Thrown into the river. The landing place, Shortland, March 1868 by William Eastwood Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr J Eastwood, 1900 Thursday, 19 MarchA newspaper is about to make its appearance at the Thames, under the appropriate title ...


19 March to 25 March, 1868 and more...

19 March to 25 March, 1868

Thrown into the river.

The landing place, Shortland, March 1868 

by William Eastwood
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr J Eastwood, 1900 

Thursday, 19 March
A newspaper is about to make its appearance at the Thames, under the appropriate title of the Thames Advertiser and Miner’s News.  

This afternoon a meeting is held at the Auckland offices of the City Board of Commissioners by the members of the committee for the Reception of his Excellency the new Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Bowen. A letter is read explaining the causes that led to the postponement of his visit to Auckland.  Major Heaphy says a feeling is prevalent that arrangements previously made had not been of the most judicious character.  It would be well to remember that several days notice has to be given to the volunteers, and miners at the Thames had to get protection.  A thorough welcome to the Governor is required and such a project cannot be carried out if only a days notice is given. 

Friday, 20 March
A large Maori meeting at Ohinemuri concludes after three days.  Although not attended by the Maori King or any of his immediate council, it has been of great importance.  The leading Thames chiefs are present.  It is resolved that all recent leases are to be cancelled at once, while old leases and sales are to be deliberated upon. As for the European settlers in the area, the Maori want John Thorpe to leave, but Edward Wood, who has a store just above Ohinemuri, and who is a  recent settler, is told  his works have not been bad and it is likely he will be allowed to remain. As for Josiah Firth’s run at Matamata – the Maoris say they will not take next year’s rent and that if he sends anymore supplies up they will be at once thrown into the river.  It is also resolved that no gold digging will be allowed beyond Omahu, the present southern boundary.  The autaki (ban) on the Thames at the upper end of the Ohinemuri is confirmed and strengthened so that water carriage to Matamata may be stopped.  Te Munu, a very extreme man, is to take charge of the gold boundary at Omahu.  An aukati may be established below or about Mr Thorpe's station and so block up the Ohinemuri stream and the main river.  It is obvious that there cannot for some considerable time be an extension of the southern boundary on the Thames goldfield.

General business at Shortland Town has been at a standstill during the week, save a few shares changing hands.  The hotels, of which there are now some 15 or 16, are doing absolutely nothing, and some are talking of closing their doors.  Township allotments are not saleable at any price.

 A man named Broadbent, working a claim near Carpenter’s, is badly hurt by a landslip when clearing away a face to a drive. The poor fellow is attended by Dr Sam.  Secure timbering of shafts and drives is called for or loss of life, in very many instances,  will certainly be the result.

Constables Lipsey, McGinn and Lapin are to be sent at once to the Thames, where there will now be a force of five policemen to serve and protect the large population now located between Kauaeranga and Tapu Creek.

Avon for the Thames with 16 barrels ale, 12 hhds ale, eight cases stout, two quarter casks rum, one quarter cask brandy, four tons flour, ½ ton sugar, six bags maize, 40 bars iron, one case drapery, two head cattle, 20 packages stores, five cases ale, six passengers.

DSC 20 March, 1868

Saturday, 21 March
The astonishing and inconceivable news that Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been shot at a picnic in Sydney reaches New Zealand.  The John Penn arrives at Nelson with the news which the Evening Post runs with a large heading that other newspapers report in disbelief and outrage.  The published telegrams cause the most intense anxiety over the possibility that the Prince has been assassinated during his visit to the colonies. 

The results of the December 1867 census show that the Thames Goldfield appears to have had a population of 2,439 souls on 19 December (2,155 males and 284 females).  The numbers have doubled since then.  The census returns for the Auckland province are highly satisfactory.  The population has not retrograded in the slightest degree during the last three years; there is even an increase in the population of the city of Auckland and suburbs.  Considering that with the military occupation there would be a large number of followers or  hangers on of the war,  who would have left when the army left , and that the digging population at the Thames are nine tenths of them setters in the Province, the addition of 6189 souls to the population is thought highly satisfactory. The rush to the Thames diggings, which was at its height when the census was taken in December, explains the decrease in males.

Tin mine, Cornwall

A small bar of gold and tin alloy which has been saved from a crushing of 10 tons of auriferous quartz from the New Caledonian claim is  deposited at the Bank of NZ for assay.  George  Hagin, claim manager,  believes that tin lead will be found to run through the bottom of the Bobby Burns claim on the Karaka, and the claim known as the Durham lead, on Collarbone Creek, on the other side.  The owners of any claims in that vicinity as well as  the New Caledonian are warned to  be on the lookout for any black or dark looking leaders and have the quartz tested, otherwise they may find  themselves very great losers if a large quantity of quartz is crushed along with it.  The tin leader runs parallel with the gold bearing leader.

The discovery of tin at the Thames may lead to important results.  Demand for tin plates is very great and is still a profitable trade.  Tin ores have been found in comparatively few places – the principals being Cornwall, Galicia, Saxony, Bohemia and the Malay countries, China and Banca.  The tin trade of Cornwall and the Scilly Islands is famed. In 1859 the produce of the British tin mines was 9,700 tons.  The price of tin has fallen greatly in recent years owing to the supply from Banca and the Malay countries, but is still profitable.  The Malay Peninsula and islands adjacent, for a length of about 1,200 miles, are rich in tin ore, but the majority of the mines are unexplored.  The most productive of the Banca mines were accidentally discovered about a century ago.  If tin really exists in large quantities at the Thames it will be a most valuable addition to New Zealand’s mineral wealth.

A public meeting is held in front of the court house to organise the recording on the electoral roll  the names of all persons holding miner's rights and business licenses in the Thames.  Robert Graham is voted to the chair.  He says he feels proud to have the honour of presiding over such a large and respectable meeting, the largest in fact he has ever addressed within the province of Auckland, and this was saying a great deal, as he had presided over many meetings  since his arrival in the colony.  He has great pleasure in testifying to the generally good behaviour of the inhabitants on the Thames goldfield,  their forbearance and conduct towards the Maori showing the true character of the British subject.

As a member for the district of Franklin he considers it of vast importance that as many people as possible should have their names at once placed on the electoral roll.  As a great amount of business has to be dealt with before nightfall, the registration papers are read and as Robert Graham is present to attest to the signatures, the business of enrolling names is at once proceeded with.  After a vote of thanks and three hearty cheers the meeting breaks up, but Robert Graham and J C Young, clerk of the Resident Magistrates court,  are kept busy until after midnight attesting to the signatures of hundreds miners who flock around them.  No fewer than 800 people add their names to the roll within the short space of a few hours. 

NZH 21 March, 1868

Sunday, 22 March
Butt’s American Theatre closes for the season this evening. It will re-open on Tuesday, March 24th, under the management of Mr I H Clifford, who has leased the theatre. The Clifford’s have worked very hard since they have been connected with the theatre, and are great favourites at the Thames.

Jingling silver.

Monday, 23 March
The subscriptions towards the building of a hospital at the Thames are progressing steadily.  The new court house and other public buildings are rapidly approaching completion.

Many stories have been told about the prospects obtained at the Puriri, which have since been proved either hoaxes or falsehoods,  but now  about 90 lb weight of quartz taken out of the Prospector’s claim and crushed at Murphy’s Berdan has produced the very satisfactory return of 37 oz gold.

Shares in the Coburg, Castel, Hand and Heart, Norwegian, Denyer’s, North of Devon, Two Fingers and Kenney’s, and other claims, have changed hands during the week at very moderate prices.  The claimholders on the Moanataiari have allowed the carriage of machinery to a claim on the Waiotahi for a consideration of £10.  The shareholders in the Break O Day claim have made arrangements to have a quartz crushing machine of eight stamps and 14 hp placed on their ground

A visitor on his way to the Thames for a second time observes four diggers – improved by a little liquor – taking the air in a trap about Auckland and sees it as a sign of favourable chances on the goldfield.  Arriving at night at Shortland Town, he discovers that although quiet, it now has streets that are a vast improvement on the streets of some months ago.  On his first visit he breakfasted economically on a box of sardines and a pint of beer, now he can now dine well and cheaply on the food of civilisation.

The storekeepers are not as busy as the people who drive a single trade.  Once a week is the time for going to the grocers and therefore, the grocers may do enough on Saturdays for the rest of the week.  But boots wear out, meat is eaten, the hair grows long, hats fill with holes and a bottle comes to an end every day. Bread, labelled everywhere 'five pence the loaf', seems to be in sufficient demand.  There are plenty of shopkeepers making money at the Thames and plenty of miners are making more than tucker.  There is briskness and an amount of ready cash, to which the dullness and 'tick' of Auckland present a strong contrast.

