Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 2, October 1964



Steam to Ohinemuri

The Paddle Steamer "LALLA ROOKH"

from Shortland and Grahamstown

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For Ohinemuri

Landing passengers at Austin's Paeroa

The Paddle Steamer


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For Ohinemuri

(Austin's Hotel, Paeroa)

The new iron steamer


E Moore, Master

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Daily Steam Communication

with Ohinemuri

Landing Passengers at

Austin's Wharf, Paeroa

The Screw Steamer, "PEARL"

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(NOTE: Austin's Wharf was at the end of Wharf Street, Paeroa, adjacent to Austin's Hotel. This was later known as the Paeroa Hotel when managed by Mr & Mrs Nicks, (the parents of Mr George Nicks who died in Auckland last year. Mrs Nicks later married Mr Moore, and then Mr Wick.) (Ed.)

1.1.75 : SHIPPING.

Regular steam communication with Ohinemuri. The Paddle-steamer "Lalla Rookh", (23 tons) H Dalton, Master. Excursion to Ohinemuri - Friday (New Years Day) at 12 noon; home at 8 pm. Also Saturday. Return Tickets 5/-.

Notice: The tides being so awkward upon the above days, the "Lalla Rookh" will proceed to Ohinemuri, and return the same tide, only remaining half an hour at Thorp's Landing. The beautiful scenery along the River and a view of the Promised Land can be obtained by this opportunity at cheap fares, and with the satisfaction of arriving home at reasonable hours. R Onyon, Agent.

16.1.75: Ohinemuri (From an Excursionist).

As soon as we came in sight of the district on the river, we could see several fires on the face of the range, and especially at that part known as the "Gorge", and in the neighbourhood of the Waitekauri. This showed that a good number of prospectors were out. On getting up to the Paeroa, I found Mr Alfred Thorp and Mr Henry Johnson, with several Maori lads, laying out the township of Paeroa. Some 3 or 4 years ago, when it was thought to be on the point of being opened, an attempt was made to lay out a township on the Paeroa estate but was effectually stopped. Mere Kuru and her followers chased the surveyors off the ground. She came up yesterday and shook her head dubiously over the whole business. She said she would not interfere with the surveying but that there must be no building on the ground. If the Europeans must have a township they must place it within the goldfields boundary. However, Mr Thorp is proceeding vigorously, and I have no doubt that we shall have a township with market squares, churches and schools, and all other amenities of a first class city.

The main road which is laid through the small swamp beyond the Paeroa Hotel which faces the river, is too be a chain and a half wide, and there is to be an esplanade where trees may be planted.

I tried to get some idea of the number of men out prospecting and was told that there are not above 40 divided into 6 or 7 parties. There are four small tents near the Paeroa, 8 or 9 men encamped at Mitchell's and a larger number at Creagh's. Most are disappointed about the delays, but nevertheless are waiting hopefully. I was told that Te Hira, having pledged to obstruct no longer, is not likely to break his word. The early prospectors are annoyed that newcomers are interfering with their "finds" but actually they are all acting illegally in prospecting at all.

18.1.75: A new landing stage is being erected opposite the Paeroa Hotel, and Mr Austin is increasing his bedroom accommodation. On a piece of Mataia's ground near the hotel, there is now growing a splendid crop of wheat, giving good evidence of what may be produced on Ohinemuri soil.

20.1.75: Per Pigeon Express.

There are about 40 diggers here at the Paeroa Camp. Dan Sealey and 9 others are out. Logan's party are said to have a good show in a reef; Mr Thorp, Johnny Beeche and Mr Bennett have an interest in another one. Mr Skidmore is just in and reports well of the creeks. The Maoris are very friendly. Their potato crop is good, and they are now getting in their wheat. An experienced miner warns that Ohinemuri will never be a poor man's diggings. Capital will be needed for development.

23.1.75: Mr Mackay is now at Ohinemuri, making preparations for the opening of the country in respect to lines of road, boundaries, native reserves etc. There is some talk of laying down a tramway between the landing and the hills - about six miles. The survey of the Paeroa has been finished and probably the allotments will be advertised soon.

27.1.75: The SS "Pearl", a fast favourite with travellers, leaves this day at 9 am for the camping ground at Austin's, Paeroa Township. (Daily with the tides).

