Sunday, 5 January 2014

Tairua Broken Hills Goldmining Company

       Directors Visit Tairua Broken Hills Gold Mining Company
From left William Frater, Major Holgate, Richard Mitchelson, Alex Alison, William Blomfield, Hugh Alison, Sir Edwin Mitchelson, Henry Thomson Gorrie, Henry Hopper ( AKA Harry ) Adams, other two launchmen.
Photo also in
Weston, Fred (Compiler) Jubilee Souvenir - Thames Goldfields: A History From Proclamation Times to 1927. Thames "Thames Star" July 1927

Tairua Goldfields – The Location

Mr. Bell, in a report , made the following observations:-

  •         Tairua Goldfield is situated in a hilly, almost mountainous country. 
  •   A natural highway into the goldfield is afforded by the Tairua Harbour and river.
  •     a rough road extends up the flood plains of the Tairua Stream for several miles, and then a corduroy or log track leads over the hills past the various mines down into the valley of the Puriri, on the western side of the divide. (Bell, AJHR 1908 Session I, C-09)
Kauri Source: Kirk, T. F.L.S. The Forest Flora of New Zealand. Wellington: Government Printers, 1889 Logs on a Rolling Road  from a photograph by Foy Brothers.
An example of the 'corduroy road" Bell writes about:  

A location such as this goldfield, would have had importance for mining operations in the late 1880'S early 1900's for transport of machinery and people.

The nature of the geography of the Tairua Goldfields - photo CRB 2012

The Gold mining Company

In the area of known as the Lower Tairua Mining Area, gold was said to have been found in what was known as the Broken Hills Claim in 1895. This led to others coming to the area in the vicinity of the Broken Hills Claim in the hope, of may be, another “El Dorado.”
Mine Shaft Tairua Broken Hills, Puketui Valley - Photo CRB 2008
 Specimens were sent to the School of Mines which came back with what were considered favourable reports –

 a trial crushing yielding, from 1 ton of ore, bullion to the value of £69” (Bell, 1912, P14 )

            Thames School of Mines - 2014 still there as a Heritage destination - Photo CRB 2009
There then entered on the Broken Hill Claim scene, one London based company who promptly registered the claim as the New Zealand Broken Hills Gold Mining Company Limited. The Auckland Star reported:-

“Mr Hansen, who has charge of the works, says the ore is much richer than on, the surface. Some time ago, 18cwt yielded £70 worth of bullion at the School of Mines.” (Auckland Star, 09/07/1896)

Capital flowed freely as this London based company began construction of water- races and a tramway. A 20 stamp battery was also purchased – before any payable ore was properly realised.

It would seem also from newspaper accounts that the County Engineer had other ideas on the track being constructed between the Broken Hills Mine and the Upper Landing:-

" As to Knox and Co.'s objection to the proposed line of road between the Broken Hills mine and the Upper Landing the Engineer reported that the track constructed by Seavers' syndicate was objectionable because it crosses and re crosses the Tairua river a number of times, but his idea was to go to the Upper Landing as only one crossing would be necessary.—This matter was left entirely with the Engineer.'(Thames Star, 3 June 1897, Page 39)

Sides of Gorge, Tairua Broken Hills, Puketui Valley - Photo CRB 2008


After only two years of hard work and capital expenditure, the London based company, headed by Jonathan Seavers locally, gave up gold mining at Tairua Broken Hills in favour of a local syndicate who purchased the claim, the workings along with the plant and machinery.

