to everyone who took the time to read this blog, offered support and encouragement and helped with extra information.
This was a rather grueling experience but there were lighter moments thanks to my schizophrenic spellcheck.
Mr Mackay became Mr Madcap
Butt’s Hotel became Nutt’s Hotel
Spirits became spareribs
The chairman became an ethic airman
The Bobby Burns Claim became the Booby Burns
Three kegs spirits became three kegs spitfires
Spring will do great things for the Thames became Spring will do great thighs for the Thames
The steamer Maori Chief became the steamier Maori Chief
Ohinemuri became Moonshiner
A Daily Southern Cross correspondent became a Daily Southern Cross corpse
and some really bizarre copying and pasting announced
"at the sale of C Arthur and Sons, Auckland, there are good stocks of potatoes, cheese, bacon, ham, onions, butter, soap, oats, and colonial ale. There is a great demand for fowls, but only a few young ones in Madman’s gully, a branch of the Moanataiari Valley, which is beginning to attract attention and several claims in the long neglected Karaka are promising very fairly. "
30 July to 1 August, 1868
A mysterious passenger.
The Shotover claim.
Mundy, Daniel Louis, 1826-1881, photographer,1867-1869,Auckland Museum PH-ALB-86-p16-2
There is considerable excitement in Auckland due to a report which has rapidly gained currency that a seam of extraordinary richness has been discovered in the All Nation’s claim. This claim is situated just above the Shotover and the Kuranui company’s claims. The excitement, which in the early part of today is intense among the diggers and sharebrokers, originates from a report that the steamer Enterprise was specially chartered at the early hour of 3 this morning by a private party bent on coming to Auckland in order to buy up every possible share in the All Nation’s claim.
The Enterprise arrives at Auckland with the anxiously awaited mystery person thought to be among the passengers but on board is just one solitary passenger. This, and the knowledge that the Enterprise has arrived unexpectedly and before her time, is sufficient to excite more suspicion. Passengers by other steamers from the Thames know scarcely anything about the alleged discovery, other than a vague rumour in circulation at Shortland that gold had been struck in the All Nations claim. One man expresses his opinion that the shareholders in the claim have purposely kept the matter quiet.
Another rumour circulating in Auckland today is that a miner lodged two parcels of gold containing 18 oz in the Union Bank at Shortland, which he allegedly obtained from McLeod’s Creek, Kennedy’s Bay. The gold is said to have been much superior to that obtained at the Thames, as much as £3 per oz having been obtained for it.
At the Shortland Police court John Smith is charged with using obscene language on the public highway. He is fined 40s and costs.
The Daily Southern Cross runs a headline which crows 'THE THAMES DIGGINGS THE RICHEST IN THE WORLD.' “As we are in receipt of reliable information from the South that an attempt is being made on the West Coast to cry down the Thames goldfield in order to prevent a stampede, we are pleased to publish the following from theLyttleton Times which contains several extracts from the Cross’s columns, showing mining share transactions and the extent of business being done on the goldfields. It quotes a letter from Mr J Hall, a performer who was at the Thames this month, giving a most encouraging account of the field, stating that he had been on the Shotover claim and was astonished on beholding the extreme richness of the stone. Mr Hall has been on most of the diggings in Australia and says that the Thames diggings are the richest he has ever visited.
An inquest is held at the Star Hotel, Shortland, on the body of William Turner, aged 2 years 9 months, the son of William and Isabella Turner of the Digger’s Camp. The verdict is reached that William Turner was accidentally drowned in an open shaft or waterhole, on the Digger’s camp. A rider is added that the authorities be urged to cause the holes on the Digger’s Camp to be filled up.
The John Penn arrives in the Manukau from the south bringing passengers for the Thames goldfield. A large quantity of machinery for the Thames diggings from Sydney arrives at Auckland by the barque Novelty.
There are now ten vessels either on their return from the Bay of Islands, proceeding to the Bay or loading at the Bay with coal for the Auckland market. That the present scarcity of fuel in Auckland is not likely to continue is a relief for the owners of steamboats and the public generally.
As the day wears on the All Nations fever grows, some enthusiastic individuals go so far as to say that a solid seam of gold has been discovered. Shares in the All Nations go up to a marvelous figure, but it is stated that the shareholders had received timely warning of the fortunate discovery. One shareholder, however, is reported to have parted with his interest, though the legal gentlemen have pronounced the transaction invalid. The All Nations claim struck the Little Angel leader on Wednesday in a lower drive and a very heavy show of gold was obtained out of the first quartz broken off. Fine wiry gold was so profusely impregnated throughout the quartz that it held together the broken pieces of stone. The party were sinking a shaft on the Little Angel boundary. They secured the leader the full length of their ground (150 ft) between the two workings. In consequence of this and the richness of stone taken out, shares go up to £2,000 during the afternoon and holders are not willing to part at that price.
Messrs Holmes, the resourceful owners of the first steamer laid on for the Thames,the Enterprise, are offering their friends a meal free of expense tomorrow in honour of the first anniversary of the Thames goldfield. The boat will leave for the Thames at 9am and there will be a band to enliven the voyage. “The roast beef of Old England” will be supplied below.
The steamers the Duke of Edinburgh, Tauranga and Lady Bowenarrive at Auckland from the Thames this evening. William Hunt of the Shotover claim is a passenger by the Duke of Edinburgh. He brings up 3.500 ozs of gold in eight ingots which have been lodged in the Union Bank of Australia. Mr Jones, who is also a passenger by the same vessel, brings up 1,000 ozs for the Union Bank of Australia. Other parcels may be expected up tomorrow night for shipment by the mail steamers for England. The 3,500 oz brought up by Mr Hunt together with the 7,207 oz already received brings the total of gold produced from the Shotover claim during less than a fortnight to 10,707 oz. Hunt becomes an easy winner of a wager he made some time ago that the claim would produce 10,000 ozs within a month of commencing crushing.
|NZH 30 July, 1868|
|DSC 30 July, 1868|
No enterprise without the Enterprise
The commemoration of thefirst anniversary of the Thames goldfield begins with a trip on the ss Enterprise No 2 to Shortland. Eighty passengers have embarked, but due to dense fog it is found impossible to start until 9.30. The band then strikes up the favourite tune of ‘Sherman’s March to Georgia’. On nearing Brown’s Island speed is slackened until 11am when the mist clears away. Messrs Holmes Bros, with commendable liberality, provide a dinner, free of charge, to all passengers, which is served up with much credit to the pursuer of the vessel. Dinner finished, Mr Wood, Esq, of Shortland, proposes the health and prosperity of the owners of the Enterprise and hopes that the next year will return double the success to what the past year has done. The band plays a selection of English, Scottish and Irish tunes to which dancing is kept up by a number of passengers with much enjoyment.
Since the rains of Tuesday last the streets of Thames have presented a pitiful appearance. A man riding on a dray is pitched into one of the ruts. He is picked up unhurt, but is completely covered with mud. Carts are stuck all up and down the street.
The news from Puriri is very encouraging and numbers are leaving for there every day – the Maori Chief and the Clyde going frequently, as well as ferry boats.
Wahapu for Shortland with 1,000 bricks, 20 tons flour etc
The Halcyon brings 868 oz gold to Auckland. There will be sent away some 15,000 oz of Thames gold for the month of July or very nearly three quarters of a ton of solid gold.
The Enterprise arrives at Shortland and passengers are all safely landed. Chief Taipari, having been told that Messrs Holmes were intending to supply a sumptuous dinner and refreshments to all passengers travelling by the vessel, determines to “assist” on the occasion. On the arrival of the steamer in the creek, Taipari and a party of Maori are waiting to receive Captain Seon and other friends. A generous supply of champagne is provided and after several health’s have been drunk, Taipari makes a speech. An interpreter being at hand for the benefit of the Europeans, Taipari is pleased to remark on the spirited conduct of Messrs Holmes in being the first to place a steamer on the Thames trade. He would most emphatically assert that, had there been no Enterprise there would have been no such goldfield, a double entendre which creates much laughter and showers of compliments at Taipari’s wit. The Enterprise, which had taken down the pioneers of the Thames goldfield, has stood as a firm, fast friend to them. If it had not been for the spirited undertaking of the Messrs Holmes in despatching their steamer, he felt the goldfield would have got a bad name and collapsed. Hearty cheers are given before Taipari leaves the vessel. The Enterprise since she first commenced running to the Thames has made nearly 200 trips to the diggings without having encountered any accident or injury whatever.
Up to a late hour this night the Enterprise has not returned to the Auckland wharf, and in all probability will not be back until tomorrow evening, being a favourite Saturday boat with the diggers returning to town on that day.
|DSC 31 July, 1868|
|NZH 31 July, 1868|
The salvation of Auckland.
One year ago today the situation in Auckland was dire. There were empty houses and scores of unemployed. Trade was bad, money scarce, wages low and work hard to find. Businesses crashed, one after the other. A soup kitchen had opened. There had been a land boom and it had burst. The withdrawal of Imperial troops and the transfer of the colony’s capital to Wellington in 1865 had caused an economic depression. There was no place to go as winter set in.
The Thames goldfield had just been proclaimed and around 5.30 – 6pm this evening the Enterprise arrived off the landing place at Kauaeranga and unloaded passengers, cargo and baggage. They arrived in wretched weather. There were hills covered in masses of dense scrub and tangled undergrowth and on the flat nothing better than raupo swamp and ti-tree scrub. On the banks of the Kauaeranga creek was a church mission station and exactly opposite, a Maori settlement of huts, whares and crops. There were few Europeans and one store. The ground opened up was a small portion from the Karaka to Kuranui – not quite two miles. Within this boundary was an extensive flat mostly covered in peach trees and very swampy. A desolate area, a Maori burial place, was thickly studded with carved posts, the leering heads and thrust out tongues greatly unnerving the diggers.
One year later the Enterprise regularly carries good numbers of passengers, many are diggers returning to the their labours, there are storekeepers and men of business as well as parties of 'fresh hands' going to try their luck for the first time. They have abundant supplies of tools, tents, blankets, billies and pannikins and they strike the observer as being just the sort of men who were wanted for the work. Some of the old hands make the most extraordinary statements about certain claims and yields, Specimens are produced and handed round as others adjourn to the steward for “nobblers”.
The Enterprise slips through the water pretty rapidly and is nearly abreast of the Wairoa River. Soon after the Sandspit is passed they enter the broad sweep of the Firth of the Thames where the waves are tumbling pretty heavy – so much so that one or two passengers begin to look particularly pale. Darkness falls but Shortland is rapidly approaching, and the lights from the town can plainly be discerned ahead. Within eight hours of leaving Auckland, passengers are safely landed on the beach at Shortland, opposite Mr Sheehan’s hotel, the Duke of Edinburgh.
The steamers from Auckland can only come within about a mile of the shore, on account of the shallowness of the firth at its head but two small steamers ply as tenders to the Auckland steamers and enter the creek, landing passengers and goods on the bank. There is a great crowd congregated on the beach to witness the landing of the passengers and many witty remarks are made by the old hands as the passengers walk the plank to reach the shore – a very dangerous mode of landing. Many an unfortunate passenger has fallen from the trembling plank into the water but with no worse effect then a sound ducking and the laughter of the crowd upon the beach.
As passengers land there is considerable interest manifested by the loafers as to the health of their maternal parents. From the landing place passengers proceed up Grey Street and turn off into Pollen Street, the principal thoroughfare. The street itself is almost as broad as Auckland's Queen Street and is crowded with buildings of a most diverse description, in fact, so assorted are the stores and sizes that one would almost fancy they had been thrown down higgledy piggledy out of an immense pepper castor. One shop is of large dimensions, broad and tall; the next is a little shanty, with barely room to turn, but, small as they are, they seem to do a remarkably good business, being constantly filled with customers. Half the shops are general stores, the other half boot makers and public houses. A glance into a bootmakers store shows five or six men cramped up with hardly elbow room, working away as though for dear life, while at the latter barmaids dressed in the latest styles of fashion go about their work behind the counter, throwing the while the most fascinating glances upon the various customers. The public houses are doing a roaring trade
Pollen Street is a perfect quagmire which has here and there planks placed across for the foot passenger which can be negotiated safely with the exception of running afoul of a drunken digger. The state of the streets is something beyond the imagination of even an Otago man.
The size of the town and the number of buildings going up in all directions are astonishing. To the rear of the town, however, little has been done beyond the Hape Creek, but to the left the left eye cannot reach the limits of the wooden buildings and canvas tents. There are numerous well built and commodious hotels, well-filled stores, comfortable cheerful weatherboard houses and more than one brick house. There are churches, a theatre, and a court house, which if not very handsome, is commodious and well-arranged. There is activity and business-like energy, the rattling clatter of the various steam engines and the accompanying thud of the crushing machines. There are some eight or nine crushing batteries erected in the different gullies - they are mostly crushing for hire.
Looking at the whole district from the sea the town is pitched upon a flat which extends back about a mile to the foot of the ranges. This stretches away for several miles, in this direction are several Maori villages and the country around is very picturesque. The Maori occupy some low terraces behind the town.
Beyond Shortland in northerly directions is a large vacant space of ground which is at present tapu, on account of it being an old Maori burial place. Away to the left of the town, buildings and tents multiply until you come to Tookey’s Town which rivals Shortland itself, indeed the two places appear just now to be fighting for the ascendancy. Again beyond Tookey’s Town comes another line of houses and tents as far as it is possible to carry them, until in fact they are stuck in a corner between the hills and the sea. The whole of the ground to the left of Shortland from the harbour is taken up as far as it is possible to take up, while to the right of the town (where at present no gold has been found) a large tract of ground is lying idle. About a mile back from the beach between Shortland and Waiotahi, and just to the right of Grahamstown, Canvas Town is to be seen – a mass of buildings, tents and marquees, that will be a formidable rival to either Shortland Town or Tookey’s Town, although having no communication with the sea it cannot of course become so important as either.
Canvas Town is at the entrance of the Karaka Creek, just beyond the flat and extends over a very considerable area of ground. On the flat there are three machines, which, much to the disgust of the people living on the flat, make the water in the creek perfectly useless. As water, however, is pretty plentiful just now, that is not of so much consequence, but next summer the supply from the water holes will be barely sufficient to meet the wants of this rapidly increasing district.
As a background to all – Shortland, Tookey’s Town, Grahamstown, Canvas Town and the whole flat – at the rear, and at the left, the mountains of Karaka form very pretty shading. From the Hape to the Karaka Creek the hill rises to a considerable height. Running along at the top pretty horizontally the spur of the Collar Bone comes down to the flat and runs up to a height of nearly 2,000 ft, again the hill runs along an immense height to the Waiotahi and Moanataiari creeks. Covered with dense bush, as they mostly are, being worn with tracks by the constant passage of the diggers, rising nobly to immense heights, canvas tents peep out from beneath the green foliage in many places, and the smoke curling up into the clear blue winter sky, the view is one of the most striking beauty and a testament to the pluck, perseverance and endurance with which these men have faced every hardship, scaling and burrowing into these lofty hills, making their homes upon the mountain top and daring danger and hunger in their search for the precious metal.
