Friday, 8 September 2017

Goldfields of California, Australia and NZ - Poems and Songs Part III

Cardrona Hotel, Otago, Southland opening in 1863 during the Otago goldrushes - photo Chris Ball 2016

Goldfields of New Zealand

Gifted writer of lyrics and music hall entertainer, Charles Thatcher wooed the audience on the goldfields with his poetry and songs, many of them with satire . Such as the song on the Coromandel gold find, sung in 1862 to a New Zealand audience.

The Rush to the Coromandel


The stagnant state of Auckland now                      
Gives some dissatisfaction
But there's nothing like a good goldfield,
To cause a quick reaction.
Quartz mining is the subject which
The daily papers handle,
The welfare now of Auckland seems
To depend on Coromandel.


Courtesy Sir George Grey Special Collections, 

Look at the specimens and say
What man can be a doubter,
That this new goldfield will turn out
A regular out-and-outer?
The richest reefs of Bendigo
They say can’t hold a candle,
Unto the claims at Driving Creek
Down there at Coromandel.

The holders of these wondrous claims
Shew us they are good-hearted,
That the public may participate
These companies are started.
They’ve always got just one share left,
Your tin they want to handle,
In case the crushing turns out queer
Down there on Coromandel.

So many specimens you’ll see                    
Are in the windows sported,
That you begin to have a doubt
If they are not imported
From Bendigo or some poor place
That cannot hold a candle
To the wondrous reefs
 that they have struck
Down there on Coromandel.

There’s Keven runs about here.
His joy’s quite effervescent,
And talks I’m told of pitching out
His boots into the Crescent.
He runs into the bank with quartz
For Whitaker to handle,
And says, “Look at this little crumb
I’ve got from Coromandel.’

Miners In
Radclyffe, Raymond. 1898. Wealth and Wild Cats: 
travels and researches in the gold-fields of Western 
Australia and New Zealand. London: Downey & Co. p123
Each mother now no longer sings        
To her child, ‘Bye baby bunting’,
And tells it for a rabbit skin
Its father’s gone a-hunting;
But as the infant in her arms
She’ll daily fondly dandle,
She’ll say, ‘ Bye baby, daddy’s gone
For gold to Coromandel.’

But they'll go to work and we'll
Get confirmation stronger,
It won't do for 'em now to sing,
'Just wait a little longer.'
The boiler's come and cakes of gold
Shareholders will soon handle,
Or on the other hand there ’ll be
A smash at Coromandel.
Charles Thatcher

For in  October 1852 the first New Zealand gold discovery was made by "new wave"  European  settlers at Driving Creek, in the vicinity of Coromandel Harbour . Two brothers - Charles and Frederick Ring were the discoverers  - who were never to gain the full  £500 on offer from the reward committee for being discoverers of a payable gold field in the then Auckland Province. None of those big nuggets or great showing of that gold coloured metal that instigated the rushes to California or Australia. On the occasion of the sixtieth Jubilee of Thames ( founded when the Thames Goldfields were opened) the New Zealand reporting on the first  gold find at neighbouring Coromandel fifteen years prior wrote:-

"A conference was held between Lieutenant Governor Wynyard, Bishop Selwyn and Chief Justice Martin, representing the Government, and the chiefs Taniwha and Hohepa Paraone, representing the natives. It was eventually agreed:—(l) That the whole district should be placed under the management of the Government for three years for the purpose of searching for and working gold; (2) that the Government should pay to the owners £1 a year for each square mile, but that if in any year more than 500 and not more than 1000 persons should be licensed by the Government to search for gold, the payment
should be £1 10s a square mile, with iv further 10s for every additional 500 persons licensed. The area brought in under this arrangement was 16 square miles, or 2000 acres. A further sum of 2s a month for each person licensed was afterwards guaranteed by the Government to the natives. " (New Zealand Herald ,29 July 1927 ,Page 17)

The gold at Driving Creek was not alluvial as it was on the other goldfields. It was not until later with " hard rock mining and crushing" both at Coromandel and on the Thames Goldfield, that this method proved more lucrative.

