1 August 1862 Southern Cross, Parliamentary Papers (Mr Hanson Turton, on the Runanga Maori)
At the instance of the Government, I proceed to note down a few of the observations which I made illustrative of the working of the Maori runanga, in some of the places which I lately visited in the capacity of District Magistrate.
In the Runanga Maori we observe an institution of very ancient date; and in its revival at the present day is easily to be seen an ill-assorted mixture of European with Native customs, though generally asserted by the Maoris to be of purely Aboriginal origin.
In old times the term runanga seems to have been chiefly used for councils of a grave and political character, to which all men, women and children, except slaves and their offspring, were frequently admitted. Meetings of amore private and select nature, and generally held in the night time, were used by the head chiefs for the discussion of the more important questions, especially such as related to peace or war. In 1832 we find the term "council" in the prayer book, translated by the word "runanga," and so on since, but in ordinary use it speedily became absorbed, in the more diluted form of komiti, to which even slaves were admissible, but which from the natives' incomplete notions of Christian eulogy, became very irregular in its proceedings, and very indecisive in its action. The komiti was taken from the "committee" meetings of the missionaries, which were held periodically at he various stations; the terms "whare-hui-hui" or assembling-house, and "whare-korero" or talking-house, were also sometimes heard, and the word "runanga" fell into general disuse. Even in 1846, in Sir W. Martin's short paper on law, the term does not occur once: but "Court" and "Supreme Court" are rendered by the words "komiti," "komiti-whakawha" and "komiti-nui." It was in the following year that the expression was revived amongst the natives, by the publication of the "Rongo-Mau," (a treatise on peace by the Rev. J. Whiteley), in which they were strongly recommended to establish general and local "Runangas," under the superintendence of the Government, for the better management of their internal affairs, in preference to arbitratment by the sword. But it was not till 1856 that the term runanga became common in Waikato and the word Komiti disused; and since then its thoroughly native origin has caused it to be extensively adopted, both North and South, though some of the tribes (such as the Arawa of Rotorua and the Lower Whangauis) seem to think that the runanga is somehow or other connected with disloyalty, and so continue in the use of the word komiti. And now at last, as the height of perfection, a single man or woman, old or young, as the case may be, is generally allowed to constitute a runanga; and it is not an uncommon thing to hear a man exclaim, "E! ka runangatia au e te rutuhi nei," my case is being judged by an old woman.
Every considering the komiti Maori, for it s very constitution, to be the weakest form of local government which could be devised, and almost entirely useless for the attainment of those great ends for which all government is adapted. I have from the beginning looked forward, with great hopes, to the re-establishment of the stronger and more definite form of runanga wherever it could be placed under English supervision. For I hold it as a truth, from the history of late years, that in many cases where this very powerful engine has been left to the sole management of the natives themselves, the mixture of evil with good has been so strong as to render the plan anything but desirable as a permanent institution. Not perhaps that we could expect otherwise, under the circumstances: but for all that, it appears to be a sine qua non that European guidance is absolutely necessary to render such a scheme the means of civilizing those who adopt it. But with such guidance, and a submissive people, there is every reason to hope for the best. It is quite true that the Maoris generally look with suspicion at the introduction of our representatives from of government, being especially fearful that their interest would not be consulted so much as if left entirely to the crown. I have heard chiefs repeat this objection over and over again; but I must add, that I have always thought the suspicion to have been implanted by people of our own race. But when they find in practice that this very legislature is so willing to advance their best interests, even to the voting of large funds for that purpose, there is nothing in the Maori mind, when properly trained, to preclude the hope that they will not only acknowledge the obligation, but also cheerfully assist tin the attainment of such benefits. Only let them see where their interest lies, and that such benefits will really accrue, and...................................................
Damages than they had previously lost. And to such an extent had this mania risen, that the chief reason assigned by many for whishing to individualize their titles, was not that they might alienate their lands to European purchasers, but that they might be enabled to transfer them as payment for offences committed against each other. In which case, it is easy to see how soon the whole of the native territory would be involved in confusion; and how the Maoris’ dissatisfaction would result in revenge, on finding himself denuded of his little patrimony, and that too, perhaps, without cause. I hope the government will provide against this power being exercised by Runangas. On the other hand, I met with several natives in the Bay of Plenty indebted to European merchants and traders, who expressed regret that their lands were held in common, as otherwise, they would have the ready means of defraying their liabilities, which are now being annually increased by the addition of 10%, to the original sum, and in some cases goods had been almost forced upon them, with the promise that payment would be accepted in land on failure of other means of discharge.
At Waiheke I found an assessor, but no runanga Maori; and at Coromandel neither the one nor the other. Some of the people obtain considerable sums by the sale of timber, or by its freight to Auckland: with this money spirits are bought extensively, and both men and women, with the youths, are given to its consumption. And if they receive cash from the government for the working of their lands, it is to be feared that it will be mostly spent in a similar way. At Kapanga, I found the natives repeatedly drunk, and the women worse than the men. They received the liquor from Waiheke, and then would hawk it about the harbour at 8s per bottle. In such a case Maori runanga would be a blessing, but the people have neither the desire nor the energy to appoint one. Pita is the most suitable man for an assessor, being one of Mr Lanfearr's teachers: he declines the appointment.
At Kawaeranga (mouth of the Thames river), I found the natives divided into two distinct parties; the Ngatiwhanaunga under Tikapa calling for English law, and the Ngatimaru, under the old chief Riwai, all wishful to go back to the ritenga of their ancestors. At a meeting of their runanga which I called, they expounded their views fully, and pronounced for a state of pure Maori-ism as regards customs, laws, language, trade, religious instruction, and local habitation. I never heard anything so exclusive before. They would have nothing to do with the King (Potatau), nor with the Queen, nor the Governor, nor magistrates; but simply rule themselves by their own laws, and keep entirely separate from the Pakehas. Their fathers had done without us and so would they etc. The argument lasted three hours, kept up with spirit and good temper; and after that the "Queen's runanga," as they styled themselves, followed in reply, and gave expression to sentiments of a very opposite character.
