Alistair Isdale: War Conditions and Gold 1860 - 1874
In 1859, Gabriel Read in Otago saw gold glittering "like the Stars in orion on a frosty night" and another world gold rush was on, with the European population doubling several times in the next few years.
Auckland, which had had three-fifths of the European population and commercial activity, found itself in a comparative backwater. Efforts to reopen the Coromandel goldfield increased, with partial success.
Meanwhile, in 1860 the Taranaki War broke out, as it were ahead of time, because of a misconceived land deal with the wrong parties, at a time when more room for expansion by European settlements was wanted.
Before 1840, a growing flood of private deals had more or less bought all New Zealand several times over, with a Government clampdown from 1840 making then all null and void - but in some cases open to long winded negotiation. The Government had also taken pre-emptive rights to make all further purchases itself, and resell to settlers. Naturally the idea was to buy cheap and sell dear. That did not please the "native owners of the soil," who would have preferred to sell direct to settlers - and in some cases did find ways around, including leases. The Land League that arose with the King movement simply forbade further sales to the Europeans, who had reacted to the comparative dearth of land to expand into by increasing pressure on all concerned. Which made said native owners feel threatened just as they were suffering resentful poverty from the greater self-sufficiency of those Europeans. Who at one time had been a life or death necessity, then a great convenience as trading providers for a quite welcome change of lifestyle, then became a nuisance and source of damage to said lifestyle as prosperity ebbed away, and finally a threat. Threats were liable to be met.
Such currents would affect Hauraki too, even at Tapu-Te Mata.
Around Coromandel there were two lines of pressure. From Auckland, to get a good goldfield going, to at least lessen the draining of population to the South Island, and from the King movement, to resist land sales and concessions, such as for gold mining.
By 1861 these two pressures were coming to "centre around" Paul Marshall or Paora Mututera, and his wife Lydia or Riria, who took up the cudgels when her husband died, to keep for their hapu of thirty or so the very area that increasing numbers of diggers on the ground considered the most desirable. As a son of Lydia in later years turned up near Paeroa to help the Kiriwera division of the Ngati-Tamatera in resistance to roading. It would seem her hapu belonged to that tribe.
While the fierce Taraia had long been pro-pakeha as a provider of essential munitions, the main Ngati-Tamatera chief, Te Hira, was more accessible to King Movement influences, and did not like the intrusion of as many as 240 diggers, who directly threatened the Marshall or Matutera people. The Ngati-Tamatera, after the 1830 return, with reapportionment of lands, had taken up territories right to the northern end of the Coromandel Peninsula, the already mentioned third of the Coromandel Harbour area having north of it even bigger Moehau areas. An important meeting house was at Waiaro, on the coast a little north of present day Colville, which latter had an important stone fish trap.
In 1862 Sir George Grey increased the pressure on Lydia, with the implied threat of looming war, the offer of large sums of money, and on meeting with delaying tactics or taihoa, brusquely breaking off negotiations and stalking to a boat to be rowed out to his Government steamship, with Lydia wading out chest deep, crying, "Do not go forth with a dark heart, 0 Governor, I too renounce the land."
Te Hira was conveniently away further south, where he and others had been tending to withdraw, and also ready to turn down a deal as having not been consulted, but Lydia had a thousand pounds to pass on as his share. And cash money had been becoming so scarce in the more Spartan times of the last few years. But movement south continued, especially as more miners started pouring in, with sales of town lots in new Coromandel.
Movements south continued, with even those particularly friendly to Europeans, like the Ngati-Whanaunga, finding causes of friction. With war clouds continuing to gather there was strong opposition to the diggers being given guns. As for the hundred or so timbermen and settlers, who were old friends, not strangers, they had always had their hunting guns as a matter of course.
The Waikato War came in July, 1863. Contrary to a statement by James Mackay, Coromandel was not deserted by its European inhabitants. The old settlers and timbermen stayed, though their young men went off to the wars, like sons of retired missionary Preece. And also, while what we might call the loose miners made excellent recruits for the Forest Rangers, companies that had become established with their batteries and were producing gold went on doing so, to the tune of over £10,000 worth of gold a year.
Further south, however, European settlers were evacuated by Government decree. Donald McCaskill complained that some cattle that had been evacuated with his family suffered loss, while those left with the enemy old personal friends - had no losses but natural increase.
A war party approached Coromandel but (pers. comm. Miss. Ring, granddaughter
of Charles Ring), said Charles Ring rose out at the head of the well armed long
resident Europeans, which had a marked soothing effect.