8.2.75: The number of tents at the Paeroa and elsewhere increases daily. Mr Fisher has started to run a 'bus' (coach) between Thorp's landing and the Paeroa.


16.2.75: The "Luna" left the Tararu wharf about 11.30 am yesterday and arrived at Creagh's shortly after 3 pm. There were on board, Sir Donald Mc Lean and the official party, who were busily engaged compiling from a draft the amended mining regulations. We did not arrive here(Bennett and Cassrel's) till close on 5 o'clock, so nothing at all was done. It was raining heavily.

17.2.75: The eyes of the province are on Ohinemuri. The "Luna" is lying opposite Messrs Bennett and Cassrel's, after much difficulty in getting there. Her length necessitated the pulling of her nose round the bends of the river by ropes, and groups of men are sitting on the banks looking at her.

The most important subject is the nature of the regulations under which the goldfield will be opened. For a time it will be administered under the Goldfields Act 1866, without any leasing regulations attached, but the mode of pegging out will be the same as under the Districts Act, where no centre pegs are required. Each man will be allowed to hold ground of the old size, 50 feet by 300 feet, or 15,000 square feet. Block claims will be allowed to the extent of ten men's ground. Every man interested will have to be present when the claim is pegged or his party must hold his miner's right.

Te Hira and Te Moananui have maintained a dignified seclusion, but now Te Hira has come down from his settlement to his old place at Papaturoa, near where the "Luna" is lying. He is surrounded by his own people and is as polite, hospitable and kindly as ever. He will attend the meeting tomorrow, and now that he has given his consent to have the field opened, he is anxious to have it done as soon as possible, and as quietly and peaceably as possible.

The Paeroa is the transit place. Mr Lipsey and others, who have stores at the Gorge come down to pack goods, while Austin's Hotel is a centre for the miners in the vicinity. There is a goodly array of tents at the Paeroa, and stores to supply the residents. There must be three of four hundred Europeans here.

There was a curious scene in the settlement last night. About 80 men, women and young Maoris were seated in two rows, each having a stick of about 8 or 9 feet long, to thresh the wheat which was laid out between them. It was bright moonlight and the beating was accompanied by brisk chanting.

18.2.75: Puketeawairahi - The cutting of the lines is not yet finished. Mr Mackay was yesterday up at the boundary towards Te Aroha. The cutting of the line at Hikutaia was stopped by the natives but has been resumed.

18.2.75: Per Pigeon Express. - The native meeting commenced today at noon, Mr Mackay explaining the terms of the proposed agreement. The Maoris still continued to insist that all things but gold should be cut out of it. They wished to retain land, timber and gum, apart from their own reserves.

19.2.75: Ohinemuri - Visit of Sir Donald McLean, Native Minister.

There was a large attendance including the principal chiefs in the meeting-house called "Te Whakahaere O Hauraki" or the place for the management of the affairs of Hauraki. Sir D McLean and Hon. Dr Pollen took their seats under the verandah with Mr Mackay, Mr Puckey and Mr G H Davies. Mr G T Wilkinson was there to translate the agreements to the natives and there were also present Mr C O'Neil M.H.R., Mr J Gibbons, Mr J Foley, Mr H C Young, Mr Craig and Mr Grace.

(Discussion continued for two days and it was most difficult to reach decisions, in spite of Mr Mackay's strenuous efforts to explain all points of view. There were some excellent speeches and a few humorous incidents e.g.

Riwai: "The tribes are not finished. Mr Mackay's speech prolonged the matter. Let Mackay stop; we have had enough of him. His talk is perpetual".

Mr Mackay: "Well done Riwai".

Te Hira: "I wish to have the talk commenced in good spirit and end well. I stood up because we own this place. My wish is to have everything settled about the gold and afterwards take other things. I want to live in peace on the land and not be disturbed. Remove now all the troubles of Ohinemuri".

20.2.75: Yesterday afternoon the agreement was at last signed, sealed and delivered. The cracked and broken table on which the deed was laid, and the steel pen with which the Maoris slowly spelled out their names, should be of historical interest.