Immediately afterwards, the Maori Court, or runanga, was opened, as if in illustration of their speeches, and for my peculiar benefit. Ole Riwai sat as Judge; the case, one of "Korero-teka," (slander), was introduced and argues by two young men as "Roias" (lawyers), each having received a fee of 10s. The judge was quickly confused by them, and sent to ask me how to proceed. I replied that I was there as a spectator only, and wished to see how such cases were conducted. Plaintiff then began on behalf of her daughter, of ten years of age, whose gentle birth had been maligned, and in a screaming speech, with abundance of pukana (grimances), demanded damages of £50, to be paid down at once. On this, loud laughter arose on every side. The child's father came forward to prove how reasonable was the demand; saying that thought the mother was a slave, he was a chief, and a great one too, and that the sum was little enough for having called his daughter a taurekareka (slave). He was quickly supported by aunts and uncles in abundance, who all doubtless thought that £50 ready cash would be a good thing for the family; and so they all stood up and chattered together, making confusion worse confounded. By this time, the two lawyers were nearly fighting, pacing about and speechifying one against the other: and the Court was about to decide in favour of the plaintiff, who had gained judgement solely through strength of lungs and impudence, when up jumped the defendant, - a wretched looking old woman, and all in tatters, and rushing into the ring, she first divided the lawyers, then assailed the plaintiff, then abused the witnesses, heaped scorn on all the party, and justified the libel; then repeated it most expressively, and dared them to their faces. The whole court was instantly in an uproar, like Bedlam let loose, each person siding off to his party, and every speaker grinning at the rest, and all speaking and rushing about together; when my interference was again requested by the judge. Poor old man, he was all in a nervous sweat, and had evidently lost the train of his ideas. Order being restored, I took the case in hand, much to the discomfiture of the lawyers; and within a quarter of an hour, the whole evidence had been extracted, and the decision given. Judgement was still for the plaintiff, but only 10s damages; and yet all parties were pleased with the result. Even the old dame herself was content, crying out that "she had never had such a sum in her life, and never should have, and that they might et the money as they could." This speech was received with great applause and a collection at once commenced, when garments and coins of various value, amounting to about 25s, were handed over and laid at the feet of the mother, the plaintiff, as a cure-all for her troubled mind and daughter's damaged reputation.
The above scene I have described as it really occurred; and ludicrous as it may appear, I was informed that it was but a type of what frequently took place at their runanga-maoris.
The next day I held a meeting of our own runanga, and found only fifteen adults of that hapu fit to act as juryman; out of which, twelve were chosen by suffrage, or rather by the nomination of two or three of the head men, assented, to by the rest. The Chief's son (who was acting as a kind of Assessor) I found to be very talkative and vain, expectant of high salary, and ambitions of power, especially that of throwing both Maoris and Pakehas into prison. He said, if we rule them, they ought also to rule us; otherwise, how could we say that they possessed the same right and immunities as British subjects? But still, thought very rigid, his relations would prefer him to one of the Ngatimaru as an Assessor; whereas the later tribe seem to hold him and his pretensions in extreme contempt. As in many other similar cases the only remedy it to appoint one from either party.
As to the practice of having a fixed set of Jurors, it is no doubt opposed both to the letter and principle of the "Native Circuit Courts Act." And yet, what is to be done, and by what other means can the spirit or intention of the Act be reconciled to the necessity of the case? The fewness of the natives meet you at every place, and the very small number of suitable men as jurors is admitted everywhere; therefore, there can be no choice but one, unless courts are to be held at considerable distances from each other, which again would be contrary to the design of the measure. This Act seems to have contemplated a larger population than really exists; and indeed, a population of a different kind. Amongst the Maoris I would not trust any jurymen, unless they had been drilled and trained to it, and thus gained a character for integrity and impartial dealing; as otherwise, "trial by jury" would be equivalent to "trial by perjury, bribery, or family affection." In many instances the jury would comprise the whole of the adult male population of the place; and if the selection be extended to a larger district, then there is the great difficulty of getting them together in one place at the same time. This could be met by holding the jury courts at more distant intervals of time, (say, once a quarter, or even twice a year would be sufficient), and by extending the jurisdiction of the resident magistrate and assessors to cases of twenty pounds, instead of five pounds; inasmuch as nearly all Maori offences rise superior to the smaller sum. To put off such cases from time to time for want of a sufficient jury, would be to throw all the business into the hands of a self-selected runanga, which would not allow such difficulties to operate.
It must also be remembered that the Maori jurors, almost everywhere, intend to be paid for their labour at so much per day; and that not as board or travelling expenses, but for what they style as the "mahi roro,".............................
7 August 1862, Southern Cross, Coromandel Correspondent, (from the August summary Sept 8)
Expecting on my return to find Coromandel in the depth of its "winter sleep," I was agreeably surprised to see signs of considerable activity, bidding defiance to all benumbing and chilling influences of the season. The fact of the matter is, some of the greatest sceptics here, good, honest, downright diggers, men of varied experience, have found out at last that in Coromandel, there is something new to be learned yet; and that, in spite of its difference to other gold countries, there is good stuff in this puzzle of puzzles, this cried up, this cried down El Dorado. There are now five distinct leaders under work in the Driving Creek, each having yielded already wonderful prospects; and the last discovered one near No.16, giving perhaps, the largest promise of any. The latter moreover, has been tumbled upon by "new chums," in a place where all the wise men had turned up their noses and eyes in utter derision at the folly of "Auckland diggers," and now they bow their humbled heads, crying "peccavi, all wisdom is nought; Coromandel beats us hollow!" A still greater blow to scepticism has been dealt by Mr Keven's claim, where now a large body of heterogeneous stone yields excellent prospects in every direction, to the degree that these very sceptics now assert; "they don't know what will not pay" on that claim. In the adjoining claim of Mr Brackenbury, the same lead of auriferous agglomerate and "jumble" has been struck, and now everybody cries out for machinery to throw into the market the long despised wealth of Coromandel. This period of enthusiasm will of course again have its reactionary sequel; but, that is the manner this place will fight its way to distinction, up and down the hills of hope, the precipices of despair, through good and ill report and repute.