Bell-men parade the thoroughfares and announce entertainments from a public meeting to a theatrical performance. There is no rowdiness on the Thames diggings.  There may be exuberance of spirits which naturally affects a man when he is making a very good living for the first time in perhaps a long period.  But drunkards are few and far between, all things considered. The sound of the harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer mingle with fiddlers, cornet-a-pistons, and trombones performing lively airs in dancing saloons. 

In the moonlight two or three places of worship shine conspicuously.  The Bank of New Zealand is a good looking building.   Odd corners of stores are boarded off and labelled with the names of solicitors; mining agencies are carried on in extremely limited spaces.   Of the large number of people in the street, few look like loafers, many jingle silver in their trouser pockets and altogether the place is a vast relief from the general depression of Auckland. It would be a gross exaggeration to say that the Maoris are reduced to poverty in this portion of New Zealand.  In a state of sobriety they offer many articles of food for sale. The vast majority are driving a steady trade, making the living of the pakeha cheap.

 Wahapu  for the Thames with  7,000 bricks, nine bushels lime. 

Rob Roy for the Thames with  eight tons hay, two tons potatoes, one ton iron (to be shipped at Tamaki)

Tonight the preliminaries of a race between the Sumpter and the Henry, from the breakwater to Tararu Point, Thames, is arranged between the respective owners, Mr C Robinson and Captain Henry Green.  The vessels will leave the breakwater at 8.30am tomorrow, the stakes being £10 a side.

The Enterprise arrives at Auckland from the Thames. Considerable time is lost in landing her passengers, which might be avoided if the Harbour Master would appropriate a berth for the Thames steamers, a concession which the daily increase of traffic renders absolutely necessary.

Tuesday, 24 March
The cutters Sumpter and Henry sail in company for the Thames to test their respective sailing capacities.  The masters lay £10 a side on the result of the race of 60 miles.   The Henry, though she is second to arrive, beats her opponent.  The bet was made conditionally on both cutters carrying the same kinds of sails, but Captain Green, of the Sumpter, was anxious to arrive on the tide and hoisted his gaff topsail to enable him to do so and he loses the bet though he wins the race. 

Auckland is quite astir with the expected arrival of Sir George Bowen.  The town is again gaily decorated with bunting but there is some apprehension that he will be a no-show again.  Crowds of waiting people walk listlessly up and down Queen Street waiting for a signal from a steamer which will announce His Excellency’s arrival.  The Auckland, Otahuhu and Howick cavalry parade and march into town.  At 11.30 the sky becomes overcast and a greater portion of the people disperse.  A little after 12 a steamer signal is run up, but hopes are dashed as it turns out to be a steamer from the Thames goldfields.  The Governor never does appear to the disappointment of all.  This has been a great inconvenience and sacrifice of valuable time. There is bewilderment that the most specific appointments cannot be kept, and annoyance that a very large population desirous of paying respects to their new rulers must lose a couple of days work in order to be present.  The various troops can hardly be expected  to turn out a third time, after having twice been disappointed

There are now six machines at the Thames, with a power of 55 stampers in all, but even out of this small number, seven are idle at one machine owing to a lack of water.  With the stampers now at work, it is possible crush some 30 tons a day, but not more. All the crushing going on for some days past has been satisfactory.  The machines are keeping a register giving a better position to judge the general yield of the field.

The NZ Herald correspondent notes that he has taken some pains to arrive at some idea as to where the tin which was discovered at Scanlan and Ellis’s machine came from.  It is not easy to say where it did come from, but it is pretty certain it did not come from the claim.  He believes it will be found that tin is never present in stone in the form that is alleged in this case. 

The Electoral Representation Committee appointed at the public meeting last Saturday is busily engaged in having the registration forms filled up.

Sir George Bowen

Lady Diamantina Bowen

Wednesday, 25 March
2pm Auckland
Their Excellencies Sir George and Lady Bowen finally arrive at Queen Street wharf to a hearty welcome and are conveyed to Government House in a coach drawn by eight greys.  Everything passes off pleasantly with only one hiccup – the news of the rumoured assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh in Sydney.  The publication of rumours today creates the utmost consternation amongst all who are looking forward to the visit of His Royal Highness.

It is regretted timely notice could not have been given of the Bowen’s arrival – the immense crowds which thronged the streets and leant the charm of animation and variety to every window and balcony would have been increased by thousands from country settlements and the Thames goldfield, but it is not possible to communicate speedily with these out-districts.

 Mt Eden Gaol looking south, 1858
PH-NEG-A.P. 1214 
Auckland War Memorial museum

At Auckland’s Mt Eden Gaol it is discovered that two prisoners have escaped over the wall.  Prisoners are immediately mustered and Robert Kelly alias McKenna  and Alexander Campbell are found to be absent. Wardens are sent in pursuit but fail to find them.  Kelly makes his way to Thames diggings.

NZH 25 March, 1868

A sackbut is a type of trombone from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, characterised by a telescopic slide that is used to vary the length of the tube to change pitch. A psaltery (or sawtry) is a stringed instrument of the zither family.  A dulcimer is a type of musical string instrument. It is a species of zither. Cornet à pistons are a three-valved brass instrument of the trumpet family.

Papers Past

© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018
Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.


12 March to 18 March, 1868

A fife and drum band c1860s.
Alexander Turnbull Library 
Reference: PAColl-9765-1

A Prince and a Peer.

Thursday, 12 March
The proposed reception of the governor of New Zealand, Sir George Bowen, at Auckland is postponed.  Rifle Volunteers include many who have come up from the Thames in order to be present at the parade of their companies.  Despite the postponement the men muster and march merrily down Shortland Street to Queen Street.  The spectacle is really very imposing and in their new uniforms the men present a fine soldierly appearance.  They are headed by a band and fifes and drums playing lively marches and are followed by a large crowd of admirers.

Speeches have been written and Auckland is a blaze of bunting and flags.  The decorations, viewed from the harbour, are striking. Extensive preparations have been made in Auckland and bitter disappointment is felt at the postponement. The people, though, take their dissatisfaction good humouredly, which is a result no doubt to the weather being extremely favourable for holiday making.

Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, is also expected in New Zealand on the first royal visit to the colony.  He is on a world tour on board the steam frigate HMS Galatea.  He arrived in Sydney on 21 January to a most enthusiastic welcome and has attended many events that have been organised in his honour.  He now decides to delay his visit to New Zealand by another month.

Warden Baillie posts a notice at the Thames -  “As many miners are desirous of proceeding to Auckland during the contemplated visit of his Royal Highness, it is hereby notified that all claims within the Thames goldfield will be protected from noon on Saturday 14 March, until 8am on Wednesday 25 March.” 

HMS Galatea, ca. 1868. Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh was a naval officer and the H.M.S. Galatea was his first command.
Public Domain

There will not be any further returns of gold for the next two to three months from the Shotover claim until they have procured and erected a crushing machine on their own ground.  It is the intention of William Hunt to leave Auckland for Melbourne by the first opportunity to purchase a machine built with the latest improvements.

Messrs Brien and Goodall, civil engineers and surveyors, are making a general survey of the Thames goldfield, the plan of which will contain the trigonometrical survey of the immediate district, the position and configuration of the various auriferous creeks and ranges, the situation of the townships, the roads, the sites of the crushing machines as well as the positions of the various claims which have already been surveyed.  Inhabitants are advised, that in order to have the plans more complete, as much information as possible should be given to these gentlemen.  Claimholders who wish to have the position of their claim recorded accurately on the plans should make immediate application for a survey.


Thefts from the Thames 

From the store of Asher Castles, Tapu Creek, on 18 January,  one half dozen plush hats, 10lb tobacco, one cheese, one half dozen corkscrews, one half dozen leather purses.

From the store of L Harris, Tapu Creek, on 18 January, two cwt flour.

From the whare of Thomas Jones, Karaka Creek, on 30 January, provisions to the value of 15s and a Crimean shirt.

From the tent of Robert Smith, John Walton, Edwin Williams and James Stonier at Karaka Flat, on February 14, a Crimean shirt, flannel shirts, dark tweed trousers, flannel belts (soldiers), light cord trousers, blucher boots, checked tweed coat, common leather purse containing Miner’s Rights Numbers 1,332 and 1,333, one muff, almost red, and one red and black checked scarf.