On the road to Waiotahi care is taken to prevent getting bogged. The way lies partly through a peach grove, which has been sadly almost destroyed, and partly along by a raupo swamp. Very little of the raupo is left, however, for it has been cut down to the very roots by the Maoris for manufacture of whares. For £3 the Maori would at one time put up a very good two roomed whare, with fireplace, but they now charge considerably more on account of the difficulty of getting raupo, which has at present to be fetched from beyond the Hape Creek.
Four creeks flow off the hills and through Grahamstown and are named the Karaka, the Waiotahi, the Moanataiari and the Kuranui. It is on the sides of these creeks and the high steep ridges between them that most of the claims and workings are situated.
Crossing the Karaka, Grahamstown is reached on the right where a good number of buildings have been constructed in this once swampy place and judging from appearances, it will very shortly be a place of considerable importance. A short distance beyond is Waiotahi, or as it is more commonly called, Tookey’s Town, from the fact of its being built upon and owned or leased by Mr Tookey. Passing through the town towards the hills at the back, are some of the richest claims on the diggings - Tookey’s, Messengers, the Manukau, Golden Crown and others.
Descending the hill without falling is no joke but here lies the Shotover, almost at the base of a hill, near the sea. The ground occupied by the party is a sort of natural basin, and into this basin it would appear that the gold ran from all directions and proved the salvation of Auckland.
At Auckland wharf vans, carts and hand barrows are loaded with an abundance of the good things of life, apparently sufficient for the supply of an immense city, in reality destined for the Thames. Ponderous portions of machinery are being slung into the various cutters lying alongside the wharf, while vast piles of timber are being ceaselessly carted to vessels. The numbers of livestock which are constantly shipped to the golden district - cows, sheep and pigs - give evidence that the appetites of the diggers are in a tolerable state of healthfulness and vigour. Stocks of timber used to be unduly large but now many of the dealers have hardly a board on hand such is the demand for timber at the Thames. In the stores quantities of boxes and packages of all shapes and sizes are ready to be transported. The people congregated on the wharf are cheerful and given to shouts of hilarity. There is a steady rush from other goldfields - the steamers from the southern ports are crowded with passengers intent on trying their luck at the Thames and sailing craft receive their share of digger's patronage.Living is cheap at the Thames.The result of the inexpensive facilities afforded by steam carriage is that the price of everything at the Thames is far below what they are in any diggings town. Eight days lodging in the best place in Shortland costs only £2. A glass of beer anywhere only costs 3 pence. In Grahamstown a dinner, which in Dunedin would cost from 3 to 4s, is enjoyed for 1s 6d. Many diggers can live for 6s per week and most comfortably for 10s a week.
There are too many stores at the Thames. The cheapness of everything, however, acts most beneficially on the diggers enabling married men to have their wives and families with them, diffusing a spirit of contentment and satisfaction rarely seen on new diggings, and gives to the mining operations a permanence and stability. A most remarkable and unparalleled feature of the Thames population is the utter absence of grumbling at their luck. There is no man who says the place is a duffer, or who talks of leaving the so and so hole, but plenty who are sacrificing their farms and bits of property in other parts of the Province in order to stick to their claims. The price of food and clothing enables them and their families to live cheaply and the abundance and cheapness of timber enables them to build comfortable houses, and carry on their sinking and driving operations without any great capital. Many wives, though, are being deserted by their husbands, who are determined to try their luck at the Thames.
The July yield of gold is 15,000oz – nearly half a ton of gold is from one claim. For months past, day by day, the miners at the Thames have struck rich leaders and reefs in one claim after another. This fact has been regarded with incredulity because such small amounts of gold are monthly exported but this has been owing to the absence of machinery. It is only quite lately that a few machines have been got into working order, and they are of no great power, only three or four or five stampers each. The Shotover’s is only a 12 stamper machine and of these four stampers are worked at a time – yet it has turned out, since noon on the 20th of July, a trifle under half a ton of retorted gold. There are other claims fully as rich if not richer than the Shotover.
Already the effect of the goldfield is being felt in commercial circles and by the working classes. There is no such thing now as a man who is able and who desires to work being out of employment. On the contrary, employers are beginning to complain that the diggings have attracted away the best and most active men in every department of labour. Confidence has been fully restored in commercial circles and there is already beginning to be felt a scarcity in many kinds of stock, now that the demand for gold is brisker. The late commercial distress caused a considerable check to be placed on the importation of goods of all kinds. It was as rare some six months ago to see customers in shops, as now to see shops without customers. The immense richness of the Thames goldfield has undoubtedly added greatly to the provinces returning prosperity.
The Enterprise brings to Auckland 1,000 oz gold in charge of Mr Cobley of the Shotover. On board the Enterpriseare 120 passengers – the returning voyagers celebrating the first anniversary of the Thames goldfield are again liberally treated by Messrs Holmes with refreshments.
10,414 oz Thames gold is shipped by the Union Bank in the ss Taranaki. The other banks have 5,000 ozs in hand.
Rangatira for Tapu Creek with 2,000 bricks, 5,000 ft timber and sundries Bessy for Tookey’s Flat with 30,000 shingles and sundries, and five tons coal for Waikawau mills Henry for the Thames with 5 tons flour, sundries, 3 cows, 1 horse Triad for Shortland with timber and 35 kegs blasting powder Midge, Tauranga, Halcyon, Duke of Edinburgh, Lady Bowen with passengers . . .
The ss Gothenburg from Melbourne has arrived in Bluff and is now enroute to Wellington bringing very large numbers of diggers from Melbourne and the south for the Thames goldfield. Female adventurers are also among the passengers. To the observer a ‘joyful anxiety’ seems to animate the party and the extremely cold weather exhilarates their spirits. They appear to depart without regret, the future evidently occupying their minds.
The cutter Tay,which beached at Tuwhitu on 25 July after leaving the Thames, was floated off without any material damage and arrived in Auckland harbour on 6 August.
The cutter Betsey,which went missing after leaving Whangapoua with a full cargo of timber for the Thames on 5 July, was eventually given up for lost. It was generally supposed that she had foundered during a gale.
On 2 August Messrs Samuel Cochrane held their first sale of mining shares at their auction mart. There was a most numerous attendance. At the opening of the sale Mr Cochrane addressed the audience - "Gentlemen - at the earnest solicitation of my numerous friends I have consented to hold periodical sales of shares and stock at the Thames and having had the honor of serving the public for the last 10 years I have acceded to their wishes . . ." The sale was then proceeded with and the Thames Stock Exchange and Thames' famous Scrip Corner came into existence.
Warden Alan Baillieresigned his office in early August, owing to the inadequacy of the salary paid to him. Baillie’s work had increased to such an extent that no man, however energetic, could possible perform it without clerical assistance. By August 1868 there were over 10,000 persons on the goldfield. The country was so steep and rugged that a distance of one mile was often as tedious to traverse as five, so that the actual duties of the Warden extended over an area some 20 miles in length. With many of the claims minutely subdivided and shares hourly changing hands, the Warden’s workload was huge. Mr Lowther Broad, a Warden and Resident magistrate on the Otago goldfields, was appointed the new Thames goldfield warden.
Commissioner James Mackay also resigned in early August, the reason being the neglect of the government to fulfil its engagements with the Maori at the Thames. They did not receive payments due to them for June, though it had been long since collected from the miners. The money had to be sent down to Wellington and sifted through the Treasury scales before being returned to Shortland. It was strongly felt that this system should be altered and the whole management and control of the goldfields be left entirely with the provincial authorities and not be managed from Wellington. Following Mackay’s protest, the money was remitted and Mackay persuaded to stay on at an increased salary mainly to negotiate for the opening of the Ohinemuri. He was relieved of his Warden’s duties at the Thames and allowed to undertake private business that did not interfere with his public duties. Mackay later wrote of this time “My health was bad. I felt no spirit to perform the enormous amount of work which was imposed on me.”
The very first anniversary celebrations of the Thames Goldfield were not held until the 19thand 20th of August. The Thames Anniversary races to be held at Tararu were postponed due to inclement weather and the incompleteness of the list of race entries. The Clyde had been despatched to Auckland to bring down the majority of horses but owing to rough weather she was unable to return until the 17th. The time allowed for entries was fixed to close at 4pm on the 16th but in consequence of the non-arrival of the Clyde, the stewards postponed the event. Some half dozen horses had arrived during the week. The scarcity of timber had likewise proved a serious drawback to those about to erect booths, and the grandstand could not be completed for the same reason. An incessant fall of rain also rendered the course unfit. The stewards obtained an extension from Mr Mackay for the protection of claims until noon Friday the 21st and also an extension of the booth holder’s licenses. Steamers form Auckland announced they would issue return tickets for the occasion at a reduced fare.
On Wednesday 19 August the day was ushered in with bright sun and cloudless sky and the streets at an early hour of the morning were crowded with people dressed in holiday attire and seemingly bent on making the best of the day. The Tauranga landed passengers at Tararu Point only a few minutes’ walk from the grandstand. Later in the morning a great multitude of pedestrians began to direct their steps towards to racecourse and the view between Shortland and Tararu was one of high spirits.. The scene was enlivened by the harmonious strains of a brass band stationed on the grandstand, together with a variety of other instruments. Great amusement was caused by Mr Mulligan’s donkey showing off its capabilities in front of the racecourse, and every now and then kicking up its heels as if enjoying the joke. The Maoris mustered in great force and most of them managed to procure mounts of some kind or another. The grandstand was crowded and there was a goodly show of the fair sex. The games common to race courses such as Aunt Sally and Thimblerig were duly patronised by the lovers of such sports.
At quarter to 12 the band commenced proceedings by playing the National Anthem, which was succeeded by the popular air ‘The Limerick Races’. Several horse races were held. Nearly 6,000 people were present and the whole day passed off without the slightest sign of rowdyism.
The second day was inclement, but a large number of people still attended. Numbers flocked out of town to the racecourse. Rain did not materially affect the course; the sandy nature of the ground was in its favour, as the moisture was speedily sucked up. Rain fell nearly the whole day but the racing was very good. The hurdles were put up in a loose and careless manner because the races had been got up hurriedly. The judge’s box had rather ludicrous appearance, reminiscent of a Punch and Judy arrangement. It was great fun to watch the gentlemen at the gaming table pack up and take off when one of the police made his appearance. As it was raining hard and as there was no protection, the grandstand not being covered, every person was wet through but this did not extinguish the excitement. The attendance of ladies was scarce compared to the day before.
Publicans who purchased sites on the race course were Grandstand - Mr McDonald Tararu Hotel, Tararu No 1 Booth – Mr O’Connor, Rising Sun Hotel, Waiotahi No 2 Booth Mr Kelly, Victorian Hotel, Shortland No 3 Booth Mr McGregor, Albion Hotel, Shortland No 4 & 5 Booth Mr Stephenson Royal Hotel Waiotahi No 6 Booth Mr Rose Thames Hotel, Shortland.
Aunt Sally is a traditional English game usually played in pub gardens and fairgrounds that dates back to the 17th Century in which players throw sticks or battens at a model of an old woman's head.
Thimblerig is portrayed as a gambling game, but in reality, when a wager for money is made, it is almost always a confidence trick.
|DSC 14 August 1867|
By August 1868 about 7,000 acres had been opened for prospecting. The area now available was 340,000 acres or about 700 square miles, extending from the Thames river, to Cape Colville and then by the East Coast to Whangamata.
The number of claims taken up for quartz mining amounted to about 1,500, occupying an area of not more than 10,000 acres.
The actual amount of money invested in shares in several of these claims amounted to about £80,000, giving employment to 6,000 men.
The value of permanent wooden buildings in Shortland was about £30,000, and in Grahamstown about £20,000. Buildings were daily in the course of construction.
The value of quartz crushing machines driven by steam on the Shortland branch of the goldfields was £16,000, and of machinery ordered and being set up £22,000, thus giving a total of 400 hp, capable of crushing 400 tons of quartz daily, which at an average yield of 3 oz of gold to the ton, would give 12,000 oz at 50 s per oz, say 3,000 per diem, or nearly one million sterling per annum.
The owners of the crushing mills employed permanently 400 men.
The development of the goldfield stimulated shipbuilding. There was now a fleet of steamers, an aggregate of 320 hp, consisting £30,000, manned by about 100 men. These steamers, with a single exception, had been built at the port of Auckland, entirely of New Zealand material.
Coasting vessels were now fully employed in the transport of merchandise from Auckland, and timber from the saw mills, which were now fully and profitably employed
Coal mining was also stimulated by the Thames goldfields. Although there were several valuable coal deposits in the province, those worked to the best advantage were the Bay of Islands (Kawakawa) and Whangarei mines. This coal was unsurpassed for steam purposes.
The gold export to 31 July was 34,000 ozs on which 4,175 export duties was paid. Remaining in the banks was 11,000 oz, the duty on which would be £1,375 showing a total yield for the year of 45,000 oz, and 5,550 for export duty.
The revenue paid by the inhabitants of the goldfields for miner’s rights and rentals would amount to about £15,000 out of which the Maori expended £400 on road surveys, and about £450 for indicating lines of road (not making them).
In other charges to the General and Provincial Governments the inhabitants of the Thames contributed about £5,000 for the year.
Rentals obtained for about an eighth portion of land leased from the Maori by Mr Robert Graham on the Waiotahi amounted to about £4,000 per annum.
The goldfields population amounted to about 12,000, the greater proportion being able bodied men, engaged in mining and other pursuits.
Of the large expenditure indicated above, almost all was Auckland capital, which was a complete answer to those who asserted that the Auckland capitalists had done nothing for the Thames goldfield.
The value of mining property in the above statistics has not been touched upon, but if Hunt’s claim, at £200,000, the Kuranui Co’s claim at £50,000, or the Middle Star at £20,000 and others of proportionate worth be taken as standards of value, the total would amount to an almost incredible sum.
By September 1868 houses were almost daily being pulled down in Auckland and conveyed to the Thames for re-erection where they commanded high rents. There were scores of houses in the Auckland suburbs which had long been tenantless. The whole of Calliope Terrace on the North Shore was removed.
In September after a rich lode of gold was discovered at the Manukau mine north of the Thames, a stock market boom began.
By October 1868 the Golden Crown claim was producing immense yields of gold.
The Caledonian mine, adjacent to the Manukau, would strike the richest seam of gold in New Zealand history.
The Thames Hospital(“Digger’s Hospital”) opened on 2 November 1868, the Thames Advertiser calling it a “red letter day in the annals of the Thames . . . the most valuable institution yet established here.”
The boom years at the Thames were 1868 and 1869. By 1870 the Thames goldfield had fallen into recession, exacerbated by previous speculation. The NZ Herald reported that the field had been mismanaged, too much productive ground had been taken up and shareholders’ funds were beginning to be exhausted.
Mining at the Thames was stagnant from about 1874 to the 1890s. In 1876 the town was described as a mass of straggling buildings presenting a most unfinished appearance owing to its rapid rise and sudden depression, under which it was still suffering, the scene of the great Caledonian, Golden Crown and Manukau, and other rich claims, whose glory had departed. In 1884 things were not much better – Shortland and Grahamstown were described as a long straggling place, spreading over three miles. It contained some good buildings, a large public school, handsome banks, good hotels and substantial warehouses and the retail stores were exceedingly numerous. It struck the observer that it must have been a fine business place when the claims were turning out rich yields but its glory seemed to have departed, and everything appeared very dull. Several of the crushing batteries were idle and some only working half time. The famous Tararu creek was now silent, batteries apparently abandoned and gone to ruin. The town appeared to be rather dirty and muddy and very damp and unwholesome in wet weather owing to the amount of drainage from the range immediately behind the town and the extensive mudflats along the foreshore, The introduction of the cyanide process and the injection of English capital brought about a brief revival at the Thames. The government sponsored deep level prospecting until 1902, after which the field went into an accelerated decline.