The Local Syndicate


 “To-day the recently-formed The Tairua Broken Hills Gold Mining- Company (Limited) was registered under the Companies Act, 1882, the first directors being- Messrs H. T. Gorrie, John McCombie, H. H. Adams, H. A. Gordon. Thomas Morrin, E. W. Alison, D. G. MacDonnell, and secretary Mr J.B. Sheath. The office is situated at No. 11, New Zealand Insurance Buildings, Queen street. The nominal capital of the company is £12,500, divided into 125,000 shares of 2s each. Mr H. A. Gordon has been appointed chairman of directors, and Mr H. H. Adams managing director at the company's mine at Tairua.” (Auckland Star, 13/07/1899, p.5)

First NZI Building demolished during World War 1 - In The New Zealand Insurance Company Limited. Bold Century.Auckland: The New Zealand Insurance Company Limited, 1959

Typical of most Coromandel Peninsula Mining Companies in this era, Tairua Broken Hills Gold mining Company advertised their offices as being in the New Zealand Insurance Building.

These first directors of the Tairua Broken Hills Gold mining Company were certainly no strangers to goldmining on the Coromandel Peninsula and had been involved as directors and or managers  of a number of gold mining companies.
The newspapers reported personnel developments with both Henry Hopper Adams ( AKA H.H. Adams) and John McCombie ( AKA J McCombie )appointed to report on and prepare a plan of operation ( Thames Star,  14 July 1899, Page 4 )

Mr. H.H. Adams photo courtesy  Sir George Grey Special Collections,    
Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19270728-47-13’Auckland City Libraries Heritage images

J McCombie
 The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, Auckland Province. Christchurch: Cyclopaedia Company Limited, 1902.

Tairua Broken Hills Gold Mining Company moved rapidly towards being operational. The Auckland Star carried news of  the transport of machinery and material to the battery site aboard Scow Orakei, Captain Wilson.:-

" The well known scow Orakei on the 11th November berthed at the Tairua Broken Hills Gold Mining Company's wharf, upper landing. She brought boiler, engine, and other machinery, a quantity of railway iron, bricks, and timber for the new battery at Broken Hills, some 80 tons in all. Mr Norman McLeod has secured the contract for conveying the machinery, etc., from the company's wharf to the battery site, a distance of four miles." (Auckland Star ,23 November 1899, Page 6)

Mine Relics  Broken Hills Tairua Photo CRB 2008
By 1903 Tairua Broken Hills Gold mining Company was up and running. Several visits had been made by the directors to the mine as well as enjoying fishing in the area. There were also several changes of directors - The Hon Edwin Mitchelson as Chairperson and with  William Blomfield and James Smith appointed on retirement of Henry Gordon ( AKA H.A. Gordon) and Thomas Morrin in 1901. Henry Thomson Gorrie remained as a director.
In 1903 the Mines Statement wrote on Tairua Broken Hills :-

"Tairua Broken Hills Mine, which is now held by an Auckland company, has had a very  successful year. The mill, of twenty-stamp capacity, is well fitted out with gold-saving appliances, including cyanide plant ; and the stone in the mine looks promising. ( Mines Statement , 1903 )
Sign for walking track Tairua Broken Hills - Photo by CRB 2008
Today in 2014 Tairua Broken Hills is a recreation area - part of the past New Zealand History.

Start of Broken Hills Walking Track in 2008 -  Photo by CRB 2008

Reference Source: 
  •  Bell, James Mackintosh, and Colin New Zealand Geological Survey Branch Fraser. 1912. The geology of the Waihi - Tairua subdivision, Hauraki division. Wellington, New Zealand: John Mackay, Government Printer.
  • Downey, F. Gold Mines Of The Hauraki District, New Zealand. G.B. Loney, Government Printer . Wellington: G.B. Loney, Government Printer, 1935.
  • Kirk, T. F.L.S. The Forest Flora of New Zealand. Wellington: Government Printers, 1889
  • Weston, Fred (Compiler) Jubilee Souvenir - Thames Goldfields: A History From Proclamation Times to 1927. Thames "Thames Star" July 1927
  • NEW ZEALAND GEOLOGICAL SURVEY DEPARTMENT (SECOND ANNUAL REPORT (NEW SERIES) OF THE). Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1908 Session I, C-09 National Library New Zealand Atols Online    
  •   Newspapers - The Auckland Star, The New Zealand Herald, Thames Star Papers Past National Library New Zealand