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Chook's Tracks

It may be of interest to Paeroa folk that they had a mine well ahead of Waihi but it wasn't a gold mine but a coal mine which was situated up the Tarariki Creek.

Discovered in 1875 and recorded in the Thames Advertiser on March 15th 1875 as thus:

A Mr Hennelly accompanied by Messrs Wright and Bayldon surveyors Mr Cashell and Mr Smith, one of the claimants of the Prospectors Reserve, travelled up the creek on which the coal had been found. They came back that night with the following information. There were two seams overlaying each other about 50 feet apart. The lower seam being about 18 inches thick, the other on the same bearing 3 foot to four foot thick.

They sunk a hole four foot deep by six foot long onto the main seam and removed large lumps of coal which burnt well. They also found a little oil on the water which burnt with a slight flame.

Mr Wright estimated that the full cost of mining the coal and delivering it to Paeroa, about three miles away, would be about 2 shillings [20 cents] per ton.

The coal was latter delivered to Paeroa in wagons pulled by bullocks owned by the late Mr Trainor of Reservoir Road and shipped to Thames and Auckland from a wharf behind Fathers Tavern, Paeroa.

The mine, I believe, became uneconomic because of the varied widths of the coal seams leaving too much overburden to remove. Paeroa should not be out done by Waihi as it would take only about $100,000 to place a wooden wagon with two bullocks attached made of fibreglass, the coal likewise, along side the L and P Bottle.

The above mine was rediscovered around 1980 by the Sutton brothers, Arthur and Chook, along with their late brother-in-law Pat O'Hara and over the years have taken many people to see it but it took them years to find any real information about it. In the past weeks more has come to hand from Michael O'Connell and Graham Watton of Paeroa. A sample of the coal is now at the Paeroa Museum.

By what we read of late about mining the old saying that the definition of a mine is "a hole in the ground surrounded by thieves" still stands today.

Chook Sutton

[See also additional information: Ohinemuri Coal Mines]