If people would only elongate their powers of vision beyond the length of their very respectable noses, I mean the people of Auckland, and prepare a little more for a future, as certain to follow as day follows night, they would help to bring about what their very hearts quiver to get, gold exports; but, of course, where there is great intensity of acquisitiveness, there will be also intense fear of losses; the bird in hand is smothered by it, and the daring fowler catches those that gambol in the bush. It is wonderful to think that the example of men like Mr Samuel Cochrane, of establishments like the Bank of New South Wales, has not a more rectifying influence on the general public. The article so long hoped for, prayed for, and puffed for, is hawked about in the streets, and people shudder at the thought of venturing sixpence on Coromandel gold. One unfortunate digger, overwhelmed with the sneers and scoffs at his hard-earned produce in town, actually did away, not quite with himself, but with his "alter ego", his gold, he gave of it to anyone he met.
"A specimen," weighing forty pounds, what a subject for a sensation article, has been found. Unfortunately the gold in it is not quite so apparent as the stone, what may be in it remains to be seen. Several rich smaller specimens have been found in the surface of the "hillsides" of the Driving Creek, an excellent symptom of the disposition of these hills.
This afternoon a discovery of considerable magnitude has been made. Mr Gibson's party, in No.13, has struck in the bank of a new leader. The stone taken out to-day is equal in richness to the water worn specimens found in the creek. This result is well deserved by the patience, perseverance and energy displayed by this party. This is a triumph to mining skill, as the whole operation was not chance work, but the result of a systematic and well-grounded diagnosis of the locality and its capabilities. A fund of long-tried experience in California and Australia, centered in that party, has now borne fruits at last; everybody who know them rejoices with them. Great excitement of course has seized the diggers in general; and Coromandel quartz and Coromandel surface-washings are now sure to resuscitate the fallen reputation of this enigmatical corner of the world.
11 August 1862, Southern Cross, Coromandel Correspondent, (found in August summary 8 Sept)
Yesterday morning Mr Dwrt and two of his partners, Messrs. Robert Poole and E. J. Morgan, came to town in the cutter 'Mary Alison,' Captain McInman, bringing with them the largest specimen of gold that has ever come from Coromandel. The specimen was dug out of claim No.15, in which a few days since, Mr Dwrt struck a reef yielding be assay, at the rate of 199ozs 2dwt. 2grs per ton of quartz. The find was made on Thursday last. The specimen weighs 11lb 2ozs. The lucky finders desire us to say they have named it the VICTORIA NUGGET, in honor of her Majesty the Queen, the acknowledgment of whose sovereignty over Coromandel has been followed so soon afterwards by a prolific yield of gold. The Victoria Nugget is smaller than the Welcome Nugget, but weighs 1lb 9ozs more. The stone has never travelled. It is full of fissures, and the sharp edges have not been rubbed off, proving that it is part of the reef, the leader to which was struck, as we have stated, a few days ago. The gold is deep coloured, and of greater value than that of the leader tested by Mr Dwrt. To all appearance the stone will yield 7lbs of gold. This claim was abandoned by the first party as not worth anything.
We cannot give a better proof of the estimation in which Coromandel is held by the diggers than to state that an eighth share of Claim No.13 (Gibson's party) has been sold for £50 to an old and experienced digger. On Thursday last the richest quartz leader that has yet been discovered in Coromandel, was struck by this party, and shortly afterwards a digger brought in on the terms stated. Shares in claims change hands daily at prices varying according to the locality.
12 August 1862 Southern Cross, Letters to the Editor
On the 1st of July the land was opened. We have since worked pretty hard, and done very well. We want to lay in stores, and our money is getting low, we offer our gold for sale. Well, we get some queer bids; some talk of £2, others turn up their noses and bid nothing; and the banks, pooh! Us, and talk about smelting.
Now Sir, all that may look very comical, but to me it wears a very serious aspect. It is an awkward dilemma. Every new gold-filed has met with some difficulty in this respect, until the value of the gold has been ascertained. In our own case quartz reefs coming before alluvial diggings, peculiar difficulties arise. The value of our gold is yet unfixed. Has anything been done to ascertain it?
Now whose business is it to do this? Will the banks permit me to say, it is theirs, emphatically theirs. All our banks have agents on other gold fields, men, whose long experience and correct judgment would inspire the diggers with confidence and settle the matter at once. If gentlemen of known experience as gold buyers tell the diggers that their quartz must first be crushed and washed before a price can be offered, the thing will be done, and the present difficulty ended.
The mere announcement by the banks that arrangements are being made by them for the presence here of experienced gold buyers, will do much to allay the irritation existing amongst the diggers. I am, Sir, your obedient servant, J.C. Firth.
Queen Street, August 11, 1862. Since moving in this matter I have been informed that one f the banks has already sent to Melbourne for an experienced gold buyer.
12 August 1862 Southern Cross, Letters to the Editor
Sir, - I left Auckland about the 12th of July, in the 'Three Sisters,' for Coromandel, and arrived there on the following day. I prospected six weeks, and within the last twelve days took up No.15 claim, supposing it to contain leader, but was jumped out, being an inexperienced digger, and the parties sold it same day for £40. I then took No.16, also an abandoned claim, expecting to fall upon a leader and was not disappointed. I struck upon three leaders which I then thought would pay. From the lower leader of 16 claim I brought up about 14lbs for the purpose of analysing; 3lbs was taken to the assayer of Auckland, being a fair average sample of the lot. Below I give you a copy of the assay.