From the premises of David Sheehan, Shortland, on the night of 11 February,  a square tent, two brown blankets, one towel, one pick, one shovel, one tomahawk.

In Clontarf, Sydney, despite rumours of possible sectarian strife, Prince Alfred attends a picnic fundraiser for the Sydney Sailor’s Home.  Suddenly a shot rings out and a bullet strikes the Prince’s back.  An assassination attempt has been made on him by Henry James O’Farrell, a mentally unwell Irishman. O’Farrell is almost torn to pieces by the outraged crowd and with difficulty rescued by the police.  The Prince is taken to hospital. The John Penn leaves Melbourne for Williamstown, one of its suburbs, carrying a report that the Prince has been shot, but the atrocity of the deed is so great that it is thought a lie. 

Henry O'Farrell seized, Clontarf, 1868 

This evening the Ladies Benevolent Society holdstheir eleventh annual meeting in the assembly room of the Young Men’s Christian Association, Auckland.  The opening of the Thames goldfield is noted as having relieved the committee of a large amount of responsibility, by providing for those cases of distress arising from want of work for able bodied men.

DSC 12 March, 1868

For the salvation of the bodies of men. 

Friday, 13 March
A man comes into Shortland from the Puriri intending to get the Warden to ride up and settle some mining dispute.  He reports that prospectors have struck gold heavily about 15 ft from the surface and he shows some good looking specimens around.

A number of men working at a face at the side of the range at the Kuranui Company are directed to go to higher ground while some logs are being rolled from the top of the range.  The men do move away for a time, but owing to some misunderstanding return again to the lower working.  A man named Dabb is struck on the side of the head by a log and is badly cut.  He is attended by Dr Lethbridge in Mr Rowe’s hut.  

The Auckland Regatta Chairman, Captain Daldy, circulates a notice amongst the Thames Maori, regarding the intended visit of Prince Alfred, unaware that he has decided to delay his visit.

"NOTIFICATION - The landing of the Queen's son will be on the 19th day of March, 1868. This will be a great gathering. The vessels with two masts and one mast (schooners and cutters), the gigs, the whaleboats, the waka taua war canoe, and the whole of the canoes. The European side must assemble; also the Maori side. The reason is to show to Prince Alfred the Duke of Edinburgh. There will be 14 races, together with the vessels, the boats, and the Maori canoes also. But the desire is this, that all the Maori canoes should be brought, even large and small. There will be consideration for the fast canoes to [the extent of] £80, to [the extent of] £20, to [the extent of] £10. Do not leave the ornaments of the canoes behind. At the conclusion of the races there will be a dance. This is all. "
(Translated by a Daily Southern Cross correspondent)

The news that Prince Alfred has decided to delay his visit to New Zealand by a month has filtered through and is given as the reason for the postponement of the visit of Sir George Bowen.  The NZ Herald comments acidly on the non-arrival of Governor Bowen as “a matter of both surprise and regret to the people of Auckland for he fixed the date of arrival himself and notified that the people might be prepared to receive him. He should have kept his engagement even though the Prince’s visit was delayed nearly a month.”

In consequence of the postponement of the Prince’s visit, Warden Baillie withdraws the claim protection which was to have been granted from tomorrow.

A committee, calling themselves the Digger’s Sick Club, meet in the Roman Catholic chapel, Willoughby Street, Thames, to discuss the much-needed hospital.  It is determined that the proposed institution should be called 'The Thames Hospital and Relief Institution', The  committee then inspect sites for the hospital an an area  which has been  generously granted by Chief Taipari  is chosen.   The site is elevated, towards and partly bounded by the Karaka Creek, about an acre in extent.  Eighty five names are added to the committee. 

Tay for the Thames with  3,000 ft timber, one ton potatoes, ½ ton flour, 4,000 shingles, five mats sugar.

The Tauranga brings up to Auckland 177 oz of gold.  One parcel is the product of the Rising Sun Claim, on the Waiotahi.  The quartz was crushed at Scanlan’s machine, on the Karaka, the machine being generally satisfactory.

A man named Hammond arrives at the Thames on the promise of work at a claim belonging to Peter the Dutchman (Anderson).  Hammond met the Dutchman at the Greyhound Hotel, Auckland, and the Dutchman said he could find Hammond employment.   Hammond arrives at the Thames with no money, not even a shilling to pay for his lodging, to find he has been duped.  The Dutchman has no claim,  and has only a right to use the name of the claim holder who he owes some £20, and from whom he has run away to evade payment.

DSC 13 March, 1868

Saturday, 14 March
Goodall, at Moanataiari, Thames, the wife of John Goodalll, Esq, of a son.

Mr Mulligan obtains a license for a new hotel at Tookey Town.  The hotel, which is to be named the Sir George Bowen, is a most commodious one, and will help to supply the wants of an already populous locality.

Butchers are now prohibited from slaughtering within the precincts of Shortland Town, and Messrs Walter’s and McLeod’s slaughter yards are in future to be used by them.

The claims on Murphy’s Hill are showing better now than ever, several of them having recently struck gold.  The Lord Ashley claim, which was deserted by the gallant Major Von Tempsky, is also turning out well.  Von Tempsky worked this claim for months and months until, losing every penny that he was possessed of, he  was obliged to abandon it.    

A proclamation is issued by Mr Mackay warning all parties that the leasing of the lands from the Maoris, which has lately been so freely carried on in the case of the Waiotahi and Moanataiari flats, is illegal, and that no leases save those under the hand and seal of Mr Mackay himself will be held valid by the government.  It is feared this will annul those leases now held by European's for lands at Tookey Town.

Trade in Auckland is noted as continuing dull.  The Thames diggings find employment for a large proportion of surplus labour, but agricultural operations have been affected by the diggings.

An adjourned public meeting regarding the forming of the Digger's Sick Club is held in Butt's American Theatre.  Allan Baillie reads the minutes of the meeting held yesterday in the Roman Catholic chapel.  Mr Baillie says that the committee first elected should be the Executive Committee and that the gentlemen subsequently added should be the Working Committee.  Other business is dealt with  and the thanks of the meeting are given to Chief Taipari  for the acre of land.  Taipari replies (interpreted by the Rev  G Maunsell)  "Friends l am glad to hear that my giving land to the different churches, and to this hospital has met with your approval. Churches are for the salvation of the souls of men — the hospital is for the salvation of the bodies of men,  so I am willing to give land for these objects. From personal observation, I know that death is inevitable ; and the church is for the welfare of the souls of men — the hospital for the bodies. Friends, I thank  you. I have nothing more to say."  A vote of thanks is  qiven to Mr  Baillie for his kindness in acting as chairman, and to Captain Butt for the use of the theatre which are carried with applause, and the meeting disperses.

Spey for Tapu Creek with 4 hhds ale, one keg rum, six  packages, potatoes.  

Triad for the Thames with  8,000 ft timber, two tons coal, five parcels.

  Rosina for the Thames with 4,000 bricks, 50,000 shingles. 

Clyde for the  Thames with two tons luggage, one case brandy, one case gin, one case wine, 10 passengers.

  Rob Roy for the Thames with 5,000 ft timber, one engine and boiler, three mats sugar, five packages sashes and doors, one ton sundries.

  Avon for the Thames with  20 tons coal, 45 bags sugar, eight chests tea, eight casks beer, six hhds beer, four cases brandy.

NZH 14 March, 1868

Sunday, 15 March
The bodies of two young men are found drowned in the Mauku Creek, Waiuku.  They were in the employ of Mr Keleher, who is presently away at the Thames diggings. 

Monday, 16 March
At Tapu Creek various claims have struck good and payable gold.  The want of machinery is much felt.  Speculation, however, is rife, and shares have changed hands for as much as £250.   A large mass of earth falls on Mr Foster, who is working his claim, he luckily escapes with a few severe bruises and a good shaking  Mr Tiddey is building next to the British Hotel, and intends starting as an auctioneer broker and commission agent.  The Tapu bay today looks lively, there being no less than four sailing vessels and one steamer in at the same time.  The Clyde commences a daily run between Tapu Creek and Shortland Town today.

