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Inquests

Inquests, Coromandel and people who had resided in the area. 


Michael Buchet

7 February 1875, New Zealand Herald, Michael Buchet (Bucket) 

An inquest was held on Saturday afternoon, at the Freeman's Hotel, Freeman's Bay, before Dr.Philson, coroner, and a jury of twelve, of whom Mr. De L'Eau was chosen foreman, upon the body of Michael Buchet, whose remains had been brought to town from the Sandspit on the preceding day. The body having been seen, the following evidence was taken:- 

William Dodgeon, a bushman, deposed that a he resided at the Sandspit and had been acquainted for nearly eleven years with deceased, who was about 45 yrs of age, and followed the occupation of a bushman. Deceased was a native of Belgium, had been in the colony about 20 years, and was married to a half-caste, who had, however, left him. He had a brother at Kennedy's Bay. On Thursday, the 3rd witness, deceased, and several others were working in the bush at the Sandspit, engaged in "jacking logs", that is, working with "jacks" for the purpose of moving the timbers. We were employed in this manner for about an hour and a-half. Knowing that the dam was filling with water, went to the creek-side and procured handspikes, in order to put as many logs into the creek as possible while the water was going by. Deceased got on the second log, and used the handspike to move the front log. As he did so the front log moved, and the one deceased was standing on moved along with it, and the descent being rapid, the deceased was carried into the creek, falling behind the log. Witness, and the others who were the, lost sight of him in half a minute. When the water had subsided, which was about seven or eight minutes afterwards, they went down the creek looking for deceased. His body was found under the logs, about two miles from the place where he had fallen into the water. Deceased was quite dead. Orders were given by Mr Cashmore to have the body taken out of the creek as quickly as possible. Observed several bruises on deceased's body. Also saw a wound on his left elbow. Deceased was not able to swim. Witness believed his death was partly occasioned by the wounds inflicted by the logs in the creek and partly by drowning. Deceased was the leading man in shifting the logs, and witness believed he had exercised all necessary caution in executing that portion of his work. Deceased was perfectly sober. Witness considered the death was a purely accidental one. Deceased had been engaged in that sort of work for about sixteen or seventeen years. He did not act rightly in getting on the log. The body was put in a coffin and brought up to Auckland in the cutter Iris on the following day (Friday), and deposited at the dead-house, Freeman's Bay. 

Robert Cashmore, saw-mill owner, deposed that he resided in Hobson Street, Auckland, and had been acquainted with deceased for about eleven years. At the time of his death he was in witness's employ at the Sandspit saw-mill. Witness last saw deceased alive on Wednesday night last, the evening before the day of the accident. He was then at the mill. On the next day deceased went into he bush for the purpose of getting logs into the creek. Witness did not go with him, and knew nothing of the circumstances attending his death beyond what he had heard from the men who were present at the time the accident happened. Witness saw the body after it had been found but observed no serious bruises upon it. There was no mistake committed in getting the logs into the creek. The water rushes down the creek at the rate of six or seven miles an hour. Witnesses had not heard of any similar accident having happened there before. 

James Ansenne, of the firm of Schappe and Ansenne, timber merchants, deposed that he had been acquainted with deceased for 22 years. Last saw him about a fortnight before. Deceased was a temperate man. First heard of his death on Friday morning. Deceased had not left any property, but witness had £38 5s. belonging to him. This was all the evidence and after a short deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Drowning". 

John Arnott

6 October 1862, Southern Cross, John Arnott 
On Wednesday last, we published a short notice of an inquest held on the body of John Arnott, which was found drowned in the pond at Messrs Ring's sawmill. We now give a copy of the depositions taken at the inquisition, on the 29th September, before James Preece. Esq., Coroner:- 

From the actual Coronors report it is stated that John Arnott was a native of Fifeshire and had resided here for ten (two?) years and been working for sometime at Mr Ring's Mill at Kapanga. 

George Burns being sworn said, that John Arnott came into my house last night apparently sober, he complained of being poorly. I gave him some pills. I went out for about an hour, and when I came home he was in bed. I then went to bed myself, and he came to me about ten o'clock the same evening, and said he wanted to speak to me. I told him to go to bed and I would speak to him in the morning ; about half an hour afterwards be commenced crying in his room and making a noise. I told him to be quiet, and not to disturb all the house. A few minutes afterwards he grew worse. I then took the candle and went into his room. He was lying in bed rolling about and said he was so bad that he thought he would die, and requested me to write to his friends if he should die before morning. I told him to lay still and be quiet until the medicine would operate. I told him he would get better. I again left him and went to my room. About ten minutes afterwards he again made such a noise that I had to go to him ; he appeared like a man out of his mind. I told him to be quiet and again left him. He did not make so much noise afterwards, but kept talking to himself. I then went to bed and went to sleep, and heard no more of him that night. When I got up in the morning about half-past five, I said to Mr Lindsay, "John is quiet now." He said, " He is not in the house, he went out at about three o'clock and has not returned. I searched all the houses and the bush for him, and could not find him. I then went and dragged the Mill Dam and could not find him still ; then I ran the water off and found him floating when the dam was half empty. 

By the Coroner, It was abut six o'clock last evening when he entered my house. I think that the deceased had been drinking. I have observed that he has seemed of late, as if his mind were affected. There was about seven feet of water in the dam before it was let off. 

By the Foreman, He did complain of great pain when he was rolling about, it was for that reason I gave him the medicine. 

By a Juryman, I think he was in a state of delirium tremens. 

Robert Lindsay being sworn said, during my short acquaintance of two weeks, I have scarcely seen the deceased go to bed sober. Yesterday, he had had some drink, and as usual, commenced making a noise shortly after going to bed, yesterday evening he went to bed about eight, and then Mr Burns, who had been out, returned home, he asked for an got some pills, which he came out of bed to swallow. From about half-past nine to ten o'clock, he commenced crying out like a man in delirium tremens, which cries he continued until he left the house, about three o'clock this morning. I saw no more of him until I saw his body dragged out of the mill dam into the dinghy this morning about eight o'clock. 

By the Coroner, I am of opinion that he threw himself into the dam, in a fit of insanity. 

William Conolay being sworn said, I have slept in the same room with the deceased lately, and last nigh after eight o'clock, he was kicking up a great noise. I told him several times to lay quiet and he said "Oh William, Oh William, I am very bad." I told him to keep himself quiet, and he would soon get better. I heard him a while afterwards making more of a noise, like as if he was strangling. I struck a match, it alarmed him. He was quiet for some time after. Afterwards I heard the same noise, and I struck a match which again alarmed him. He then stopped, and jumped immediately out of bed and said, Oh, Bill, I am very bad, I cannot stand it." I told him to lay down in his bed, and he would soon get better. He shortly after that went out of doors. I did not see him again until I saw his body a few minutes ago. 

By the Coroner, I have frequently heard him say that he would put an end to himself, when I have not thought him under the influence of drink. 