1865 saw the formal surrender by Wiremu Tamihana, who soon died amid the
ruins of Peria in the Matamata area, where there had once been flour mills and
great fields of wheat and other produce, before the days of
In 1866 there was a hysterical reaction to defeat with the Hau Hau movement, which was particularly taken up by the Ngati-Tamatera, whose southward movement met Hauha |fugitives coming for refuge to the Ohinemuri, safely outside the confiscation line. James Mackay took credit for working with the old chiefs to keep Hauraki clear of war. Certainly many of the Ngati-Whanaunga and Ngati-Maru were long standing friends of the Europeans, but also a place of refuge was in the interest of others. In the Ohinemuri south of Hikutaia, the Ngati-Maru boundary, while the Ngati-Tamatera already had land interests southward, the fugitive Hau Haus were able to find an economic basis by gum digging.
The movement south of the Ngati-Tamatera had been continuing. From its place at Waiaro just north of Colville, the meeting house was barged to the vicinity of present day Paeroa, where it was first on one side of the Ohinemuri River and then on the other, where it remains, as ‘Te Pai-o-Hauraki’, the Peace of Hauraki.
The importance of such movement to Te Mata-Tapu is that the Ngati-Tamatera there, such as the fierce Taraia with his entourage at Puru, and any that might have been occupying the hill stronghold, disappeared southward, leaving the place to any stray Ngati-Whanaunga and Ngati-Maru, unless, as with the Colville fish-trap, where they left a man and his family to as it were maintain title, they might have done so at Te Mata-Tapu.
The way was more than open for what would take place in 1867 with the opening of the Thames goldfield.
Incidentally, the Ngati-Tamatera move southward was more a drift over a period. Thus O.M. Creagh, who took up land soon after in 1867 on the Ohinemuri, on a Thorp area sold to him, witnessed the coming of the Kiriwera section of the Ngati-Tamatera to the Komata, with their pigs troubling his fences and cultivations.
OPENING OF THAMES - AND TAPU – GOLDFIELDS
Opened on August 1, 1867, the Thames Goldfield had a bonanza discovery in the first ten days, then grew with almost explosive force, like the South Island gold rushes, which could throw up towns of 20,000 or so in a year. That was just finishing, so Thames became the target. By Christmas, 1867, there was a largely tented mining camp of 5,000. By August, 1868, there was a rapidly built wooden town of an estimated 18,000. After that it declined in numbers, as independent diggers, who at that time numbered 8,000 odd in a good 2,000 claims, were replaced by companies, with increase of gold production, to over a million pounds worth in 1871.
James Mackay, Civil Commissioner in charge, and first Warden, had the problem of increasing the first small area "ceded" for gold mining by Thames chiefs led by the Taiparis, father and son. This became easier as the numbers increased so dramatically of diggers, who each had to pay a pound a year, which went to the ‘native owners of the soil,’ resulting ' in such matters as a fine European style Taipari house, and daughter Victoria going to a finishing school in England.
But the Ohinemuri south of Hikutaia was a Hau Hau and Kingite stronghold where the writ that ran was of Te Hira of the Ngati-Tamatera. And no land deals for money, whether sold or merely ceded. As the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, around 500 diggers gathered by October on a settler's paddocks near present day Paeroa. And near where Te Hira had a big Marae, dominated by Te Hira's imposing European style house, with his musket armed bodyguards. He also had a country house retreat by the river in the cliffy Karangahake area. However at that time gold was found at Tapu, diverting attention.
James Mackay was able to make extensions around Thames, while to the north he got an agreement that covered the Coromandel goldfield and extended it, from Cape Colville to a line between Manaia and the head of the Whitianga estuary, on November 2, followed on November 9, 1867, by one coming further south to Te Mamuku just south of Puru, thus taking in Te Mata-Tapu, and the rush was really on.
A map made at that time or soon after shows the claims as in December, 1867.
It had taken a little while before that to find out things. According to James Mackay. In October, 1867, he wrote, "gold was found near Waipatukahu or Tapu," and a number of diggers went from Thames. This was prior to the November agreement, but by that time there would have been no Kingite Ngati-Tamatera around. Local gum diggers were not likely to have objected unless the diggers had been after gum, which was still a Maori preserve at that time. Initially the work was on alluvial gold, this leading to the parent quartz reefs. There was more alluvial gold than at Thames, Tapu Creek being initially a payable alluvial field.
Then, it is related, a dog brought among alluvial miners a tin with gold nuggets, The finders returned it to the owners, then investigated the quartz source and pegged it.