A letter from 'An Old Reefer' of Tapu Creek is published in the NZ Herald - "Seeing that the mining interest of Tapu Creek is now becoming notorious for jumping and other unmanly practices, I therefore, as a digger of many years standing, consider that it is high time for all honest miners to come forward and speak on this subject . . . I do protest against such unseemly conduct as is now being carried on. Indeed the decision of the late McIssac’s case only goes to show that Mr Mackay is not only fit for his present responsible position, but also fit to contend with all the unforeseen difficulties that may arise under such circumstances. When we consider the present difficulties and want of proper mining laws for this important district we need not wonder at people working on the strength of their nerve . . . Unfortunately Mr Mackay has no precedents to guide him in giving decisions on such grave questions, and this is the very reason which I can assign that all experienced diggers should come forward and give our hearty support to the gold commissioner . . . you must be aware that many inducements are held out to diggers to leave the place for Queensland, and many are preparing to leave and sell out their interests through disgust."

A meeting is held this evening in the large room of Messrs Swan and Kerr’s store at Shortland  to secure the addition to the Electoral Roll of the Franklin district of all the names of holders of miner’s rights not now on the roll, and have the  district specially represented in the House of Representatives and in the Provincial Council.  It is moved that a public meeting of miners and business people  be held on Saturday afternoon next, at 4pm, in order to add to the Franklin electoral roll the names of all persons living in the  Thames district, who are properly qualified, but not already on the register.

DSC 16 March, 1868

Tuesday, 17 March
St Patrick’s Day passes over very quietly at the Thames.  The only sign of it is the national banner hoisted over the Victoria Hotel, inscribed with the words “Erin go Bragh”  (Ireland Forever).  At Tapu it also passes very quietly – so quiet indeed, that some of the leading publicans and merchants take active steps in collecting the necessary funds for some afternoon sports.  These consist of footraces, hurdle races, high leaps, hop, step and leap, vaulting the pole and other games, all of which are well contested

Catherine for the Thames with one crushing machine, 8,000 bricks, 5,000 shingles. 

  Wahapu for the Thames with  300 bushels lime. 

Spey for Tapu Creek with  one ton potatoes, five cases ale, two casks ale, five cases brandy, one keg brandy, two cases biscuits, two casks beef, 30 sheep, four packages luggage, one case gin, one box sundries, one quarter cask whiskey, two bags potatoes. 

Tay for Tapu Creek with 300 ft timber, two tons flour, two casks beer, one cask bottles beer, four cases porter, one case crockery.

At Tapu this evening the winners of the sports  meet at Mr Reed’s hotel, where they spend a very pleasant evening,  separating about midnight, well pleased with their landlord's entertainment.

Wednesday, 18 March
There is unrest at the Upper Thames following the forwarding of a canoe laden with £300 worth of stores to Josiah Firth’s run at Matamata.  It was stopped by the Maori at Ohinemuri pending the settlement of a dispute.  The stores were taken to Mr Thorpe’s place at Ohinemuri until the matter is decided.  John Thorpe today goes up to Ohinemuri to attend a large Maori meeting. The Maori have sent word down to Mr Thorpe, whose land has been in the hands of him or his father for at least 25 years, that he must clear out.  Thorpe has ignored the message.

At the New Caledonian claim, Karaka North, two leaders within a foot of each other and running parallel, are discovered.  In one of these gold is visible in a clean white stone.  The other leader is about four inches thick, black as charcoal, and very brittle.   It contains tin. The claimholders think these leaders are branches of a larger one, and they crush the stuff taken from the mystery black leader with the auriferous quartz without realising  what they are doing.  After crushing 10 tons of quartz at Scanlan’s machine in which gold is visible to the naked eye, to the surprise of everyone the gold is lost, except about one ounce and a half. The opinion of the observers is that the stone will turn out well, when it comes to be retorted,  however, it is found that the tin in the amalgam forced the gold through the pipe of the retort.  The retorted stuff is taken to be melted at Messrs Spencer and Co, where the result is found to be more than half tin. The cause of the apparent failure of gold is that the tin and the quicksilver amalgamated, the fine gold instead of combining, passed over the tailings, to the great loss of the owners. On examination it is found that a large quantity of tin had got amongst the quicksilver which it thickened; the gold would not go into amalgamation and was lost. In consequence of the loss, and the necessity for making a minute examination of the minerals in the claim before proceeding with the work, the Warden grants a protection for claim owner George Haigan for three months.  This is an interesting discovery although the shareholders in the New Caledonian claim have lost heavily by making it. 

The Annual Report of the Auckland Provincial Hospital for 1867 includes details of an advanced case of fever which was sent to the hospital from the Thames goldfield.  The complication in this case was pulmonary and the patient had a deep, somewhat purple, suffusion of the face.  There was much dyspepsia, cough, low muttering, delirium and diahorrea.  Death took place ten days from admission and in addition to numerous ulcers in the small intestine,  the right lung was found extensively hepatised.


John Goodall was a Thames goldfields surveyor who had started a private practice as a Civil and Mining engineer.  Born in India, educated in England, he arrived in New Zealand in 1863 and worked as an assistant engineer on the Auckland- Drury railway line. Between 1864 - 1866 he surveyed land for military settlers.   He served in the Waikato campaign and received a NZ war medal.  Not to be confused with the Coromandel Waihau Mine Manager John Goodall.


Papers Past
The Pioneer land surveyors of NZ Part IV

© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018
Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.

5 March to 11 March, 1868

Irregular proceedings.

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

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

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

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

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

NZH 5 March 1868

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

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

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

   Miranda for the Thames with 36 tons coal.

NZH 6 March 1868

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shops on the summits.

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

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

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

Josiah Firth
Alexander Turnball Library Ref 1/2-004946

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

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

Monday, 9 March

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 A really good show of gold is found at Puriri.

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

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

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

DSC 10 March 1868

DSC 10 March, 1868

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

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

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

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

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

Henry for the Thames with ten tons general stores. 

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


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


Papers Past

© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018
Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.

26 February to 4 March, 1868

Thames goldfields Long Drive claim
 Auckland Museum Ref PH ALB 86 D L Mundy 1867 - 1869 

Supplicating Australian capitalists. 

Wednesday, 26 February
Captain Butt is still confined to his bed,  his illness more than likely originating from the huge court case of a fortnight ago which today is finally settled when his share is sold  to George Quick. There is relief that this much litigated matter is on the way to an amicable settlement.   George Quick pays £600 cash; Butt originally paid £4 for the share.

Messrs Pratt, Clayton and Co’s patent recovery lever crushing machine is completed today at Auckland to the order of the shareholders in the Happy-Go-Lucky claim at the Thames and will be forwarded there by steamer tomorrow morning.  The machinery appears to offer great advantages over the others in being portable, the heaviest portion being at the base but which can easily be carried by two men.  It can be put together with ease in about a minute and pulled to pieces in less space of time.

Avon  for the Thames with 20,000 shingles, 17 hhds ale, 6 barrels ale, 1 ton bran, 1 ton flour, 2 ½ tons maize, ½ ton hay, 6 cheeses, 5 cases brandy, 1 tank, 1 kauri log, ½ ton potatoes.  

Spey for  Tapu Creek with  one keg butter, two packages tobacco, five cases ale and porter, three kegs rum, two parcels, six cheeses, two boxes candles, one box picks, one quarter cask brandy, 3,000 ft timber, six buckets, six shovels, two quarter casks ale, one box, five bags potatoes, sundries.

This evening at Auckland a new cutter,  the Sumter, is launched at Duthie and Ross’s ship building yard, made to the order of Lawrence Nathan and intended for the Thames trade.  A smart looking coaster, she was formerly known as the Pearl.  She is of a similar build to the fast sailing cutters Severn and Harriet – owned by the same gentlemen. 

The Midge arrives in Auckland this evening with 1,111 oz gold from the Shotover.  It is to be deposited at the Union Bank.  During the past few days a new leader of exceeding richness has been struck at the Shotover.   William Hunt shows the Daily Southern Cross  a handful of quartz pebbles which he estimates will yield at least 4 oz gold.

The Sydney Mail comments that while Emu Creek is calling out for machinery on their goldfield, the second great goldfield that wants machinery is the Thames in New Zealand.  “The quartz is said to be richer than anywhere else, but, though the particles of gold are visible to the naked eye, the diggers cannot extract them for want of proper appliances.  They are supplicating Australian capitalists to come to their assistance - and promising somewhat vaguely the most ample reward for doing so.  The want will be supplied in time, and the gold mining in the district will help to settle the native difficulty, and will repair the broken fortunes of Auckland. “

Heavy rain has been falling at the Thames  and there is a spice of it again tonight.

Thursday, 27 February
Above Tapu  a track has been cut at considerable expense to make way for McIssac's Berdan.  Half way up the hill the blows of a blacksmiths anvil ring out.  There is a small township of huts  on the brow of a very steep range – this is the Digger’s Rest claim belonging to Jamieson and party.  At McIssac’s claim he and his son’s are now busily engaged building houses, so as to make themselves comfortable for winter.