George Chipman being sworn said, I saw deceased yesterday about twelve o'clock. He came into my house. I was lying in bed reading. He seemed as rational as ever I have seen him. He talked a few minutes and asked me if I could give him sixpence, I had not one, but gave him a shilling. He then went away and I saw no more of him. I awoke during the night and heard footsteps passing the house, and the dog barking. I moved the latch and let the dog out as he seemed anxious to go. I fancied I heard footsteps on Mr Burns platform. I soon heard steps passing again. I then got up and opened the door and looked out. I heard a voice near the dam, the person appeared to be vomiting or in distress. I remained about ten minutes at the door, the clock had struck three while I was at the door. 

By the Coroner. It did not strike my mind that it was necessary to see what was the matter. I thought that someone was vomiting, and had gone there so as not to disturb anyone. 

Patrick Cahill, of the Armed Police force, being sworn said, about half-past seven this morning, Robert Lindsay came to our place to enquire after deceased. I told him we had not seen him. He said that if he could not find him at the stores on the hill, he suspected that he mush have committed suicide, as he had made two attempts during last night. He told me tat some of themselves were searching the dam for him. Constable Richard Harnet and I went in search of him. After searching some time, constable Harnet called my attention to the body in the water. We got a boat and he and myself took him up. 

By the Coroner, we found him in a bent position, face downwards. He was about eight feet from the margin. I examined for marks of his footsteps, but could fine none. I believe that the place he as found was not where he went in. He as in the same dress as he appears now. If found in his right hand pocket twopence in copper, a piece of tobacco, a key and seven buttons, and in his left, a sixpence, and thruppence in silver. My reason for thinking that he did not go in where we found him was that he had been drifted down by the current when the water was let off. 

Edward Wilson being sworn said, I have stopped deceased on two or more occasions from committing suicide by attempting to drown himself. 

A verdict in accordance with the above facts was returned. 

Jurors; Charles Ring, Edward Wilson, John Ellis, Thomas Tarsell, John Reilly, Joseph Benge, Edward Reynolds, Donald McPhee, Charles Ebenezer Browne, Thomas Roberts, John Robert Randall, Michael Doyle, William Sykes. 

Thomas Murphy

8 November 1862, Southern Cross, Thomas Murphy 
The following is the evidence taken on the late drowning case at Coromandel, by the Coroner. The deceased was named Thomas Murphy, and was drowned in the dam at Waiau saw mill. 

Reuben Fish being sworn said, I am a bushman in the employ of Messrs. Firth, Roe and Co. I was with deceased last night. When he crossed the booms he lost his balance and turned round, he could not reach the shore, but caught hold of some weeds or grass, which gave way, and he fell into the water, and he started to swim off into the creek. I told him to swim towards the booms. I went on the booms to help him up ; he reached out his hand, but he was so far out that I could not reach it, and then he turned round, and went out into the middle of the creek. When I called to my mates, who were behind me, he spoke to me, and told me he was drowning. I ran up this way a few steps, and met my mates ; when we got back he had got out of sight. I then came down the mill to get a light. We went down and made a raft. We went up the creek with the raft, and I showed them where I last saw him, which was not far from where they found him. 

Examined by the Coroner, we had been working in the bush that day ; we had been down to Mrs Tymmin's before we came home. I believe that deceased was sober. He had gone about six feet before he turned back. I do not consider the booms safe for people to cross. It was dark when we were crossing. We have frequently to cross the booms with heavy loads ; and frequently in dark nights without lights. 

Examined by a Juryman, he did not say what he went back for. We were drinking grog last night. They got it down at Mrs Tymmins's. I could not say certainly, but one or two I think were the worse for liquor. Neither I not the man who was drowned were the worse for liquor. 

Examined by another Juryman, I only saw deceased drink one glass. I could not perceive that it took any effect on him. There was nobody intoxicated when we left the house. My mates were in a house getting a candle when deceased fell in. 

Frank Jaggar being sworn, said, I am a bushman in the employ of Messrs Firth, Roe and Co. I was one of the party who went down with deceased to Mrs Tymmin's. We came back together to the mill, when Robert Gun, Arthur Albright and myself stoppped behind to get a light, while Reuben Fish and deceased went on. We had just got the candle and were lighting it when we heard two "cooeyes" from the dam ; and thinking all not right, we hurried to the booms, when we met Reuben Fish in search of us. We proceeded to the spot where he had last seen him but could see no signs of him ; we then crossed the booms and got two logs out, and made a raft of them, and then found the body near where Reuben Fish last saw him. 

Examined by the Coroner, there were about nine feet of water where the body was found. We fished for him with poles. It was Barbara Tymmins who supplied us with grog, we did not pay for it. She did not say the price of it, and I did not ask her. 

Examined by a Juryman, there was one a little inebriated, but the others were passable. I do not think that deceased was intoxicated. I did not ask the price of the grog, she did not say anything about payment, but I suppose she will expect it. Mrs Tymmins did once receive a trifle from me for liquor. She never asked for payment, but I gave it. I cannot swear that she sold liquor. She asked me if I would have a nobbler. I said I would have no objection. She did not ask me if I had the money. I could only swear to deceased drinking one glass. I cannot say whether any one else paid for it or not, I did not see them. 

Robert Gunn being sworn said, I am a bushman in the employ of Messr's Firth, Roe and Co. I was one of the four who went down with deceased to Mrs Tymmins. We were there long before we came back, and walked up together until we came close to the mill. Reuben Fish and Thomas Murphy went towards the booms. Frank Jagger, Arthur Albright and I stopped to get a light, while we were doing so we heard two or three "cooyes" from the dam. Arthur Albright said be quick, for he thought there was a man in the dam. We had not gone far before we met Reuben Fish coming back, he came up to us and said, "Oh, my God, Tom is drowned." I ran over and took my clothes off as we went along and jumped into the water, but went on the wrong side of the booms. Mr McDonald came and asked him if he knew of any one who could dive, and I believe he said no. We then went and got some more lights, and more men and made a raft, and then found the body, and brought it over here to the mill. 

Examined by the Coroner, we are not frequently in the habit of crossing the booms at night. We do not often go for grog. I came to get some things from the store but did not get them. She asked me if I would have a glass. She did not ask for money, and I did not offer her any. 

Recommended by the Jury, that the proprietors of the mills be requested to improve the way across the booms, to prevent future accidents. 

There was another accident the same night as the above. Two men, miners, who are working on a reef on Preece's Point, were retiring, perfectly sober from the shoemaker's when one of them got kicked by a horse, and had one of his ribs broken. He was found shortly after and attended to, and is now much better, he will in a few days be able to return to his party. 

John Clark

8 April 1865 NZ Herald, John Clark
An inquest was held at Kapanga, on the 3rd inst., before James Preece, Esq., Coroner, on the body of a man named John Clark, who was drowned at Kennedy's Bay. 

William McGregor being sworn, deposed, I am a settler, residing at Owairoa, Coromandel. On Sunday evening the people on my place feared that something might have happened to deceased. This morning we started to make an inquiry and to search for him. As we were going along we came to a creek. I went up to about high-water mark, and on turning round to look towards the water, I saw a body lying across a mangrove tree. We then gave information to the police at Kapanga. 