In Radclyffe, Raymond. 1898. Wealth and Wild Cats: travels and researches in the gold-fields of Western Australia and New Zealand. London: Downey & Co. p166

1859 John Rochfort discovered  coal and gold in the Westport area, Westland. However it was gold discovered  23 May 1861 by Gabriel Read which ignited a gold rush to Otago. Confirmed shortly after by another find - that of  Teviot Station owner Captain William Baldwin and Gabriel Read   in Waitetuna Valley,  8 July 1861,  that lured "diggers".  From the goldfields of Victoria, Australia,China and elsewhere, to New Zealand to try to find their fortune. 

 Gold rushes at Wangapeka, Nelson and Tuapeka, Otago in 1861 led to the evolvement in 1862 and up to  modern NZ Folk Singers a song sung to the tried and true song of " Hot Cross Buns" with many variations and verses written since the beginning:

" Gold, gold, gold - bright fine gold
 Wangapeka, Tuapeka - gold, gold, gold. '

New Zealand Folk Song writes and covers a number of the various versions on their web site.

Hand in hand with the opening of goldfields and goldrushes went banks. Henry Thomson Gorrie, initially in Bank of New Zealand Branches on the West Coast,  after a number of  years in 1883 finished a term as Manager of Lawrence Branch, returning to private interests in Auckland. ( Tuapeka Times 22 Sep 1883, P 2 )
Former Bank of New Zealand, Lawrence, Otago where H.T. Gorrie was Manager in 1883 - photo 2016 courtesy Chris Ball

In 1864 Gold found near Greymouth, Westland was the  beginning  a four-year gold rush. The rush soon spread across the valley's of Westland. Hand in hand with gold, gold rushes and " diggers" ( miners ) went banks and businesses which set up to supply the " diggers" with the necessaries of mining life - food, miners pick and shovel, cradle, pan, tent.

Charleston includes the European Hotel, and businesses of HATCH, COLLINGS, GARDNER, SUTTON. H.T. Gorrie was agent for Bank of New Zealand at Charleston -courtesy Early Photos by H.T. GORRIE from the BUTTLE Family Collection in  Kete  West Coast

Social life of the " diggers" has been described as unique. ( Cyclopaedia NZ, 1906 p 470) Two businesses setting up to provide their needs at Hokitika   in 1865   were Thomas Pole and Co  ( auctioneers and commission agents ) and in 1865  Forsyth and Masters (iron mongers).

Mawhera Quay, Greymouth circa 1880s. Shows, from left to right, the Union Bank of Australia Limited, the National Bank, Smith & Barkley, Forsyth & Masters and the Kilgours Union Hotel. Taken b y an unidentified photographer.Green, N H (Mr), active 1959. Mawhera Quay, Greymouth. Ref: 1/2-018201-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23018060
Please do not copy without having sought permission to use

Advert -  West Coast Times 18 January 1868 page 4 col 3

Forsyth and Masters established their business firstly in Weld Street, Hokitika. Another premise was added at Mawhera Quay, Greymouth and by 1868 was spreading across Westland  to Charleston and eventually further afield to Charleston and Lyell.
However  fire in the nearby Melbourne Hotel, Mawhera Quay   was a set back in 1869 and again when fire broke out in Union Bank on Mawhera Quay in 1879.  In 1889 the partnership of Forsyth & Masters which by then was Robert Craig Forsyth and widowed Harriet Jane Masters came to an agreed end. Forsyth continued on - Forsyth and McKay - and died in 1922.

 Entertainer and song writer Charles Thatcher visited Hokitika  - finding a busy township with numerous shops, merchants and those selling alcohol to the thirsty " diggers". At his second concert at Nelson, the audience was treated to songs written by Thatcher of this place, the businesses and the people.

Experiences of Hokitika
Air— "To the West."

To the West, to the West, where the diggers repair,
 There's no flies about it, the gold is all there,
And chaps who've been digging a very short while
Walk into the Bank and dispose of their pile.
Where the rain falls in torrents, and leaves such a flood,
And you sleep on the ground, and your mattress is mud;
Where a fresh in the river may come down some day,
And very near sweep Hokitika away.