A portion of McIssac’s claim has been taken possession of on the grounds that it should be worked for alluvial gold, and not for a reef.  McIssac’s party have summoned the jumpers for trespassing. A gentleman from Shortland claims a share in this rich claim in consideration for a few shillings worth of goods advanced months previous to its discovery. This preposterous demand has been refused, and the consequence will be a law suit, which is to be decided at Shortland on the 10thof March.

Of the claims at Tapu, the Prospector’s, McIssac’s, No 1 South, No 2 and the Nova Scotia are doing well.  Several drives are being put on the banks of the creeks.  Many are working the alluvial creeks; some are doing well, and others are not so lucky.  Machinery is badly needed. 

At Parnell, Auckland, the Episcopalian Diocesan Synod meets in the Cathedral library.  Now that a Church of England building is being constructed at Shortland Town measures need to be taken to secure an Anglican clergyman for that district.  In the meantime steps should be taken for the regular performance of Divine Service until a clergyman can be appointed. The large population at the Thames requires some provision for its spiritual wants. The best plan is thought to be to close up one of the Auckland churches so as to provide an Anglican minister for the Thames.

At the Mechanic’s Institute, Auckland, a meeting held this evening notes the number of members has decreased considerably since the last annual meeting – partly owing to the general financial depression of the times but more especially to the fact that many members now reside at the Thames.

Wahapu  for the Thames with 6,000 bricks, 1,000 bushels lime, one ton chaff.

Rosina for the Thames with  5,500 bricks.

This evening a number of miners return to the West Coast by the Murray from the Thames diggings, all of whom proclaim the Auckland goldfield a “regular duffer’. 

DSC 27 February, 1868

Hawkes Bay Times 27 February, 1868

Friday, 28 February
Graham’s 12 horsepower crushing machine on the Waiotahi is tried and found to work without a hitch. It is known as King’s patent and has been used in California with satisfaction.

The claims at the top of the Moanataiari Creek are doing well.  Speculators are coming forward freely. Sweeney’s claim, better known as Mulligan’s No 2, is yielding stone of astonishing richness.  This claim has been worked for five months without success.

Justice Moore  holds a sitting in banco in his chambers at Auckland.  James Mackay, Resident Magistrate, is called upon by William Rowe, realtor, to show by what authority he had to act as a judge in the Warden’s court at the Thames goldfield in the case of Butt v Rowe heard on 12 February.  The case is of considerable importance and, should the rule be obtained, it will affect cases which have been decided by Mr Mackay in the Warden’s Court at the Thames Goldfield since the proclamation of the district.  Justice Moore says he will endeavour to give judgement at 9.30 on Monday morning, before the commencement of the criminal sessions.

 Avon for Shortland with 12 head cattle and sundries.

The Tauranga and Midge arrive in Auckland  – the Tauranga with 178 oz gold from McIssac’s claim at Tapu Creek.  This parcel is lodged with the Union Bank of Australia.  The Midge brings 300 ozs from the Bank of New Zealand at Shortland, which had been lodged there in small quantities from various claims. 

A public meeting to establish a Digger’s Hospital at the Thames is held in Butt’s American Theatre, convened by Alan Baillie. Charles Mitchell says that no community of men require medical aid more than the diggers.  Accidents might happen which  necessitate the amputation of a limb to save a life.  An estimated five thousand people are now on the ground, and it is time that a hospital or some place should be built, where a doctor could be in attendance.  At present the doctors are called out at all hours, and in many cases are not remunerated. Mitchell had made a call for a hospital some four months ago, but at that time it was thought there was no immediate need for such an institution, that whenever such need should arise it would be more convenient, and better for the patient, that they should be removed to the Provincial Hospital at Auckland. Unfortunately it has since been found that there were cases where the patients could not be removed, and there were one or two notorious cases where human life might probably have been saved had there been a proper place and proper medical attendance. A site for a hospital needs to be secured - some two or three acres near the beach and handy to the most densely populated portion of the field.   Doctors ought to be paid as well as a butcher or baker.  The government should grant a subsidy, and when the necessary funds were raised, a certain annual sum should be provided for a doctor.

Bursts of quartz.

Saturday, 29 February
As the Daily Southern Cross correspondent travels through the bush towards Puriri he is quite taken with the area.   He comes across large deposits of petrified kauri gum which at first he thinks are bursts of quartz.  Between the main creek and Hikutaia he comes to a mineral spring, the taste of which he finds quite equal to the best soda water.  The bush abounds in pigeon, kaka and wild pig, while the streams yield eels of very fine flavour.  With a gun and dog and fish hooks no man need complain, he decides. This abundance would certainly not supply wives or families at a distance, but with tea, flour and sugar, a mining bush life is not to be despised by single men. Boats leave Shortland for the Puriri every tide, for which passengers have to pay 5s each, which is considered excessive.  The road between the two places is level, and with the exception of the Kauaeranga stream, all the creeks can be crossed dry shod.

 Maori also take out miner’s rights and go on the ranges in parties of six to eight men and open drives on the advice of European’s.  Joseph Cooke’s party have been so far successful at finding the colour in the stone.  Another Maori party have set to work on the adjoining spur.  Further south, John White, of the Shotover, has a party of Maori prospecting in a gully containing large quantities of quartz.  The Europeans, numbering about 60, are prospecting with energy and some have penetrated into the main dividing range.

At Tapu Mr Sceat’s hotel opens today. Messrs Duncan, Stewart and Hector Mackenzie discover one of the richest leaders on the field in the Panama Route Claim, and organise machinery for working it.  Several other claims are turning out better than anticipated. 

A puzzled digger writes to the NZ Herald“Sir – Can you or any chemist answer the question, namely, does the oil which is now used on the stampers at the Thames goldfield interfere with the amalgamating process of the quicksilver, as a certain amount must of necessity get into the boxes, and if so, how can we remedy this evil? “

The editor replies - Let a digger put a certain quantity of gold in a saucer, pour a little oil on it and then add the quicksilver, and test the result of oil coming into contact with the two. That there is a very general loss of gold in its extraction from the quartz at the Thames is a matter admitted by everyone.  Machinery which, under ordinary circumstances would scarcely be likely to lose any except a very small portion of the precious metal, fails to save it on this particular goldfield.

Claimholders send to the machines quartz in which gold is more or less visible and which to all appearance should give a very handsome return but the result is far from satisfactory.  The crushing machine, the amalgamators, the quicksilver itself are all in turn blamed.  Perhaps after all, the real cause of loss may be traced to the presence of pyrites in the quartz -  this same evil is constantly occurring in California, Victoria and other quartz reefing countries.  Fortunately in Australia, science has stepped in to rescue the miner, and a succession of costly experiments has, after some years of trial, resulted in a successful solution.   Miners at the Thames could  form an association to raise the funds necessary to send one or more reliable men  to Victoria to thoroughly acquaint themselves with the process and apparatus needed. 

Lachlan McCaskill is willing to throw open his land at Hikutaia to Europeans but until Mr Mackay proclaims it to be available for mining it would be unwise to take advantage of the offer.  The McCaskills have occupied a farm near Hikutaia since 1839 when they and a partner, Dr Martin, purchased blocks along the Waihou River.  The purchase was witnessed by some 500 Maori, 300  who came from Coromandel to place Lachlan McCaskill on the land.  The land has been stocked and improved but had to be abandoned during the war in the early 1860s.  Lachlan McCaskill returned to the station of around 5,000 acres two years ago, in 1866.

Helen for the Thames with 30 tons coal, from the Bay of Islands.

Otahuhu for the Thames with 7,000 ft timber, 20 pkgs fittings, 10 cases glass, 4 passengers.

The Shotover claim specially charters the Midge to send up to Auckland another 1,000 odd ounces of gold so that it makes it in time for the Sydney steamer, the Claude Hamilton. They are successful and the the Claude Hamilton leaves with outward mail for England, via Suez, bound for Sydney.  She takes about 3,000 oz Thames gold. 

Sunday 1 March, 1868

Butt – at her residence, Hape Creek, Shortland, the wife of Captain J Butt, of a daughter.

Mr Mason has been sent to the Thames by the British and Foreign Bible Society.  Bringing with him a good supply of books, he has spent the past ten days visiting settlements, claims and tents.  He is everywhere well received.  His sales are satisfactory, considering the financial circumstances of the population, which waits for an increase of crushing machinery.  Today, his work accomplished, he packs up to leave. The British and Foreign Bible Society has extended its operations, which include the great spread of the gospel in modern times, not only in the British Empire but throughout heathendom, all over the world.