By the Coroner, I last saw deceased alive between two and three o'clock, p.m., on Saturday. He was then at my place at Owairoa. I then understood the he was going to Kapanga. I do not think that he was quite sober, but he was able to take care of himself. 

By a Juryman, I recognised the body as that of John Clark when I saw it. 

Malcolm Buchanan, being sworn, deposed, I am a shipwright, residing at Coromandel. I was with Mr McGregor this morning, when we saw the body which I recognised as that of John Clark, a workman of McGregor's. 

By the Coroner, I believe that he had been drowned, as the tide at high water would cover him. I think that he must have fallen, as his mouth was lodged on one limb of a tree and the lower part of the body on another. 

By a Juryman, There was blood on his nose, but I thought that might have been from the fall. 

Bridget Lynch, being sworn, deposed, I reside at Coromandel. I am the wife of John Lynch. I saw deceased on Saturday evening, between nine and ten o'clock, going from Kapanga towards Mr McGregor's. I did not notice whether he was sober or not. There was no one with him. He appeared to walk steadily. 

By a Juryman, I am positive that it was John Clark I saw. I did not speak to him. 

Uriah Glover being sworn, deposed, I last saw the deceased just before dark, on Saturday evening. He was at my house. He left at that time. I do not know whether he was sober or not, but I consider that he was able to take care of himself. 

John Wallace being sworn, deposed, I am a constable of the Armed Police, stationed at Coromandel. About 9 o'clock this morning two or the witnesses in this case, Messrs McGregor and Buchanan, reported to the Police, that there was a dead body lying near a creek on the opposite side of the Wynan pier from the Court-house. After making arrangement to remove the body, I proceeded to the spot where the body was lying. I found the deceased about 50 or 60 yards below high water mark. He was lying partly against and partly on a tree, the feet as far as the knees were on the ground, the chest against the tree, the face resting on the trunk of the tree. I examined the body to see if any violence had been used. I saw blood on the nose and on the tree, the hair was clotted like as if it had been soaked for sometime in water. He had on a pair of duck trousers and a crimean shirt, but no hat. The head was drooping down. The hat may have fallen off. From the appearance, he had made a struggle to recover himself, but could not do so. I think that he lay on the tree until the tide came in, when he was drowned. 

The jury found a verdict of found drowned. 

Clark we are informed was 70 years of age, one of the most industrious men in the colony. He had some years ago been an old man-of-war's man, well spoken of by everybody who knew him. 

Michael Costello

26 March 1860, Inquisition on death of Michael Costello, from original documents 

The Coroner, James Preece, Stapleton, Coromandel 

Sir, I have the honor herewith to transmit the depositions taken at the inquest held by me yesterday also the inquisition accompanying it as this is the first inquest held by me since my appointment, any informality you will have the kindness to over look. I shall feel obliged for any information also and forms of Returns should any be needful I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient Servant. James Preece 

Information of Witnesses taken this twenty sixth day of March one thousand and sixty, at the dwelling house of N Stewart and Comps. Coromandel Mill, in the parish of Kapanga, Queens Court, Province of Auckland before James Preece, Gentleman, one of the Coroners of the said Province, touching the death of Michael Costello, taken on view of the body of the said Michael Costello then lying dead, as follows. 

James Naismith, son of Henry Naismith, aged 10¼ years deposed, Yesterday about one o'clock, I went with the deceased down to the Waiau Creek to bathe, we both stripped, he went into the water and swam half way across, then back and returned across again, I was on the opposite side to where he first went in. He went in again and when rather more than half way across he sank and rose and sank again. I then called out and Mr. Chamberlain came down to the spot. He never spoke or made any cry, I did not go into the water myself. (signed) James Naismith 

James Chamberlain deposed, I am a settler residing on the Waiau Creek - Yesterday about one o'clock I heard a boy screeching - I ran down to the creek and the boy called out - "There is some one (I could not make out the name) in the water" - I then ran to the edge of the water and saw deceased lying at the bottom, I then entered the stream thinking to take him up with my feet, by the time I had reached the spot where he lay, I was up to my chin in the water and taken off my feet by the current and was compelled to stroke out for the bank to save myself, Henry Naismith Snr then arrived and he got on one end of a slab while I held the other but we could not get him out. While we were occupied, Peter Anderson and young John Costello came running down the hill towards us, Peter Anderson ran up to the edge of the stream and said, "Where is he?" we then showed him where the body lay, he took off his boots and coat and brought him up to the surface by the hair of his head. the deceased resided with me, but on one occasion only before this have I known him to bathe. When I first saw the body it was face down at the bottom of the creek, I do not know if he could swim. I do not think he was absent more than twenty five minutes from the time he left the house till he was carried back. The depth of water where the body laid is possibly 6½ to 7 feet. The distance from my house to the spot where the accident occurred I think is about one hundred yards. (signed) James Chamberlain 

Henry Naismith Snr deposed, I am a Sawyer working at the Waiau Mill. Yesterday about one o'clock, hearing as I thought children screaming, I went down the road to the creek slowly, the screaming increased. I saw Mr. Chamberlain come from his house and run down towards the creek - I followed him as quickly as I could and saw him on the edge of the stream, I came up to him as soon as possible and believe he said "Castle's boy is in the water?" was about to go into the water but Chamberlain cautioned me on account of the depth, not being able to swim I lifted a slab and threw it into the creek and told Chamberlain to take hold of one end and went myself to the other end and endeavoured to get hold of deceased with my feet. I had got out to the center of the creek and the water was up to my mouth, my son James then came and told me deceased was rather further up the stream. I then worked myself on the slab higher up the stream and tried to get my feet about his neck. The water was then over my eyes, I think over my head, I fancied I touched his head with my feet, my feet came upwards and I found myself I think on my back under the slab. I shouted then to Chamberlain to pull me out which I believe he did. (signed) Henry Naismith 

Peter Anderson deposed, I am a shipwright residing a the Tawhiti Coromandel Harbour. Yesterday about one o'clock, I left the Waiau Mill and was proceeding to Mr. Preece's to service, on reaching the brink of the Hill in company with N Stewart and McPhagin and young John Costello, I heard a scream proceeding from the creek near Mr. Chamberlains house. I immediately turned and listened to ascertain the cause on hearing the scream and redoubled I ran to the spot they came from, on arriving at the Creek I saw Naismith and Chamberlain with a slab, Chamberlain with the shore end of the slab in his hands, Naismith on the other end in the water, Naismith was shouting but I could not make out what he said till I arrived at the edge of the hole where deceased was. He, Naismith enquired if any one could swim, I then immediately began to strip and asked him where the body was. He then pointed to the spot. By that time I had taken off my coat vest and boots. I then ran into the water, after wading out as far as I could, I swam till I got over the body then dived and caught it by the hair of the head and brought it to the surface and handed it to Mr. Naismith. I told them to hold it face downwards and rub well, which they did - I thought there was no hope of reviving him - I then left them and came back to the Mill. There was no sign of life. (signed) Peter Anderson 

John Costello Jnr. Deposed, I am a Sawyer residing in Coromandel Harbour and brother to deceased. I agree to the evidence given by the last witnesses. After deceased was taken out of the water I assisted in carrying him up to Chamberlain's house, where we rubbed him after drying him well and ? him and put him in blankets. We repeated this and also rubbed him with spirits and used every means in our power to revive him without effect. I then left the house and ran to acquaint my father and mother. The deceased was about 13 years of age. I do not think he could swim. (signed) John Costello Jnr. 