A great deal has been spoken of the Coromandel diggings as not being a poor man's diggings. Now, sir, I beg to differ from that statement, as by prospectors finding payable quartz reefs, and guaranteeing a certain quantity of quarts to crush per day, the Melbourne merchants are willing to find machines and place them on the ground, at certain remuneration, free of charge to the poor man. How is it, then, that our Auckland merchants keep their purse strings so tight, when the merchants from the other colony, who do not know what the prospects are, only by hearsay, can lend us a hand? I think it is but right that our rich merchants, who see the prospects every day, ought to help us, and keep the money at home which otherwise will find its way to Melbourne.
Analytical assay of auriferous quartz, at per ton - 429 ozs 6dwts 16grs.
Analysis, Quartz assayed......3lbs (avordupois), Gold obtained.......11dwts. 12grs.
I am, &c., James Ingles.
12 August 1862 Southern Cross (from August summary, 8 Sept)
Yesterday Mr Keven crushed 5lbs of quartz and gold specimens, which yielded 27oz 11dwt fine gold. These specimens came from the Driving Creek, Ring's Diggings.
We saw a beautiful nugget in the possession of a leading merchant yesterday, which came from the Matawa.
Watson's party have fixed on a fresh claim, farther up the country, and will begin driving immediately. The are sanguine as to the result.
On Saturday last the reef in claim No.1, south on Keven's reef, which has been recently manned, was reported to have been struck, and half a ton of stone taken out. No test has been applied as the quality. A shaft is being sunk in the center of the claim. It is now 30 feet deep, and when it shall have been sunk 50 feet, the men will drive east and west. A drive is being made into the hill side, and it is in this drive that the reef has been reported.
If the weather improves, good results are generally anticipated
19 August 1862 Southern Cross (from our own correspondent)
The bare fern hills to the west of the Driving Creek have had, all of a sudden, a general attack. Quartz claim-pegs lurk everywhere under the fern and bush, and the prospector hopeful of new ground is suddenly tripped up by some guardian palisade interdicting trespass.
Some more quartz from Mr Gibson's leader was taken out to-day, rivalling even the latest "Whipstick" discovery, and fully as rich as the richest specimen taken out of the creek yet. A ton of quartz from that leader should satisfy any man.
Still more surface specimens have been found, and the large one, got last week, of one hundred and odd ounces, is now the fertile subject of dispute between the finder and the claim-holders of the ground whence it was removed. To ascertain the exact position of that specimen, previous to its removal, is now for the law and lawyer to decide, a ticklish question, I presume.
The weather is lovely, faces look cheerful, and a great migration of sawn timber , conveyed by hand, is spreading in all directions.
19 August 1862 Southern Cross
Yesterday intelligence reached town of the find of 60lbs weight, less or more, of auriferous quartz specimens in the Driving Creek, Ring's Diggings, by the party headed by Mr Daniel Leahy. Some put the weight at 70 lbs, but which version is the correct one we cannot say. Of the fact of a large and very valuable find being made there can be no doubt, and we also know that they refused a cheque for £350, which was offered to them on the spot by Mr. Stannus Jones, who saw and lifted the find. These specimens were taken out of a pocket in the creek.
The men are contented, although the weather is so very unfavourable. Nothing but mud and wet, and from the appearance of things this state of the weather is likely to continue for some weeks.
Some time ago we urged on the government the construction of a convenient landing-place. This has not been done, although a promise has been made to assist the proprietors of the Wynyardton township to construct a pier at their properties. In the meantime the diggers and traders suffer great inconvenience, in proof of which we have only to state that the cutter 'Wanderer,' which was almost full of goods for the store keepers on the diggings, has been compelled to bring them back again without effecting a landing, which could not have been effected without damaging the goods.
Another difficulty has arisen in the want of blasting powder. Now it is clear that without powder Coromandel cannot be opened thoroughly. We hope now, when the authorities see that the gold finds have lasted more than a fortnight (the time fixed for their duration by a certain official high in office), and are apparently on the increase, they will afford every facility for working the ground. The diggers want blasting powder in large quantities, and there can be no risk in letting them have it. We hope this hint will be sufficient. Hitherto the "cold shoulder" only has been given to the diggers, perhaps it would be better for all to reverse that policy, which can only produce ill feeling without permanently interfering with he development of the gold fields.
29 August 1862 Southern Cross
There is some change necessary in the postal arrangements between this city and Coromandel. Our readers will perceive that one of our "own correspondent's" letters is dated the 21st of August, and was only delivered yesterday, with the second. We also learn that two letters addressed to this office and stamped and posted in Coromandel have not come to hand. We trust that steps will be taken by the Post Office authorities to prevent such irregularities occurring in future. The importance of the Coromandel trade to our merchants is considerable, and that being so, it is all the more necessary to have postal accommodation. We will not make any suggestions at present, as to how we consider the evil could be remedied, seeing that hitherto the communication with the gold-field was not so frequent as now, and that even yet it is not altogether free from difficulties. We trust, however, that we may not again be called upon to refer to this subject.
From a private source we learn that there is a great want of blasting powder. There is little or none of this commodity in the city just now, the importation of powder having almost ceased owing to the late war.
The diggers who have been for any length of time in Coromandel are in excellent spirits at the few days of good weather. They are very orderly and well-conducted, no police cases having occurred among them. Twenty-three diggers were landed in the mud on Sunday week, and as the weather was unfavourable they became disgusted, and some returned. A few were from Sydney and one man had brought his wife and three children with him. The wet and mud invariable produce unfavourable impressions on new-comers, who know nothing of the diggings except by hearsay. This is to be regretted but it is one of those matters which cannot be avoided.
There are three houses being erected at Kapanga, but none are yet habitable. The cost of carriage of goods from the creek to the diggings is said to be considerable, but this outlay will be lessened with improved roads and good weather.