Mr Mackay explained that there was urgency owing to the death on 17.2.75 of Mr William-son, the Superintendent of the Province, and that the official party wished to return to Auckland to attend the funeral. First Karaitiana and Wi Koka came forward, and then Te Moananui and Te Hira. In all 97 signatures were appended, but the chiefs of the Kiriwera did not sign. They had been the stoutest resisters from the first and objected to roads passing through their property as well as to other conditions. However they signed today.

Between 8 and 9 am the "Luna" loosed from her moorings at Puketeawairahi and dropped down the river stern first till she came to a place where she could turn. There the stern stuck into the bank while the tide swung round the bow, mowing down the peach trees on the bank. Captain Fairchild moored her about a mile and a half above the Puke because about 150 miners had assembled there and were holding a meeting from which Messrs O'Haire, Porter and Stewart were appointed to convey a vote of thanks to Sir Donald McLean, Dr. Pollen and Mr Mackay. They were received on the poop of the "Luna" and it was noted that the whole body of miners had gathered on the bank, anxious to hear the discussions concerning regulations governing "miner's rights". Some conversation took place respecting the system to be adopted in issuing these and Mr Mackay said they could not be issued prior to the proclamation of the opening of the field. He proposed to have them numbered and signed by the Warden, and he would have every Constabulary man with a book, so that the rights could be issued as fast as possible.

Captain Fairchild who happened to be on the poop made a practical suggestion that those who wanted rights should send in their names to the officer and then they could be completed and issued in a few minutes. The men then returned to their several camping grounds, and there has been quite a rush to the vicinity of the Gorge.

24.2 .75: Per Pigeon Express. Today I visited the Gorge settlement to be known in the future as Mackaytown, and there found a large number of miners encamped, but only the road-makers were busy. There are already three grog-shops and Lipsey's building is on the other side of the river near Logan's reef. I do not think that Mackaytown will beat the Paeroa, where many persons are erecting business places.

The Paeroa Township, situate at Ohinemuri will be sold by auction on Saturday next, 27.2.75 at the Academy of Music, Grahamstown. The Paeroa has been held for some years by Messrs Jackson and Russell, Solicitors, of Auckland, who in anticipation of the long talked of opening of Ohinemuri, have laid out the Paeroa for a township. We hear that it is the only piece of land along the banks of the river that has not been flooded and it commands a central position with easy access by water. A number of substantial buildings are being erected, amongst which is a large hotel owned by Messrs Cassrel and Bennett who have been in business in Ohinemuri for some time. Mr Hogg is likewise erecting a large store.

25.2.75: Paeroa. Mr Mackay is to hold a meeting with the natives today to have the schedule to the agreement consented to and signed. It contains the defined boundaries and there could be no proclamation without it.

The police force at the Paeroa are to be transferred to Mackaytown today, one constable to be left in charge here. Mr Mackay is having the town surveyed and divided into streets and allotments. There is a digger's camp outside the confines of the township.




The undersigned have been favoured with instructions from Messrs Jackson and Russell, to sell by auction at the Academy of Music, Grahamstown allotments in the above valuable township.

We would call the attention of the public to the situation of the Property, commanding a central position in the Goldfields, being the chief landing place and the inlet and outlet of the Government Roads to the Diggings; not to say that purchasers need not fear floods, this being a property never yet disturbed by water. With one exception all the steamers on the Ohinemuri trade - numbering six - land their cargo and passengers at this Township, the River being quite free from snags with deep water all along the banks of the Paeroa. Conditions and terms will be read before the sale commences.

Samuel Cochrane & Son : : Auctioneers.

26.2.75: A largely attended meeting has been held and after much argument boundaries and reserves have been agreed upon, as well as the necessity for roads.

1.3.75: Sale of Paeroa Township - There was a large attendance and for some of the allotments a brisk competition. A considerable number of choice sections had been previously purchased. On Saturday prices ranged between £5 and £40 for a term of 16 years at a nominal rental of 10/-per annum per allotment. Buyers were Messrs Wilson, Keane, Hagin, Hamilton, Hogg, Chapman, Durham and McLeod, Carter, Mills, Steadman, Penn, French, Everett, Lamb Bros., Tetley, Jackson, Thorp, Burton, Hilton, Morgan, McGowan, Cohen, Harris, Ballin Bros., Gallagher, Hayman, Grigg, Smith and Somerfield.

