Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Thames (NZ): The opening of the Karaka aka Thames Goldfield 1 August 1867

Today marks the opening of the goldfield 150 years ago. A Dawn blessing by local iwi Ngati Maru will have already taken place as the town waits for the opening ceremony at 1pm today (1 August 2017).

The Opening of the Goldfield 1st August 1867, continues to be debated by voluntary and paid researchers to this day. We find references in newspapers and diaries that alter or confirm the arrival dates. Some say before and others after the 1st. James Mackay himself confirmed that he arrived on the 2nd August due to the Enterprise No 2 being stuck in mud and the effects of a terrible gale.

Two reports from correspondents of the New Zealand Herald and Daily Southern Cross confirm the Enterprise 2's (paddle steamer with James Mackay and miners aboard) arrival at the Thames on the evening of the 1st August at 6pm. The New Zealand Herald reporter sounds as if he was already on the field. He states that there were 11 already present and that the 64 who came on the Enterprise No 2 now boosts the goldfields new population to 75.
 So the dilemma remains, did any of the miners get off the boat at 6pm and wade the mudflats or get help from local iwi. Or did most including Mackay await till the morning light. Further information will be added as gathered. Healthy debate indeed.

Whatever, lets celebrate the official opening of the Goldfield, which we can say with 100% certainty - was the 1st August 1867!
Shortland Dec 1868 by John Backhouse
Source:  Backhouse, John Philemon 1845-1908 :Sketchbook [of New Zealand views. 1871-1876].. Ref: E-400-f-001. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22735151

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