The early alluvial work was quite extensive, involving not only digging holes in the valley bottom, but also "the sluicing of hillside talus and stream gravels," Thus there was already much more ground disturbance than would be done by the tunnel mining that followed, where the main work was underground, with only the waste tips to affect the surface. There was also alluvial work in the Te Mata valley, a figure handed down being 3,000 ounces, the geological formation in the lower Te Mata valley was not one for finding quartz reefs, and in any case the trail was followed some distance out of our area, and up a Te Mata tributary on the north side, the Gentle Annie. There it ends in a vast oozy slide formation, in which many have played mud pies without finding the originating formation.
The Gentle Annie is out of the Jurassic sediments of the lower Te Mata Valley, into the "First Period" Andesites, the gold bearing formation also characteristic of the Tapu Valley, except where the Tapu stream is straddled by quite an area of pre-Jurassic, invaded in our area between Te Mata and Tapu area by a quartz reef injected by the surrounding volcanics as Mclsaac Vein near the head of No. 3 creek.
That sort of thing can happen to the older formations when later vulcanism gets going around and under them.
At Thames the first work was to try for alluvial, which was somewhat wanting, and the Tapu and Te Mata area gave so much alluvial gold to start with that the Tapu Creek diggings were described as, "the true Eldorado of the Thames."
However, after the Kuranui find at Thames in the first 10 days, the field began to turn efforts more to quartz mining techniques and batteries were set going. The big South Island rushes had been alluvial based, and many diggers came for the same at Thames, and, disappointed, were glad to turn to what seemed something of greater promise Tapu-TeMata.
Thames quartz mining, and Tapu quartz mining when the sources of alluvial were sought, both benefited from the Coromandel experience in quartz mining and treatment 1862-67, which procedures had not been required in the alluvial South Island.
In the first alluvial stage at Tapu, the claims of Messrs. Quinn and Cashel and Allen and Hall were noted as having given large yields and great promise. At this stage, apart from ground cleared for dwellings and cultivations possibly a number of them overgrown after the draining away quietly of the Ngati-Tamatera in recent years, all along the background was of unbroken predominantly kauri forest sweeping up to and over the main divide.
Even as mining was developing in a way that would have less effect on the ground surface, things that would happen to this magnificent forest cover would have immeasurably more.
At Tapu to start with, (pers. comm. the late Manfred McMahon), it was all tents and "cloth houses" of canvas over wooden frames (as at Thames at the end of 1867). Then came a storm, and flattened them all. So they began felling kauri trees and set up wooden buildings.
The kauri trees immediately behind and above the sea strand would merely
need to be slid down, after the front ends were "sniped with sharp axes to
round them so as not to be caught by obstacles. Once they got some way
on, with logs weighing tonnes the momentum was tremendous as speed built up. A
large tawa tree could have the heart punched out of it while the log rushed on.
A bushman who had witnessed it told me you would hear a bang and see the top of
the tawa shiver for a moment. Then it would begin ' to move, ' slowly at
first, then faster, as the huge tawa came crashing down with such weight and
velocity, the hillsides suffered. (I have myself let loose a large pine trunk
on a long steep slope, the small end breaking off as it hit somewhat soft
altered andesite rock at the bottom, which the broken off end had penetrated
for five feet. The rock, if softened from hard andesite lava, was hard enough
to have stood up well in a mine, requiring some hard pick work, if not
explosive. Therefore the kauri logs let loose down slopes would have had not
only soil but also the usual altered andesites bulldozed quite effectively.
Quite a few trees were required, for houses, hotels and battery buildings with their bedlogs. The figure handed down of initial goldrush population is 3,000 a suspicious figure, as used in quite a number of such instances, but probably not too far off the mark, with say 2 or 3 thousand. With the contingent that had waited on the spot for the opening of the Ohinemuri quite accurately estimated by James Mackay at 500, they probably joined three or four times their number sailing or steaming directly from Thames.
As regards hotels, before the storm there were several quite large ones of the "calico house" type, with canvas over wooden frames, according to Manfred McMahon. He said the building in wood was for a smaller population.
One set of reminiscences, quite a few years later, in 1884, with a gold haze of time magnifying things a bit, credited Tapu with 5,000 during the rush.
James Mackay, in a report of July 13, 1868, when the settlement by the Tapu stream was called Hastings, reported that a police station and a lock up were most necessary, with another policeman to add to constable Wallace. By this time quartz mining was going on, and the "Thames Miner's Guide" of August, 1868, by Edward Clarke, mentioned a company, the Tapu Gold Mining Company, on a claim formerly known as Mclsaacs.