Chorus—To the West,

To the West, to the West, where the ships run ashore,
Of wrecks we have witnessed two dozen or more ;
Where bush rangers congregate, as you've been told,
And simple bank clerks are deprived of their gold.
Where beef's eighteen-pence, and' where diggers devour
Rusty bacon, and bread made of vile damaged flour :
How pleasant in Nelson to get a nice rest,
'Stead of knocking it out in the Land of the West.

Chorus— -To the West,

Charles Thatcher

Kawatiri (Buller )River that finds its way to the sea near Westport , Westland - photo courtesy Chris Ball 2010
Ten years later it was another god rush, back over the Tasman Sea at Palmer River, Queensland drawing "diggers " from Westland and Otago to try their luck in another place. The thoughts of 'moving on' bought forward several songs and poetry. The following appeared in the Lake County Press 13 March 1874 P 3  

Original and Select poetry.
The Digger’s Farewell.

Farewell, Otago, stern and bold !
I leave thee now to seek for gold In Queensland bright and free !
If to the Palmer I should roam,
 Or at Cape York should found a home,
 I’ll still remember thee.

Long have I  delved in the dark mine,
Where golden treasures once did shine
In thy more palmy days;
But now, alas ! for us no more,
The metal glitters on the shore
Of all thy creeks and bays.

 The Mongol came with ruthless hand,
And tore the treasures from the land
And left all desolate ;
And now we toil, and toil In vain,
A scanty living to obtain,
Whilst in the land we wait.

Though peacefully we yet could dwell,
If tented down some rocky dell,
We felt ourselves secure;
But special taxes the first cause,
Combined with most unstable laws,
No longer we’ll endure.

For glorious news comes from afar,
 The rising of a golden star,
Most brilliantly is shown ;
To tempt us from this mountain land,
To tread the desert’s burning sand
Within the torrid zone.

Farewell ye lakes, so blue and cold!
Farewell ye alpine mountains bold,
 And heights so proudly steep!
Whose snows supply the summer rills,
 To sluice no more the golden hills,
But wash the squatters’ sheep!
Kawerau River - Gold Mining Area - photo 2016 courtesy Chris Ball

Excitement at Thames on 1 August 1867 with the opening of the Thames Goldfield. " Eureka! - Gold is found. "  Hunt, White ,Cobley and Clarkson make a successful find - the Shotover. Would be " diggers" flocked to Thames setting up tents and organising their miner's rights. Auckland prior to the Thames goldfields opening was in a pretty depressed state, with a lack of money and inadequate employment.  News of finding gold was timely. Shortly after the goldfields opened, this poem was published in the New Zealand Herald 14 August 1867   P 5

                                          TIMOTHY IDIOT'S ADVENTURES AFTER THE GOLD."


I've nothing in Auckland to do, or be doing,
But saunter about on my feet, which want shoeing;
The ground is so wet, and the water's so cold,
 J will part with my tools and my watch shall be gold
 I'll be off to the Thames, I'll be after the gold.
 I've sold my effects, from my watch to the cat,
With the kittens she kittened inside of my hat,
I'll buy a few nails, screws, and driver to screw in,
 With a shovel and washer, from Newman and Ewen,
Tab, I've sold all my goods, and my watch has been
 And I've' bought gold utensils, because I've been told
To be off to the Thames to be after the gold.
I am taking these nails, and these screws,
to compose Small- cases in which all the gold I'll enclose ;
On returning with cases of nuggets to town,
On my old chum* called loafers I will not look down,
But rather I'll treat them as brothers I will,'
 And I'll build an asylum for loafers to fill.
I've pawned my old watch, folks tell me I'm sold!
Some call me a duffer, but still as I'm told,
 I'll be off to the Thames, and be after the gold.
 Already I seem to be digging the ground,
 As by instinct, the spot where the golds to be found
In fancy I've made two or three wooden crosses,
With gold filled and buried in different places.
I'll put on a look, disappointed, and Bad, And say, 
" At the Thames there's no gold to fee had.
" Ah! we're nearing the place now, but yes, the boat's stuck) 
That's bidding me patiently wait for my luck.
 But while waiting the tide up, my arms I'll not fold, 
I'll make the small cases, and, as I was told, 
I'll be off to the aid be after the gold.
 Then back I return, and go first to the pawner,
Then I'll build the asylum at Somerville's corner,
 I'll feed all the poor, and my money bestow,
 To comfort and clothe all the beggars below,
 I'll not p'raps, be Gov'nor, yet surely when there,
I'll get Auckland's sceptre, and be the Lord Mayor,
A statue mine eye doth already behold.
With a bust of me, Timothy Idiot, in gold
. Around which there throng, crowds of young, and of
"This is he!" hear them shout," who his property sold,
Who went down to the Thames, and came up with the gold."
 {To it continued next mail.)

