4 April 1862 Southern Cross
Great Success of the Diggers, - We have reason to believe that the question, "Is there a paying goldfield in the province of Auckland?", has at length been solved. The influx of diggers from Otago, led to the North by private intelligence from their friends in Coromandel, has been marked for the past eight or ten days. There are now between 200 and 300 men on the spot, many of whom landed from the vessels direct, without coming to Auckland, others proceeded thence from this city.
The success of the prospectors is a great fact. We will merely transcribe extracts from letters we have seen, and report the oral testimony of gentlemen who inspected the operations of the diggers in Coromandel, and leave the public to judge of the matter for themselves.
Mr Beeson writes to a mercantile firm in this city on the 31st March :- "There was a find of 20 ounces of gold on Friday last at one place and 7 ozs at another. These places are four miles apart, with every prospect of a good field being opened in a week or two. One nugget weighed 9ozs 15dwt."
In relation to the facts detailed in this letter, we may add that since perusing it we have talked with gentlemen who saw the gold referred to and they say that the weight of the nugget was 9ozs
18dwt., about 7ozs of pure gold and the balance quartz.
Writing on the 28th March from Coromandel, a gentleman for whose veracity we will unhesitatingly vouch, states:- " The diggers are coming here from Otago direct, 100 have landed and 150 are on their way, while more are to follow. These men bring money, but no provisions nor tools."
"Gold is being found in two places, five miles apart, and I believe the whole of the men are going to work at once with a good heart. I have seen the specimens of gold and quartz lodged with Mr. Turton, the Resident Magistrate, by two parties who thus put in their claim for the reward. One specimen weighs 1½ lbs., and other 6ozs. All the Victorian diggers want is supplies to last three weeks, and they are satisfied that they will do for the future. Their experience leads them to this conclusion."
A gentleman who was one of a party recently in Coromandel, stated to us that the party of miner's under the leading of Laurence Murphy, consisting in all of six men:- Lawrence Murphy, James Jones, Robert Wynn, John Flemming, William Alcock and Thomas Nash, have struck upon a promising quartz leader, in a drive in the centre spur at Kapanga, near to the spot where Mr Coolahan and party made £205 worth of gold in 1854. There are three spurs converging at this point, and Murphy's party have driven sixty-four yards into the central and largest spur, making provision for drainage. The men are most sanguine of a rich find from the heavy quartz of the leader.
Below, and at some distance from this party, in the gully, another party of men are working, -Germans- and they showed our informant and his friend several pounds weight of black auriferous sand, largely intermixed with gold. The richness of this sand can only be appreciated by those who have seen it. These men are in high spirits, and are daily accumulation the precious earth.
Near the residence of Mr Preece, a party of four men are engaged on the hill side, and have sunk a shaft of considerable depth. They also displayed specimens of quartz of considerable value, and left the impression on the minds of the gentlemen to whom they exhibited a pretty considerable pile, that they had more behind which they did not deem it prudent to exhibit.
The diggings are now extending towards Cape Colville, and the nearer they approach this point, the richer the finds become. There are working parties all over the country, except on the prohibited land, and the diggers appear unwilling to satisfy the curiosity of visitors. They also, no doubt, fear to excite the cupidity of the natives. But from what we have recorded above, and from statements equally trustworthy confirming this, which we have heard elsewhere, we believe the time has passed for reticence. The existence of large gold deposits has been established on European land, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, on their way from Otago to Auckland and it is for the government to be equal to the emergency. The diggers need want for nothing in Coromandel. They will find men in Auckland who shall do their utmost to make their early trials as light as possible and above all they will enjoy a delicious climate, have wood, water, food and clothing in abundance.
We should mention that Mr Heron has sub-let the ground for a store to one of the recent arrivals, and we have no doubt but stores will spring up rapidly.
4 April 1862 Southern Cross Shipping News.
(Inwards) The schooner 'Zillah'
arrived on Wednesday last, from Otago, after a run of seven days. She
brought 24 passengers.
4 April 1862 Southern Cross General News
But the most important news of the
morning is the confirmation of the gold discoveries in Coromandel. Gold
in fair quantities has been discovered, and hundreds are coming north from Dunedin. What
dimensions the 'rush' may assume we cannot predict but we believe the
indications of gold are such as to lead to hopeful conclusions. The facts
in relation to this matter will be found elsewhere.