A bombshell.

Monday, 2 March
The Kuranui Hotel and the Waiotahi Hotel both open today – they supply a want long felt in the quarters in which they are situated.

At Auckland's Supreme Court Justice Moore enters the court room to deliver the judgement in the case of Rowe v Mackay in which Mackay allegedly illegally exercised the office of a judge of the Warden’s court.  Justice Moore drops a bombshell – there is no legally constituted Warden’s court at the Thames. All miners’ rights issued by James Mackay are now illegal.  This news has yet to filter down to the goldfield.  

Those at the Thames are suffering very considerable inconvenience owing to the absence of Mr Mackay while he is at court in Auckland.  A case of stealing from the person occurred on Friday in one of the hotels.  One offender escaped, but one of his accomplices was arrested, and must be kept in custody, as Warden Baillie has to attend to his duties and sit in court every day of the week.  The principal offender has since been apprehended, so that two men will now possibly have to remain in custody until the return of the Resident Magistrate, Mr Mackay.  There is no JP at the Thames, save Mr Baillie,  and as it takes two JP’s to manufacture into one Resident Magistrate, the Thames is a trifle in a fix.

Bull’s machine on the Karaka starts today and works smoothly and well.  The appliances appear to be better calculated to save fine gold than any other machine on the ground, but as the capacity of the machine is only equal to one ton in the 24 hours, the difference to the gross yield of the field is not of great importance.  Shalder’s machine at the Hape Creek is under close lock and key as Mr Shalder is about to patent a portion of the machinery.  A claim known as the Union Jack has been abandoned by four different parties.  The stone which these four different parties had been pitching away down the creek most industriously was tested by three different people, the third being Mr Shalder, and it was found to yield 2 ozs, 2 ¾ oz and 3 ozs to the ton.  Numbers of machines are being talked about, but they are all more or less toys in comparison to what is wanted at the Thames.  In Robert Scott’s claim, in the Karaka Creek, some stone usually thrown away  is said by an on looker to be gold bearing, and the claim holders advised to have it tested.  This is done and it is found to yield some 2 ozs to the ton.  Since then this claim has yielded stone where there is no mistake about the gold. 

The news from Puriri is not of much account.  There are only 45 men left out of the exodus to that part of the field.

The Maori near Kopu are very busy catching fish with nets and getting their potato crops in.  They are all anxiously waiting for Te Hira to return from the Tokangamutu meeting held in January to hear what he has to say regarding the opening of the goldfields to Europeans. The diggers think the sooner this is done, the better so that at least two months of the best season of the year may be available to prospect in and they can get into the beds of the creeks to test them while the water is low, which they cannot do in the wet season.

The Enterprise resumes her trade to the Thames today after receiving a thorough overhaul.  She presents a neat appearance as she steams to the Auckland wharf in order to take on board a full complement of passengers and sundry cargo for the diggings.

The Daily Southern Cross comments on the latest commercial report noting that little business has been done during the month, but there are unmistakable indications that trade is assuming a more healthy tone than has existed for months past.  It cannot, as yet, be said that there has been any great benefit from the opening of the Thames goldfields due to rich claims being in the hands of a few individuals and in the majority of cases the cost of procuring and crushing the quartz swallows up the greater portion of the yield.

The news reaches the Thames that when James Mackay acted as Warden he had not been duly appointed as one and that miners rights issued by him are in jeopardy.

 Spey for Tapu Creek with 400 ft timber, five kegs butter, one ton potatoes, three cases sundries, two parcels, two hhds ale, six casks, two tons sundry stores, two wheelbarrows, two packages tools.   

Willie Winkie for the Thames with 5,000 ft timber, 4,000 shingles, four packages sashes and doors, three hhds ale, 10 cases ginger wine, six cases whiskey, one quarter cask whiskey, 14 packages sundries, one passenger.

Rob Roy for the Thames with 15,000 ft timber, three head cattle, one ton bran, one ton groceries.

Tuesday, 3 March
The inhabitants of the Thames wake to the news that as there was never any Warden’s court proclaimed for the district all miners’ rights issued by Mr Mackay as warden are now illegal and no law is recognised. As soon as this is known chaos ensues - claim's held under a miner’s right signed by Mr Mackay are jumped.  William Hunt’s share in the Shotover, the ground of one and a half men, is jumped and the police are called out to put the jumper in possession of the ground, threats having been used and force promised to put the jumper off the claim.  William Cobely’s share in the same claim is jumped and Pincher (Piniha) is seen taking possession on his own behalf. The claim jumping causes immense excitement at the Thames and reporters scramble to get details.  They note some of the people who jump the most valuable claims on the goldfield – 
C F Mitchell and W S  Styak attempt to jump Cobley’s share.
McCarthy and Williamson – Hunt’s share.
Mulligan – Barry’s share.
W S Styak – Mulligan's share.
John Brown – Kelley’s share
Paddy Bonfield and the Ballarat claim  – Tookey’s share
Chief Taipari – Samuel Hamilton’s share
Mulligan’s own claim being  jumped, to indemnify himself against the loss, he jumps Barry’s.

One of the claim jumpers comes to considerable grief.  Walter Williamson, while coming down the narrow track on the side of the Waiotahi range, returning from Mulligan’s claim, loses his footing and falls down a sheer descent of some 30 ft.  When picked up he is insensible, and his right eye and nose are badly bruised.  His teeth are all loosened by the shock of the fall, and one of his eye teeth is knocked out. He is taken to the new Waiotahi Hotel.  Dr Lethbridge finds no bones are broken and prescribes a week’s quiet to complete his recovery.

The NZ Herald correspondent, scribbling a report, admits to “being deeply engrossed in the fashionable amusement of jumping” rendering him unable to send any further correspondence to the newspaper.  He does manage to note  however that Warden Baillie refuses to issue any miners rights and refuses  to endorse any of those issued by Mr Mackay, and that no Warden’s Court is being be held. 

The Daily Southern Cross snaps “It is pretty evident that the authorities have been to blame for the loose way in which they made provision for the administration of the Auckland goldfields.  At first sight, it appears to us that a great deal of litigation will spring from this proceeding . . . Luckily the miners at the Thames form an orderly community, and we rely upon their good sense and forbearance in this crisis.”

The Thames goldfield, however, has not been left without law.  The same law that always existed still exists under the Goldfields Act 1866 – the district court has the same jurisdiction as the Warden’s Court, therefore, although no Warden’s Court exists at the Thames, the District Court supplies its place.  All disputes that would have been taken into the Warden’s Court, will now be settled in the District Court, until the former is legally constituted. There will not be an absence of law and authority at the goldfield.  Special constables are to be sworn in. There will, however, for a short time be considerable inconvenience to the miners and other residents at the Thames. 

Avon for the Thames with 3 tons flour, ½ ton sugar, 1 crushing machine (Chilean), 6hhds ale, 6 barrel’s ale, 1 horse, 5 pigs, 12 pkgs groceries, 5 passengers.

The Provincial Government are being urged by European and Maori alike to pay over the £5000 promised on the discovery of a goldfield in the province.  Piniha Marutuahu of Hauraki  writes to the Daily Southern Cross -  “To the government and to all men - O friends, it is not well that the money arranged to be given by the Superintendent for the gold should be given out heedlessly, but that it be investigated carefully – be adjudged – by the government, that it may be known who discovered it.”

This evening the tender of Eric Craig for building a place of worship is accepted by the committee of the Church of England.  The plan has been drawn up by Mr Beere and the church, when finished, will be a very neat structure.

DSC 3 March, 1868

Wednesday, 4 March
The Superintendent of Auckland, John Williamson, receives a letter from Mr Mackay requesting him to appoint special constables for the Thames goldfields.  The superintendent at once sends for  Police Commissioner Naughton and instructs him to proceed as soon as possible to the Thames and to take whatever steps he may deem prudent for preserving the peace of the district in the event of any disturbance taking place.

At the Resident Magistrates court, Shortland, this morning before the business of the court commences, Mr Mackay states that, in consequence of the recent decision given in the Supreme Court of Auckland, there appears to be some misunderstanding with regard to miner’s rights signed by himself. There is nothing in the Goldfields Act to render illegal any miners rights issued from the Thames. He was some time back appointed Warden in another part of the colony, and such appointment has never been cancelled.  On these grounds he warns all persons who have jumped shares in claims under the supposition that they were not the holders of miner’s rights at once to give up possession to the proper owners, or otherwise they will be prosecuted and punished with the utmost rigour of the law.  Applause ripples through the court, but is suppressed. James Mackay, as Resident Magistrate  of the Thames district, was legally acting as Warden when he issued miner’s rights.

