Sunday, 28 April 2019

" Gold in them thar Hills" Mine Tour Whangamata, Tairua - on the Coromandel's Eastern Seaboard

" Theres gold in them thar hills "- looking toward old gold mine back of ranges Whangamata- Tairua - photo Chris Ball 2017

Into the  1890's, there was a revival on the goldfields on the Coromandel's Eastern Seaboard.
H A Gordon ( Henry Andrew)  Inspecting Engineer of the New Zealand Mines Department in 1896  found there had been an increase of  miners, and a great deal of prospecting being carried on between Waitekauri and Tairua. The success of the cyanide process for extracting gold was showing good results, with the Waihi Gold Mining Company adopting the process in 1894  and decision to construct the Victoria Battery in  1896  ( what was then, the largest quartz crushing plant in Australasia.)
During the 1890's, a  number of overseas  " experts", amongst them Mr. Schmeisser and Dr. Vogelsang. Mr. Schmeisser, a geologist, inspected mining properties on the Peninsula goldfields in 1896. Mr. Provis, local mine representative at Tasmania for the Anglo continental company is said to have visited the gold mines at Tairua, Komata, Whangamata, Karangahake, Te Aroha, Waitekauri and Waihi, also in 1896. In this year James Park, Thames School of Mines and H A Gordon Inspecting Engineer for NZ Mines Department were head hunted by the Anglo Continental gold mining syndicate and left their positions to join the London based syndicate. By 1902 Park  and Gordon had moved on and continued their mining interests in New Zealand with Gordon becoming first president of the Australasian Institute Mining Engineers  in 1903.

By 1899 a local syndicate  headed by Henry Hopper Adams purchased the Tairua Broken Hills goldmining company from the  London based company who had purchased the mine  originally in 1895. Added to Tairua Broken Hills  goldmining company was a syndicate for the  Golden Belt at Neavesville,  Adams acting as Superintendent and managing director. At a meeting of shareholders in August 1899 the first directors appointed were Messrs L D Nathan, Thos Morrin, W Gorrie,  B. J. Greenslade, John Hague Smith, Mr H. Gilfillan, junr,, legal manager.

Drawn by C L Kerry .NEAVESVILLE, TAIRUA. Taken from the New Zealand Graphic, 30 May, 1896, p621  Courtesy of  Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections NZG-18960530-621-1
 The drawing above shows what the township of Neavesville looked like in those years and later in 1899 when the Golden Belt gold mining company was purchased by the syndicate.
 The following  four years were busy activity for all the mines at Tairua and Whangamata. Roading on the Coromandel's Eastern seaboard was non existent across the range at the turn of the century. There were tracks across from Puriri and Hikuai  but these were trails used for mail and mining supplies that could be carried by horses. EG food supplies, The mining companies relied on coastal shipping to bring the heavy mine machinery, tramway railway iron around the coast. Up to Broken Hills and Golden Belt  as far as the Company wharf at the landing. From there it was conveyed up to the mines  In the instant of Tairua Broken Hills  a boiler, engine, and other machinery, a quantity of railway iron, bricks, and timber for the new battery at Broken Hills, some 80 tons. Below is a photo of the Golden Hills goldmining company battery which was near by to Broken Hills gold mining company battery. Although deserted by February 1914 when the photo appeared in the Auckland Weekly News, a good image is given of what the mine battery operation of  upper Tairua, Puketui valley looked like when operating.
Showing the old deserted Golden Hill Battery, upper Tairua, Coromandel country. Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 05 FEBRUARY 1914 p044 courtesy  Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19140205-44-3
By 1906 the mines of Tairua Broken Hills gold mining company, Golden Belt gold  mining company, Mananu Gold mining Company and the Auckland Gold Corporation were operating,

During this period a number of directors of the gold mining companies had made a number of inspections of their mines in the Tairua  and Whangamata valleys.

In April 1906 H.H. Adams  arranged a " grand tour" of a number of mines over several days  Adams chartered the Northern Steam Ship Company vessel ss Aupouri to take invited passengers   -in the mines to Great Barrier, Whangamata and Tairua. Recorded amongst those on board were: H. H. Adams, Mrs. and Miss Adams, and Masters Adams (2), also Mr. H. Adams, Mr. and Mrs. W. Burton, Misses Westwood, Thomas, and Smith, Mrs. R. S. Bush, Messrs. R. Mitchelson, C. Hanson, M. Ransom, S. C. Tewslev, H. Gorrie, D. E. Clerk, M. Casey, B Owen, and  W. Frater.
ss Aupouri - the well known Northern Steam Ship Company steamer at Whangamata

First stop was Great Barrier and the Sunbeam Gold Mine where in true tradition for new batteries, Mrs Adams  performed  the ceremonial honours, smashing a bottle of liquor on the five stampers as they started.
Following a tour of the Sunbeam, it was off to Whangamata, fishing on the way and arriving early next morning. The mines were about seven miles up in the hills. H.H. Adams with superb further arrangements had a four horse brake and a number of saddle horses to convey the " tour party"  to the mines.
Adam's tour party mounted and waiting to leave. ss Aupouri centre back of photo
 The Auckland Gold Corporation's property Mananu mine ( formerly the Wentworth mine ) was visited. Then it was back on Aupouri  that evening for the tour on to Tairua. Fishing was the past time the next day. An activity always popular with the mine company directors, on many previous inspections, of the mines of Coromandel's Eastern Seaboard. Hapuka, schnapper and shark were reported caught off the coast.

A very early start up the Tairua River via two Northern Steam  Ship Company launches drew much interest and comment over the scenery along with noting at the time few logs in the booms. Reaching the landing saw a breakfast stop at the Tairua Hotel there.

01 February 1902  New Zealand Graphic by Walrond " Graphic" photo

Then via  horse to Tairua Broken Hills 20 stamper goldmine, the mill being worked by water power, along with  stamper beds composed of concrete.

Concrete Battery Relics Tairua Broken Hills Goldmine - photo courtesy ASB
Following the stop at Tairua Broken Hills goldmining operation it was on to the 40 stamper goldmine of Golden Belt, Neavesville. Also with stamper beds of concrete. ( H.H. Adams described this as the first of its kind in the "colony") ( ie. colony of New Zealand.

Then it was the return journey to Aupouri  and from here back to the Great Barrier. A visit to the Barrier Reefs Mine which was being worked by he syndicate that purchased the original mine. Finally back home to Auckland after the five day tour.

Footnote: To read more in depth account of the Mine Tour 1906 - newspaper articles - see below reference sources 18/04/1906 - 25/04/1906

Reference Source:
      Trove, National Library Australia:

       Papers Past, National Library NZ: :

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