We understand that the hulk 'Sophia' has been purchased, and will be sent to Coromandel, with the view of being anchored near the landing, and transformed into a floating hotel. The idea is a good one, and we have no doubt the speculation will pay.
Keven's reef has been found in claim No.1, south about ten feet thick, and it is also said to have been discovered in two other claims adjoining. The only thing now wanted is machinery, but as the plant of Keven's Reef Company is on its way here, via Otago, means will soon be at hand for testing it thoroughly.
Yesterday, we saw a prospect weighing 12¼ grains of rich looking gold, which was obtained out of about 5 lbs of stone taken from the east and west reefs in Keven's claim. The stone was partly broken off by Mr William Buckland, and the remainder was taken out of the drive in his sight. The same gentleman saw it crushed and washed, and his evidence is highly valuable.
A considerable number of diggers returned to Coromandel yesterday. There are always men going and returning, so that it is difficult to tell how many leaves permanently, or only comes to town for a short time. We hope that we will soon have a steamer to supply regular daily communication.
29 August 1862 Southern Cross Coromandel Correspondent, written 21 August.
The finds of Mr Daniel Leahy and party will, I hope, crush the remains of scepticism on the capabilities of Coromandel. Yesterday, a bucketful of specimens, richer than any yet seen here, was taken out by the same party, and, with such precedents to go upon, there is little doubt now that a "pile" is within their reach. These same men have worked very hard, and have shown a great deal of patience under rather vexations circumstances, the reward, therefore is well deserved, and we hope it may turn out to hem all a lasting benefit. Their reef is perhaps not sufficiently defined yet to call it a bona fide reef; yet, of anything that has come to light in Coromandel, it is the reef-like leader struck. Its thickness is 2ft 9inches. Talking about the thickness of reefs, reminds me that people generally mistake the same for "the depth" of reefs. The depth or vertical elevation of reefs above the solid kernel or crust of our mother earth has never been ascertained yet, the thickness refers to a horizontal measurement from side to side, increasing naturally as the sinking approached nearer the base.
There are now nine shafts under active operation in the Driving Creek, all of course sunk for quartz, upon leaders or on the sidelings of reefs. Three tunnels for the same purpose, driven above a hundred feet, have been abandoned, the nature of the ground is unfavourable to tunnelling, as the reefs lie low, and you cannot hug the hills close enough to their base. Two more shafts are just commenced in the dense cluster of quartz claims now stretching eagerly north. One shaft is going down in the adjoining fern-hill, where several small attempts have been already abandoned, once more. In the main creek, higher up, Mr Watson's party is tunnelling, and has struck a large reef-like body of stone. They are at a standstill, however, for want of blasting powder. This is a pity, for I think they ought to be trusted with the same, as there is, to the best of our knowledge, no Guy Fawkes amongst them.
Mr Murphy has driven two new tunnels of considerable length into the north-west and west side of his hill, on Coolahan's Gully. Two spurs have been struck, one in each tunnel, both gold bearing. The one on the north-west side showing a most solid and promising body of quartz nearly three feet thick. This makes altogether three tunnels and five shafts wrought in that hill and though nothing extraordinary has come yet to light, there cannot be the remotest doubt about a good reef being close at hand. The specimens in the old gully are too angular to have travelled any distance at all, and the several leaders struck already in the hill place matters beyond a doubt. There is a fine opening for speculation in that reef, as only "three men" now hold the right to work done, work amounting to a value which, easily overlooked now, would be quadrupled once the reef was struck. Where such perseverance has shown itself, three must be a safe and sound base to rest money on, and though the people of Auckland fear Coromandel specimens, they have shown great readiness for joining Coromandel companies. Why, then, is this patriarch of quartz reefers neglected? New arrivals come and go just as the fine and dirty weather comes and goes. Birds of passage, we wish them all a happy journey, we can yet spare them. All we want is fine weather and "blasting powder."
29 August 1862 Southern Cross Coromandel Correspondent, written 25 August
Newcomers are flocking in daily, and I hear of vessels being laid on in Melbourne and Sydney for Coromandel. If it is possible yet to prevent people of the "wrong sort" from coming here, I will try and point out now, for the last time and in the most concentrated form, what people we do want, and what people will be pleased with the prospects of Coromandel. Under the present circumstances this place has no "poor man's ground," where a new arrival, with tin dish and pick, may knock our "tucker" until he hits something payable.
There is too much prospecting yet to be done here to give any immediate return for the outlay of passage money and digging provision. The prospecting here, we repeat it for the hundredth time, presents difficulties unknown elsewhere. The simple operation of marking out a quartz claim on any of these forest ridges here consumes often more than a day, before you get a correct idea of the nature or the bearings of your ground. One walks "as in the dark" in these forests, you feel your way, you don't see it, at least not its general character; your attention, necessary to ascertain bearings, is ever wrested thence to the immediate consideration of "supple-jack" dilemmas for legs, arms or neck, either in their finer form or "crochet and filigree network," gracefully and lovingly enveloping your manly form, or in their coarser nature of "spring traps," strong enough to throw down a bullock. Cutting grass as libitum prevents the danger of apoplexy from vexation, by "bleeding," freely applied to hands, nose, or any protrusive or intrusive member of the struggling straggler, and by the time he thinks he has ascertained all the bearings of his claim he has probably lost his own. See a man in such a position, and ask yourself whether you would have the heart to ask him to load himself with swag, tools, and provisions, when he is scarcely able, unencumbered, to tear his frantic way along the precipitous hill-sides. Such things are within the reach of human prowess, ) For there are not dangerous thorns or prickles among the lasso supple-jack varieties as in the tropics) but do not expect a new comer to be able to face these things at the outset, when he is most in want of such excursions and least able to perform them. Moreover, creek prospecting now is nothing but creek sluicing, on the most extensive scale; any small attempt, tin dish washing small holes, is utterly useless. For a correct verdict get your creek turned, a long tail race behind, and good face in front, work for a couple of weeks, and then say what the ground is like. That even does not suffice. For instance, the Koputauki creek has now been tried thus repeatedly by isolated parties, and has barely yielded a living to those parties yet they are convinced that the creek will be a good one if numerous claims are being worked at the same time, so that the finds of each may give every one an idea of "the run" of the specimens, for there exists always a sort of "lead" in these creeks, that dodges from side to side and everywhere, very narrow, very irregular and sportive. Now, the Koputauki creek is very wide, and it is impossible almost to take in such width that would embrace all the probable vagaries of the lead. The gold there, in the specimens, is of excellent quality, and more fine gold is found along with specimens. It is very probable that "rich surface washings" may be discovered yet, but all digging matters connected with a result based upon specimens we would recommend all alluvial diggers from shuuning (sic, coming?), as long as they can make wages elsewhere. What we want there are quartz reefers, and the more the merrier, and they will think Coromandel a fairy land, while the "fossicker" will curse the day he heard of the name of Coromandel. Snip.
