a few days ago, blows through the darkness.

No one thought to bring blankets

Tuesday, 6 August
The cutter Severn arrives early this morning, just before day break, bringing about 25 diggers.  She mistakes the channel and goes high and dry on the bank, about three miles above the landing place. The passengers and her crew are landed in a boat, and the whole of the ballast is thrown overboard in order to lighten the vessel.  It is thought she will have to remain there until the next spring tides.  Some say the vessel will not float again, as she went on the flat at high tide, but it is the general opinion that she will get off in about a week. 

The passengers from the Enterprise are seen at an early hour this morning heading out with the intention of securing business sites in the event of the field turning out good.  They all seem to forget there is no sleeping accommodation for them and not one of them thought to bring blankets.

There are now around 200 men at the Thames and a good many have gone into the bush.  Diverging tracks on the ranges and in the bush are innumerable.  At low tide the track along the sea beach is by far the most pleasant, and may be followed for some miles, skirting the foot of the ranges which have so far proved to be gold bearing.  The tracks in some parts are generally well defined, but the prospector’s paths across the ranges are sometimes very intricate.  There is little to distinguish the country for some miles from any other part of the New Zealand bush, except that the lines of ranges running along for miles inland are here and there covered with small particles of white quartz. 

At Ngaruawhaia the news of the goldfield causes a great stir; fully one-eighth of their population are leaving next week and some have already departed.

In the South Island the report of gold being discovered in the north creates ferment amongst diggers on the West Coast.  Several prospecting parties organise themselves for the trip to Auckland; one, a party of about 30 men, is formed at the Buller. The men are nearly all capitalists and they intend to take one or two Maori mates to act as interpreters.

Commissioner Mackay has a meeting  with the Maori willing to throw open the other 10,000 acres for prospecting but the final settlement of the lease has been put off until tomorrow  when the whole of the tribes concerned are to meet Mr MacKay for the final arrangements.  It is on this account that Mr MacKay was anxious to do nothing with the issuing of the licenses until he had acquired the rights of prospecting the whole area of 10,000 acres. This much larger tract of land extends some miles down the river, on Te Moananui’s land.

The Otahuhu and  Henry for the Thames - 30 passengers and general cargo.

Severn for the Thames  - 2 tons blankets, tents, timber, 25 passengers.

Petrel for Kauaeranga and Coromandel – 1 ton hay, 1 case ale, ½ ton potatoes, 400lb meat, 5 tons stores, 18 passengers Kauaeranga, 6 Coromandel

It is reported that Captain Butt is the holder of the finest specimens found at the Thames yet. He has obtained a number of nuggets.

The NZ Herald publishes a glowing account of the goldfield, gleaned from the passengers of the Severn and private letters received by gentlemen in Auckland.   These sources report that with scarcely an exception, gold is being found in every panful of dirt washed.  The field is a fine, healthy and most picturesque spot, and the place where the diggers are located in their tents is a nice sheltered flat; the place where the main prospecting is carried out is about ten minutes walk up the ranges at the back of this.  Some of the diggers have sunk shafts seven feet down and found gold all the way.

NZH 6 August 1867

No sign of a payable goldfield

This evening another meeting is held at the British Hotel in Auckland to hear the report of Mr Watkinson who has gone down to the diggings.  The room is literally crammed. Mr Watkinson says he had met several friends there and asked how they were getting on.  Some said they did not know and some said “all right; no fear.”  He could not get much definite information to what was doing.  A great impediment to the working is the number of boulders.  There were seven or eight parties sluicing and eight or nine holes were being put down.  The men were anxious to get down to the bottom as soon as possible, and American pumps were at work.  He believed that by Wednesday the bottom would be reached.  Difficulties still take place amongst the Maoris as to land rights.  He understands from Commissioner Mackay that more land will soon be opened. 

 Mr Watkinson shows the meeting piece of quartz with some gold in it which he had picked up.  His firm impression is that there is a good gold field there and that the further they go up the river, the gold will get better.  He thinks there is payable gold for 60 men.  He advises, however, that no man go down until some further information is received. 

