Introductory notes to working paper series ‘a social history of mining in the Te Aroha mining district’
Hart, P. (2016). Introductory notes to working paper series ‘a social history of mining in the Te Aroha mining district’. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 1), Hamilton, New Zealand: Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10305.1
These working papers are provided as a resource for historians and genealogists. When covering the lives of individuals, they are deliberately as detailed as possible – possibly too detailed on such aspects as land ownership, but the intention is to provide as much information as is traceable. The nature of my research was inspired by the farewell address given by Sir Keith Hancock when he retired from being head of the History Department in the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, when I was a student there. He included the comment that, in his retirement, he would tend his own garden; not meaning an intention to turn from historical research to gardening but to focus his research on his own locality, meaning the district of Monaro to the south of Canberra. The outcome was his publication, through Cambridge University Press, in 1972, of his excellent Discovering Monaro: A study of man’s inpact on his environment. The structure of this book combined a general analysis of geology, weather patterns, farming practices, and many other issues with case studies of farmers and others who lived in and developed the district. As this is a social history of the Te Aroha district, concentrating on mining, his example has been followed, with general papers being combined with personal accounts that illustrate the points made in the former papers. For instance, there is a paper on the skills required for successful prospecting, and the paper on Billy Nicholl relates the story of one of the most successful prospectors (successful at Waihi, that is, much less so elsewhere). As an unexpectedly large amounts of information was uncovered about some of those included in the case studies, the latter have ballooned far beyond the modest mini-biographies originally anticipated.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart
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