Verdict, accidentally drowned. 

Jurors; John Douglas, (foreman), James Smith, Thomas William Dowson, William Cole, John Stewart, John Simpson Sanderson, Henry Gloye Agle, Frederick Hayles, John Adams, William Brown, William Hackett, Ferdinand Gerdez. 

William Murray 

24 December 1862 Southern Cross, William Murray 

On the 13th instant, H Hanson Turton, Esq., coroner, held an inquest at Coromandel, at the dwelling house of Robert Austin, touching the death of William Murray, a private in the armed police force of that place. 

The following evidence was taken: - 

Patrick Cahill sworn, deposed: I am a member of the armed police force at Coromandel, and lived with the deceased William Murray, another private in the force, at the time of his death. On Monday last I complained to Corporal Hastie, of Murray having been drinking, and the corporal went with me and Harnett up to the diggings, where we found him laying drunk in the fern, with a bottle full of spirits by his side. We took him home, and got him to bed. On Tuesday he kept on drinking, and also on Wednesday, and so on till Thursday evening, at which time he appeared better. Yesterday morning, (Friday) he seemed to have got over it, when I left him and went to the bush, returning again about 2 pm., in company with constable Harnett. We soon asked the deceased to take dinner with us, when he replied that he had dined. He was then preparing to go to serve subpoenas at Koputouaki, about six miles distant. I told him which was the short way. He then left apparently in good health, returning about six oclock. He then threw himself on his bed appearing very much fatigued. He said that the parties had left Koputauaki, and so he brought back the summonses with him. After being on the bed a few minutes he asked me for a drink of water which I gave him. I then got supper ready for him, but he did not take any, and between 7 and 8 oclock I left the station to visit the Driving Creek again. I returned at half-past ten oclock, and found the door partly open, but no light in the house. I struck a light, and found the deceased lying on the edge of the bed, exactly in the position in which the jury viewed him. The supper was as I had left it, except that he had taken the tea. I found on the table a razor, pen and ink, and the written document now handed in. 

Coromandel 14th Dec 1862 

"This is to let all hands know that I have heard Constable Cahill telling a person that here was a disgraceful charge to be preferred against me, and this is to let them know that I am not guilty of that charge. There is no use in saying too much; but God will judge rightly: may He for Jesus Christ's sake forgive me for the crime I am about to commit, and all my other offences. This is the testament and prayer of , "William Murray." 

I called a man named William James Cavanagh, who lives close by with his son, to come and see the body, which, on examination, we found to be quite cold. The throat had been cut with a razor, and the razor was lying on the table, which was partially covered with blood. There was also blood on the floor, and on the bed clothes and paper. 

Examined by Jury: I do not know what deceased means by a disgraceful charge, unless it be the charge of drunkenness, and neglect of duty. I once told Harnett that he (Murray) on Wednesday acted shamefully, in not being sufficiently covered in the day time, and with the door open. Yesterday morning I also asked Frederick Ohlson if Murray owed him any money, but I think he could not have heard this. 

By the Coroner: About two months ago he took to drinking, and carried it on from a week to ten days at once, and made himself very stupid. I can swear to the paper read being in his hand writing; there is a mistake of two days in the date; it ought to have been signed the 12th, and not the 14th. When I reported his conduct to Corporal Hastie on the 8th, he seemed to suspect me of so doing. It was my duty so to report him for being drunk and neglecting his duty. He had previously told me that he had sent in his resignation to the Commissioner of Police, and he as very anxious to receive a reply. I don't know whether he received an answer or not. He seemed always out of his place in the police. He had been a soldier in the 58th Regt., and afterwards worked at the Huia as a bushman, and I think he greatly wished to go back again to his late employment. 

William James Cavanagh, deposed, sworn: Last night at half past ten oclock, by constable Cahill's watch, I was called in by him to go and see the deceased. I did so, and found him lying on the bed apparently with his throat cut; his mouth and neck were clothed with blood. There was a razor lying on the table with blood upon it, and also blood on the table and on the floor. I saw policeman Cahill touch his ear, who then said he was dead; I also stooped to hear him breathe, but could not; he was black about the eyes. I never heard any particular noise about the place. I did not know much about him. On last evening I was in my tent close by during the whole time, and heard no sound from within the police barracks. 

James Spinks, sworn, deposed: I am a miner working in the Driving Creek. At about half-past two o'clock yesterday, the deceased, William Murray, was seen by men and my mates coming up the creek towards our claim. On arrival, he presented me a subpoena to attend the Crown Commissioner's court. He then left and went away, appearing very weak; he perspired greatly, and seemed much depressed in his spirits. 

John Charles Davis deposed: I am the son of Mr Edward Davis, and reside at Kikowhakarerie About four oclock yesterday, I saw the deceased at Omaru, the next bay on this side of Koputauaki. He stopped and talked to me about the road, and at last determined to turn back. He seemed to me to be weak and in very low spirits. 

George Hastie, sworn, deposed: I am a corporal in the Armed Police Force at Coromandel. On Monday last, the 8th instant, I came on duty up to the diggings, and called at the police station, where the deceased and constable Cahill were residing. I had conversation with Murray, who seemed to be under the influence of liquor. He asked me to lend him some money; he wanted £5 with which to purchase provisions. I lent it to him. In the evening Cahill came to the bush to look for him, but did not find him there. Shortly afterwards I followed to the diggings, and about half-past ten pm., we found him up there lying drink in the fern with a bottle of liquor in his possession. For this offence I reported him to the Commissioner of Police. I had previously reported him for a similar offence, and the deceased knew it, and was anxious about the reply. About a month ago he sent in his resignation to Mr Naughton, but he received no reply that I am aware of. I can swear to the handwriting of the paper read as being that of the deceased. I never saw him labouring under delirium tremens, or in any such state of excitement. When he speaks of a disgraceful charge about to be preferred against him, I think he alludes to the charge about stated, which is considered disgraceful in the police force. He wished very much to be allowed to retire from the force, and was very anxious for a reply to his resignation; that seemed to prey on his mind lest I should have written advising the Commissioner not to accept it. One of his reasons as stated for retiring was that he had bad health. I have taken an inventory of property found on his person, which comprises two sovereigns, half-sovereign, half-a-crown, two shillings, and three sixpences, all contained in a purse; there is also other property belonging to him at the barracks, but of little value. When I asked Cahill yesterday in reference to William Murray, he said that he had got over the liquor on Wednesday, nor did Cahill ever say anything to injure Murray's character with me, except about drinking. I would not have reported him unless I had seen him myself. 

