John Squirrell: a farmer and storekeeper who mined (briefly) at Te Aroha
Hart, P. (2016). John Squirrell: a farmer and storekeeper who mined (briefly) at Te Aroha. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 157). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10496
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 relatives provided details of their experiments with growing a variety of produce, which they sold locally or sent to the Auckland. He also took over a store, running it with the assistance of one of his daughters and struggling to obtain payment from customers before refusing to sell on credit. A leading member of the small Shaftesbury community, he did his best to assist its development. In 1888 a blacksmith and sometime miner, James Munro, convinced him to prospect ground in the Tui portion of the goldfield. Again, his letters provided details of their amateur and short-term, unprofitable efforts; lacking capital to open up their ground, it was soon abandoned. His investments in Waiorongomai mines were equally unprofitable. In 1892 Squirrell acquired land at another settlement, at Gordon, further upriver. He struggled to develop this farm, and was involved in conflicts with other members of the settlement, especially after he became secretary of the association. He continued to farm elsewhere, and became involved in early dairy companies, again becoming caught up in controversy. A man holding strong opinions on a variety of topics, and very willing to express them, he regarded himself as a radical but opposed the Liberal Government. In his personal life he had to cope with two daughters suffering from mental problems, one of them being admitted to the asylum. He spent all his life attempting to provide for his family, only attaining a modest standard of living.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart