Beneath the Golden Facade: A History of the Early Years on the Thames Goldfields
Johnson, M. A. B. (2013). Beneath the Golden Facade: A History of the Early Years on the Thames Goldfields (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/7921
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/7921
The story of Thames has been told and retold by many authors since the area was proclaimed a goldfield in 1867. These histories often glamourise the prosperity and wealth that gold brought to the town and its people. This thesis argues that this was not the case. In fact, the goldfields struggled for many years because the area lacked the necessary equipment to extract the gold. By 1870, machinery was steadily introduced and implemented, leading to short period of prosperity in the town, but it was temporary. Throughout the late 1860s and 1870s, locals experienced many financial hardships, which have been neglected by historians in favour of more positive portrayals of life on the goldfields. This thesis explores the economic situation of the town during this period, highlighting the experiences of those that failed to strike it rich on the goldfields. By examining their stories, it is clear that the romantic portrayal of life in early Thames was in the most part fiction compared to the harsh realities of those actually living on the goldfields. Additionally, this thesis examines the role that the community played in improving the economic situation in Thames. The efforts of locals helped to develop and foster a diverse array of industries, which lessened the town’s reliance on the success of the goldfields. These improvements came at a time when Thames was suffering considerable economic pressures, thanks in large part to the decline in gold production after 1871. This thesis utilises a range of primary and secondary sources to investigate the economic situation of Thames during this early period. It makes thorough use of newspaper articles, which highlight what information was readily available to local and external observers pertaining to the condition of the town. Government reports are used to show the role that officials played in the development of Thames and what actions they took to improve the local economy. This thesis also examines personal accounts from residents, which illustrate the harsh realities of life on the goldfields.
University of Waikato
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- Masters Degree Theses