Mr Townley, who has also been down at the Thames, disagrees.  He says he has seen no sign of a payable goldfield.  The ground is very limited and a great deal of it is tapued. Not one hole has been bottomed and the stuff they were working appears to be slip from the ranges.  Some men he knew had gone up the creek and had found quartz reefs but the further they went up the creek, the scarcer the gold became.  They got colour from the surface down perhaps a distance of 5 to 6 feet, but the greater part was reef gold. Unless more ground is opened up, there is not much chance of doing well at the diggings now.  He has seen the gold that is been shown in town from Mr Mackay but he does not think it is from Thames at all, because all he has seen was so light that it could be blown away.  This statement is met with roars of disapproval.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. This first post is fairly long in order to provide the backstory leading up to the opening of the Thames goldfield. Future posts won't be so lengthy!


History Mysteries!

When did the Enterprise No 2 first arrive at the Thames? 

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dick Wilkins who has straightened out the knot of when the Enterprise arrived and when the miners actually landed. There are several conflicting accounts giving the date as either 31 July or 1 August. Dick's Great Grandfather Richard Ross gives an eyewitness account of the Enterprise unloading on 1 August - he piloted another cutter down to Thames.  Although some accounts I have read say the miners began unloading and landing in small boats during the night the bulk of miners and cargo would have unloaded on the incoming tide of August 2nd.  You can read  about Richard Ross in an article by his great grandson Richard Wilkins here -

How many passengers were there? 
The number of passengers has been stated as being 40 or 60 or 64 or even 100. The number of passengers was  60 according to Captain John Butt.  In an irate letter to the Daily Southern Cross regarding reporting, he says “I can also assure you that the reports of the number of persons having left Auckland are quite erroneous.  Instead of the number given, by the Enterprise, it is 60 by the first trip . . .”  (Daily Southern Cross, 10 August 1867)

Who was the Captain?
Captain Davies was in command.
Captain John Butt is sometimes named as the captain of the Enterprise on that day.  He wasn’t - Butt and Anderson were the shipping agents for the Enterprise.
Captain Seon is also occasionally named as the captain of the Enterprise on her first trip to the goldfields.  Thomas Seon  took over from Captain Davies in early September 1867.
The Thames Star, on the twelfth anniversary of the Thames goldfields, incorrectly  states that Joesph Smallman, a mineral surveyor,  originally navigated the Enterprise “up the tortuous windings of the Kauaeranga Creek.”

(For brevity the Enterprise No 2 is referred to as the Enterprise in this blog.   There was also an Enterprise No 1 at this time, on ferry service at Auckland)

What happened in the Thames district prior to June 1867? 

See my previous post 'Before'.


© Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017
Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 when re-using information from this blog.


Papers Past
This is my place – Hauraki contested  1769 – 1875 – Paul Monin
Harry C. Evison. 'Mackay, James', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 27 March 2017) - Treasury Journal Volume 3 – My koro James Mackay Junior and Kuia Chieftaness Puahaere
POLLEN, Daniel (1813–96)', from An Encyclopedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966.
Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand (accessed 27 March 2017)
The colours – the search for payable gold on the West Coast from 1857 to 1864 -  Mark Pickering
Thames Miners Guide, 1868.
The History of gold mining in New Zealand -  J H Salmon
The Thames Goldfields Diamond Jubilee  1867 – 1927 - Fred Weston
Thames Borough Centenary  - 1873- 1973, L P O’Neil (ed)
Building Thames -  David Arbury
Early recollections - David Arbury,
Diggers, Hatters and Whores – Stefan Eldrid Grigg
This building, this site, and its creator, Captain John Butt, has the greatest historic history of Kauaeranga Shortland Thames: development of the area, 1855-2010: the life, of the restorer, 1930-2010 – Dennis C Larking (Declla)
 Hunt, Robert L. Captain John Butt: The enterprising gold miners’ true representative in Shortland (1867-1870) [online]. New Zealand Legacy, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2011: 7-13. Availability: <;dn=125346553668787;res=IELNZC>ISSN: 0114-4189. [cited 29 Mar 17].
Extra! Extra! How people made the news – David Hastings