The opening of the Upper Thames After the last Maori chief had signed on 17 February 1875, the Ohinemuri field was officially opened up to prospectors on 3 March 1875. James Mackay was tasked with negotiating peace with the Hauraki tribes, and in 1873 had been appointed Commissioner for Maori Affairs. Mackay was a controversial figure who used various unscrupulous methods to persuade Maori to sign away their mining rights.
The beloved and celebrated ss Enterprise was blown up off Cheltenham Beach by Captain Coyle and the submarine corps as part of the North Shore Aquatic carnival on 7 January 1899. The explosion was successful, the steamer being blown into matchwood.
The end of the Enterprise.
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-1055'
James Mackay report, Building Thames, Alistair Isdale. The Hauraki Report Volume 1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aunt_Sally https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_game http://www.ipenz.org.nz/heritage/itemdetail.cfm?itemid=2458 *******************************************************************************************************************
© 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.
23 July to 29 July, 1868
The Golden Valley of the Thames.
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 536-Album-285-8-1'
|The Waiotahi Valley. Water race on the left running down from the dammed stream, and a tramway up to the middle of the valley. Messenger Hill is at the extreme top left.|
The steamer the Duke of Edinburgh leaves the Kauaeranga creek with 60 passengers for Auckland.
The first crushing at the Goldfinder battery continues with unabated success, both in the amount of yield and in the working of the machine. The battery performs its work as smoothly as if in use for some time past. The retorting is busily proceeded with by Mr Muir, of the Union Bank. Three ingots of smelted gold ready for export containing 1,800 ozs have already been turned out.
Du Moulin and Johnson’s machine on the Break O Day claim, Waiotahi Creek, is now at work and is found to be a most compact and successful battery possessing several advantages over the other machines in use on the Thames goldfield. Considerable delay occurred in building the battery due to the excavation necessary for the site, felling trees and the slow process of getting machinery on the spot owing to the almost impassable state of the roads along the Waiotahi. These difficulties have been overcome by sheer determination and at a great outlay of capital and labour. All of the timber for the building has been sawn on the spot because of the expense of carriage along the roads during the present season and this has considerably slowed the progress of the work. The sawyers are now cutting timber for the retorting house.
In the Success, a claim on the Shellback (Tararu), which was only pegged off about ten days ago, a first rate reef is found. This is another proof that the value of the ground on and about the Shellback has been very greatly underrated.
Whangarei laments the attractions of the “Golden Valley of the Thames” which has caused many to leave for that paradise of diggers. “We have been in hopes for some time to be able to entice them back again to the diggings of our own.”
The paddle steamer Bruce, which has done good service on the West Coast, is receiving considerable repairs and alterations, prior to leaving for Auckland. On arrival there the Brucewill run between Auckland and the Thames. The Bruce is a very fast boat and of extremely light draught of water.
The Duke of Edinburgh, after a good passage of 5 ½ hours from Shortland against a strong NE gale and heavy sea, arrives at Auckland. Despite the wind the steamer went through the water capitally – increasing her speed with almost every mile. Her engines worked much better than when on her trial trip. Captain McDougall states that she behaved remarkably well and proved herself a good sea boat against the heavy seas. The Duke of Edinburgh brings the news that up to last evening the yield of gold from the Shotover claim reached the amazing quantity of nearly 5,000 ozs. If the yield continues to be as rich as that from the quartz crushed since the starting of the Goldfinder, Mr Hunt will most assuredly win the bet he has made that the yield will be 12,000 oz.
The Lady Bird arrives in the Manukau from Otago with a large number of miners for the Thames. The captain, Edwin Lusher, is presented with a testimonial. “We, the undersigned passengers on the voyage by your vessel to the Thames goldfields from Otago, cannot part with you without expressing our gratitude for your kindness and gentlemanly behaviour to us on the voyage, and request you to convey to your officers our thanks for their kindness, as also to the NZSN Co for the comfort provided to both saloon and steerage. In conclusion, we hope, when we again travel, we may be under such an able commander as yourself and in parting we wish you every success, health and happiness.” Signed by 48 saloon and steerage passengers.
At the Queen Street wharf vessels from foreign ports are loading or discharging cargo from London, Valparaiso, Sydney, New Caledonia, San Francisco and Rarotonga. In addition there are four or five of the Thames steamers which add to the activity and business at the lower end of the wharf. In the stream are vessels from London, France, Lyttleton and the East Coast. The upper end of the wharf and the Custom house and timber wharves are completely lined with coasting vessels, there being between 20 and 40 craft. The Queen Street wharf and harbour have not presented the same appearance of prosperity for many months past.
|DSC 23 July, 1868|
|NZH 23 July, 1868|
The Tauranga resumes her trading to the Thames today having had a thorough overhaul. In addition to the fleet of steamers constantly plying between Auckland and Shortland seldom a day now passes without witnessing the departure of two or three sailing vessels with full cargoes.
Stag for Shortland with 9,000 ft timber
The Paisley Rose claim strikes gold of a very rich appearance today. The leaders are generally little and good in this vicinity. The Paisley Rose adjoins the Blooming Rose and Happy Go Lucky. The Kentucky claim, Moanataiari Creek, also strike gold today in a leader extending nearly three feet wide.
The Daily Southern Cross comments on the “reality of the Thames diggings – there are many, especially in the southern provinces, who have been very sceptical in relation to the genuineness of the Thames goldfields. They have looked upon them with a jaundiced eye, and a very jealous frame of mind. Such are the assertions of those who delight in Auckland’s late troubles, and who are alarmed at the signs of the good time coming, and now, though they have chuckled and laughed, with an almost demonical earnestness, though they would almost make themselves believe that Auckland can never rise like a phoenix from the flames, they are invited calmly and very dispassionately to look at the following facts. The trade to the Thames is of such a magnitude that it has taken to itself almost the whole of the vessels which have hitherto been engaged in the coasting trade to the delight and profit of the owners . . . those who deal in firewood are at their wits end to know how to supply the wants of Auckland, and have raised the price about 40 per cent . . . the ship building trades were never so busy, and craft of all dimensions were never in such demand as at present, while the value of vessels is rapidly advancing.”
The Lady Bowen leaves on her trial trip, having on board a large number of Auckland gentlemen. She casts off from the steamboat jetty on Queen Street wharf and steams up the river as far as Stokes Point, after which she slews round and heads down the harbour under full steam. The tide is ebbing and the wind is light. Her engines run a little stiff. When about opposite Niccol's patent slip a temporary block occurrs in her engines and she is detained for 12 ½ minutes until her machinery is adjusted when she is again put on full steam and continues without mishap. Refreshments are on the saloon tables during the trip. About 4pm the cloth is removed and toasts are made to the Queen and Royal Family, the Governor and Lady Bowen and the builders and owners of the Lady Bowen. After speeches and a round of “He’s a jolly good fellow” the boat approaches the wharf and the guests go on deck and are shortly afterwards landed, having spent an agreeable afternoon together. The smart little boat returned to Queen Street wharf in remarkably good style.
The Lady Bowen was built by Mr Niccol on the North Shore. She is coppered and copper fastened and built of New Zealand timber. The Lady Bowen is commanded by Captain Cunningham, formerly of the schooner Gazelleand the brig Flying Cloud. She possesses a very handsome saloon, paneled and grained, with comfortable cushion seats and tables and mirrors. The forward cabin is spacious and well ventilated. There is a well fitted bar and on either side are convenient water closets. She will carry about five tons of coal in her bunkers which is outside the amount that the furnaces will consume in 24 hours.
The first crushing of the Golden Crown claim at the Thames is completed tonight at Goodall’s battery.
|DSC 24 July, 1868|
Astonishing the civilised world.
Saturday, 25 July
The Lady Bowen begins her trade to and from the Thames today.
The first crushing of retorted gold of the Golden Crown claim is taken to the Bank of Australasia to be smelted.
The Happy-Go-Lucky’s two stamper battery and water wheel are set in motion for the first time and work very satisfactorily.
The Thames Advertiser correspondent while doing his rounds, observes the Marquis of Waterford claim, six men, in the Waiotahi, next to El Dorado. He cannot speak in any terms of praise of the way in which this claim is worked; in fact there is an utter want of mining experience.
A claim of six men’s ground situated in Wiseman’s gully, Punga Flat, and called the Domain View, crushes a sample of 50 lb of quartz taken off the heap at Bull’s machine this week, the yield is 3 dwt. The claim is near the El Dorado and Lundon’s ground.
At Tapu nothing has been done in the way of the numerous machine sites which have been pegged off during the past two months. Most of the available sites have been selected, but it is aggravating that the parties taking them up still have the right to them after a month has elapsed during which time objections may be sent to the Warden. Such sites should be considered as abandoned and the deposit forfeited so as to prevent the country being blocked up by persons who do not intend to erect machinery at once to the detriment and inconvenience of those who would do so. A great deal of blasting powder is being used in the claims north and south of Tapu Creek, some of the shots are of great power and shake the ground for a considerable distance. Business is very brisk and a new public house is to be opened tonight. This will make the sixth at Tapu. Numbers of miners are getting their wives and families down from Auckland and female faces are to be seen now on nearly all parts of the goldfield.
At the Shotover battery the four head of stampers continue their work with unparalleled success since steam was got up last Monday.
It is mis-reported that William Hunt, of the Shotover, intends to establish a line of express, on the American principle, for the conveyance and delivery of mail and parcels of all descriptions between the Thames and Auckland, where there will be kept messengers and means to facilitate the discharge of business. Branch offices of Mr Hunt’s 'steamboat and city express line' will be established at every place on the goldfield, and a round trip made daily, which will be a great convenience to parties doing business. The proprietor is actually a Mr Robert Hunt and his parcel's delivery company guarantee's to deliver all mail entrusted to his charge with safety and dispatch. This will be a great improvement on the old system of putting parcels on board the steamers and not knowing whether they reach their proper destination or not.
A few hundred weight of stuff from the Golden Crown at Puriri is crushed at Bull’s machine and gives a prospect of 14 oz to the ton.
John Robertson writes to the Daily Southern Cross of the new rush to Puriri – “I have just returned from Puriri, having gone up there a few days ago. When I went there I found about 300 diggers on the ground, and nearly the same number I met on my way coming back, making their way to Puriri. There are six or seven claims on good gold. The gold is in the quartz reefs and leaders . . . but in the new Prospectors claim they struck a rich mullocky leader which they sluiced and the tailings they put to one side, and intend to crush them as soon as a machine is on the ground. The original prospectors have a reef in their ground from four to five ft thick . . . they also have a good looking leader, which I think will surpass the reef in richness . . . The claim next to them, on the east side, held by Messrs Beetham and Walker is also a good claim, but, owing to some mismanagement, is not at present worked . . . There are a few more claims on gold . . . the ground on each side of both Prospectors is marked out to a considerable distance.”
A waiter at one of the Thames hotels finds a cheque for £5 which has been dropped in one of the passages of the house. The cheque is handed to a gentleman at the hotel, for the owner, but once claimed the waiter is not even rewarded with any thanks.
Stag for Shortland with 9,000 ft timber etc
Rosina for Shortland with 6,000 bricks
Diamond for the Thames with 3 horses and 10 tons cargo
Sumter for Shortland with stores
Rangatira for Tapu Creek with stores
Beetham, Walker and Co’s Shortland report notes that business has not been as brisk as some previous weeks but prices are firmly maintained, and many claims little known are taking position in the front ranks. A considerable number of men have gone up to Puriri during the week. It has been no precipitous rush, but rather the deliberate movement at the first favourable weather of a number of cautious and steady men. No great results have been shown, and no amazingly rich ground has at present been opened, but there is reason to believe a large extent of country to be rich there.
The Westport Star publishes an extract from a letter about the Thames goldfield from a miner in Auckland to his mate “I would not advise you to come here, anyhow, if you can struggle on unless you have a mind to go prospecting, which is the only show. For goodness sake pay no attention to the glowing anticipations shadowed forth in the Auckland papers as the people here, having had dull times and trade stagnating, are anxious for a rush at any price. Even now, the returned miners from Rangiriri are talking of getting up a demonstration condemnatory of those who must have fabricated the report of the goldfield . . . There is, in my opinion, a show at Shortland for one or two smart coast (West Coast) publicans, that is, if a rush should set in . . . I think prospecting is the best game, if a man chances a period of six or 12 months. As for store keeping, butchering and baking things are so ridiculously cheap, the profits would be next to nil. Indeed business is like carpentry – a dead letter . . . This will give you an idea of the position that skilled artisans are supposed to occupy in the social structure of this very select community.”
William Hunt, of the Shotover, arrives in Auckland and lodges 5,270 ozs of gold in the Union Bank the result of one week's crushing. Besides this there still remains over 2,000 ozs which have been retorted but require to be smelted so the total yield of the Shotover claim from one week's crushing is between 7,000 and 8,000 ozs. Mr Hunt may now safely congratulate himself on having won his bet of £100 that the yield of gold from the claim would exceed 10,000 ozs within one month of commencing crushing. When the requirements of the Thames goldfield in the way of machinery have been adequately supplied, and the extensive network of known auriferous quartz veins developed – the returns of this goldfield looks set to astonish the civilised world.
The Thames’ Golden Crown claim completes smelting. There is an enormous yield of gold. Two large ingots and some odd pieces are obtained, making a total weight of 877 oz.
At Butt’s American Theatre the performance tonight proves very attractive judging from the crowded state of the house. ‘Black eyed Susan’ and ‘The Irish Tutor’ are acted out and keep the house in a continual state of merriment. Mr and Mrs Hall carry off their parts remarkably well as do the other performers.
|Black Eyed Susan performance|
The cutter Tay leaves Shortland with six passengers. About an hour after starting out a heavy gale of wind and rain springs up. The night is pitch dark. At quarter to 2 the mainsail is lowered to half mast and the boom nearly amidships, for fear she should give. A few minutes later, with land close, she grates on boulders and at 2am the vessel goes ashore at half tide. The Tay sends out distress signals for nearly an hour until the sail halyards give way. Passengers on the Midge, passing, see the signals. At low water Captain Marks lays both anchors out but they won't hold. He places about two tons of stone on each anchor, but this does not prevent the anchors coming home at flood tide and the Tay goes further up the beach. The Tay beaches at a place called Tuwhitu. The captain and passengers are found by Maori who provide them with potatoes and shelter.
|DSC 25 July, 1868|
Sunday, 26 July
Early this morning the Tickler is engaged in bringing a cargo of firewood to Shortland from Taupo (Kawakawa Bay). She experiences very heavy weather crossing the Thames. As she arrives off Tararu Point a fierce squall strikes the vessel, instantly capsizing her and plunging her crew and passengers into the water. Captain Stuart, of the Midge, which is lying at anchor off the point, immediately despatches two boats to the scene of the catastrophe, and two other boats from cutters lying at anchor also go to the assistance of the drowning people. John Tiller, master of one of the cutters, is one of the first on the scene followed by the Midge’s boats. The crew of three and a passenger named Marks are all saved, the latter gentleman experiencing an almost miraculous escape, having just arrived on deck from below when the vessel capsized. Marks is picked up almost insensible. After the crew have been rescued, the firewood from the vessel floats out and she is gradually righted, but her hold being full of water, her gunwales are level with the waves. The cutter then drifts towards the land but is subsequently anchored, Captain Stuart having bent a kedge for that purpose. This is the second time this boat has come to grief, having been beached during a previous gale and severely damaged.