Richard Harnett, sworn: I am a private in the police force. I have resided with the deceased in the barracks, and know his writing well. The document produced is both written and signed by him. I have seen him in a state of drunkenness, but never in delirium tremens. I saw him yesterday at 2 o'clock p.m., when he was quite sober. He was pale and feeble, but not excited. He has several times since he has been residing alone with Cahill told me that he was very comfortable. I have not heard Cahill speak anything against the character of the deceased except on the subject of drinking. 

The following verdict was returned: - "That the aforesaid William Murray, a private in the armed police force, Coromandel, did on the evening of the 12th inst., between 8 and 9 oclock, at the police station at Belleville, take away his own life by cutting his throat with a razor, whilst labouring under a state of great mental depression. 

Jurors; James Ingles (foreman), Joseph Masters, Edwin Smith, John Bowman, William Loweby (Lowell?), Frederick A. C. Foster, Patrick Hennessy, Robert Lindsay, Joseph Strong, George Burns, Robert Poole, William Barrett, John Rielly. 

Robert Austin

27 March 1861 Coronors Report, Robert Austin 

Held at the Coromandel Hotel in view of the body of Robert Austin who was found dead at the dwelling house of George Beeson 11 Feb 1861 before James Preece, Coroner. 

James Sweeney sworn stated, I am a sawyer residing at Kapanga. On Sunday February 3rd between 11 and 12 oclock, I, deceased and James Rourke started from Kapanga in a punt with the intention of fishing, we first went to Mr Beeson's, then proceeded through the passage to join a boat which had left Kapanga at the same time as ourselves. When we had converged with the others I proposed that we should all get into the boat and leave the punt, deceased refused, James Rourke did get into the boat, the boat pulled away from the punt, deceased stood up at the stem and fell overboard, I pulled him back into the punt with great difficulty and tried to dry him, he then stood up a second time and the punt capsized. I got hold of the end of the punt and tried to seize him but couldn't. When the boat arrived I saw no more of him. 

By bench; We'd been drinking at Beeson's cookhouse. 

Thomas Rourke sworn, stated, I am a bushman residing at Kapanga. We pulled (rowed) over to Mr Beeson's and from there to Patapata alongside of Parker's boat which was anchored. When the punt upset, Parker and Thomas Biggs rowed as hard as they could for the punt. 

George Toothaker Parker sworn, stated, I am a settler residing at Kapanga. 

George Beeson being sworn stated, I am a boat builder residing at the Coromandel Hotel. On the morning of February 11th, Richard Ruffin came to me saying he had found the body of Robert Austin. 

Jurors; John Douglas, Donald Benjamin Stewart, Neil McPhagin, Henry Downing, George Chipman, Edward Wilson, Richard Ruffin, Joseph Baird, Thomas Biggs, Henry George Ogle, Frederick Hayle, George Burns. 

Samuel Harper

12 October 1861, Coroners Report of Samuel Harper 

Held at the house of Mr George Burns, Kapanga, in view of the body of Samuel Harper on 12th October 1861 before James Preece, Coroner. 

John Ellis sworn, stated, I am a bushman working at Mr Rings Bush. I was putting logs into the dam. Yesterday morning the deceased was assisting me and deceased had moved two other logs down to the creek, we then went up a little ways to get some more logs down when I looked back and missed the deceased. I then came back to get the punt to look for him and calling the other men to come with me. The punt was full of water and had to be bailed. I went to call Mr Chipman and Mr Burns to assist me to recover the body. 

Charles Slaughter sworn, deposed, I am a bushman working for Mr John Ellis. Deceased went out on a log to shove it down the dam, we missed him and we did not seel him fall. I saw the water where he sank, I went down and brought Mr Ring up. 

John Eady (Edey, sic) I am a bushman working for Mr John Ellis, I confirm the above. 

Mr George Chipman stated, I am working in Mr Ring's mile. I was digging in the garden and saw Mr Ellis passing in a hurry, he told me that one of his men had just drowned. 

No jury recorded. 

Charles Frederick Leggett

27 January 1863, Coroners Report on Charles Frederick Leggett (abridged) 

Spencer Von Sturmer deposed. I am an officer of her Majesties Customs Coromandel. The deceased was a settler residing at Opotiki, he was 51 yrs of age and had lived there nearly 20 years. He was married by the natives of that place to the eldest daughter of Te Aporatangate Airanui, by whom he has had three children. The two boys reside at Opotiki living as natives and the daughter is with her uncle in Sydney. His name is Mr Russell, a well-known shipbuilder. It is upwards of a year and a half since I first became acquainted with the deceased. That took place at Opotiki. I knew him to labour under bad health, he suffered much from dysentery. On July last he paid me a visit at Coromandel at which time he caught a violent cold. Snip 

Sarah Von Sturmer deposed a similar statement. 

Richard Ruffin deposed, I am a shipwright residing here at Patapata. I knew deceased well be sight as a visitor of Mr Sturmer's. The present trip, he landed at our house near the point. Mr Anderson brought him in his boat the 'Orpheus' and then Captain Downing, my father-in-law, brought him in our boat. 

No jury recorded. 

John Denny

6 June 1862, Coroner's Report for John Denny 

Before James Preece on the body of a labouring man found dead in his boat in the harbour on Monday last, that he had been ill for some time and left in his boat to go to an Island outside the harbour. That he would go in spite of remonstrance of those with whom he had been residing, he was 64 yrs of age and was a native of some part of London and had a mother alive about three years ago. He has for some time been dependant on the kindness of a few friends. 

John Adam sworn, stated, I live at Waiau and am a bushman. The deceased, John Denny has been living with me for the last five weeks in which he had been ill. He left my house on the 2nd of June and I did not see him again until after he had died. 

Bryce Hopkins stated, I am a blacksmith and live at the Tiki. He came into my shop yesterday and looked very ill. I made a remark that he was not fit to go out in the boat, he said he had a pain in the stomach. 

Richard White stated, I am a shipwright and live at Matuaroa. In coming out from dinner yesterday about one oclock, I noticed a boat adrift and immediately launched our boat and pulled off to it and found it contained the body of the deceased. 

Jurors; George Turner, James Hopkins, William Evans, John Costello Snr, Frederick Barrett, Anthony Turner, John Barrett, John Hart, Eugene Callan, Richard Barrett, Ferdinand Gerdez. 

Antonis Francis Olgreey

17th January 1862, Coroner's Report for Antonis Francis Olgreey 

At Cabbage Bay Sawmills. A native of France who was drowned in the creek on the 10th instant. The difficulty of proving how he came by his death means having to take the statements of two native children of 7 or 8 yrs of age without oath. The body was found by a very intelligent native and as there is no person present who could interpret clearly I did it myself, (James Preece.) 

Frederick Hayles being sworn said, about a quarter to three oclock yesterday, I saw deceased crossing the creek upon the logs. I saw no more of him until he was taken out of the water at about half past five oclock. 

Rakana (native child) states, I was at the house a little distant off, I turned around and saw the log roll and the man fall off, I ran and told the Europeans, (made his mark.) 

Kararini (native child) stated the same. 