The Ohinemuri Regulations : Miner's Rights issued on payment of £1, to be exhibited on demand, - Marking out of Claims, Forms of Claims (shape and size), Division of Claims according to type of mining, Amalgamation.

2.3.75: Within the past two days the population of Ohinemuri has materially increased. Yesterday no fewer than six steamers left Thames, five of them being crowded. About 120 people went on board the "Takapuna", there being hardly an inch of standing room left. The "Effort" took only Mr Mackay and party, but the "Pearl", the "Lalla Rookh", the "Alert" and the "Buona Ventura" were crowded and also carried a large amount of cargo. It is estimated that about 400 people went up the river and more are going today.

There was considerable interest taken in the speed of the "Takapuna" but the "Alert" the iron boat, is the fastest vessel. She started half an hour after the "Takapuna" and passed her just below the Puke.

3.3.75: Per Pigeon Express. The excitement about Mackaytown yesterday was intense. Business people were eagerly looking after their interests in regard to sites but the survey of allotments had not been completed. Mr Mackay was fearfully enraged, and employed Mr Creagh with a new staff of surveyors to finish if possible.

Mr Palmer went out to mark off the reserve for the "Prospector's Claim", that is the early claim of the small group, Thorp and party who had produced early evidence of finding payable gold. Messrs Smith and Coleman opposed the survey, claiming that they had a prior claim. Mr Mackay settled the matter by his decision that instead of ten men's ground, or 500 x 300 feet, he would reserve fifteen men's ground or 662 x 340 feet in order to allow the parties to amalgamate. The reef was indicated, and specimens produced as well as one cwt. of gold-bearing quartz. There has been quite a rush to the ranges in the neighbourhood of the prospectors reef, but no other claims were allowed.

The road is roughly finished to Mackaytown and Mr Mackay has promised to make a sledge road to Gorgetown ( later known as Karangahake) as this is urgently required.

4.3.75: Preparations for the Opening. The Warden, Captain Fraser, Mr Allom, Receiver of Goldfields Revenue, and a retinue, arrived at Mackaytown on Tuesday night and made an immediate start on their duties, working till 3 am and then continuing from daylight till 10 am when the proclamation was read. Large crowds had assembled round the Warden's Office, a frame and canvas building 50 feet in length and 20 feet wide. The long counter which served as a desk was along the whole front from which the canvas was hoisted, the spaces between the upright posts regulating numbers. The first space was allotted to Mr Mackay who dealt with the 150 applicants who had already paid their fee. The next for those who held tickets numbered from 1 to 35 and so on. In front of the building and within about two feet of the counter there was a strong fence to prevent pressure on the clerks. Excitement was intense and horsemen were mounted ready for the rush.


At 10 o'clock Mr Mackay mounted the counter and wished the miners well. He said he stood there as agent for the General Government to hand over to Captain Fraser (who had been appointed Warden), the proclamation of the goldfield and the control of it.

Captain Fraser R.M. mounted a rostrum in front of the Government Offices and addressed the assembled miners. He announced the Ohinemuri Block to be a proclaimed goldfield, and said that the boundaries were defined in the Gazette open to the inspection of the public. He further announced that Te Kahakaha now known as Mackaytown (Reserve B) was for residence or for business under Miner's Right or Business Licence as was a parcel of land at Karangahake, (Reserve A).

During the next half hour about 800 miners' rights were issued amidst a scene of indescribable hurry and confusion. Then the rush began!

The following is and excerpt from a reporter's story:

On 2.3.75: Landing at the Puke, I struck out for the Paeroa. Everybody had a swag but me and I carried a box with two gentle doves. I found the Paeroa pretty lively and learned what had already taken place. My mate "bloody with spurring, fiery red with haste", had just ridden in from the Karangahake ridge and writing a pigeongram from his dictation, I threw up one of my birds, and had the pleasure of seeing it go off like a dart.