Captain Butt is today feeling much better.

Te Hira and party, accompanied by some Taranaki’s arrive at Ohinemuri bringing a proclamation from Te Kuiti (the new name for Tokangamutu) dated 29th January, in which Tawhiao, the Maori King, orders that the sword be sheathed, all selling of land, all leasing of gold, all surveys, all boundaries, all roads, all schools on European principles, and all magistrates are to be put a stop to. All Hauhaus, who believe in their faith, are not to go to the European settlements.   This proclamation was printed in Auckland.  A large meeting of Maori from the East Coast and Hauraki Gulf is shortly to be held.  As soon as this meeting is over, then all those Maori interested or willing to open their lands to diggers will hold a meeting at Waihi, West Coast, and if they agree they will pronounce their lands to be open to diggers.

Wahapu for the Thames with  5,000 bricks, 21 bushels lime, one crushing machine, 60,000 shingles, three tons furniture, two tons flour.

A report on the granting of relief is published.  The increased expenditure between October and December is attributable to a number of rations being advanced to 10 or 12 people, to enable them to proceed to the flax fields at Waiuku, and to temporary aid being given to many families of women whose husbands have left them for the Thames goldfields.  This left many families unprovided for.   By instructions from the government a week’s relief was granted to each of these destitute families.  How they have supported themselves since is not known.

DSC 5 March, 1868

The birth of Captain Butt's daughter may have been the first birth on the Thames goldfield, but it is quite likely there were others previously which were not notified in the newspapers.

The claim jumping excitement may have been too much for the NZ Herald correspondent - Mr Baillie did not refuse to issue miner’s rights on Tuesday, he only assured the men who applied that Mr Mackay’s rights were quite sufficient to hold the claims. 

The Joseph Cooke mentioned at Puriri may be Joseph Cook the first documented discoverer of Thames gold in 1857. 

Papers Past
This is my place – Hauraki contested - Paul Monin

© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018

Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.


19 February to 25 February, 1868

Promises of money.

Wednesday, 19 February
The Maori discoverers of Thames gold, Paratene Whakautu and Hamiora Ahepene, have written to the Daily Southern Cross.  They want to claim the £5,000 reward. “Sir- Will you please let us know through your valuable newspaper whom we should apply to for our reward for first discovering gold in the Karaka Creek?  We found the gold by sluicing a long time ago, and Mr Lochan (sic) (Lawlor) and Mr Davis took our specimens to Auckland.  Soon after they returned, Mr Mackay and Dr Pollen succeeded in getting the land opened to miners.  At this time Mr Mackay took us aboard the steamer to Mr Williamson, the superintendent, and Mr Williamson then promised us the money when he saw plenty of gold.  – Paratene (signed with an X )  Hamiora Ahepene  (signed with an X).  February 17, 1868.

The editor replies applications must be made to the Superintendent, Mr Williamson.   There are several claimants for the reward.

The Thames Quartz Crushing Company is now in the course of formation, the manager being Mr Smart, of the firm Cruickshank and Smart.   Another company in the course of development is the Karaka Gold Mining Company, known as the Monster Claim. 

This evening in the Commercial Room of Butt’s Hotel a meeting is held for those interested in the building of a Presbyterian Church.  The Reverend James Hill occupies the chair. The Thames goldfield has been under the direction of a special committee and has been visited and supplied with divine service once a month by clergymen connected with the Presbytery, as they were called upon.   These services have had numerous and attentive audiences. Church services had originally been held in the old courthouse whare but since the building  of the American Theatre, Captain Butt has granted his commercial room, adjoining the theatre, most readily for religious service on the Sabbath – but this is only a temporary arrangement. At the commencement of the goldfields the presbytery appointed a committee to provide a monthly supply of sermons and it was believed they would soon be able to give a fortnights supply.  A site for the church has kindly been given by Chief Taipari and a building must now be erected.  It is stated by several that many who at present can not give money can and will willingly give labour.

Another meeting tonight is held at the Victoria Hotel which may go some way towards inducing men who have the means to do so to go into mining. A proposal is made to shareholders that the two claims known as Mulligan’s and Williamson's amalgamate, so as to throw the whole into a joint stock or limited liability company.  Both claims are well situated and are as likely as any claim on the ground.  It is resolved to amalgamate the claims.  This is a move in the right direction, for until the Thames has some capital with the almost superabundant labour market, it will continue to be in a bad fix.

DSC 19 February 1868

Thursday, 20 February
Commissioner Mackay declares the country extending south to the Puriri Creek now open for mining.  About 200 men follow Mr Mackay, and disappear among creeks and gullies.

DSC 20 February, 1868

A new rush takes place this morning to ground discovered within the last few days, at the head of the Tararu, in the line of the Te Hape, Karaka. The reported discoverer is Mr Seymour.  Some very rich stone has been got out of an 80ft shaft in Tookey’s claim. 

 Catherine for the Thames and Tapu Creek with six tons flour, nine tons furniture, two tons potatoes, two tons doors and sashes

DSC 20 February, 1868

Friday, 21 February
After fossicking at Puriri for a day or two, dejected miners return to Shortland announcing the new ground to be a duffer.  Others more experienced in mining remain. Old miners and storekeepers at Puriri are cynical as to the place containing gold bearing reefs; all agree that the colour can be got on the flat and in the creeks but no one has yet seen quartz that will pay for working. 

A party of men have been prospecting on the creeks entering the Ohinemuri River. These men now return to Shortland, having prospected from Thorpes store inland, again across the ranges to the east coast, and in no instance did they discover alluvial gold.  In portions of quartz the colour was perceived, but when the bottom was reached, no gold was found. One Maori and one European accompanied the party, who were advised to hide themselves in the boat until they had passed the Maori settlement, after which the prospectors were not interfered with. The surface gave indications similar to the Karaka Creek, and the prospectors agree that auriferous leaders may be discovered.  In one branch entering the main creek on the left bank a wash was found, giving no more indications of gold then in any other point in the Thames below Ohinemuri. Their opinion is, that if there is alluvial gold in the Thames district, it is lying between the upper districts and the Waikato.

At Captain Butt’s hotel Pratt, Clayton and Co’s new patent lever crushing machine is extensively used today.  The general opinion of the diggers seems to be that it is just the thing required.  It will enable them, by a little manual labour, to test the quality of their quartz, and its portability will allow it to be carried to the claims furthest away from the town.  The first of these machines will be erected on the Happy-Go-Lucky claim.

A man named Barber and his mate are caught prospecting between Waihi and Matoora by a Maori named Tara, who threatens them with numerous pains and penalties. This is not the only time they have been detected – this time they are told they will be decapitated. 

The share market is to some extent in a more flourishing condition than it has been. Several speculators have invested in various claims, and fair prices, considering the scarcity of the money market, have been obtained. 

At Tapu two additional claims have been found which promise well.   McIssac’s claim is still yielding largely and two new claimholders have gone to Auckland for machinery.  A number of miners have left the Tapu for Puriri.  Mr Barchard’s and Mr Sceats’ hotels are rapidly going up and a large new store is about to be built for Messrs Read and Co.

The Fly on its way to Auckland from Tapu Creek sights what appears to be a portion of a wreck in the Hauraki Gulf – the stern post of a vessel is visible above the choppy water at intervals.  

 Avon for the Thames with 11 barrels ale, one case gin, one case wine, 3 ½ tons flour, ½ ton maize, ½ ton bran, six boxes candles, one case bacon, 6 ½ tea chests, three bags salt, six kegs butter, one case stout, one keg porter, two casks soda water, one cask lemonade, three hhds bottles, ten packages, four sheep, one dray, five head cattle.

DSC 21 February, 1868

Saturday, 22 February
The Waiotahi flat, now commonly known as Tookey’s Town, is extending daily.  Three hotels -  Mr Mulligan,  Mr Burke (of Onehunga) and Mr MacDonald have been granted licenses. Provision stores are being built and every trade is represented in this rising place, the population of which must exceed 1,000 persons. The large number of stores have been doing roaring trades there for some time past - by far the majority of miners reside in the vicinity of the flat.  The granting of the publican’s licenses is considered to be a grave act of injustice on the part of the Provincial Government. There seems to be a somewhat disgraceful trade in licenses for the sake of revenue at the Thames.