30 August 1862 Southern Cross, Coromandel Correspondent written 27 August.
For nearly a week now we have had delightful weather, the roads seem to hasten in making up with their ill-used passengers, and safely bear the boot, the legging, where a week ago the latter would have been swallows up in miry wrath. The traveller has now a chance to think of , and look at, something else that the safety of every new step, the puzzle of every new mud problem; the lovely scenery that was shrouded in rain, neutralised by villainous approaches, receives now a tardy justice done. What forest scenery around the Kapanga mill! What mountain views of isle and promontory develop as you issue from the forest to the beach, where "the grand element" expands its cerulean vistas and carried its healthful breezes.
The Kapanga settlement is finishing its first instalment of boarded buildings, the second step in advance of the pioneer tent. The court-house, though not majestically, yet comfortable, promises already, "justice," sheltered from the wrath of the elements at least. I believe it will be a sort of Polytechnic Institute of reformatory, judicatory, penaltory, and temptatory tendencies, as far as cell, court hall, police barracks, and gold office, on a small scale, under one roof, may be productive of such harmonious results. Well, never mind, it is a beginning, and a good one, if we only had a bridge to get to it, for it lies on the wrong side of the creek for us, within a rather swampy locality.
Across the breezy harbour les "Beeson's island." Shades of artists! How ye would rush to this spot, if its existence was known to you! How you would linger in its peaceful coves, revel on its bold hill tops, then, trace with excited hand the tender, the majestic, co-mingled before you. Yet waits this virgin field its loving master.
The guide-book to Coromandel (an imaginary one) goes on to say that, after the traveller has feasted on nature, revelled in its sentiment, and invigorated his ganglionic system by hill-walks and sea-breezes, he may then descend from the sublime to the "comfortable," the excellent ordinary hotel of Mr and Mrs Beeson. Many a half-drowned wretch, after barely surviving the terrors of the mis-called "terra firma" opposite to the island; many such ill-fated swains have felt the grateful warmth of Mr Beeson's chimney corner and its "appurtenances;" the luxury of Mrs Beeson's tea and dinner tables. Altogether that spot will be a great favourite for picnic parties in the days of steamers; for seldom lies the grand, the peaceful, the cozy and comfortable, so closely and handily together.
The "shore reef" has now been struck in three separate claims: Mr Beeson's, Mr Keven's (fifty feet above the first, consequently not so thick) and Mr Brackenbury's. In all three the reef has been proved auriferous by small tests applied to it. This looks very well; and with the prospect of machinery being speedily on the ground, there is a chance now of laying to rest soon all the doubts about Coromandel reefs. Today a rumour of a rush to the Tiki, a creek rush, has come to town; more specimens will therefore speedily make their appearance in the market. Let everyone therefore prepare his nerves to resist the shock to his feelings, if any digger should demand of him ringing coin for dull stone. "N'importe" sellers, buyers and specimens will come soon to a better understanding of one another, and the stone cast away by the builders of "Auckland fortunes," may yet prove the cornerstone of many a "stately pile."
30 August 1862 Southern Cross
Mr Brackenbury called and informed us that in claim No.1, north of Keven's reef, the reef has been found, and that on last Tuesday, three specimens of the quartz were tested, and yielded from 9ozs to 14ozs per ton from washing. The reef where struck is of considerable width, but its precise thickness has not been ascertained, as it covers the shaft. In claim No.2, north, the party have struck either a very heavy leader or the reef at a depth of 35ft. Water flowed in, and prevented them doing more until they had sunk a deep well to drain the shaft. The men working in claim No.3 north, are well satisfied with their prospects, and are getting timber and erecting the necessary buildings. In the prospectors claim, owned by Keven's Reef Company, preparation is being made by the engineer, Mr Foster, for putting up the machinery, and great credit is said to be due to that gentleman for his energy. Claims on Preece's point have been taken up, and machinery has been ordered. Excellent prospects were obtained from the reefs in Mr Preece's land. The reef, ten feet wide, in claim No.1 south Keven's reef, has been tested, and prospect of 2 grains obtained from about 6oz of stone. A piece of the quartz from this claim was crushed in town, and an excellent prospect obtained. Prospectors are working at the Tiki, about two miles above the mill of Messrs. Frith, Roe, and Co., and as they have recently taken out miners' rights there is reason to suppose they are satisfied with their prospects. They are said to have discovered a reef cropping out in the creek. Excellent specimens are said to have been procured from thence. There are many claims pegged off along the supposed line of the reef that crosses the Driving creek, and new arrivals are rather disappointed about this. The weather was fine and the appearance of the place was improved considerably. Quite a township is springing up at Kapanga.
We would again press on the attention of the authorities the establishment of an assay office in Auckland, the arguments in favour of which we need not repeat.