After a brief stay I marched on the three miles to Mackaytown, whose tents were shining white against the dark green fern. Beyond Mr Mitchell's place, the Ohinemuri stream had to be crossed twice. At the first there is a flat-bottomed dingy with which a Maori turns an honest penny, or rather 3d. At the second crossing, a young fellow pikau's people over for 6d. At Mackaytown situated on a fern ridge, the primitive tent is the principal dwelling place. On the right it sweeps down to the Ohinemuri, and going straight along the ridge one would drop over a precipice, but beyond the deep gully on the left is a rise which has been set aside as the diggers' camp and which has already been christened Block 27. On the flat on the other side of the Ohinemuri is the embryo township which has sprung up under the wing of Mr Lipsey.

Here at Mackaytown the sound of the hammer is all around, especially in the main street. Everybody is dirty. Large spaces of fern have been burned off so the ground is covered with ashes and a fine black dust which begrimes one within a few minutes. Horses are at a premium. Some men slept with their horse ropes under them. The "Prospectors' Claim" is the main topic of conversation and there is much argument.

3.3.75: To see the best of the fun I started this morning for the Prospectors' Claim, carrying my precious pigeon. He was the only hope of satisfying the burning curiosity of the people of Thames, so I looked upon him with considerable respect and solicitude. Along the whole route I saw familiar faces. Hunt and Cobley were there and groups of men were sitting all over the hills with pegs in their hands waiting for their mates to arrive with the official "rights". I sat down at one of the pegs of the Prospectors' Claim where there was a small board labelled "Government reserve", and here I wrote my pigeongram: 9.20 am. - From this spur the Warden's marquee can be seen, and the crowd around. Before us is the Ohinemuri stream, joined by the narrow gorge of the Waitawheta. Last night various parties who intend pegging at Waitekauri and other places went out after dark, but the chief attraction is here. There is a splendid view from this spot. On the one side the rough huddle of the hills to the East Coast; on the other the multitudinous tents of Mackaytown and the great valley of the Thames. Men are marching about with pegs excitedly, and whispering in groups, Whelan, one of the original Tokatea prospectors, with a party is around, as is Wm Payne. "Potentate" and "Belle of the Isles" are at camp to gallop out with the miners' rights but it is thought the Maori horses will beat them over the rough country.

9.50 am - Serg. Elliott and four constables have just arrived. About 200 men are now on the hill.

10.7 am - We can see clouds of dust; horsemen riding here. Edward Howard has just pegged out; Horsemen are flying over the ranges. What a race! Have pity on the horses! Men are running to meet them. Payne and Cashell have pegged out. A Maori has won the race, and is first on the ground with rights, John Riordan and Pat Donnelly are here.

10.20 am - Men pegging - A few quarrels - a man arrived naked - Mr Adam Porter was the first man up where I am. Shall now send off my Pigeon and return to Mackaytown.

5.3.75: 11 am - Mr Mackay has sent in his resignation because the Government did not go on with public works. He set a small road party to work this morning. A few bridges are wanted very badly. The miners are likely to migrate to Lipsey's camp to be nearer the claims. It is proposed to call the place Fraserville, after the Warden.

5.10pm - 922 miners' rights have been issued. News is just in that Logan has shown an entirely new reef, four feet wide, in the Prospectors' Claim, out of which he has been squeezed. Tonight a few men returned from the Waihi Plains but they do not think much of the country. Leahy has returned from Waitekauri, very reticent. A new rush took place to Rotokohu this morning, some leaders having been discovered.

PROTECTION - "Miners having taken up Claims will be allowed until Monday at 8 am to man their ground". This gives them time to look around and select suitable mates. Raining hard - drought broken, but I hope it will clear up sufficiently to send a bird.

8.3.75: Mackaytown 6.3.75 - About 100 men started for Waitekauri this morning. A strong petition is being got up asking the General Government to refuse to accept Mr Mackay's resignation. (Subsequently Sir D McLean induced Mr Mackay to withdraw his resignation and promised more money for roads). Mr Corbett was appointed Manager of the "Prospectors' Claim" and shift work was begun.

10.4.75: A new goldfield has been proclaimed at Tairua.

24.4.75: Mackaytown - The prospectors have been busy all day getting quartz down to Fraserville. Two tons from No. 1 and one ton from No. 2 have been forwarded. A number of volunteers from adjoining claims assisted in humping the quartz as far as "Gorgetown", and the local storekeepers provided horses to pack it to Fraserville. From thence it will be carted to the Paeroa to be shipped to the Thames for crushing.