Michael Bucher sworn said, yesterday about three oclock I was working on a building when some Maori children came and gave the alarm that the cook had fallen from the log into the creek. I came but could not see anything. I then went back and informed Mr (I ? Frobe?) and came again to the creek and saw his cap floating on the water. We could not find the body for two and a half hours. 

Hata Paka sworn, states. The children called me and my party. I was asked to go into the water, I dived but could not find him, after the Europeans went out of the water, I swam in again and my pole went under his clothes and that fetched him up. 

Jurors; Richard Farmer, William Wright, Thomas Burns, Stephen Kane, John Latolley, Augustus Hoyt, Henri Lambert, William Bushee, Charles Lauarhep, Robert McDonald, Henry Burns, Edward Lane. 

Mier Levy

11th March 1863 Coroner's Report for Mier Levy 

Before Mr H. C Lawton at the Victoria Hotel, Belville in view of the body of Mr Mier Levy, storekeeper, of Victoria St, Auckland before H. Turton on the 1st February 1863. 

Hugh Chalmers deposed. I am a bushman in the employ of Mr Ring, yesterday aobut 1 oclock as I was about my work in the bush, and passing an old shaft near the bottom of Murphy's original claim, I looked in and saw the body of the man which has now been seen by the jury. I then called my mates and told them there was a body in the hole, we then sent down to tell the police. 

George Parker. On Friday the 16th January at about 7 or 8 in the evening, I was down at the Kapanga beach at the time Mrs Levy landed from the steamer. I beleive she is the wife of the deceased. There were many others there at the same time and we all returned together. On the road we met Mr Levy going towards the beach and when he met with Mr Levy he shook hands with her and kissed her and also with his son and then turned to come back with us. We called in at the Kapanga Hotel for a light and remainded there about an hour. When we left to come away to the diggings, as I was carrying the baby, I gave the light to Mr Levy who carried it as far as the creek. As he lagged behind us about 10 yards, being very slow, I took the light from him and told him to keep up with us, he made no answer and we all came on. 

We were about 20 mins getting through the bush. We knew that Mr Levy was not with us, but thought him close behind. Mrs Levy told her husband that she wished to stop all night at the Kapanga Hotel, but he had insisted on her coming up to sleep in the tent at Belville. It was not very dark outside of the bush and there we missed him but came on saying that as the road was clean and well known to him there was not much fear of his following after. It was about a ¼ mile from that place to his tent. When we reached it, Mrs Levy declined to remain all night there and so went on with Mrs Parker and myself and her son to our house, where she slept, leaving her husband to occupy his tent. 

I do not recollect exactly what clothes he had on. We had not a drop to drink at the Kapanga Hotel. He was also asked to have tea, but would not take any. I recognize the body now lying in the hole as that of deceased. When I saw him last he had trousers on and other clothes. He did talk rather strangley to his wife about the accommodation he had provided for her. Until we reached the house, Mrs Levy did not appear uneasy about him, but she said she was so afterwards and did not sleep well during the night. Then she said next morning but gave no information the night before of her wish that we should come and search for him. It was during the next day I heard he had been missed. 

Jurors; Joseph Masters (foreman), James Spinks, John Bannon, Christopher McInally, Mr Wallace Stuart, Thomas Biggs, Timothy Clarke, John Jamieson, William Allcock, William Hooper, John Robinson, William Greenville, James Ingles. 

Henry Lowman

29 January 1869, Coroner's Report for Henry Lowman 

Held at the schoolhouse, Kapanga before James Preece. 

James Maguire being sworn deposed, I am a miner residing at the Driving Creek and a shareholder in the Nil Desperandum claim. At about half past ten, I and four of my mates went to fell a kauri tree, deceased was one of the, when we had worked about 4 hours, the tree was nearly through and I took out the saw and backed up the cut with wedges. I did not see deceased at the time, I had given orders for all to clear out, the other men moved off. I then turned round to run, I ran down towards our machines. After the tree fell, I came back and when I arrived at the head of the tree I heard a faint cry, I then ran tow here I heard the cry and found the deceased under the branches, he was alive, I spoke to him and said, "Harry are you destroyed," he answered, "yes Jim, I am." I raised the brances off him and called for help, when the other men came we took him out. I then went for bandages. I did not see him again until I saw him lying dead at Twohill's house. I was doubtful of danger before the tree fell, it stood at an awkward place and on that account I asked the others to clear out and used every precaution I could in felling the tree. 

Charles G. Backstrum sworn deposed, I am a miner and reside at our claim at the Driving Creek and I was this morning engaged with deceased and others felling a tree near the claim. When the tree was nearly cut through, we took out the saw and backed it up with wedges. As soon as I saw that there was danger, I directed the deceased and the others to clear out but the tree struck him before he could get out of the way, I ran to the top of the tree and lifted away the brances and took deceased out, he was a good deal cut about the head, he was not able to move, we laid him down in the grass and washed his face and head, he leaid there about ½ an hour, he was sensible, we then put him on a stretcher and carried him down to Twohill's house. He lived about another ½ an hour after we got there. 

Deceased was a miner, he was about 27 yrs of age, very much loved by all who knew him. I do not think that there was any blame attatched to any living person for his death. 

Jurors; William Neely (foreman), Charles McCall, James Granville, John Doran, John Lynch, George Stevens, William Vincent Cadman, John Anerson, P. Hayles, C. Shadforth, A. Twohill, W. H Preece, James Rudolph. 

William Henry Lang

7 December 1868, Coroner's Report for William Henry Lang 

Held at the Kapanga Schoolhouse before James Preece. 

James Puseate sworn stated; Yesterday morning I went to the Lang's house about 10.30 am and stood in the doorway and talked to Mr and Mrs Lang who were near the window on the otherside of the room. When we had talked together for some time, deceased passed out at the door by me and in a few minutes, Mrs Lang went out to look for him. Soon after Mr Lang and I went on the straight road hom and he turned to the right and passed by an old gold hole, he at once called to me saying that his child was floating on the water, by the time I got to him, he had taken the child out and just then the mother arrived and took the child, a neighbour woman then took the child to her house. It was five or ten minutes since the child had left the house till when it was taken from the water. It was quite dead, I do not think that the child fell of the log on the side but walked in from the shallow end. There were flowers in the water and on the bank and I think the child waded in to retrieve the flowers and got out of his depth. The depth of the water in the hole is from four to five feet. 

William Lang deposed. I am a miner residing at the Driving Creek and am father of the deceased. Yesterday morning between 10 & 11 oclock, the last witness came to my house and remained a short time. Mrs Lang and myself were sitting by a side window and I did not see the child go out. Mrs Lang at last, missed him and went looking for him. Shortly after, Mr Puseate and I left the house and went towards his house, when I got to the water and I saw the child and took him out. Mrs Lang came by this time and took him from me. Then Mrs Hollis came and took the child to her house, but the child was quite dead. We tried everything to restore animation but without effect. 

The child was not in the habit of going near the hole except in company with bigger children, he had frequently gone to play with Mr Pruseate's children. There are a number of dangerous holes in the vicinity. 