A great quantity of rain falls today and the creeks rise rapidly. The Karaka creek cuts a new channel through the beach. The shipping in harbour at Shortland suffers from the gale, several vessels dragging their anchors. The Shotover battery takes advantage of the rainfall to work their 12 head of stampers.
At Wellington Mr Swan has brought down with him some splendid specimens from the Thames. They almost make the mouth water. Specimens of various degrees of richness are being exhibited in the shop windows. Mr Swan is said to be sending up to Shortland for a large chest of more specimens. These are looked anxiously for.
At Shortland’s Resident Magistrates court an action is brought to recover the sum of 1s for damages done to the lock of a house. The case is dismissed. A boy, in the employ of Mr Orme, builder, pleads guilty to a charge of furiously riding on the footpath in Pollen Street. He is fined 10s and costs, in consideration of the boy’s youth and it being his first offence. James C Boyd is charged with being drunk and disorderly but does not appear.
This morning the Union Bank of Australia ships per the Tauranga on account of the Shotover party 5,207 ozs 12 dwts 12 grains of melted gold, the result of the first four days of work. The gold is made up into 15 ingots. Besides that, the bank has 1,000 ozs from other claims for shipment this week. The Bank of Australasia also received 877 ozs from the Golden Crown claim yesterday making the total product of the week above 10,000 ozs.
The great complaint about the Thames goldfield has been the insignificance of its gold exports. The amount passed through customs at the Thames is very small in comparison with the extent and richness of the field and even allowing for the quantity taken up to Auckland in private hands, of which no record is kept, the figures quoted do not represent the actual amount produced on the field. There are constantly amounts produced, and in some cases melted on the claim, of which the public hear nothing, and the banks are usually very solicitous that the actual amount passed through their hands should be kept secret. There is a feeling of rivalry as to the amount of business transacted by each branch established to which the withholding of actual gold purchases is attributed. The heavy rate of duty may have something to do with keeping back the actual returns. During the week three nameless claims have deposited gold at the banks and refused to disclose the locality of their ground or the nature of their yield.
Birth At her residence, Hauraki Cottage, Willoughby Street, Thames Mrs Claude F Corlett, of a daughter.
The first installment of the Tapu Creek Tramway and Crushing Co’s machinery is ready to start today and will, until the water power arrangements are completed, be driven by a portable 14 hp engine. The batteries are two of five stamps each and a third will be added on its arrival from Sydney.
A new rush between the Shellback Creek and Madman’s Gully has been fortunate for the lucky finders and now they christen the claim. They have sent to the Flat for half a dozen of Martell’s best, and bread and cheese is there by the square yard. The prospectors name their claim the Isabella, which is drunk with all the honours of a true Briton, afterwards the next claim on the same line of reef is christened Annabella. First class specimens are admired in which the gold is as thick in the stone as if it had been peppered.
The Enterprise leaves the Auckland wharf this afternoon for the Thames literally crowded with diggers. The Tauranga leaves shortly afterward, also carrying a large complement of passengers. The Halcyon and Duke of Edinburgh were both to have started for the Thames today, but not being able to secure a supply of coal – which is not to be had in Auckland either for love or money – were unavoidably detained in harbour. It seems remarkable that in such a place as Auckland a sufficient supply of fuel cannot be obtained to enable the Thames boats to keep working.
The Lady Bowen has been chartered to leave Shortland for Manaia today and will consequently not return to Auckland before next Thursday.
At Tuwhitu the stranded passengers and captain of the Tay leave for Auckland in Mr Baker’s open boat.
The Tay’s exhausted passengers and crew arrive in Auckland in an open boat after nearly 12 hours and a heavy pull with intermittent use of sails.
The North Otago Times observes that the accounts from the Thames goldfield "give almost fabulous news of the extraordinary richness of the finds, and if half that we read be reliable, we should say that the hundreds of diggers now rushing to Queensland would do better by turning their steps Aucklandwards. In going to Queensland they will probably 'go farther and fare worse.'"
Rain sets in at the Thames today.
The cutter Tickler, which capsized on Sunday morning, is lying with her masthead barely out of the water as the Enterprise leaves the Thames today. She remains a dangerous impediment in the passage of steamers, especially at night – no attempt has been made to warn captains of steamers of the danger by placing a light on the mast.
At the Police Court, Auckland, Thomas Hall is charged with having, on 27 July, taken from the Auckland Hotel, one pair of elastic sided boots, a box of collars and a cap, value £1. The prisoner pleads guilty and says he is very sorry. He came to New Zealand in the Strathallen from London to Wanganui and was now a digger at Shortland. He is sentenced to four months imprisonment with hard labour.
A theatre is planned for Tookey’s Flat and tenders are already issued for building a new one at the back of Butt’s Hotel.
A reef is discovered near Tararu Point and several claims are pegged out. The Pioneer, the name of the first claim taken up there, strikes gold.
The Aquila sails today for Tairua to load with timber for the Thames.
|NZH 28 July, 1868|
The schooner Aspasia arrives at the Thames with a cargo of sawn timber from Whangapoua.
A meeting is held at Mulligan’s Governor Bowen Hotel, Tookey’s Flat, for those interested in getting up races to celebrate the first anniversary of the Thames diggings. There are not many present. Robert Graham is voted chairman and says that he is very sorry to see so few present, the meeting has been advertised twice in the Thames Advertiser and he fully expected to see a larger attendance. A committee is to be appointed to draw up a programme of the races and another meeting is to be held in the same place at 4pm tomorrow for the purpose of electing stewards and office bearers. Subscription lists are to be prepared and distributed to various parts of the diggings. It is proposed to hold the races on Tararu Flat - this will be a capital spot as the ground is in fair condition and the hills at the back will afford spectators a fine view of the sports. The Daily Southern Cross correspondent writes “It is to be hoped that people here will bestir themselves to do their best to make these races a success. As this is the first anniversary of the diggings, it should be in every respect worthy of the place and everybody should feel more or less interested as a result.”
Around noon Isabella Turner, living in a tent at the Digger’s Camp, Shortland, with her husband William and their son, William junior, aged two years nine months, gives the child a piece of bread which he has asked for. He then toddles off in the direction of the bush, towards the hill. She calls him back and he turns round. She watches him coming home and once he has safely crossed the creek she thinks he is all right and will be back soon. Quarter of an hour after calling him he is not back and she goes out to look for him but he has vanished. Charles Hodson, miner at the Digger’s Camp, lives about 50 yards from Mrs Turner’s tent. He had seen William pass the opening of his tent and asked him where he was going. Charles tells Isabella he has just seen William junior and he can't be far away. A search is got up.
The schooner Huntress discharges her cargo of much needed coal at the Thames and is then towed out by the Enterprise. She proceeds to the Bay of Islands to reload.
Charles Hodson has been to town and has returned to discover the child Turner has not been found. He joins the search. Small footprints are seen within two feet of the edge of a waterhole which is about 30 yards from the Turner’s tent. Charles gets a long pole and makes a grapnel with some spikes and a line and drags the hole. The hole is about 33 or 34 feet deep and full of water. The men who try the hole fancy they can feel something but the grapnel is not strong enough. The search continues all through the night with only two hours rest being taken.
|DSC 28 July, 1868|The search for little William Turner continues. A proper grapnel is procured. William Ashby, miner, who lives on the Star of Auckland claim in Madman’s Gully, has called round at Mrs Turner's and hears she has lost her boy. He has an impression that the boy has fallen in the open shaft and decides to drag it. He gets a rope and a hook and brings up the child’s body about 12 noon. He sends for the father, who is out searching, and carries the body to the tent of his parents, then goes with the father to the police station.
A Thames goldfields anniversary meeting is held at the Governor Bowen hotel. Robert Graham is again voted to the chair. In a very pithy and appropriate speech he explains the origins of horse racing and his belief that the Thames' first anniversary will prove eminently successful. He alludes to his connections with the racing movement in Auckland for the previous 20 years and is delighted to see so much interest now displayed in the anniversary preparations. He is confident they will be able to gather ample funds. The business of electing stewards and office bearers is proceeded with. A well arranged programme is drawn up, containing five events for each day. Subscription lists are handed to the newly elected stewards. It is hoped the public will contribute towards celebrating in the good old English style, the first anniversary of the goldfield. All future management now rests with the stewards.
The Presbyterians of the Thames meet in the church at Shortland this evening to elect a preacher. The Reverend J A Taylor of Hamilton presides. The Reverend Messrs Hill and Bruce, and the Reverend Dr Wallis are proposed. Scotsman Reverend Mr James Hill is duly chosen. Although suffering from ill health, Reverend Hill accepts the call. From Mr Hill’s ability as a preacher and general popularity there can be no doubt there will soon be a flourishing congregation of Presbyterians at the Thames.
|Reverend James Hill.|
NZ Electronic Text Collection
A benefit is given at Shoptland's American Theatre this evening in aid of the funds for a hospital at the Thames. The house is crowded to excess. 'Othello' was to have been performed but owing to the difficulty experienced in procuring suitable scenery another programme is substituted which proves a very attractive one. The first piece is the musical comediatta ‘The Waterman’ followed by a piece called ‘Snapping Turtles’. Mr and Mrs Hall act with their usual ability and the other characters are carried off most effectually. The result of the benefit is highly gratifying; the sum collected amounting to between £40 and £50, which will be handed over to the hospital trustees.
DSC 29 July, 1868
© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.
16 July to 22 July, 1868
The returning tide.
Thursday, 16 July
The lack of machinery available for crushing sees operations cease and and claims start applying for protection. At Tapu the Summer Hill claim has stopped work and the Homeward Bound at the Thames applies for protection.
John Aicken’s new amalgamating process with an alternative way of saving the very finest quality gold is demonstrated for the NZ Herald today. Some new method is needed by which the finest particles of gold, frequently found in Thames quartz, can be secured. Instances are known where stone has been submitted to the ordinary methods of stampers and ripple tables, and the result has been so trifling as not even to pay expenses of crushing. Dr Aicken’s system entirely does away with the ripple boards and substitutes in their place a series of mills by which every particle of crushed material is made to pass over a bright face of quicksilver, thus nothing can escape. A rough working model has been constructed, and Dr Aicken kindly puts the machine in motion, explaining the whole affair in detail. Messrs Fraser and Tinne are also about to construct a working machine which in a few weeks will be open for inspection. It will be built for an enterprising gentleman who is very optimistic as to the results of the inventions and who has ordered it for his battery on the Karaka Creek.
The newly invented machine of Mr James Dalton, which was demonstrated on 7 July, is now exciting a good deal of interest at the diggings. There is scepticism, however, as to the motive power - it is believed that it will be utterly impossible for one man to put sufficient force in motion to turn a two stamper machine which will crush one ton of quartz a day.
The Daily Southern Cross correspondent writes in despair from the Thames that in travelling in any direction in Shortland a slough of mud is everywhere met with. “It is,” he says “absolutely painful to see a team of strong, heavy horses pulling at a small dray load, which has got bogged in one of the many holes in Pollen Street.”
Mr Diddams commences active operations in collecting the poll tax, and over £20 is collected today. The collectors find the people on who they make their polite calls extremely tractable and only one or two refractory taxpayers have objected.
Mr P O’Neill writes to the Thames Advertiser “As an old reefer from Victoria, lately arrived here, I was really surprised at the extent of the gold country opened up by the enterprise of the miners and particularly at the small amount of capital invested by capitalists on this field, where there is such a splendid chance for investment . . . I was really astonished at seeing so many golden leaders in several of the claims up the Waiotahi Creek, particularly the Great Republic and Golden City claims . . . as machinery is very scarce and not up to the requirements of the goldfield, the sooner we have some Melbourne speculators here to see this place for themselves, the better it will be for all parties. I shall do all I can to bring some of them over, and I have been requested by several of them to give my opinion of the country.”
At Samuel Cochrane, Auctioneers, rooms in Fort Street, Auckland, a meeting is held for those interested in the opening of a stock exchange. There is considerable attendance from brokers and others involved in share transactions.
The funeral for Walter Wilson leaves Mr Riding’s Auction Mart, Queen Street, Auckland. Mourners include fellow solicitors and Police Commissioner Naughton.
Mr Waddell gives an exhibition of his magic lantern at the Wellesley Street school room, Auckland, this evening in aid of the funds of the City Mission Sunday School. The series of dissolving views embraces many very interesting illustrations of the scenery of the Thames and other parts of the country, as well as other amusing and instructive subjects. Messer’s Howden and Cousins give a musical accompaniment to the exhibition with the piano and concertina, and the crowded room testifies to the pleasure derived from the entertainment by the frequent applause which follows the recognition of some of the more familiar scenes exhibited.
A Thames goldfields anniversary meeting is held at Butt’s Hotel tonight but comes to nothing, the meeting not being well attended.
Friday, 17 July
The Daily Southern Cross correspondent slogs up the Moanataiari Creek to see the new camp situated at Punga Flat. The road is exceedingly soft and anything but inviting. The camp is located in a very picturesque spot and is the centre of several rich claims, such as the Nil Desperandum, Star of Ballarat, Golden Point and the Disputed. There are already several stores there and business seems brisk, judging from the numbers of packhorses he passes heavily laden on the road. The camp is several hundred feet above sea level.
The Young Manukau claim, situated on the Waiotahi Creek, and adjoining the Bachelor’s claim No 1, has been worked by two different parties and after some 70 ft of driving, abandoned. On 10 July it was taken up by six men and yesterday they cut through a mullocky leader and as much as 3 dwts of pure metal was obtained. Today several fine specimens are found and a rush to the place sets in. Where a few days ago plenty of spare ground was to be had now there is not a foot that is not pegged off. It is the opinion of several parties that the celebrated Manukau leader runs through this claim.
|The paddle steamer Bluenose on the Waikato River|
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-3800'
Families are now continually leaving Hamilton by the ps Bluenose every Friday for the Thames goldfield. The high rate of living and scarcity of labour are the cause of this exodus.
The Westport Times and Charleston Argus both publish warnings to those from the South thinking of going to the Thames goldfield. “By the John Penn we have news from the Thames and other Auckland goldfields. A large number of persons have come back in her, preferring the certainty of the West Coast to the rich but rare prizes in that part of the colony. The news varies in no respect from that of some time ago. Many are doing exceedingly well, in fact making fortunes, but for every lucky man of that kind, there are at least 20 that are doing literally nothing. The goldfield is limited, prospecting, excepting at the risk of life, cannot be carried on to any distance, and though provisions are plentiful and reasonable in price, credit is unknown and if the amount necessary for the support of life can't be paid, those lacking it must starve. The wages of labourers are 3 shillings per day, but no large amount of work even at that price is to be had. We have not the smallest desire to cry down these goldfields for their value is immense, but the fact of the returning tide having already set in so soon, should be a warning to those who think of recklessly setting out."