4 April 1862 Southern Cross, Shipping Intelligence
The arrivals from England have been the 'Kinnaird' and 'Avalanche' and the 'Cashmere'. From Adelaide we have had the 'City of Manchester' of the Black Ball fleet, with grain. There have been several arrivals from Sydney. A fleet of coasting vessels have returned from Otago with passengers. The 'Phoenix' steamer, built in Auckland, and sold in Dunedin, is among the number. The 'Rainbow' steamer is also on her passage from Dunedin to Coromandel and will ply, with the 'Phoenix' between this city and the gold district. Six vessels are advertised as laid on at Dunedin for Auckland, among them one of about 1000 tons.
15 April 1862 Southern Cross, Letters to the Editor
The Dunedin papers make light of Coromandel and publish the following letters from diggers who were or are located in the peninsula. Our readers can judge of the effect of such communications. :-
Coromandel, 8 March 1862 :- Dear ---- Adam has been down to the diggings, stayed for some time and has at length returned, giving a most deplorable account of them. Other store-keepers have been down as well, but returned sadder if not wiser men. Do not pay any attention to newspaper reports, for I can assure you my dear-----, the diggings are no good. They will not pay anything like average wages, and it is all "bosh" about their being good labourers wages, from four to five shillings per day. From your affectionate father, Michael Mintin.
On the 25th March the annexed
appeared in the same journal :- AucklandMarch 7th 1862.
15 April 1862 H. Hanson Turton R.M. Commissioner of Crown Lands Report. Southern Cross. Abbreviated. Coromandel 5th of April 1862
On the 28th ult, the 'Flying Cloud'
arrived with 56 diggers and one woman. On the 30th, the 'Canterbury' with 53.
On the 1st inst., the screw steamer, 'Phoenix' with 35, and on the 3rd, the
'Betsy' with 28 of those who had just arrived in Auckland per 'Briton' leaving
other 12 to come in that vessel.
Signed, H. Hanson Turton, R. M.
18 April 1862 Southern Cross
The usual result of a long-persevered in system of governmental reticence and governmental ostracism is that at the critical moment, when something has to be done, everybody is taken very much by surprise, and nobody knows what to do. We shall probably very soon find ourselves in an unenviable position of this kind in so far as the province of Auckland is concerned.
We have been labouring for many years under an intermittent gold-fever of a most peculiar description. The symptoms have not been at all identical with those of the disease as it has shown itself in other colonies, or in the mother country itself, and it may not be out of place here to enlarge upon the difference. The true gold-fever is generally accompanied by an irresistible desire on the part of the community where the epidemic is raging, to rush pick and shovel in hand to the scene of action, to barter razors for spades and coats for jumpers, to ignore the past entirely and sacrifice the present to the possibility of a golden future. These are the true symptoms, but in Auckland the disease has taken another form. Instead of a general rush to the front, everybody has been trying to induce everybody else to lead the way and trying in vain. Everybody is very anxious to see his neighbour grappling with the difficulty before he himself tries it, corner allotment calls to corner allotment, and prays for the advent of diggers who shall raise their market value a thousand per cent, whilst the general enthusiasm is tremendous, and his Excellency and the Superintendent chime in with the popular feeling and take a cruise in the Waitemata.
But whence arises this remarkable difference? We have no wish to blame our citizens or to complain because nobody here is willing to hazard anything but his neighbours property. The real reason why Otago has taken the lead as the gold-producing province of New Zealand is not, we believe, because nature has been more bountiful there than here, but because men possess in Otago a something which does not exist in Auckland,-- Confidence. Uncertainty as to the intentions of Government is the worm gnawing at the root of the prosperity of this province. There can be no doubt of this fact, and although it will be immediately urged in reply that we have no right to expect a similar state of affairs under totally different conditions of society, that it is unreasonable to condemn the Government, because they are obliged to act differently in Auckland and Otago, we shall still maintain that in one respect they may act alike in both places---they may most advantageously refrain from shrouding themselves in any unnecessary mystery.
In saying this we allude more particularly to the uncertainty which exists as to the ultimate intentions of the General Government in reference to the Coromandel gold-fields. There was a good deal of excitement in town yesterday in consequence of various rumours which were afloat to the effect that there had been a large find of gold in the district and in answer to that we have been favoured with the following communication from his Honor on the subject, which we hasten to present to our readers:-
Sir,---In reply to your enquires as to the accuracy of certain rumours of a quantity of gold having been entrusted to my care by diggers at work in Coromandel, and of two claims having been lodged with me for the reward offered by the Provincial Council, I beg in reply to inform you that these reports are not correct. It is true that small quantities of gold mingled with quartz have been found by some of the prospecting parties at work there, and lodged by them with the Resident Magistrate of the district to entitle them to claim the reward would the gold field be found to be payable, encouraging indications of the existence of gold bearing quartz-reefs have also been discovered by others engaged in sinking shafts and in driving into the hill sides.