Jurors; Joseph Walton (foreman), William Doran, George Suiter, Thomas Trevarthen, William Neely, Henry Thode, Charles Carter, Cabel Kneebone, Henry Strong, Charles Wells, Edward Edwards, Alexander Twohill, James Davis. 

Andrew Cheyne 

21 April 1869, Coroner's Report for Andrew Cheyne 

Held at the sawmills of Mr Harris at Whangapoua on the 5th April 1869 before James Preece. Date of Death 3 April 1869 

William Davis sworn deposed: I ama seaman but have lately been engaged rafting timber with the deceased. We left Mr Harris's Mill at about 11pm on Saturday last and went from there to Craig's Mill and thence to a dingy moored off there and took some provisions out of it and put a kedge into the boat and then struck our course. Owen, Andrew Cheyne and myself then lay down in the boat. Shortly after I heard Dean call out the boat was taking in water fast and soon after that she went down. We clung to the mast. Henry Williams went went forward to fasten up the sail, Andrew Cheyne then swam away towards the shore, we saw him for a short while. Henry Williams swam after him but could see nothing of him. We clung to the mast until about 7am Sunday morning. 

By Coroner; We had about 2 tons weight in the boat, we were all sober. I was not present when the body was found. It was about 10 minutes to a quarter of an hour from the sinking of the boat to the disappearence of Andrew Cheyne. I do not consider the boat was overloaded. The boat was not very leaky. It was blowing hard at the time with a heavy sea. 

Henry Williams sworn deposed: (abridged, the same as above except for the following), I am a rafter engaged with deceased. I was with him on Saturday last. We left Mr Harris's Mill and went down to Craig's Mill and took some provisions out of a dingy. After the boat took in water, Cheyne said, "let us strike out for the shore." But I caught hold of him and said, "no," and pulled him into the boat again, saying, "the boat is aground and the tide ebbing." While I made fast the gib, he let the oars go that I had given him and I saw him on his back in the water about 20yrds from the boat and at once set off after him with one oar but could not see him and turned back. 

Robert Bruce sworn deposed; On Sunday morning last the three men who were rafting with cheyne came into my room. I was lying on my back but awake. They informed me that cheyne was drowned about 12pm the previous night, they asked me to go with them to find the body. One of the men remained at the house and the rest of us walked down the channel of the creek as it was low water. When we came near to the bank, I saw Cheyne's body lying in the sand about 30 feet from the boat. The other two men came up, we got a sail put him on it and carried him to the boat, left him there and went to Craig's Mill for assistance. We got a boat and went about intending to take him to his own house, but before I got to the body, I was informed that it had been taken to Mr Harris's Mill. I had intended to take him to the lower mill but Craig wished me to take him to his own house. 

William Prior sworn deposed; I heard that Andrew Cheyne had been drowned. I went to fetch the body which I found in a bag on the boat and I brought it down to Mr Harris's Mill and I put him in Mr Harris's Store. 

Jurors; James Young (foreman), Robert Jack, John McFarlaney, Matthew McDowd, William Dobson, Richard Floyd, Peter Burns, Owen Regan, John Wilson, William Wright, Charles Coglan, Daniel Mather, Davis Mayland. 

Peter Lynch

20 March 1863, Coroner's Report for Peter Lynch Snr 

Before James Preece at Whangapoa Saw mills. 

Thomas Dunn being sworn says I am a bushman working for Mr Thomas Craig in his bush on the Waitakuri river near Whangapoa. Deceased came to my hut on the 17th of March about one oclock in the day, he remained there about one hour and a half. He had some dinner with us. He told me that when he left home he had intended to go over to Coromandel but as he had not any particular business there he thought that he should return home. We both then left the hut, together and walked about 100yrds along the road. He was taking a dog from my place for the purpose of hunting pig, we missed the dog and could not tell where he went. He then said that he would return on Sunday for it, he then wished me goodbye and went towards home. But after going a short distance, he called to me and said that he had found the dog. About five oclock the same afternoon the dog returned to me where I was at work. The dog when he came back was quite wet. The above is all I know of the matter. Signed Thos Dunn. 

Hugh Craig being sworn says I am the son of the Propriator of these mills. Yesterday morning about half past six oclock I in company with Thomas Burns left home in a boat and proceeded to the Opitomuri Creek to inspect the booms and to see that all was right as we expected rain and thought that there may be a flush (push?). On my way there we found that three logs that had been made fast had got adrift, we made two of them fast but the third was aground, we left it intending to go back next high water and fasten it. We then went up the creek to the first booms. I then noticed that here was something afloat in the creek on the otherside of the booms, on coming up to it we discovered that is was the body of a man. The back of his head and his shoulders were above water, his toes were draging on the sandbank. We at once recoqnized him as Peter Lynch Senior, we then drew him on shore and placed him on the bank, after that we got into the boat and pulled up to the upper booms, made her fast there and took the track to the Bushmens Hut where deceased had been working. The hut is about three miles above the booms, when we had got about half way, we were met by two of the bushmen. They told us that they had heard late the night before tht a native had found deceaseds bundle of cloths on the beach and that they fearing that something had happened to him were on their way to search for the body. They returned with us to the hut. I then wrote to the Resident Magistrate and sent a man with it to Kapanga so as to give the earliest possible information I could of the accident. We then had our breakfast and brought with us a pair of blankets to bind the body which we did and took it down to the mill. Signed, Hugh Craig. 

By the Coroner: It is not usual for men to cross the booms but as it was high water at the time it is very likely that he attempted to cross them and fell in as his pipe was in his hand and his walking stick was found on the booms. 

There is a shallow place in the creek where the men generally cross at low water. Signed, Hugh Craig. 

Edward McDonnell being sworn says I am one of the bushmen who worked with the deceased. Early on the morning of the 17th he got up and cooked breakfast so that he could go off early to Coromandel. After breakfast he asked me to lend him a hankerchief to take some cloths in, I left him putting them up when I went to work. On Wednesday evening a native came and told me that he had found a bundle of cloths on the beach. On the next morning I went over to Waitakuri creek to ask whether he had passed on to Coromandel and to enquire if the bundle that was found was his. The man informed me that he had been there the day he left us but that he turned back for Opitamui bush. That is all I know. Signed E. McDonnell. 

By a juryman, He was perfectly sober, there was no interesting drink at either of the huts. 

Jury: Robert Gibbs Snr (foreman), Joseph Greenwood, Charles Reinthundy, John Neils, James Wood, Joseph Coghlan, Thomas Clynes, Edward McDonnell, Nue (sic) Fulbarton, Robert Gibbs Jnr, Lawrence Burns, Frederick Hayles, Laeve Rourke. 

Messers Dillon & Hurst fire

23 September 1863, Report on the fire at the house and store belonging to Messers Dillon & Hurst of Kikowhakarere. 

Before James Preece at the dwelling house of Edward Davis at Kikowhakarere 

Patrick Edwin Dillon being sworn said, I am one of the partners of the firm of Dillon and Hurst. Between the house of twelve and one yesterday I was in the store at work. My attention was directed to a crackeling noise as of wood on fire. I went to the door but could not see any appearences of fire, I then returned to finish what I was at in the store. In a few minutes after hearing the same noise I went out again I then saw smoke issuing from the Hotel. I then ran round to the back door and opened the door which was then closed. This was the door from which smoke was coming. I then called on Robert Wheeler and got no answer. I hastened to close the door went outside and called aloud for help. This closes all Iknow on the matter. 