Wahapu for Shortland with 8,000 bricks
Rangatira for Tapu Creek with machinery, ironmongers wares and sundries
|NZH 17 July, 1867|
|Otago Daily Times 17 July, 1868|
"Come and see some women at the Karaka."
Saturday, 18 July
Ernest Braber, a miner living at Shortland, leaves Butt’s Hotel and proceeds down Willoughby Street. After turning the corner of the Bendigo Hotel he walks on 30 or 40 yards and then crosses the road. Immediately opposite Mr Spencer’s, the chemist, he hears some footsteps behind him. A person passes him and says “Come and see some women at the Karaka.” Ernest refuses to go with him. The man then takes him by the sleeve of the coat saying “You ____ fool, come along.” At that moment Ernest hears another person close behind. He attempts to turn round, when the man slips his hand under his coat, draws Ernest’s sheath knife and throws it across the road. At the same time someone else catches hold of Ernest's elbows. While in this position the offender passes his hands into Ernest’s pockets. He feels his purse being drawn out and catches the offender by the wrist. Ernest recognises the man as William Ryan and says “I know you and won’t submit to being robbed in this way.” He struggles to recover his purse and then receives a blow which stuns him. He says to the assailant “You have got my purse; don’t be so cowardly as to strike me now.” Ernest is hit again and, being knocked down, another attempt is made to take his pocket book which luckily he has left at Ford’s. Ryan knows Ernest always carries a pocket book with him. He takes a one pound note and 2 or 3 shillings in silver, as well as a penknife with a broken blade, a wooden pipe, a pocket handkerchief and the sheath knife. They are taken violently and Ernest is in bodily fear. After robbing Ernest Braber, Ryan severely beats him about the head and face and leaves him almost insensible on the road.
The Halcyon lands a large number of passengers at the Thames, amongst them Reverend David Jones, of St Matthews, Auckland, who will hold divine service tomorrow.
Fine weather at the Thames makes a great improvement in the roads so that travelling on foot is much easier.
Around 10am Constable Lipsey is informed of the robbery and assault on Ernest Braber. Lipsey knows the man from Ernest's description. Lipsey searches and finds the offender and two others in Butt’s Hotel. He takes him to the Police Station for Ernest to identify. William Ryan is locked up. Ryan has become notorious, having been twice apprehended and twice discharged through insufficient evidence during the past fortnight. He is now charged with highway robbery with violence.
The Warden’s Court sits today and several cases are disposed of. The bellmen of the Thames are loud in their endeavours to attract notice to the sales of goods in the auction rooms. Great complaints are made as to the inconvenience and delay experienced in obtaining letters at the Shortland Post Office. One small delivery window for such a populous district is totally inadequate and those that chose to wait for their turn have to exercise a very considerable amount of patience. A barrier needs to be placed in front of the delivery window to give everybody a far chance at inquiry for letters.
The Pukehinau claim, Kuranui Range, strike another leader in their ground today, specimens from which surpass anything previously taken out. Shares in this claim have lately been sold very cheap as the party began almost to despair of it. Gold is also struck on the Monarch Claim, Moanataiari Creek, and an excellent sackful of samples sent to Shortland. Mr Swan has for a long time held a share in this claim and was about to dispose of it at a low rate when the auriferous quartz was brought in.
The recent crushing of Tookey’s quartz at Goodall’s battery fully realises the most optimistic expectations. As the gold was not visible in the stone, the yield was not expected to exceed 2 oz per ton, the actual result, however, turned out to be 4 ½ oz, giving 81 oz for the 18 tons of stuff passed through the battery.
At Upper Mahurangi the Daily Southern Cross correspondent writes “For a long time past there has been a total dearth of anything in the shape of news to impart, and even now I can scarcely say why I am writing, unless it be from fear that your readers might think that this district had been entirely deserted for the Thames goldfield."
Beetham, Walker and Co’s Shortland sharemarket report notes that prices continue to advance steadily in those claims returning a dividend, but shares in second and third rate claims hang heavily on hand. There are a large number of these in the market at present, suffering under the impossibility of getting a crushing until fine weather sets in. The locality of a claim is beginning to be taken into consideration and fancy prices have been obtained for shares in claims that have never produced an ounce of gold. A prejudice exists against the Hape and Karaka which can only be removed by satisfactory crushings. This prejudice is unwarranted, for, although not so rich as the Moanataiari or Waiotahi, the quantity of stone produced is generally much greater. Why the Collarbone has fallen into disrepute with the speculators is a puzzle as there is more than one very rich claim in the valley. The Shellback, too, is only now emerging from the cloud that has obscured it for three months past, and in the long-despised Tararu valley the British Empire claim has struck rich leaders during the past week.
The Karaka creek, has until very lately borne a bad a name among the mining community at the Thames, but is now advancing rapidly in public estimation since it has had a fair trial. For a long time the Karaka was entirely neglected then a few miners went to work on it, but not striking gold immediately, quit it in disgust. Subsequent trials, however, gave good yields of gold to several parties. People threw aside the old prejudices and entered the creek in hundreds and now it is pegged on both banks for miles, indeed the ground is taken up as far as the Lucky Hit, with the exception here and there an abandoned claim. Many of the claims are turning out remarkably well, although there are many blanks. The gold, though not so much in quantity, is far superior in quality to that found at any other part of the Thames.
Mr O’Keefe’s report notes that the small return of gold is a thing often spoken of but no one who passes a few days upon the ranges returns without a full conviction that the day is fast approaching when the results of the vast labour expended upon the Thames goldfields will result in a large return of the precious metal. The window of Mr O'Keefe’s office presents a very attractive appearance today from the number of specimens displayed to view. Among the more prominent are some exceedingly rich ones from the Pretty Jane Claim.
Two new steamers destined for the Thames trade go through their trials at Auckland this afternoon. The paddle steamer the Lady Bowenleaves the wharf and steams up and down the harbour for more than an hour in order to test the capabilities of her engine. The weather is very much against her however and she returns to her moorings off the wharf.
The official trial trip of the new paddle steamer the Duke of Edinburgh takes place under the scrutiny of James Stewart, Government Inspector of Steamboats. There has been a strong breeze all morning from the west and it has gradually hauled round to the north and about half past 3 o’clock, the time that the start is made, the wind is about NW, blowing fresh. All possible preparations have been made for a start and the vessel is hanging on by a line off the eastern side of Queen Street wharf. The Duke of Edinburgh was launched some two months ago and is not intended for carrying cargo being fitted fore and aft for the convenience of passengers. The saloon is extremely comfortable and remarkably well lighted; on either side are two tiers of bunks fitted with cushions of American leather. Right aft is the ladies saloon, which is airy, well lighted and well ventilated, and possesses separate conveniences. Its cushions are also of American leather fringed with crimson. The paneling of the saloons, the skylight engine house, and inner sides of the paddle boxes are grained and varnished. The steaming apparatus is arranged so that the vessel can be steered either from the top of the engine house or from right aft on the poop. The pilot on top of the engine house can communicate with the engineer by means of a gong. The number of crew will be about 12. Captain John McDougall, formerly of the transport Alexandraand late of the Enterprise No 1 is master. Captain McDougall is well known and respected for his kindness and urbanity to passengers and for his thoroughly seaman like qualities. The trial trip is considered on the whole most satisfactory and in the course of a few days the Duke of Edinburgh will be laid on for the Thames.
The Halcyon arrives back at Auckland this evening from the Thames with well over 1,000 oz of gold on account of the Bank of New Zealand.
Late this evening news is brought into the Thames that alluvial gold has been discovered at Puriri.
|DSC 18 July, 1868|
|NZH 18 July, 1868|
A manner peculiarly his own.
Sunday, 19 July
People leave the Thames all day today for Puriri.
The Reverend David Jones, of St Matthews, Auckland, holds Divine Service both morning and afternoon in St George’s church at the Thames and delivers two excellent discourses. He was to have preached here last Sunday, but owing to there being no steamer from Auckland on the Saturday was unable to.
Divine Service is also held at Tapu, the Reverend Mr Norrie (Presbyterian) officiating. The reverend gentleman is very much indisposed, having caught a severe cold on the passage down. Many come from a long distance to attend. The services are held in Mr Coombes’ new building, as the weather is very inclement.
A person walking on the Queen Street wharf observes an object floating in the water between the schooner Coquette and the Ivanhoe. The police boat, which is just shoving off from the Watermen’s stairs, is hailed and directed to the spot where a body is found. It is recognised as that of Henry White, 54, a well known contractor, builder and bricklayer who lives in Remuera. The police boat immediately conveys him to the dead house in Official Bay awaiting an inquest tomorrow.
Monday, 20 July
At the Police Court, Thames, before Major Keddell, William Ryan is brought up on a charge of highway robbery with violence. He denies it and says it’s unlikely Ernest Braber could recognise him on a dark winter night. He pleads not guilty and is committed to trial at Auckland Supreme Court.
The Clyde has been laid up at Shortland for some days past for painting and cleaning. It is expected she will resume the Tapu Creek and Shortland trips today.
Raglan, with its population of 19 adult males, now have eight of whom are preparing to migrate to the Thames.
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 5-2745_08'
The Shotover battery commences crushing today with the starting of the Goldfinder. Operations have been delayed several days awaiting the completion of pumping apparatus to supply the engine. Just eleven months ago when this ground was discovered everything was in a state of nature and it was with the utmost difficulty a human being could thread his way through the thick bush to the now famous reef which was impregnated with the precious metal. Now the place is a busy hive of industry, affording profitable employment to no less than 40 persons. Only nine weeks have elapsed from the time the first piece of machinery arrived on the ground, and every portion of it had to be parbuckled up the hill like logs in the bush. The battery is divided into three sets, containing four heads each of revolving stampers, which are considered the most effective now used for crushing purposes. The successful treatment of the tailings has at all times been a matter of the greatest concern in reducing the ore; this difficulty appears to have occupied the attention of William Hunt, and having no belief in existing schemes, he has resolved to treat them in a manner peculiarly his own. It is one, however, based on the soundest of principles. One of the neatest pieces of work on this extensive crushing mill is the kiln for calcining the quartz. It cannot be equaled on the field or excelled on any older goldfield. It is built of bricks, lined with fire bricks and crucible shaped, capable of containing 25 tons of quartz at a batch. The machine has been put up under the personal superintendence of Mr Fraser, and reflects the highest credit on a firm who have turned out a plant perfect in every respect. The cost of the battery, engines, building and kiln will be about £3,000, the owners having spared no expense in securing the most perfect appliances for saving gold. The buildings consist of 24,000 ft of timber and the chimney 16,000 bricks.
Now the whole battery is started but owing to the small supply of water on the ground, it is found that only four out of the 12 head of stampers can be used at once. After crushing for a short time, the amalgam is found to form so fast that the next set of four stampers has to be set going while the boxes of the first set are cleaned out. The three sets of stampers are used alternately, as it is found impossible to keep one set continually going on account of the enormous amount of amalgam which is deposited.
The NZ Herald waxes lyrical over the “pioneer claim of the Thames . . . the machinery at Hunt’s claim was started today and the golden harvest of its fortunate proprietors may be said to have fairly set in . . . Hunts, we need scarcely say, was the beacon light which guided Auckland, the almost foundering ship to a position of safety."
The inquest on Henry White is held at the Royal Hotel, Eden Crescent, Auckland. Henry appeared to the publican of James’s Q.C.E Dining Rooms and Hotel, Victoria Street, to have been drinking, and had got into his head that his son was coming up on the Thames steamer. He may have inadvertently stepped over the wharf, the night being dark and stormy. Three steamers came up between 11 and 12pm from the Thames and that may account for him being at the wharf. The Queen Street wharf is pretty well lighted, but there is a good distance between one lamp and another. There is no security at the sides to prevent falling over. Saturday night was very dark and windy. Since the reduction in the police force there has been no policemen stationed at the landing place on the arrival of the Thames steamers. The verdict is reached that Henry White was found drowned without marks of violence, and that there is no evidence to show how he came by his death. The jury adds a rider that they are of the opinion that with the existing large passenger traffic on the Queen Street wharf, and the frequent arrival at night of steamers conveying passengers from the Thames, it is absolutely necessary in order to prevent loss of life, that a police constable should be continually stationed on the wharf; that the wharf itself should be better lighted, and fitted with side chains, removable as the convenience of the shipping might require. Henry White, who had been in the province about 23 years, was a builder of some of the finest and handsomest buildings in Auckland including Wesley college, Wesleyan chapels in High and Pitt Streets, Messers Thornton, Smith and Frith’s mill, the lunatic asylum, a large portion of the new Post Office and custom house, and the Daily Southern Cross printing office.
The Hawkes Bay Weekly Times sounds a note of caution about the Thames goldfield. They see the recent falling off in the yield of gold, notwithstanding the increase of machinery, as very striking. The yield of gold in ounces, divided by the number of diggers does not fairly represent the share falling to the lot of each man. There are several claims of very rich quality and the bulk of gold yield is produced from these, and does not affect the diggers as a whole. If these claims or any of them suspend operations an immediate effect is produced upon the total yield, but the actual earnings of the main body of diggers per man is not affected and is found to be nothing so tempting as to induce any who are otherwise employed to risk a change. Careful thought should be given by those who may feel unsettled by the bits of news of “great finds” and “rich claims” on the Thames goldfield that from time to time may reach their ears.
A letter to the Thames Advertiser is slightly more optimistic “....No man shall, in our opinion, come to these diggings with the intention of holding his claim, unless he can afford to “hang out” for several months, as we see there is considerable difficulty in getting quartz to the machines now on the ground. Not that the gold bearing quartz is at all difficult to be got, but the cartage to the machine is too far, and the roads are too bad to take a large quantity at a reasonable expense. The machinery at present on the ground is not capable of crushing in sufficient quantity to meet the requirements of the digging community . . . machines such as are at Clunes and Sandhurst (Bendigo) with powerful engines to drive them and good managers to attend them, are what are wanted here . . .with a few such machines . . . the yield would rival, if not surpass the famous Bendigo quartz mines in richness and permanency. Those claims that are only turning out from one to two ounces to the ton scarcely pay, owing to the enormous charge for crushing . . . It is a pity that more of the Victorian capitalists do not take advantage of this field for investing their money . . .It is astonishing to think that no more have been over here to have a look, considering you are only a few days sail from Melbourne and five hours sail from Auckland, and the reefs are just at the back of the town. None of them can know the natural advantages that these mines have, or they would flock over to make their fortunes at the Thames goldfield in the spring . . .There is nothing in this climate to deter anyone, and in the summer it must be very agreeable . . .Hoping some Victorian will see this letter and be encouraged to benefit by it. J Robertson and J McArthur.”