27.4.75: The Ohinemuri quartz showed a payable yield which should encourage the installation of a crushing plant.

1.5.75: Te Hira complained that pakehas were trying to acquire portions of the native reserve against his will, and mentioned a block called "Ouerangi" on which Mr Cock wishes to build. His case was similar to Mr H C Young's in the Komata Block. Both had bought out the majority of the guarantees, but the minority refused to sell and were resisting occupation.

10.5.75: Mr T W Allen, of the Robin Hood Hotel, Paeroa, has drawn my attention to some locally ground flour made from locally grown wheat. The miller,s brand is "J H Wilson, Ohinemuri Flour Mills". Mr Wilson has recently leased the flour mill from Te Hira and his co-partner, and has made several improvements in it. Up to the present his great drawback has been a want of water, but he will doubtless soon be in a position to supply the district with first class flour at a reasonable rate, as he intends to import wheat if necessary.

The roads are getting very bad, and buses have discontinued running. The "Alert" and "Lalla Rookh" will shortly commence running right up to Paeroa. The "Pearl" has always done so, and the others will doubtless make a virtue of necessity.

13.5.75: The heavy rain on Friday night caused a fresh in the river. As the new road round the bend is not yet finished, cart traffic was completely stopped on Saturday between Paeroa and Mackaytown. There is some talk of the Government starting the road from Puke to be ready for traffic next summer. No doubt it will be commenced as soon as the rainy season fairly sets in. The long spell of fine weather has been very annoying as of course the Government could not be expected to start road making while it lasted. Now they can make a good job of it at moderate cost. (satire?)

27.5.75: Church - Ohinemuri. In spite of heavy rain a good congregation assembled yesterday morning to hear Rev. Mr Willis who preached in a large out building attached to the Imperial Hotel, Paeroa. In the afternoon Mr Mitchell provided a horse and went with the Rev. to Mackaytown where attendance was also good. Requested to tell Bishop glad if arrangements could be made to hold services at least once in two months during winter. Also apply for church sites at Mackaytown and Paeroa for Church of England.

3.6.75: Mackaytown - How hath the mighty fallen! The captain and his hostelry have succumbed to the force of circumstances and the assaults of rude Boreas. Justice and Baachus, having long since dissolved partnership, have found other habitations, and the National Hotel has been left standing as a silent monument - "sacred to the memory of departed glory".

Last night's gale left it a heap of ruins and the famous "tent" of miners' right renown, is a thing of the past. The wind blew at times with terrific force, and sundry calico houses came to grief. The rain has caused another fresh in the river, and has again stopped the cart traffic between Paeroa and Mackay-town. Fortunately the new road round the bend is now passable for pack-horses, so the miners are not likely to be much inconvenienced.

5.6.75: Per Pigeon Express: Report re Mines and Kauri Tree. Encouraging reports have been sent in from the following claims at Karangahake. All Nations (Prospector's Claim), Pride of the Gorge, Golden Spur, Home Rule, Cornes and party, Pride of Ohinemuri (Black McKenna and party) and The Mazeppa Co.

It is now nearly three months since road-makers were paid and they are being charged interest on their accounts. The Government ought to allow them interest on the money overdue.

11.6.75: There was a rush today to Fern Flat, on the other side of the Ohinemuri crossing, on the Tauranga Road. (Owharoa).

18.6.75: Arrangements for new battery. (All Nations).

21.6.75: Work suspended on roads - no money. Mr Hayman has opened a very comfortable hotel - called the Royal Mail - in Mackaytown. The billiard room is 25 feet by 20 feet and one of Abbott & Company's best tables is about to be fitted up. Opening celebrated by a ball - very well attended. Mr Lipsey also opened new hotel and store in Mackaytown South - so although depression, there is faith.

26.6.75: The Karangahake Prospectors have started to clear the track to their machine site (Battery). They intend to land the plant as far up the river as possible, then sledge it with bullocks as far as Noble's. It will be lowered down a steep incline with blocks and tackle; bullocks will then drag it a short distance along the bank of the river to the machine site. In the Mine the intermediate level is being pushed ahead, but the ground is now very tight, requiring constant use of gads and occasional shots; low level tunnel through the all Nations' ground is to be started tomorrow.