Questioned by the Coroner, Some natives had been in the store a short time before. I was putting the things to rights after they had ben making some purchases. I cannot say whether the natives who had been in the store had any lighted pipes in their mouths at the time or not. The fire did not commence in the store but in the hotel. 

By the Juryman: The buildings were seperate. The natives had been in both the store and the house, there was nothing in the house that I would consider flammable. 

We had only the carpenter with us. It was a two storied house. The carpenter says that he was not in the room when the fire commenced. When I went into the house, I could see nothing but one dense mass of smoke. There was no fireplace in the house. No strangers had slept in the house for some few nights past. The whole of the premises and stock in trade including the furnature are I believe insured to the amount of £750. I believe tht the insurance was effected in March or Alpril last, I do not know the exact amount that was at first applied for. When I first saw the fire it was impossible to put it out. I think that there is upwards of £100 worth of property saved. No property had been removed prior to the fire. The fire commenced in the long room. I thought tht the carpenter was at work in the room at the time. I believe that there was in the store at the time of the fire property the value of more than £200. Signed Patrick Edwin Dillon. 

Robert Wheeler being sworn said, I am a carpenter. I was working in the hotel yesterday until twelve oclock. I had been planing a few boards but went up to the mill to sharpen some tools. I may have been there about three quarters of an hour. I then returned to near the beach when a man told me that the big house was on fire. As soon as I saw the fire I hastened to save my own things but was too late. 

By the Coroner: There was on fire in the room when I left. The natives may have been smoking, I do not know, there were not many shavings in the room. I know that there were a few did. I did not observe any smoke in the hotel before I left. I lost all my cloths and tools. The mill is about a quarter of a mile from the hotel. Signed, Robert Wheeler. 

Hona being sworn said, I am a native. At eight oclock yesterday morning I came to work at my cultivation. About nine oclock I went to Messers Dillon and Hurst's store. They let me have a bag of potatoes out of the big house, I took them into the store to have them weighed. I then took them to my plantation where I worked until twelve oclock, I then went to dinner. At one oclock I left my place for my work when i had got as far as Mr Butlands I saw a smoke at the hotel. I then called to the people to come out and see the fire. I then went down to see if I could find out wher the fire commenced. I first thought that it came from the kitchens but I found that it did not but found that it came from the new house. I then went to some of the doors but they were fastened. I then went to one that was open and helped to remove the goods. I took out two articles from the house. I then went to the store where the goods were. I carried until all the goods were outside. This finished what I have to say. 

By the Coroner: I do not think that the new house could take fire of itself as there was no fire aobut the place, I found Mr Dillon there . I first saw the fire in the eastern corner of the long room. The flames had got through the roof. I saw natives there about eight oclock in the morning but after that time there were only white men there. Signed Hona. 

William John Hurst being sworn said I am one of the partners of the firm Dillon and Hurst. I do not know anything of the orgins of the fire as I had been absent sometime. When I returned which was hastened by Mr Dillon's call I ran to the house and found the lower portion filled with smoke by the door of the room having been opened. I then thought of removing the things from the rooms above that in in which the fire was, but the smoke compeled me to leave ti and give what assistance I could below. That is all I have to say. 

By the Coroner: I have no idea how the fire originated except it got from between the two buildings. There was a hole ther made by dogs, rubbish had collected in it which may have ignited. There had been a fire lighted outside in the morning. No effort was made to put the fire out as it was impossible to save it. 

By a Juryman: I am certain that all the things that were in the store were not saved. I believe that the sum originally applied to be insured for was £1200. The sum effected in the New Zealand office is £750 since that I asked Mr Buchanan if he would insure as in his office for a sum to make with that in the New Zealand office to £1200. He told me to make an application but I have not done so. The house was insured for £270. The store for £30, the furnature for £100, the stock-in-trade for £350. I estimate the stock-in-trade at the time of the fire to be worth about £300, the value of the building at from £450 to £500. 

Edward Davis being sworn said I am a carpenter residing at Kikowhakarere, I knew the building that has been destroyed. I estimate its worth to have been from £400 to £450. Signed Edward Davis. 

The jury are of opinion tht there is no evidence of how the fire started but they firmly believe that the natives are perfectly free from any blame. 

Jury: Robert Stone (foreman), Edward Wood, John Bowman, Edward William Reynolds, James Ferguson, William Wanliss, Robert Kelly, John Baxter, Gerry Gurmer (sic), William Kelly, Donald McPhee, James Ninnis, Patrick Donnely. 

James Smith

26 May 1869, Inquest into the death of James Smith, held at Kikowhakarere at the dwelling house of Nicholas Gibbons by James Preece Esq. 

William Jones being sworn said. Yesterday morning myself, deceased and Cowan were sent to break a jam of timber and send logs into the creek, we went at it about an hour, we rolled several logs into the creek, we then went to break the jam. This was about seven oclock and as we rolled off the uppermost log, deceased and myself stood on the second log under the jam. There was another log under the jam and the one we rolled fell on that and underminded the jam making the foundation give way, the deceased and Cowan fell and deceaseds head got under the log, he was killed and Cowan was stunned, as soon as he came to himself I directed him to get a jack and move the log off Smith, which he did and we found him nearly dead. He breathed but never spoke. I dragged him out as soon as I could, we then took the body down to the mill. 

I do not consider that any carelessness was displayed and every precaution was taken to prevent an accident. Signed William Jones. 

Hugh Cowan being sworn said. I have known the deceased about nine months. I consider him to have been a sober steady man. I in company with the deceased and the last witness was at work yesterday morning in the creek rolling logs. As he moved the first log, it fell and struck the body of th logs. The next log to the one we rolled and the bottom gae way as they gave way they threw me over on my hands into the water. I was stunned for some minutes. As soon as I revived a little and got up on my feet, the last witness called out that Smith was killed and told me to get a jack quickly and to remove the log off the body, as I moved the log the last witness dragged him out. He then told me Smith was dead. 

By Coroner, deceased was quite sober, we were all sober. There was no casualness shown by anyone and every precaution was taken. Signed Hugh Cowan 

John M. Hall being duly sworn said. Yesterday morning when the accident happened I was not present. We were up the creek closing one of the dams when the accident happened. Somebody called and all ran down. When I got down I found that Smith was either dead or dying. I then went down to the Mill and got a stretcher. I told Mr Gibbons about the accident who gave directions for the body to be brought down to the mill. 

I believe that all precautions that could be taken was done. All the men were sober at the time. Signed John M. Hall. 

Jurors: William Prior (foreman), John Butland, John Calloway, John Kingston, Edward Davis, Henry Thompson, Henry Newlan, James Hall, William Mitchell, Nicholas Gibbons, William Burrell, William Taylor 
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