Messrs Sully and Wardell’s sharemarket report sounds a more postive note. The favourable weather of the last four days has had a good effect on the sharemarket, prices having advanced considerably in promising claims. They draw attention to capitalists to the splendid opening for investment in this auriferous field. Machinery of the first class is now lying idle in Victoria, and would, for a reasonable amount, be placed to great advantage on the Thames goldfield. Until the Thames gets machinery, large amounts of gold cannot be obtained and it is the fact of there being so little exported that keeps the Victorian speculators from this rich district.
Miner’s rights issued at the Thames are now something over 7,500.
Mount Albert for the Thames with hay etc
|NZH 20 July, 1868|
Panning with a frying pan.
Tuesday, 21 July
Great numbers leave for Puriri early this morning on the Maori Chief with her deck well crowded. The scene of the new rush is a small spur near the first creek between the Thames and Puriri. The gold is said to be found in small veins of quartz running through a bed of sandstone. Six hundred men are on the ground and several claims have already been pegged out. The rush is owing partly to some discoveries of alluvial and the result of a crushing of some stuff from the Golden Crown mine there – a few hundred weights recently crushed at Bull’s machine which gave a prospect of 14 oz to the ton. The Golden Crown contains the largest fine blue reef seen anywhere on the Thames and it is without exception one of the best worked claims on the goldfields. Mr Stevenson, who has been prospecting at Puriri for the past week, brought down a handful of mullock and rubble and panned it off with a frying pan. The prospects were a fine wiry gold, from the smallest speck to half an inch long. Some West Coast men are now prospecting for the alluvial on the flat – a track of about four miles of fine country. The great want felt at Puriri is machinery, a supply of stores and accommodation although there are now plenty of vacant whares on the flat and three of the claims are getting berdans and two or three parties are to erect machinery. The ground is taken up for two miles on the main reef.
The Goldfinder, which has continued working through the night, stops crushing and the whole battery is cleaned up. An extraordinary yield of 1,500 ozs of retorted gold is obtained after 16 hours crushing. It is estimated that by the end of the week the proceeds of the crushing will exceed 5,000 oz. It is planned to sink a well to double its depth, in order to ensure a regular supply of water, as it is the want of this valuable element which forms the only drawback, everything else connected with the machinery giving perfect satisfaction.
The fine weather of the past week has made a great improvement to pathways at the Thames; the same cannot be said for the cart roads.
It is intended to extend the tramway now being built from Tookey’s Flat to the Victoria machine, Moanataiari, and from there to Punga Flat. Application has been made for permission, the area to be covered being 2,000 yards. This will prove, when completed, a great boon to the district now springing up at Punga Flat, the difficulty of receiving goods being very considerable. The Alabama claim, taken up only a few weeks ago, have built a comfortable whare and have three drives going.
Thames goldfield Panaroma from top of Punga or Fern tree flat ( Daniel Mundy)
At Auckland the new steamer the Duke of Edinburgh hauls alongside the Queen Street wharf between the second and last Ts to get her final touches before being thoroughly ready for sea and the Thames trade. In getting round from the side of the second T, and just after leaving her moorings, she drifts foul of the wharf, her bowsprit going underneath and jamming her hard and fast for a few minutes but she is soon got clear without any damage.
A rumour sweeps Auckland that George Clarkson has disposed of his share in the Shotover claim for £30,000, to the Kuranui Gold Mining Co. Looking at the immense and unprecedented yield of gold which is confidently expected from the hundreds of tons of quartz and picked specimens, the sum is considered to be not at all improbable.
The Lyttleton Times publishes an extract from a private letter – “Everybody is in high glee about the Thames and if they continue to strike gold as they are doing now, the north will completely outstrip the South this summer."
A gentleman of considerable experience in mining matters in Victoria is now in Wellington enroute for the Thames goldfield. It is his intention to examine and judge for himself and his report will have a decided influence upon the numbers of miners and capitalists in Otago and elsewhere. Diggers are leaving different parts of Victoria in large numbers for Queensland, believing that the mines of that colony are unusually productive. The Thames goldfields are also attracting a large number of miners from Victoria and elsewhere.
Constable Lapin, of the Shortland police, arrives at Auckland from the Thames in charge of William Ryan committed for trial on a charge of having robbed, with violence, the miner Ernest Braber. Ryan was only liberated from the stockade during the present month.
Owing to the arrival during the last three days of a few vessels for the Bay of Islands and from Whangarei, and of small craft from the coast with firewood, the scarcity of fuel, which was becoming serious at the end of the past week, has been to some degree lessened. Both coal and wood are, however, very scarce. There is plenty of wood cut and ready waiting for conveyance to Auckland at the landing places near the several firewood bushes in the country but owing to the special trade created by the Thames goldfield, the smaller coasting craft which usually bring the firewood supplies to Auckland have been employed running to Shortland and Tapu. There is room for a larger number of cutters and schooners than now ply these waters.
The poll tax is causing outrage and prompting indignant letters to newspapers, among them some bordering on hysteria. One to the NZ Herald states “...on returning from my business one evening I was informed by my wife that a person had called for the tax, the nature of which she knew nothing, and said that she was threatened that in the event of its not being paid he (the collector) would put in a distress (the seizure of personal property) at once. Of course this threat had no effect, but it is no manly action to obtain the payment of the tax from the wives in the absence of the husband. In my neighbourhood I am told of Mr Diddams repeating this threat to another woman – was told if he did not make “tracks”, he would have a kettle of boiling water over him and he speedily vanished. Signed WHO”
The adjourned meeting of the committee appointed to receive the tenders for the building of the Karaka Creek Bridge is held this evening at Stephenson’s Royal Hotel, Grahamstown. Tenders are received but it is found that subscriptions are much wanted before the acceptance can be decided on and the meeting is consequently adjourned until Thursday evening, same place, to give time for the consideration of the tenders and collection of subscriptions.
Wednesday, 22 July
A large number of spacious and substantial buildings are in the course of construction at the new township of Grahamstown. A new hotel is about to be built there by Messrs Holmes and Bros, of the North Shore, Auckland, who are the proprietors of the steamer Enterprise, which will eclipse any building of the kind at the Thames and rival in extent and accommodation any hotel in the province. The site chosen comprises four allotments at the corner of Brown Street and fronts the wharf now also being built. On the basement floor there will be a billiard room, sitting, dining and drinking rooms, kitchen sculleries etc, together with two bars, one having a frontage to the beach and counter accommodation. The wine and beer vaults will also occupy the basement and consequently be of easier access. On the upper floor there will be 14 bedrooms and on the floor above 16 bedrooms. The upper storeys will be reached by means of three staircases. There will be a side bar and a dining room fronting the beach and the whole will be finished in the highest style.
Over the past two days 250 miner's rights have been issued at Shortland.
M P Bennett, having heard of more gold being struck at Puriri, visits the ground and finds 400 miners there, some engaged in pegging off claims and others building their whares. At the Prospectors claim he observes half-a-dozen hard working miners. The party have sunk a main shaft to a depth of 40 feet within four weeks, through hard sandstone rock, and have struck rather a rich leader about 12 feet from the first discovered lead. On the new ground is a claim known as the Perseverance. Bennett gets a dishful of stuff from the leader, which he pans off, and the result is around from four to five pennyweights to the dish. The next claim to the Perseverance is known as the Pactolus and is situated on the same line of reef. The men working this claim were the original prospectors of the Puriri district. They are engaged in sinking a main shaft on the boundary between their claim and the Perseverance ground known as the Sluicers. The same party are putting in a drive on the northern boundary of the ground, a distance of 200 feet in length, and about 150 feet below the summit of the hill. They are also busy at another drive on the southern boundary of the ground, a distance of 100 feet, and have come across some mullocky leaders, gold-bearing. The principle topic of conversation and speculation at present among those on the ground is as to who is likely to strike the main lead.
Mr Diddams, poll tax collector, writes indignantly to the NZ Herald - “Sir – whoever your correspondent WHO may be, I unhesitatingly assert that the statements made by him . . . respecting myself, are entirely false from first to last. On the contrary I have been met with the greatest civility from all with whom I have had to do. It is hardly necessary for mischievous persons to render a duty which at any time is unpleasant still more so by scribbling such untruthful statements as those of WHO, who evidently retails the gossip of his neighbourhood. J W Diddams.”
A general feeling of dissatisfaction is observable amongst all classes at the Thames in relation to the poll tax. It is difficult to see how the collectors will set to work about it there. They will have to travel up each creek and it is certain that, if they do not get stuck up by some indignant patriot, they will get stuck in the mud. The expenses attendant upon collecting the tax will equal, if not exceed, the amount of receipts, although the Thames bears the name of rich diggings, the most valuable claims are principally in the hands of a few and by far the greater portion of the population are not in a position to part so readily with 10s a head. They are as a class steady, industrious and persevering, willing and ready to share their last shilling with a hard up mate, but they will certainly demur at paying this tax. It is only the inducement of something lucky turning up that keeps many hanging on and it needs but very little to send them to some other country to seek their fortunes. These people have been and still are heavily taxed; the poll tax will be the last straw breaking the camel’s back.
The fitting up of the Royal Alfred, destined for the Thames trade, at present lying alongside the firewood wharf, Custom House Street, is being rapidly proceeded with and it is expected she will be ready for her trial trip in little under a fortnight. Since her launch on 30 May a great change has taken place in the appearance of this fine steamer. A large number of blacksmiths and carpenters have been employed on her, so that the sound of hammer, either upon wood or iron, is always to be heard in her vicinity, though not always to the delight of the hearer. There are no closed berths as in most of the other steamers running to the Thames but instead a number of raised lounges, consisting of the softest cushions, on which the weary may obtain rest whenever needed. The cabin is circular in form with seats of soft cushions running round, sleeping berths at the rear of the seats, looking glasses and appliances for washing. Being a sacredly private apartment for ladies it will be a great boon to those of the other sex whose necessities or inclinations may take them to the Thames. Between the ladies and the gentlemen’s cabins comes the steward’s pantry, a convenient little box in which will be found every requisite that may be required by the passengers in the shape of beer, wine and spirits. Besides the usual set meals arrangements will made by which the passengers can get a snack at any time. The second cabin is forward and spacious and one feature of this second class arrangement, indeed a very necessary feature – although it appears to have been entirely overlooked in other vessels on this line of trading is, that if a female goes to the Thames by the Royal Alfred, whether she goes as first or second class passenger, she will find in either case there is a ladies cabin for her. The Royal Alfred will be able to carry with ease between 300 and 400 passengers.
The old story of foolish persons giving up at the moment success is before them is exemplified today at the Golden Fountain claim. The Golden Fountain is a piece of ground adjoining the Golden Fleece claim, and consists of a strip of land running north to south along the Kuranui and Mt Eden claims, and comprises six men’s ground. A portion of the ground has been previously prospected and abandoned but newcomers have scarcely been on the ground half a day when they turn out some excellent stone. The ground was only taken up this morning.
The Duke of Edinburgh leaves the Queen Street wharf on her maiden trip to the Thames taking with her a good number of passengers.
It is feared that the cutter Betsey, which has now been absent from the Auckland port for over a month, has met with some mishap. She left Whangapoua on the 5thwith a full cargo of timber for the Thames and was seen outside by the cutter Rose, which has since made two trips to Whangapoua and back. The Betsey has never been heard of since and it is feared she met with some accident during a heavy gale shortly after leaving Whangapoua.
|Whangapoua June 1868 by William Eastwood |
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-C1340'
Nautilus for the Thames with 15,000 ft timber, 4,000 shingles
Whau for Tookey’s Flat with 6,000 bricks
Avon for the Thames with 4,000 ft timber, 5,000 shingles, 50 bags chaff, 50 packages machinery
Spey for Shortland with 5,000 ft timber, 1,600 bricks
Catherine for Shortland with sundries
Julia for Tapu Creek with stores
The Duke of Edinburgharrives off Tararu Point. She then steams up the creek to the landing place at Shortland and discharges her passengers. She goes right up the creek, and alongside Sheehan’s Duke of Edinburgh hotel and is greeted with loud cheers by the crowd assembled on the beach to witness her arrival. Not a single hitch occurred on her passage and all express themselves highly delighted with her capabilities. At Shortland she is much admired; large numbers of people go on board to examine her. She will no doubt prove a favourite with the mining community and the fact of her being able to go up the creek to land her passengers will make her very popular.
|DSC 22 July, 1868|
|NZH 22 July, 1868|
© 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.
9 July to 15 July, 1868
Dispelling the sinister influence.
|Blue quartz|Thursday, 9 July
At Madman’s Gully, a branch of the Moanataiari Valley, a great rush takes place and every inch of available ground is taken up for miles beyond. Several claims in the long neglected Karaka now look promising. The Day Spring claim, Waiotahi, have purchased a second hand engine, formerly used in printing the old New Zealander newspaper. The shareholders, who include a practical mechanic or two, have done the work of construction themselves.
A party of men come on the Marquis of Stafford claim today and peg off afresh. The ground is a claim that has not been properly protected. Proceedings such as these retard the prosperity of the goldfield and such daring acts should be punishable by law. It is hoped the Warden will see justice done in this case and show these parties that they cannot prowl about the diggings seeking whom they may devour.
Beetham, Walker and Co’s report on the Shortland sharemarket notes that the unsettled and occasionally tempestuous weather of the past week has failed to produce its usual deadening effect on business. A larger number of shares have changed hands than during any previous week in the history of the Thames goldfield. Foreign capital begins to flow steadily into the place and Auckland speculators whose caution kept them watching but waiting are unloosening their purse strings. Little business, however, except that of a speculative character has been transacted, the weather having been too unfavourable and the roads too deep in mud to create a desire to roam the hills in quest of hidden treasure in undeveloped ground.
A box of specimens of amazing richness has been sent to Sydney by Beetham, Walker and Co for public inspection. The specimens have been selected from the Dawn of Hope, Sweeney’s, Little Angel, Deep Lead, Hokitika, Nil Desperandum, Manukau, Williams, Kuranui and Co and other first class claims. This is a somewhat smaller collection than was sent to Melbourne about a month ago and which were procured from the Harp of Erin, Bendigo Independent, El Dorado, Tookey’s, Star of the North, Quinn and Cashell’s and others. Beetham’s believes that the public exhibition of specimens known to be from different localities of the goldfield will have more effect in dispelling the sinister influence of the bad memories of the failure of Coromandel goldmining than volumes of reports.
Now that the Native Lands Court hearings have concluded Maori prepare to disperse from the Thames. Before the Ngatipaoa, who live at Taupo, Waiheke and other places in Hauraki, leave Chief Taipari calls them together at the Shortland hotel to express the satisfaction of his tribe and others in the Hauraki felt towards them in consequence of their loyalty to the Queen. The proceedings commence with two of the younger chiefs handing round refreshments to the guests, who are a mixed lot of men, women and children, after which Taipari addresses the gathering. Mr Swan, who is present, is asked if he would use his influence to have some Maori prisoners in the stockade released. They feel their fellows are unjustly confined, although in life they are dead to their friends. Mr Swan says when he goes to Wellington, on behalf of the prisoners, he will do his best to have them liberated. Taipari is exceedingly generous in his hospitality. Only one individual has to be removed.
A meeting is announced to take steps towards celebrating the first anniversary of the Thames goldfield in a becoming manner, to be held at Butt’s Theatre, at 2pm, on Saturday afternoon.
The New South Wales temporary branch bank is opened for the transaction of business at the corner of Pollen and Richmond Streets, pending completion of their new premises.