During 1869, new leasing regulations allowed for larger areas, and "the numerous outlying small claims came to be abandoned. Also the more easily worked surface and subsurface gold enrichments were worked out in the next few years, so that numbers and activity fel1 off.
Wayte's Almanac of 1869 noted that by that time there were 4 or 5 hundred men "actually engaged in mining," (with their dependents and servicers). The township of Hastings had 10 hotels. There were approximately 100 claims (78 as of December, 1867, and could have grown in number for a time after that during the initial rush), and on June 30, 1869, James Mackay wrote to Charles Reay, goldfields surveyor, of Thames, asking him to go to Hastings to take charge as goldfields surveyor there. (Indicating a continuing fairly high level of activity).
Kauri timber would continue to be wanted, and as soon as trees whose log could be slid down the heights immediately behind the Tapu flat were exhausted, it would be the turn of the sides of the Te Mata and Tapu, for floating or driving down the streams, with quite an amount of gouging down the sides and in the stream beds, with ripping away of protecting vegetation, with growing erosion on the sides from both felling and slidings down, beginning the process of turning quiet deep reaches into in filled irregular courses.
Diggers who did not do as well as they expected from gold at places like Thames and Tapu were turning to gum digging, which was no longer a Maori monopoly. The old gumfields behind Tapu and Te Mata would be handy.
On July 22 1870, a gum digger wrote to the Thames Advertiser, “Some of us have come here attracted by the Thames bubble, and have been glad, in the absence of other employment, to invest in a spear and spade, and dig gum, instead of the gold we have expected”.
This added a fairly intensive factor to land modification, including that between the Te Mata and Tapu. Other factors were log slope sliding and stream floating and driving, and quite intensive trenching and making of short trial tunnels in the early stages of actual mining in a multitude of small claims, finding out the hard way where the actual gold-bearing reefs were, before following them underground.
That meant a winnowing out process, with reduction of activity to a few mines that were found to be actually payable. This process of winnowing out had gone far by 1870.
The Thames Advertiser of August 10, 1870, had, "Poor miserable poverty-stricken Tapu."
Maori gold mining had been going on for some time, on an amicable footing, and stood out more, to be taken notice of by Thames newspapers, as the number of Europeans lessened, especially when they did road-making in their co-operative style.
The Thames Advertiser of September 8, 1870, said they were cutting a dray road to the Black Swan. This was a Maori-held mine well up the Tapu, so the road up the valley started then. They were also cutting a bridle track for many miles for pack horsing kauri gum out to Tapu, to be picked up at a Jetty and taken by water to Thames or Auckland direct, and to take in stores to the gumdiggers.
The many miles suggests modifying the old ridge track between the Tapu and Te Mata streams, able to cover a much wider area than taking off from the dray road in the confines of the valley. Maori route makers always preferred ridges. Evidence might be findable in the area under study.
The gumdiggers were quite likely mixed Maori and European. On September 23, 1870, the Advertiser referred to a few Europeans digging gum at Hikutaia but no more allowed till further orders, as they were digging on the Maori King's boundary - Te Hira was mentioned. (He was holding the Ohinemuri closed to gold mining, as owing his allegiance to the Maori king. James Mackay, finding he could not bribe them, as they refused to take money, found they would take goods, like food for tangis, and adopted the plan of supplying raihana or rations, as to Maori "friendlies" in the recent Waikato War, with dockets to sign, the costs being notarised as advances on the security of lands.) There was reference to the "Promissory Notes" on September 28, 1870.
There was mention on October 10, 1870, to "the depressed state of the
goldfield" at Thames. But on the
19th October, there was reference to gold struck in the Caledonian mine, which
caused an upsurge of optimism and increased activity all round, and on November
24 it was mentioned that Tapu mining was improving.
But towards the end of 1871 Caledonian returns were falling off, and 1872 opened with even poorer Thames gold returns after the holidays.
Tapu still had quite an establishment of shops and 3 hotels. On March 13, 1872, the Thames Advertiser recorded the capital of Tapu Creek as Hastings, with the 3 publicans, 2 storekeepers, 2 butchers, 1 shoemaker, 1 baker, Post Office:, public hall, Catholic chapel, and 2 schools. Number of private houses was not given. There were still 3 crushing machines or batteries, Buckland with 15 stamps, Rattray with 8 and the Hope mine with 4.
Thames hoped the general posturex of things
would improve with the opening of the Ohinemuri. The raihana system was
going on steadily. On April 19, 1872, it noted the Maori people were dismayed
that the food at an Ohinemuri tangi was charged against them by the
Government. They said if they had known they would have had to pay for it
in land they would not have eaten it.