This series of working papers focuses on the Te Aroha Mining District from 1880-1980, starting with the year when gold was discovered until when the environmental consequences of base metal mining were being tackled. Although the papers always contain a mining element, much more is covered, with background papers dealing not only with the geology and impacts on vegetation and the wider environment but also the consequence for iwi of the search for gold, including the sale of the Aroha Block. Interspersed with papers on the rise and fall of mining are others on some of the leading personalities of the time (and not just miners), which broaden the focus from being just about the Te Aroha district.

Supported by the Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato.


Click on each section below to see a full list of papers:

  • Merea Wikiriwhi and George Thomas Wilkinson

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Merea Wikiriwhi was one of the few women to invest in Te Aroha mining. Her life has been traced in as much detail as can be found because so little has survived about the lives of Maori women. As George Thomas Wilkinson’s ...
  • John Squirrell: a farmer and storekeeper who mined (briefly) at Te Aroha

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    An English merchant’s clerk, some years after his wife’s death John Squirrell brought his sister and daughters to New Zealand to settle in the new Shaftesbury settlement, upriver from Te Aroha. His letters to English ...
  • James Gordon: a ‘useful all-round man’ at Te Aroha and elsewhere

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Some confusion over the early details of James Gordon’s life is unavoidable because his birth was not registered and there were several namesakes. Born to an Irish father and a Maori mother, after the latter reputedly ...
  • William Morris Newsham: a prospector and miner in the Te Aroha district

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    New Zealand-born William Morris Newsham fought against Maori without suffering any mishaps, but when aged 35 had the most perilous experience of his life. When assisting to survey a potential railway line in the King ...
  • Social relations and class divisions in the Te Aroha district

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Although the nature of mining encouraged mateship amongst miners, this ideal was weakened as companies increasingly dominated mining districts. As miners liked to work for themselves to obtain the highest possible financial ...
  • Women’s lives in the Te Aroha district

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Pioneer women were praised for their hard work, and this paper deals with all aspects of their lives in this district in the late nineteenth and, occasionally, the early twentieth century. Details are provided of all the ...
  • Joseph Harris Smallman

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Born to a mining agent and trained as a mining surveyor, in 1864, less than a year after the birth of his first child, Smallman left England for New Zealand to establish a ‘Mining business’, promising that his family would ...
  • Alfred Henry Whitehouse; a bootmaker who became a pioneer of New Zealand films

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    In December 1880, Alfred Henry Whitehouse set himself up in business in Te Aroha as its ‘Pioneer Bootmaker’. He had a very small involvement in local mining. As well as making boots and shoes, he tried to earn more money ...
  • Harry and Charles: Henry Ernest Whitaker and Charles Stanislaus Stafford at Te Aroha

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Harry Whitaker was a member of a prominent political family, and Charles Stanislaus Stafford came from an Anglo-Irish landowning family. They both invested in mines in the Te Aroha district, Whitaker being particularly ...
  • David Mclean Wallace: a Waiorongomai blacksmith who founded an engineering firm

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Born in Scotland and trained as a blacksmith, Wallace arrived in New Zealand in 1873, working at Ngaruawahia, Auckland, and Huntly before settling in Waiorongomai in 1885. Soon obtaining most of the available work, he ...
  • Two Roycroft brothers and two of their brothers-in-law, all miners at Te Aroha

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    James and William Roycroft commenced their mining careers at Thames, where they were notable athletes, especially James. But James also became notable for being accused of theft, violence, and excessive drinking. Both men ...
  • Patrick Quinlan: a publican at Te Aroha and Auckland

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Born in Panmure in 1854 to an Irish Catholic military family, Patrick Quinlan became a publican in Te Aroha at the end of 1880. He invested in a small way in mines close to the township and in a much larger way in Waiorongomai ...
  • Michael Dineen O’Keeffe: president of the Thames miners’ union

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    An Irishman, O’Keeffe remained very ‘Irish’ throughout his long life as a miner. Arriving in New Zealand in 1879, he moved to Te Aroha in 1881 and became one of the more prominent miners at Waiorongomai. Partly because of ...
  • George Stewart O’Halloran: a pioneer publican and storekeeper at Te Aroha

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Born in Ireland, O’Halloran and his brothers went to Australia in 1860 before moving to New Zealand a few years later. After fighting against Maori for some years, as a member of the Armed Constabulary he made roads in ...
  • William Archibald Murray: a Piako farmer who invested in Waiorongomai mines

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Proudly Scottish and from a sheep-farming family boasting a distinguished lineage, William Archibald Murray settled in Otago with his brothers in 1858 and acquired a large estate. A successful farmer, he was elected to ...
  • Denis Murphy: a miner and farmer in the Te Aroha district

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    After the death of his father, Denis Murphy and his family settled in New Zealand in 1865, moving to Thames once the goldfield opened, mining there for several years. At Thames he was a director of one mining company and ...
  • Bernard Montague: a contractor and farmer in the Te Aroha district

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Born in Ireland, Bernard Montague arrived in New Zealand in 1874 and for some years worked as a contractor, especially on drainage projects. After being a publican and storekeeper for a year, he settled in Waiorongomai in ...
  • James Mills: a carpenter who became Te Aroha’s first mayor

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    After being active in Liberal politics in England, James Mills, a carpenter, settled in Te Aroha in 1882. Although he constructed many houses, work was erratic and he never became wealthy. Investing in Waiorongomai mining, ...
  • Robert John Michael: a Te Aroha labourer

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    An Irishman, Michael prospected at Waihi before settling in Te Aroha in late 1882, where he owned several worthless mines close to that settlement and also at Stoney Creek. He also acquired and developed farmland on the ...
  • William Buchanan Maxwell: a veteran who became ‘Te Aroha’s pet adornment’

    Hart, Philip (Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato, 2016)
    Famous in Te Aroha as a veteran soldier, Maxwell had fought in the Crimea, China, and India before fighting against Maori in New Zealand. Proud of his four wounds, he would lead a detachment of volunteers marching off to ...

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