I have the honor to be, Sir, yours &c. J Williamson. To. R. J Creighton, Esq., Southern Cross Office.
It will be seen from the above, that though reports as usual have greatly exaggerated the truth, there is still strong reason to believe that in a short time the existence of a valuable gold-field will have been satisfactorily proved, and it is to such a discovery that we are looking forward with anxiety. What is going to be done when it is discovered? When the long foreseen event takes place, will men first commence to examine its true bearings and to take the steps necessary to turn it to good account, or did anything come of his Excellency's late visit to Coromandel, and has any arrangement been already arrived at with the native owners which may be immediately acted upon? Men are already arriving at Coromandel from Otago direct and further reinforcements are expected. One vessel of upwards of 500 tons has been placed on the berth, and may shortly be looked for. Under these circumstances the country has a right to enquire what provision has been made for the preservation of peace and order at the diggings and what security exists that a nomad population, suddenly introduced into a country where no law--properly so-called---exists, and inexperienced in the theory of New Zealand government, may not commit themselves in such a style as to blight the promise of that peaceful solution of the native difficulty which all would wish to see, and which some are actually supposed to be awaiting with confidence.
Of course, we shall be told that great caution is requisite in our dealings with the natives, that we, or rather the public which we represent, should refrain from interfering and complication already existing difficulties :- in short, that we should quietly await the upshot. We shall be requested not to speak least we may break the charm which is supposed to have bound the natives. "Favete linguis," they will say to us; withhold your judgement till all is over; "allow us quietly to work the oracle, and pray don't interrupt us." You are the profanum vulgus--men odious to everyone of proper feeling. All our remarks upon the subject of Coromandel are out of order. Still, for our own part, we are rather inclined to think that the public and ourselves have a great deal to say on the subject, and a perfect right to say it. We further believe that nothing is to be gained by ignoring the fact, or pretending to ignore it, that the discovery of a paying gold-field in this Province and a consequent rush of diggers into the immediate vicinity of native land, must bring the native question--as men love to call it---to a crisis, and necessitate the adoption of a policy and of a real one. Mr Crosbie Ward will not be able to settle little differences at Coromandel by a judicious expenditure of thirty pounds of public money.
And yet what is to be done? The "native question'" is a delicate one. It is something like that indescribable but most interesting disorder which ladies are subject to, and which goes by the familiar name or "nerves," and of course the public would be acting like marital brutes were they not to make every allowance for "nerves," when the native question is mooted and pressed upon the attention of our ruling men, who will hear nothing upon so disagreeable topic. "It will be so dreadfully shocking," they will say, "if the discussion should come round to the ears of the poor native. How Distressing if he were to be told that we wanted Coromandel, and that we know we must ultimately get it?--how unfeeling to tell him in so many words that it is not much matter our not having bought his land, because we are aware that sooner or later the inevitable course of events which we have long foreseen must oblige him to give it up! Why will the Press make itself so disagreeable, and shock us with its disagreeable truths, which we should prefer forgetting for a while? We shall have quite trouble enough when those bad diggers begin, and if the poor dear romantic Maoris do suffer in consequence, we shall be very sorry, but what is the good of annoying them before their time comes? The roads are not quite finished either, and we shall want good roads when we go to market with the dear interesting creatures."
Really, the Government seems to be arguing--by the silence--in this manner, and we have no hesitation in saying so, for they will never succeed in hoodwinking the natives, be they silent to the end of the chapter. Natives know as well as ourselves what the result of an influx of determined diggers into Coromandel must be. At present the former possess the power of stopping all diggers on native land, and the discovery of a big nugget will be their signal for so doing. But by that time the Government will have evoked a familiar spirit which it will be beyond its power to lay, and the possible results we need only allude to. We have said before, and we repeat now, that only in one way can the difficulty be met; namely, by acquiring Coromandel at any cost. Every hours delay will increase that cost, and if too long delayed, the purchase may necessitate the expenditure of something besides money.