18 July 1862 Southern Cross (from July summary)
Yesterday morning Messrs Murphy and Nash, partners in claim No.7, arrived by the cutter 'Thames' from Coromandel, bringing with them gold and quartz specimens weighing 54½ ounces. The finders estimate the specimens at 80 percent gold. The largest weighs 2lbs troy, and is a beautiful specimen of crystallised quartz mixed with gold. The colour of the stone is purer and the gold more lustrous than in any specimen from Coromandel we have yet seen. The gold is visible everywhere on the surface. This piece of auriferous quartz is little, if at all, water-worn. It is liable to be broken into fragments, owing to the fissures that run through it, and cannot have travelled a great distance from the reef. There are other specimens less beautiful to the eye, but relatively heavier, in which the gold bears the greatest predominance. Mr Murphy showed us several little pieces of pure gold that have been taken from the same claim. This party value their specimen at £2 5s an ounce, under which they decline to sell.
The claim No. 7 is in the creek under the spot where Murphy's party are engaged in driving for the reef, a spur of which they struck some time ago. Their claim having been worked out, Mruphy's party, so soon as they are not of the remaining claims in the Driving Creek, in which they have shares, purpose renewing their labours at the reef, commencing at the opposite side of the claim to that at which they first began to drive. They hope, by that means, to strike the reef more readily, as they would have begun there if the land had been open when they went to Coromandel. To enable them to do so, they purpose admitting six sleeping partners, with themselves, being twelve in all, on terms to be agreed upon. The spur is easily tested, and those who choose to visit the place will be afforded every facility by Mr Murphy and party.
Speaking of the richness of the quartz reefs, Messrs Murphy and Nash remarked that they did not clearly see a limit to them. The specimens have not been carried a great distance from the spot where they were detached from the reef, and we have reason to believe that the reef itself will be discovered. The great difficulty in testing the quartz on anything like a large scale has been the want of machinery, but that want, Keven's Reef Company will soon supply. We had a letter from Coromandel, dated on the 14th instant, in which the following sentence occurs: - "We have now beautiful weather, and all in good spirits who work at all." Unfortunately the weather broke yesterday evening, a stiff north-easterly setting in with the usual accompaniment of wet. The diggers must expect a succession of foul weather for at least two months, but after that there well be ample scope to develop the wealth of part of Coromandel.
We hope terms will be come to with Peter and the other native proprietors, by means of which the diggers may uninterruptedly prospect the entire peninsula. Mr Turton will, no doubt, conduct any such negotiation to a successful termination, if empowered to enter on it on behalf of the Government. Paul's land will, however, afford ample scope for many months to come, and up to the present it has not been anything like prospected. We know the weather is against doing this on an extended scale at present, but in spring we anticipate more general action on the part of an increased mining population.
We have been requested by several diggers to again call public attention to the fact that purchasers cannot be got for their specimens. We regret that such should be the case, and can only express the hope that this unsatisfactory state of affairs will soon cease to exist. Several hundred ounces of gold have already been sent away from this place to the neighbouring colonies by private parties, but for the sake of the province, it would be well if every ounce of gold from our provincial gold fields was entered in the ordinary way. This will never occur until purchases are found for every gold bearing specimen obtained in Coromandel. The peculiar nature of the gold hitherto found in Coromandel renders a public assay office a necessity, quite independent of the business of a private assayer. We do not anticipate that the bulk of gold found has come up to the city. Far from it. A little time ago it was said - "Oh, we will believe it when we see the gold coming up for sale." Now it is coming up in driblets, and even for these, purchasers cannot be found. What will it be when the fine weather sets in, and thousands of miners instead of a handful, as at present, are at work in Coromandel? It surely cannot be imagined that gold will become a glut in the market, and that its plentifulness will reduce its standard of value. The circumstances by which such a state of things could be brought about never can take place in Auckland, and therefore it would be better for all that something was at once done to encourage the miners, while creating a legitimate trade in the precious metals. Yesterday, we suggested that the Banks should undertake the purchase of these auriferous specimens, and have been informed that steps are being taken, by at least one banking establishment in this city, to do so. We confess the risk to private purchasers is very considerable, with the test of value supplied by an assay office, but wealthy banking corporations can temporarily supply the place of a public assay without loss to themselves, while conferring a great benefit on the community.
30 July 1862 Southern Cross
A gentleman just returned from Coromandel informs us that he met a number of diggers who arrived on the 'Lord Ashley' from Sydney, and went to Coromandel in the 'Fawn', at Black Creek. They had not attempted to work, but condemned the entire district, and refused to go on the Driving Creek, where the men are working, and where, bad as the weather is, few of them are dispirited by the result. We admit that the aspect of Coromandel in this wet season is uninviting, and Australian diggers, new to the New Zealand bush, will look at it twice before they venture in, but after landing from their boat, and going a few yards up the creek in such a country, to declare oracularly that it is not a paying gold field is simply absurd. If Coromandel is to be opened, men must work, and not "shepherd" - we believe that is the miners' phrase. This is not a "shepherding" country, and men who practise it had best stay away. Several very fine specimens came up from Coromandel yesterday, one of which weighs 4lbs. They have been crushed, with what result we cannot say. The prospecting party from Mercury Bay has likewise returned, but as they were out on behalf of the provincial government, which has a large tract of country there, we presume the report will be of an official nature. We postpone till our next an interesting letter from Mr Von Tempsky.
30 July 1862 Southern Cross, July shipping
(Inwards) 21 July 1862, 'Lord Ashley' s.s. 296 tons, Edward Wheeler, from Sydney. Passengers, Mr Sterling, Mrs Sterling, child and servant, Messrs. Connery, Brown, Walsh, Carter, Kelly, Latham, Sleigh, Nekarvis, Blair, Stensman, Thompson, Maxton, Todd and Turnbull, Mrs Turnbull and Mrs O'Connell and child.