The John Penn arrives at the new government wharf, Auckland, having experienced adverse winds throughout the voyage. She brings over 70 passengers, principally diggers from the West Coast for the Thames diggings.
Richard Plantagenet Campbell Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.
In March 1867, he was appointed Secretary of State for the Colonies.
From papers laid on the table of the House of Representatives at Wellington it is noted that Chief Taipari is the sole owner of most of the flourishing township of the Thames goldfield. He derives £4,000 per year from rents and mining licences and has made liberal gifts of sites for churches for the Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians and other Christian communities, also for a hospital, a cemetery, a park and other public purposes. These details come from a letter from his Excellency Sir George Bowen to his Grace the Duke of Buckingham, calling them “rather interesting”. “Taipari employs Europeans to survey and lay out roads and streets, and to construct drains, culverts and the like. In short, he appeared to me, on the one hand as capable of maintaining his just rights, and, on the other, as desirous to improve his property, as any English Landlord . . . He has caused a commodious house, in the English style, to be built for himself on a slope commanding a beautiful prospect over the sea and rising town. Taipari’s example, and the knowledge of the wealth which he is acquiring by allowing the colonists to occupy his land on equitable terms are beginning to exercise a beneficial influence over many of his Maori countrymen who have hitherto lived in sullen and hostile isolation.”
A meeting is held at the Royal Hotel, Waiotahi, regarding the building of a bridge over the Karaka Creek. The meeting is attended by several businessmen but the bad weather prevents a full attendance and the meeting is adjourned. At the Albert Street Congregation Chapel Anniversary Soiree in Auckland a stirring speech is given by the Reverend W Davies on the topic of the early days and the progress of Thames goldfields. “Crossing over to the Hauraki Gulf we should see, perhaps a canoe or two filled with savage warriors bound on some expedition, for plunder or revenge. The notes of the bellbird, or the hoarse cry of the morepork, alone broke the stillness of the forest ravines. Perhaps if they had dropped in unexpectedly into the solitary raupo whare, they might have found a party enjoying a dish . . . and now, in contrast, what would they see? A town of some 10,000 inhabitants – steamers and sailing vessels traversing the waters – vast cuttings and shafts in mountains, and bush felled in all directions . . . The whole aspect of life was rough and its justice was equally rough.” He relates an anecdote told of a reverend gentleman who had been collecting funds among the diggers for building a church. Whilst engaged in this pursuit he was one day suddenly shouldered by his admirers and carried into a hotel where he was made to ‘shout’ for all hands out of the money he had collected. There was no harm intended but it was a rather rough sort of joking. The absence of women, he thinks, is a remarkable feature at the Thames. He believes that no community can be prosperous in the highest sense of the term if women are absent from it. The Reverend J Buller adds a word of warning to many who, he is afraid, are burning their fingers by injudicious speculation at the Thames. He even sometimes fears that there will be a return next year of some of those dismal days through which Auckland has just passed.
At Auckland a fire bell sounds – a small two roomed cottage in Edwin Street is ablaze and within a few minutes totally destroyed. The owner of the house is Mrs Walker, a widow, whose two sons are away at the Thames. The cottage is the property of one son and she and her daughter resided there. Mrs Walker, finding the house lonely, moved about 10 days ago to lodge at the house of Mr Hunt, shoemaker, about 100 yards away. Mrs Walker had visited the house earlier today to retrieve some articles, locked the door and took away the key. No reason can be seen for the origin of the fire and two cottages on either side of the house escape the blaze.
The incongruously named Lovers’ Walk on the Collarbone Range exasperates the Daily Southern Cross correspondent when he passes through it on his way to some of the principal claims up the Waiotahi. A worse track cannot be imagined, he thinks. The negligence in making some passable tracks is very bad policy on the part of the shareholders in these very rich claims. Speculators will not risk themselves along the road, much less think of getting machinery up, which is greatly needed at this creek.
At the Lucky Hit claim in Tradesman’s Gully, beyond Nolan’s, some rich specimens of blue quartz are taken out of the main leader. This claim has been worked five months and is ten men’s ground. Some 120 tons are ready for machinery. A considerable amount of work has been expended in facing down the creek, laying down a tramway and timbering drives. Men are now engaged in sawing timber for the five stamper battery which the shareholders are to erect on the spot. The stampers have been ordered from Melbourne. A small hand stamper has been found totally inadequate. A site for a water wheel has been cleared near a good fall of water.
A barmaid at one of the Shortland hotels has a crushing of the specimens given to her from time to time by frequenters of the hotel. The result is £80 worth of gold.
At the Police Court, Auckland, George Rolton, brought up on a warrant from the Thames by Constable McGinn on Thursday, is charged with a breach of the 17th clause of the Destitute Persons Relief Ordinance, by refusing to contribute to the support of his family. A short time ago the defendant was brought before the Bench and ordered to pay £1 per week for the support of his wife and family. He has, however, neglected to do so for the last month. It is now stated that he has paid up all arrears to his wife and he is therefore ordered discharged.
The Poverty Bay district is gradually becoming smaller in respect of population as tradespeople and others either make a start to try their luck at the Thames goldfields or leave the district in disgust.
Catherine for Tookey’s Flat and Shortland with bricks The Midge hauls alongside Auckland's Queen Street wharf. She will not, as anticipated, resume her trade to the Thames today, but the alterations which she has been undergoing will probably be completed on Saturday, so she can sail off on Monday. This evening a lecture is delivered at the new Shortland court house by the Reverend Charles Hyde Brooke, in aid of the funds for St George’s church. Owing to the very unfavourable weather the attendance is limited. The subject chosen is 'Voyages among the North Western Islands of the South Pacific' and is an interesting narrative of the observations of the lecturer during his labours among those islands in connection with the Melanesian Mission. The manners and customs of the natives are discussed and illustrated by diagrams of a fascinating character.
|NZH 10 July, 1868|
An agglomeration of weatherboards.
Great inconvenience is felt at the non arrival of any steamers today. The Halcyon arrived yesterday at Auckland but does not leave again for the Thames until tomorrow.
Two additional steamers are to be placed on the Thames trade. The Duke of Edinburgh gets up steam for the first time today and progresses round the harbour. Her engines work well and her official trial trip will take place during the week. The Lady Bowen is the other steamer. At the Resident Magistrates court before Major Keddell, Archibald Campbell, John E Spence and Ernest Baber are each fined 20s, or in default ordered to undergo 48 hours imprisonment with hard labour, for drunkenness. James Ryan is charged with stealing a hat, value 9s, the property of Frederick Pym, of Tapu, on 3 July. The case is dismissed. George Roberts pleads guilty to stealing on the 5th, one pair of trousers, value 15s, the property of John Shaw. A previous conviction is disposed of and he is sentenced to three months imprisonment with hard labour. Business transactions at the Thames have picked up briskly during the week, a large number have changed hands showing marked confidence in the stability and richness of the field. Interest amounting on value to nearly £1,000 sterling have changed hands almost daily for the past fortnight and share brokers are reaping a rich harvest of commissions on these accounts. Inquiries are constantly being received from Australia and elsewhere respecting the real state of mining matters on the Thames field. The Commercial Report states that at C Arthur and sons, Auckland, there are good stocks of potatoes, cheese, bacon, ham, onions, butter, soap, oats and colonial ale. There is a great demand for fowls, but only a few young ones are in stock. A bet of £100 a side is entered into between two well known gentlemen of Auckland that the yield from the Shotover claim will prove to be ten thousand ounces at the expiration of one month from the commencement of the operations of their machine, the Goldfinder. The machine will commence crushing on Monday 13 July. A letter from a digger is published in the Wellington Independent – “It is reported that three vessels are about to leave Sydney for the Thames goldfield, similar reports have been received from Melbourne. The rate of living is from 8s to 10s per week, There is at present comparatively little doing on the Thames goldfield owing to the impossibility of getting the quartz to the machines, for all the roads and tracks are knee deep in mud. The quantity of quartz stacked is enormous. Some apprehension is being felt of insufficiency of water when summer comes. The kauri forest has been destroyed in the ranges. Kauri ranges and the necessity of letting off the water from the claims is likely to cause immense waste.” The Taranaki Herald also publishes an extract of a letter, from James Butterworth, of Taranaki “This town of Shortland has the aspect common to all digging townships at new rushes – on paper it has compactness and symmetry – in reality, however it looks but an agglomeration of weather boards, hastily run up and save but in a few instances in the principal streets, none of the buildings have a very pretentious appearance, or owe much to the decorative ability of the builder or the house painter . . . from the water it has a picturesque appearance . . . the discovery of this goldfield has proved a boon indeed to the Auckland people – hither have flocked all classes of its population, who have amongst themselves an intensely clannish feeling, very discouraging to those who came from other parts of the colony . . . the necessaries of life are cheap, and imported goods are 25 per cent cheaper than in Taranaki. The demand for labour is not so great - many claims being idle. As to government works, such as roads and bridges, nothing has been done . . . expectations are centred on the coming spring. I hesitate to advise any to follow my example, suffice it to say, however, that he who has a little money, much energy and can stand up to hard work, might do worse than venture here . . .” On the Wellington wharf large quantities of machinery for quartz crushing, imported from Melbourne, are waiting for transhipment to Auckland. The principal machine has been sent to the order of the Thames Quartz Crushing Company. About 60 diggers arrive in the Manukau by the Ahuriri today and more are expected immediately in the Airedale and Wellington. A good many of those who arrive in theAhuriri are from Otago. They came from Dunedin to Wellington in the Lady Bird and were then transhipped to the Stormbird which brought them on to Whanganui, where they went on board theAhuriri. Diggers coming up from Otago show that a widespread interest is beginning to be felt in the Thames goldfield, which will ultimately lead to numbers of them coming from every part of the Australian colonies.
Rosina for Shortland with 6,000 bricks etc
Rangatira for Tapu Creek with 2,500 bricks, 12,000 shingles and sundry stores
Whau for Tookey’s Flat with 2,000 bricks A public meeting is held at Butt’s Theatre this afternoon to discuss the celebration of the first anniversary of the Thames goldfield. Captain Butt is called to the chair. There is a moderate attendance of miners. Dr Merrett says he thinks it desirable that some steps should be taken to celebrate the anniversary. If it had not been for the pluck of those around him, there would be no goldfield. He feels convinced that if Ohinemuri was opened no country in the world would excel the Thames as a diggings. A committee is appointed to arrange the details of the celebration. At Butt’s American Theatre tonight the house is crowded to excess. A number of men are standing on the portico over the door, including William Robertson, who starts a fight. Several men jump down to make room. William is knocked down and then struck as he stays down. He appears anxious to discontinue the fight while his antagonist is struggling in the arms of bystanders trying to reach his opponent. William then jumps down from the portico and the audience cries out “Ring.” The parties then start to fight again close to where Major Keddell, JP, happens to be standing. There are no constables to be seen so Major Keddell takes hold of one of the combatants. There is great confusion and considerable excitement. Parts of the fittings of the theatre are broken down. Almost immediately Constable Bond appears and comes to Keddell’s assistance and removes William. As soon as they get clear of the crowd, William, who appears sober, says, “I will go home quietly with you.” Major Keddell afterwards bails the prisoner. The cause of the row is attributed to a large mob of diggers who have come back from Puriri after a long absence.
|DSC 11 July, 1868|
|NZH 11 July, 1868|
|Otago Daily Times 11 July, 1868|
Tapu people will mob him.
At Tapu the Reverend J Atkin, of the Church of England, who arrived by the Halcyon yesterday afternoon, holds divine service. Although he was not expected, there are large and attentive congregations, both in the morning and evening. Both services are conducted in the open air, under the large pohutakawa at the end of the flat.
The steamer Halcyon is chartered by William Hunt of the Shotover today in the absence of any steamers proceeding to the Thames. Mr Hunt wants to be present at an extensive crushing which is to commence at 12 tomorrow, of quartz from his claim. Considerable interest is manifested in the result, when the yield during the next 12 months is anticipated to amount to 15 cwt of gold, of the approx value of £57,480.
Mr Walter Monro Wilson, Auckland Solicitor and author of Practical Statutes of New Zealand, is in a terribly distressed state at Tapu. He arrived there from Shortland, where he and his friend John O’Donnell, of Great Barrier, have spent the past two days looking into some mining interests of O’Donnell’s. They have since looked over some claims at Tapu. Suddenly today Walter begins repeatedly saying to Mr O’Donnell that he is tormented with the idea that the Tapu people will mob him and that Mr O’Donnell is behind it all. Nothing that can be said or done will relieve him of this strange fancy. He wants to get a boat and start for Auckland at once, although it is blowing half a gale of wind and is bitterly cold. He has been horrified at the thought of staying at Tapu until today although nothing whatever of an unpleasant nature has happened to him since his arrival. He steadfastly refuses to listen to his friend’s entreaties to return to the hotel for tea. Night has now set in and they are on the spit which is formed by Tapu Creek and the bay in front of Sceats' Hotel. At 8.30pm John O’Donnell returns to the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel for his tea but soon becomes uneasy, as Walter does not follow him as he had expected. Mr Steadman, publican, asks him where his friend is and he replies he is on the beach and will not come. Mr Steadman says he doesn’t think it is safe to leave Walter alone; he doesn’t seem in his right mind.
John O’Donnell starts off for the spit with a miner named Henry Whelan and they find Walter lying on the beach. He starts up when he sees them and appears to be sick. After much cajoling during which Walter goes into the water a couple of times, O’Donnell tells Whelan to watch him while he goes to fetch Mr Sceats, who is personally acquainted with Walter. Returning with Mr Sceats they discover Whelan has lost Walter. Whelan is afraid to follow him for fear that he would go further into the water. He did not like to go near him as Walter said he was afraid of strangers.
They search the beach and go to the Duke of Edinburgh hotel thinking he has perhaps gone back of his own accord but he is not there. They are immediately joined by several others in the search. They go back to where they left Walter and also cross the creek thinking he may have gone across. At 9.15 they hear a shout from another party and learn they have discovered Walter, cold and apparently lifeless. The water is not more than about 9” deep, and the tide is coming in. Means are immediately used to restore life, but failing to have any effect, the body as carried face downwards to Mr A Caddil’s Exchange Hotel and laid in front of a large fire. Every known means of restoring life is put into practice and continued most energetically for the space of an hour, but without effect. Mr Clayton, dispensing chemist, and Mr Pond, formerly of Dr Fischer’s establishment in Auckland, are praised for the zeal and skill with which endeavour to resuscitate Walter.
A messenger leaves for Shortland from Tapu this morning to report the death of Walter Wilson to the authorities.
The anticipated crushing of the Shotover's Goldfinder battery is thwarted as a necessary appliance has been inadvertently neglected - the pumping apparatus to supply the engine needs to be completed. The crushing will now not commence until Monday next, 20th.
The last few days of fine weather have improved the roads and augmented the supply of quartz to the various machines. Grahams, Waiotahi, and Scanlan and parties, Karaka, are again started today, after being idle for some time.
The number of miner's rights issued for the Thames goldfield to date is no less than 7580.