Whether Timothy of the poetry, was successful , has not been uncovered in research.

It has been said that gold on the Thames Goldfields helped Auckland out of the 1860's Depression and that Auckland was built on the goldfields profits. Thames Goldfields proved not to be alluvial but ' hard rock mining' instead. Instead of panning and sluicing it was buildings, stampers, batteries, noise, steam, big pumps and water races to bring the water to help crush the rock to extract the gold.
Water Race being constructed on Kauaeranga River near Thames for goldfield early 1870s Photo taken by HT Gorrie courtesy from Gwen Buttle photo album. Please do not copy - seek permission to use

 Sixty years in 1927 later, when Thames was celebrating a 60th Jubilee, it was a new era. The stampers and batteries were silent - a part of the past New Zealand history. The following song - " My own New Zealand Home written locally and sung at the welcoming ceremony.

In Weston, Fred ( Compiler). July 1927. Thames Goldfields: 
A History from Proclamation Times to 1927. Thames: Thames Star.
It was said that Jessie Stewart ( nee Murray ) who was taught music by Mrs Payne also sung at the event along with others. 

FOOTNOTE: Ruby Ring , grand daughter of Charles Ring, ' digger' and discover of gold married Alan Rutherford Gorrie, son of William Gorrie Junr. William Gorrie Jnr and his brother Henry Thomson Gorrie were both at Thames Goldfield in the early years of its opening. Henry Thomson or HT was a clerk at the  Bank of New Zealand, Thames, with a hobby of photography. He  was for a time agent and  manager for the Bank of New Zealand  at Charleston, Lyell, and Lawrence on the goldfields  of Westland and Otago, before returning to Auckland and later being involved on the North Island gold fields again. Robert Craig Forsyth and William Moses Forsyth ( Forsyth and Masters ) were brothers of Christine Watson Forsyth and brothers -in-law of her husband Andrew Stewart and of   their other sister Mary's husband William Pole.Jessie Stewart ( nee Murray ) was daughter of Thomas Leitch Murray and Sophie Hooper Murray nee Holmden ( who resided at Thames 1868 - 1893 - twenty five years)

In all an interlinking and intertwining of these families in the part of the past New Zealand history via occupation, community, family and friends. 
Reference Source:
  • Bailey, Rona & Roth , Herbert. 1967. Shanties By the Way. Christchurch: Whitcombe & Tombs.
  • Cyclopaedia NZ , 1906, Nelson Marlborough & Westland Districts, Christchurch
  • De La Mare, A.J. 2000. Wakatipu's Golden Days. Queenstown.
  •  Miller, F.W.G. 1949. Golden Days of Lake Country. Otago Centennial Historical Publications.
  •  Nolan, Tony. 1977. Historic Gold Trails of the Coromandel. Wellington: AH & AW Reed Ltd.
  •  Radclyffe, Raymond. 1898. Wealth and Wild Cats: travels and researches in the gold-fields of Western Australia and New Zealand. London: Downey & Co.
  •  Stevan, Eldred- Grigg. 2011. Diggers, Hatters & Whores. Auckland: Random House New Zealand Ltd.
  •  Weston, Fred ( Compiler). July 1927. Thames Goldfields: A History from Proclamation Times to 1927. Thames: Thames Star.
  •  New Zealand Folk Song
  •  Trove Newspapers National Library Australia
  •  Papers Past National Library New Zealand