31 July 1862 Southern Cross
A large number of specimens of gold and quartz were brought to town yesterday from Coromandel. Mr Watson and his party came up, fetching the entire of their specimens, which they crushed on Mr Samuel Cochrane's premises. The specimens weighed about 17lbs in all and the yield of god when cleaned and dried was 5½ lbs.
This amalgamated party of sixteen men, during the four weeks they were engaged in the Driving Creek, obtained quartz specimens, weighing in all 31lbs. Among these was the "Welcome Nugget," weighing 9lbs.5oz., which was purchased by Mr Samuel Cochrane. Altogether the first lot of specimens sold by Mr Watson on account of his party, fetched £192.5s. The gold taken from the specimens crushed yesterday is valued at £193, taking it at £3 an ounce. This would give a total of £385.5s.
A bag containing 48¼oz., of gold dust was also deposited in this office by Mr Von Tempsky, who is at present on a visit in this neighbourhood.
Among the other arrivals was that of Mr Joseph Dwrt, who is the fortunate discoverer of an auriferous quartz reef in the bottom of the Driving Creek, claim No. 15. This digger has been six months prospecting in Coromandel, and was fortunate enough to strike the reef in what had been an abandoned claim. Mr Dwrt was one of the party working claim No.6, and after it was worked out he fixed upon claim 15. He states that he bought out the interest of two other claimants before the reef was discovered. The 20lbs of stone, which he brings, and which was taken by him from the top of the reef, are certainly the richest we have seen of pure reef quartz. The gold is light coloured, showing that it is largely alloyed with silver, but owing to the quantity it will be amazingly rich. There is also mundic in the stone. The quartz is completely impregnated by the mineral. These specimens may be seen today at Mr Ekin's house, Hobson Street, previous to being crushed.
Yesterday a meeting was held and a company formed for prospecting, and to work a quartz reef. The working company is to be under the leading of Mr Watson, and the company has been named the Watson's Reef Company.
A splendid prospect has been taken within the last few days from the north end of the claim belonging to Keven's Reef Company, and the men are anxiously waiting for the arrival of machinery to test it thoroughly.
The Driving Creek is now almost finished as far as the sluicing goes, and many of the men are coming up to the city, after their long spell in the wet. Some of them intend leaving. For instance, the amalgamated party, headed by Mr Watson, has split up, and the crushing has been made to enable them each to secure a fair division of the gold, and if they do not get what they conceive a fair price for it, they will either send or take it away.
Some dissatisfaction exists among the diggers, which the continued wet, no doubt, increases, but we hope with the return of fine weather that much of this will disappear. We believe that the want of a government assay office has something to do with this feeling, for the banks will not purchase gold in specimens, and similar prudential motives govern private individuals. But it must not be forgotten that the quantity of gold that has yet come to hand does not warrant that outlay by the government which an assaying establishment would involve. We must have something more than mere specimens, however rich, to warrant us in demanding this from the government, and we look to the Keven's Reef Company for solving the difficulty. It has now been decided that the Coromandel peninsula, so far as we can ascertain, is a quartz country, and is not of any use for surface diggings or deep sinkings. Every one of the gullies or creeks will yield handsome returns in the shape of specimens but the reefs are the main stay of the place. We have no machinery to test the reefs, but on the arrival of the stampers and engine ordered by the Keven's Reef Company this can be done effectually. Meanwhile there are means and ways for ascertaining the value of the specimens. There are private assayers, as Mr Osmund Lewis, and Mr Lysnar, and we are in the position to state that a gentleman who has devoted considerable attention to this matter, is prepared to run the gold into ingots, in the presence of the diggers. This service will be rendered free, through Mr S. Cochrane, and when the value of the gold per ounce has been established by assay, there will be no more difficulty in disposing of it. We do think, however, that at this crisis, the banks ought to show a little more public spirit than they have done. It may be a mistake on our part, but we did think that banking companies were deeply interested in the continued prosperity of the districts in which their branches are located, but apparently no such feeling influences our Auckland bankers. We are at a critical point, there is no use in disguising the fact, not from the scarcity of gold in Coromandel, but from the apathy of those who will be the greatest gainers by the development of the gold field. The richness of the Coromandel quartz reefs cannot be denied, and it is a mistaken idea to suppose that with that fact extensively known beyond the colony, they will be allowed to remain unworked for any length of time. But they will be worked by men whose connections will not be in Auckland, and then it will be too late for our mercantile classes to take the lead. In writing this, we do not make a sweeping charge. There are many gentlemen who have taken a lively interest in this matter, and to whom this community are indebted to a greater extent than can yet be estimated. If we are to keep our position as the first commercial city in New Zealand, if we are to be the political capital by virtue of our wealth and colonial pre-eminence, if we are to be the port of call for the mail steamers from Panama to Australia, which will be laid on at no distant day, we must put our shoulders to the wheel and develop our gold fields. We have no immense tracts of rich pastoral or agricultural land from which to create an export? We are shut on every hand from the acquisition of the fertile lands of the Province, and a community so circumscribed must find a limit to its progress, unless some new outlet be given to its industry and capital. That outlet is before us in Coromandel. What has been accomplished already? Out of a creek, 1,500 feet long by 12 feet wide, upwards of 3lbs weight of rich quartz and gold specimens came up before the creek was opened, and many similar finds were made by men now out of Coromandel, and by some who are in it, but who did not let it transpire owing to the nature of our relations with the natives. Then there were the rich finds of Mr Turner's party in the Tiki diggings at the Matawa, and more or less has been done elsewhere. Have we not also had rich quartz reefs discovered? And if any yet remain sceptical, let them go to Mr Ekin's house tomorrow and they will see the stone in its crushed and uncrushed state, which ought o prove any doubts. We have no fear that Coromandel will be other than a great success, but we have a fear that the golden opportunity will be let slip for making Auckland, beyond question, the first city, commercially and politically, in New Zealand, for it should be recollected that the shore of the Waitemata is not the only eligible site for a trading town in the vicinity of the gold fields.