 Willie Winkie for Shortland and Tapu Creek with ten bags flour, two sides bacon, one bag sugar, one case bread, two bundles bags, ½ ton coals, ½ ton potatoes, 15 cases stout, three hhds beer, six packages, five cwt iron, three cases brandy.

Sunday, 23 February
The Wesleyan church, Willoughby Street, Thames,  is opened by Reverend George Sawden Harper this morning.  The building, which is calculated to seat nearly 400 persons, is crowded.  The church was to have been opened earlier but owing to the damage received from the hurricane on the 3rd, the opening was deferred until today. The building of the church has cost  £130 pounds,  £100 pounds of which has been raised.  John E White, of the Shotover claim,  who has become wealthy, gives the balance needed to free the church of the debt.  The church is 50 ft by 30 ft and no money has been wasted in ornament but the Wesleyan's have a place of their own in which to hold preaching and Sunday School and where classes might meet.   Classes have previously been held in Mr Fletcher's grocery store, Grey Street, with members making themselves comfortable by sitting on flour bags and candle boxes.  Wesleyan's were among the first arrivals at the Thames and initially held services under the spreading branches of a large peach tree, looking out over the waters of the gulf.  Lately Mr Manners has been preaching from a rock in Grahamstown.  The industrious Wesleyan's  opened a school on the Thames goldfield on 1 December,  1867 - the object of the their missionaries being to teach reading, writing and calculating as well as Bible translation and learning the Maori language.  

The Rev Harper preaches again this evening to a large crowd.  Englishman George Harper  arrived in New Zealand in 1865, and was appointed to Christchurch. A few weeks later he proceeded to the West Coast goldfields at Hokitika, where he became the first resident minister of any church in the whole area. He has a ready wit and can knock about among diggers with ease, having a great empathy for the difficulties of their lot.  His first impression of the Thames in August 1867 was of a flat and rising ground covered with scanty scrub and a few native trees.  Rev Harper usually comes to the Thames every few weeks from Auckland to preach.  He holds outdoor services at Tookey's Flat, the foot of the Moanataiari gully and outside the courthouse to dense crowds.  He is content to sleep in the tent or whare of a friend, or even under a store counter. 

Shortland is illuminated.

Monday, 24 February
A large piece of quartz thickly studded with gold is brought into Shortland in this morning by Mr Stevenson from  Puriri.  It is shown to the Daily Southern Cross correspondent who sceptically thinks it is too heavily covered with gold to be an auriferous piece from any part of this district.  He suggests that the stone would look better if some of the gold was scraped off.  The stone is then taken to Mulligan’s hotel with the intention of having a lark with the NZ Herald correspondent, who is completely fooled.  The stone has in fact been neatly patched with minute bits of gold leaf by Mr J H Clifford, who has 'got up' a nugget to appear on the stage in “Aladdin in the Wonderful Scamp.”

A Polish man named Farmel, one of the shareholders in the Homeward Bound claim on the Moanataiari creek, is working near the mouth of the tunnel when a great quantity of stuff falls on him.  When he is picked up he is thought to be dead.  He is attended to by Dr Sam. Farmel has a serious injury to the spine.   It seems that very little care has been taken in the timbering of the tunnel.

Most of the claims at the Thames are turning out well. A new rush has taken place about five miles up the Karaka.  Every claim above the Carpenter’s report having struck gold.  All the machines are at full work and still great numbers cannot get their quartz crushed.

The local newspaper project, so much talked of some time ago, seems to have died a natural death.

The Enterprise is laid up this week for an overhaul and improvements and will not resume the Thames trade before Monday next.

 Rob Roy for the Thames with  20,000 ft timber, 10 packages groceries. 

 Susan for the Thames with four casks ale, three kegs butter, two kegs brandy and other stores.

NZH 24 February, 1868

Tuesday, 25 February
The man Farmel injured at the Homeward Bound claim is now in a fair way of recovery. Dr Sam has been indefatigable in his attendance on the unfortunate man, night and day.  Here again is shown the great need of hospital accommodation at the Thames.  This man is lying in a tent far from medical or home comforts, and requires such care as can only be given in a well-regulated hospital. 

Captain Butt is dangerously ill and has been confined to his bed for several days.   Butt is widely regarded with affection, the Daily Southern Cross referring to him as “our worthy pioneer.” The NZ Herald correspondent reminds readers that he  deserves the thanks of all who have benefited by his enterprise and of the many who have been assisted by his money – although in his case, as in many others, there is  truth in the old saying that “eaten bread is soon forgotten.”

A rich gold bearing reef is discovered in the Bachelor’s No 2 claim on the Waiotahi range.  It is exceedingly hard blue stone and the gold, which is very fine, is visible throughout.  “Lucky fellows some of those claimholders,” observes the Daily Southern Cross correspondent.  “If I were to mention every new claim in which gold is daily being discovered, I should fill columns of your paper.”

At Tapu things are rather dull compared to what they were and trade is somewhat slack.  The township however, is assuming a more stable and permanent character.  The place was at first somewhat overstocked, and by persons of the wrong class for diggers. Many diggers in the gullies and creeks at Tapu have been disappointed so have turned their attention to prospecting for quartz reefs and in this they have been singularly successful.  Scarcely a day has passed within the last fortnight without the discovery of some new reef and those previously hit upon have continued turning out well.  The place is daily proving itself an extensive goldfield district and confirms the opinion lately expressed by Dr Hector, the government geologist,  of it being more promising than Shortland.  Puriri continues to draw miners away from Tapu but some parties are returning disappointed. The talked of opening up of the Manaia is yet a thing of the future.

The erection of substantial buildings at Tapu continues.  There are now five wooden structures, besides a number of marquees, as stores.   The ‘Melbourne Store’ of Messrs Allen and Hall, has recently been enlarged and painted, and is a credit to the place, the enterprising proprietors having firm belief in the advancement of this township. Three hotels are being built – Mr Sceat’s British Hotel is near completion, the other two are delayed for want of timber.  The British Hotel bears the same name was Mr Sceats'  Auckland establishment is to be conducted in his liberal style.

Application has been made to the Chief Postmaster for a post office at Tapu.  Men have had to go or send to Shortland for their letters, a distance of 15 miles. Through the kindness of Messrs Allen and Hall, letters for Tapu Creek are now allowed to be sent from Shortland to their store, but still letters even now are most unaccountably detained and great dissatisfaction is expressed.

Great credit is due to the miners at Tapu for their steady and peaceable behaviour. There is no policeman at Tapu but even a slight disturbance is almost unheard of. Quantities of kauri gum are being constantly picked up on the beach, evidently washed from the hills, and the Maoris say that a considerable quantity of it is to be obtained with little labour.  Messrs Allen and Hall have proposed to parties of unsuccessful diggers that one-half of the party go gum digging, while their mates are prospecting and they, Messrs Allen and Hall, will provide rations and purchase the gum.  A party with this object starts out this morning.

A number of miners by the ss Murray arrive back in Westport from the Thames diggings – all of whom proclaim the field to be a “regular duffer.”

The Midge and the Tauranga bring large crowds of people to the Thames tonight.

This evening a Wesleyan tea meeting is held at Shortland.  Several ministers deliver addresses and collections are made. The event is a success and well attended, arrangements having been made to convey purchasers of tea tickets from Auckland at a greatly reduced rate.  “But,” says the NZ Herald correspondent, “I was not favoured with the usual courtesy extended to those representing the public press.”

The whole of the kahikatea bush along the Piako is on fire tonight and the sight is magnificent.  Though the distance across to the Miranda Redoubt is something like nine miles, the reflection is so great that for the first time, Shortland is illuminated.

DSC 25 February, 1868
NZH 25 February, 1868


The starting of the Wesleyan Sunday School on 1 December is  likely the first school on the Thames goldfield.  Sunday schools (also referred to as Sabbath schools)  were originally literally schools: they were places where poor children could learn to read. The Sunday school movement began in Britain in the 1780s. The Industrial Revolution had resulted in many children spending all week long working in factories. Christian philanthropists wanted to free these children from a life of illiteracy.  In essence the missionary education efforts in New Zealand  were no different from any of the earliest Sunday schools in England.  There are numerous accounts in their journals and letters of how they went about this, sometimes in school rooms, sometimes in huts or the open air, sometimes on a week day, sometimes in a Sunday.

Twenty years after leaving the Thames Rev Harper visited the area and noted that instead of the first humble day schools there were now the Boys and Girls High School, primary schools and the School of Mines.


Papers Past

© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018
Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.