With the granting of a license to the Waihi Gold Company for an open-cast mine on Martha Hill, it is interesting to recall the name of a well-known and highly respected resident of the Waihi, Ohinemuri and Thames districts who always had great faith in the goldmining potentialities of the Ohinemuri field.
Mr. William Francis ("Daldy") McWilliams passed away in the Waihi Hospital in 1931 in his 69th year after a lengthy illness. Mr. McWilliams was born at Papakura and was particularly well-known in mining circles.
He retired from the Justice Department in August 1927 after a service of 25 years in the Waihi Court, where he was employed as Bailiff and draughtsman. He took an active part in prospecting throughout the Waihi, Karangahake and. Waitekauri districts and was one of the provisional directors of the Waihi Prospecting & Mining Association. Mr. McWilliams had also acted for many years as New Zealand correspondent for the London "Mining Journal".
In the early days of Thames he worked in the mines as a young man and during 1882 was associated with Messrs. J. McCombie, J. Liddell and others in prospecting the Karangahake Mountain. He was a member of the party which discovered the famous Talisman lode. Mr. McWilliams was prominent in athletic circles in the early days of Thames goldfield, especially in Rugby football, and in the 'eighties he represented Thames against Auckland, in a match played in the former town, being placed opposite the city "crack" three-quarter back, Bob Whiteside, and proving a veritable stumbling block to the Auckland men as a result of his deadly tackling. His other athletic activities at Thames included the successful conducting of a gymnasium for both sexes. During his residence in Waihi Mr. McWilliams took an active part in the Waihi Boxing Association, and conducted classes for boxing, and generally displayed a great interest in all matters pertaining to physical culture.
Mr. McWilliams had a sensational experience when 17 years of age. He was then a member of the Government Survey party operating in the Rotokohu Valley near Karangahake, and was shot by hostile natives. They opened fire on the party and young McWilliams received very serious gunshot wounds in the body. The natives left him for dead, and only his wonderful presence of mind in feigning death when they examined his apparently lifeless body, saved his life. In his badly wounded condition he crawled some considerable distance, and was eventually rescued by members of his party and sent to the Thames hospital where he was a patient for some two years.
He was of a genial and optimistic disposition and was highly esteemed by all with whom he came in contact. He left a widow, two daughters and one son - Mr. Noel MacWilliams [McWilliams – E] of the Southland Electric Power Board. A private interment took place at the Waihi cemetery.
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