Warden Baillie leaves Shortland this morning for Tapu to hold an inquest on Mr Wilson. A new leader is discovered at McIssac’s (the Tapu Goldmining Co). Several rich specimens are got out in a few minutes. The schooner Success arrives at Auckland from Lyttleton with 494 bags of wheat, 130 bags of flour and 26 diggers for the Thames. Another 120 or so arrive by the ss Airedale and the ss Wellington. Another batch may be expected in a few days by the ss John Penn. The influx of diggers from the southern ports and more especially from the West Coast does not in any degree diminish. Scarcely from Napier does a steamer arrive without an accession of from 12 to 30 souls to the mining population of the Thames goldfield. The Lady Bowen makes a short trial trip down the harbour today, but the expectations that were entertained as to her steaming qualities are not realised. Robert Kelly alias McKenna is apprehended at Shortland. He escaped from the Mt Eden stockade in March and made his way to the Thames where he has stayed undetected until now. At the Resident Magistrates Court, Shortland, William Robertson is charged with unlawfully causing a breach of the peace on Saturday night at the American Theatre, Butt’s Hotel. He pleads not guilty. Constable Bond says the police force at present is totally inadequate to preserve law and order in such a populous place. His Worship orders the prisoner be discharged and observes that he will suggest to the government as soon as possible that a proper police force be arranged for the Thames. Philip Patten, James Weld, Henry Martin, Joseph Williams and Michael Sheehan are severally brought up before the Bench and charged with drunkenness. They are fined 10s and costs each, or in default, suffer 24 hours imprisonment.
D J O’Keefe’s Shortland stock exchange report notes that the Thames goldfield continues to attract the attention of the moneyed interests of the colony. A few representatives acting for Melbourne and Sydney mercantile houses have been visiting the Thames. There is a demand for allotments of land and some of the best properties on the Thames are now available to purchasers. Tapu is a fine field for mining enterprise and fair speculating. The Tapu creek is a wonderful rapid stream running nearly east to west for some 20 miles, and would give employment to a considerable number for puddling purposes, The Mata Creek, distant about two miles from Tapu, is available for similar work and as larger tracts of surface ground are known to be auriferous in the Tapu district, this class of mining could be carried on cheaply either by tub and cradle, long tom or the well-known puddling machine and ultimately steam puddling machinery might be applied. The want for crushing machinery is a great drawback to the immediate prosperity of Tapu and many claims in consequence are commanding low prices.
At Kennedy’s Bay one of the southern creeks is being washed up to the mountains by five separate parties, and Mr McDonald brings 5cwt of quartz from there to Shortland to be tested. Prospecting has been satisfactory at Mercury Bay and the gold is said to be of a superior quality to that obtained at Kennedy’s Bay. Prospecting is also going on at Wairoa and though nothing has yet been found of a payable character, optimistic expectations are entertained in respect to that place, a great many auriferous specimens having been discovered. News is anxiously looked forward to from the Wairoa regarding the alleged recent gold discovery there. The declaration of the poll for the electoral district of Franklin takes place at the Toll House, Panmure Bridge. The numbers for Mr Swan are 619, and Mr Buckland 548, the majority for Swan is 71. Mr Buckland is a sore loser – he complains about how the election was carried out at various places. He is disappointed with the result of the election. He insinuates polling at Shortland was obstructed and that polling was closed 15 minutes before it should have been at Newmarket. Despite evidence to the contrary, the Evening Post pours cold water all over the alleged success of the Thames diggings. “A telegram has been received this morning to the effect that the ss Wellington had left Hokitika for Auckland, and from the small number of passengers she carried, stated to be only 14, the extensive migration from the West Coast to the Thames has not taken place. The distance from Wellington to Hokitika is some 300 miles and from thence some 700 miles. In noticing this subject we are given to understand that the last official return from the Thames and Auckland only gave 1500 oz received during the preceding fortnight. These dry hard facts and figures certainly would not justify a general or even considerable move from the West Coast to the north as yet.” A meeting is held this evening at Stephenson’s Royal Hotel, Waiotahi, to discuss the building of a bridge over the Karaka Creek on the beach road from Shortland to Waiotahi. There is a good attendance of business people. A request will be made to the Warden for advice and assistance in making the bridge and improvements in the beach line of road from Shortland to Tookey’s Flat. A committee is appointed to collect subscriptions and it is agreed to advertise for plans and tenders.
|DSC 13 July, 1868|
|NZH 13 July, 1868|
Never saw gold lying so thick.
At Tapu this morning the inquest of Walter Wilson is held before Alan Baillie and a jury of miners and storekeepers. Mr O’Donnell says when they left Auckland Walter was perfectly sober and in his right mind and he had had little to drink since being on the diggings. A verdict is returned that the deceased died from apoplexy and a rush of blood to the head. Walter was a married man who had been in the colony about 18 months to two years and was aged about 30.
The recent rush to Tapu has turned out bona fide, the ground being unusually rich, and a large number of claims marked out. There is a rich mullocky leader, which lies NE by SW in a direct line with McIssac’s. Large numbers of people, including several Auckland capitalists, have visited the ground and all express their surprise at the rich find. Old West Coast diggers say that in all their experience they never saw gold lying so thick. A small sample has been taken to Shortland and another sent to the Bank of New Zealand, Auckland, to be tested.
Mr D J O’Keefe takes his collection of specimens to the NZ Herald office. The specimens altogether weigh 60 or 70 pounds and were taken from a variety of claims extending over an area of five square miles. These specimens afford a valuable history of the Thames reefing claims. They comprise every variety of stone, from the mullocky leader to the hard blue and white quartz of the Dawn of Hope claim. Each stone is labelled with the name of the claim it comes from. The Herald says “ It is gratifying to us as journalists, independently of the fact that our interests are, in common with those of all Auckland men, bound up in the prosperity of the Thames, that this goldfield shall have verified the expectations which we formed of it from the first and which when others attempted to pooh pooh them, we consistently, through good report and through evil report, adhered to . . . The Thames, before another year has passed will come to be acknowledged as the most extensive and richest goldfield ever yet discovered in the world. And as to the area of the field, for sometime after it was opened the miners, then of course much fewer in number, kept to the coast as nearly as they could, . . . parties are now working 11 miles back from the Hauraki Gulf coast, and finding still the same rich prospects as were found nearer the coast.” The men working in the Edgecombe claim are on a very rich golden leader and today take out some of the richest stone seen on the Thames.
A party of West Coast diggers report that another party have returned to Shortland from prospecting in the interior 45 miles up and that they have discovered some rich beds of alluvial gold, They were, however, driven back by the Maori, and unable to continue their search. They speak well of the country and predict a bright field for future operations.
Major Heaphy asks the Colonial Secretary in the House of Representatives today whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce to this session any bill to provide for the representation in the House of the Thames goldfield. He says that there is at present on the field a very large population. In previous instances when the population of a gold district became large, the government extended representation to them. The Hon Mr Stafford says the government has not in contemplation such a bill. It should be borne in mind that, when representation was given to Westland and other goldfields, the population at those places amounted in each case to 30,000 or thereabouts. There is no such increase of population on the Thames goldfield, although it was likely to increase. Another consideration should be borne in mind, namely, that the Thames population is rather the removal of people from one part of the province of Auckland to another. If a great number of people came to those goldfields from Victoria or other colonies, then it would be incumbent upon the government to provide for the representation of such a population. Major Heaphy also inquires whether it is the intention of the government to equalise the gold duty raised in the colony. The gold of the Middle Island is worth £3 17s an ounce, and the gold found on the Thames is worth only £2 16s, but they both pay a duty of 2 shillings and sixpence. Mr Stafford admits the hardship and promises that something should be done to alleviate it. Avon for the Thames with sundries
This afternoon at Auckland a man named Thomas Jones is apprehended by Detective Ternahan on a charge of stealing a bundle of clothing, value about £2, from the Kensington Boarding House in Wakefield Street. It seems that Jones was stopping at the house and the bundle of clothes belonged to a young man who went down to the Thames and who left it in charge of Mrs Catherine Rogan in Barrack Street. Mrs Rogan being about to join her husband at the Thames, left the bundle at Kensington House from where it was taken. Jones was suspected and watched by a little girl belonging to the house until he was apprehended.
Mr Mulligan, the proprietor of the Governor Bowen Hotel, Thames, gives an entertainment to a number of gentlemen on the occasion of placing the first rafter on the large extension of the hotel made towards Pollen Street. Champagne is freely distributed and the success of the undertaking is drunk with cheers. This hotel is the largest and most commodious yet built in the district, the extreme length being 170 ft with a breadth of 50 ft, containing large public rooms and the accessories of a first class hotel.
Otago Daily Times 14 July, 1868
|DSC 14 July, 1868|
The Enterprise arrives in Auckland this morning from the Thames and brings among the other passengers the convict Robert Kelly alias McKenna, who escaped from the stockade on 25 March and then hid out at the Thames. He has been sent back to the stockade along with two other prisoners convicted at Shortland and also brought up by the Enterprise in charge of Sergeant Lipsey and Constable Bond. George Roberts is charged with stealing a pair of trousers, value £1 10 s, from Robert Shaw of Shortland and sentenced to three months hard labour, and Henry Barker, charged with stealing a hat, value 10 s, from Abraham Levy, Shortland, and clothing from Bernard Levy, Shortland, is sentenced to four months hard labour. Alexander Andrews, a lunatic, is also brought up and is sent to the asylum, being found to be of unsound mind on the evidence of Drs Sam and Lethbridge. Robert Kelly is sentenced to eight months at the expiration of his former sentence which was two years imprisonment.
The Midge today resumes her trade between Auckland and the Thames.
The Daily Southern Cross correspondent visits the Shotover claim hoping to see the Goldfinder crushing machinery in operation but is disappointed to find the process temporarily delayed. Messrs Hunt and White very courteously conduct him over the ground and into the drives, and in every stone gold is plainly discernible. In the face of the celebrated rock over which the Kuranui creek fell, where gold was first discovered, a drive has been made. Of the quartz from a leader several sacks of specimens have been selected. One of the sacks is opened and a piece weighing about 30 lb is broken, showing gold thickly throughout, portions of it being gold flakes. It contains 100 oz gold. A remark made by an old Victorian who is present, is that after this, if there was no faith entertained by certain persons in the Thames, they were infidels. Although a notice is posted warning the public that they are not to advance beyond a certain point indicated, the shareholders say they are always happy to show visitors over the ground. A gentleman named Creagh sells a full share for the sum of £1,600 for which claim he had but a few weeks previously paid £25.
A slight rush takes place to Puriri in consequence of the quiet working of a party who have been making wages for some time past by sluicing ground near the Golden Crown claim. Attracted by their success a party of eight today takes up ground below them which they have named the Golden Star. A number of claims averaging from four to eight men’s ground have been pegged off with equal success.
There is also a small rush to some new ground which lies about a mile and a half beyond the Tararu Creek. It has often been tried and pronounced a duffer. An old hand at prospecting had another look and, being satisfied with the appearance of the stone, has some tested by Mr Wilkes, at Mr T A Hicks, in Grey Street. The test is very carefully applied and the result is half a grain of gold to 7 oz of stone. The report having got out, a large number of men go and peg off the ground.
The NZ Herald observes of the growing momentum on the Thames goldfield that it is gradually attracting more and more attention in the other Provinces of New Zealand and also in Australia. There have been many visitors to the Thames, who have gone there not to dig in the hills, but to satisfy their curiosity and to ascertain if it is a bona fide goldfield likely to give profitable employment to a large number of men. One circumstance continues to make those living at a distance sceptical. Stories are related of wonderful yields, of leaders surpassing far in excess anything which the experienced have ever seen on other goldfields, while at the same time the export of gold from Auckland has by no means been large. It is this absence of a large gold export which still makes faith weak and causes men to waver. The Thames goldfield is still viewed with a great amount of suspicion in Sydney and the other colonies, many believing it to be a mere ”duffer” puffed up by interested parties.
Every vessel that now comes from the other Provinces brings diggers and speculators to the Thames. This exodus is not confined to the West Coast goldfields. Otago and Canterbury are also losing numbers who migrate to the Thames goldfield.
Until recently very few experienced reef miners were to be found at the Thames. The number is still exceedingly small. Skill is wanted to work a gold reef, science is wanted to save the gold. Visitors are astonished that claims are so unskillfully worked and that hidden treasures are not discovered to be anything like the extent they could be. Proper slabbing and many other practical works are greatly wanted.
The evils of the present system are great and manifold. One or two loafers or persons of disagreeable habit practically prevent the working of a claim. These men have no ambition to do more than to eat and drink and smoke and are great hindrances to their go ahead and industrious companions. The influence of this class has greatly retarded speculation and prevented the influx of capital to the Thames goldfield. These defects, great as they are, will gradually vanish. Time and experience will doubtless do a good deal to counteract this great evil, and the formation into registered companies will be the first step towards it.
The Lady Bird arrives in Lyttleton with 47 miners en route for the Thames goldfield. The ketch Eagle, from Tahiti and Rarotonga, sails for the Thames today with the balance of her cargo of oranges.
Ringdove for Tookey’s Flat with 15,000 ft timber There is indignation at Tapu over their postal arrangements. It can be scarcely credited that in the year 1868 that a letter posted in one town for transmission to another about 70 miles distant would reach its destination in from seven to nine days, and that too when there is almost daily steam postal communication, yet such is the case between Tapu and Auckland. A person residing there wrote a letter to his wife in Auckland and she got the letter nine days afterwards. She immediately replied to it and her husband received the letter at Tapu nine days later. Another letter was posted in Auckland for Tapu on the 2nd July - it was received in Shortland on the 3rd and in Tapu on the 10th. Men come down from their claims day after day, expecting letters from their wives and families in Auckland and return disappointed; the same thing is enacted over and over in Auckland. The diggers residing at Tapu would feel much obliged to the Chief Postmaster if he would be so good as to remind the public servants that England still expects every man to do his duty.
Mr. William Griffin of the Molly Bawn claim, writes to the Thames Advertiser on the proposed Thames goldfield anniversary “It would be a source of satisfaction to myself, and to the public generally, if the managing committee, when elected, would take advantage of this opportunity for the purpose of disseminating statistical information in reference to our goldfield - namely by getting up data showing the approximate amount of exports and imports during the last year; the number of steamers brought into requisition for the conveyance of passengers and luggage; the number of houses that have been erected and in the course of erection; the amount of timber and its value; the number of machines, and their probable cost, that have been completed, and;in course of erection the number of miner's rights issued, and total amount of gold exported up to the end of the present month. A document such as this would convey valuable information, and tend to create confidence in our goldfield by capitalists and diggers at a distance. It would be also a valuable document for reference and comparison at the end of next July. However, judging from the warm manner in which the matter has been taken up, and the public spirit that is likely to be evoked before the end of the month, I have every reason to hope that much will be accomplished, and the result highly satisfactory to all who give us a helping hand."
Walter Wilson’s body is brought up to Auckland from the Thames this evening in the steamer Halcyon. Mr O’Donnell has charge of the body and accompanies it to town. It is thought better not to take it to Mr Wilson’s residence and it is deposited at Mr H Riding’s mart until the funeral tomorrow afternoon. His death is much regretted, for he was a greatly respected and able man who made the first systematic attempt to collate the statute law of New Zealand.
|NZH 13 July, 1868|
© 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.