Thumbnail Image

Joseph Harris Smallman

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 join him once it was successful. But they were never asked to join him, and after 1870 he ceased to write to his wife. The ‘Mining business’ never eventuated, but in 1865 he prospected at Thames, unsuccessfully seeking alluvial gold. Although criticized for living off Maori and doing little prospecting, with his partner he investigated several areas of the Hauraki Peninsula, again unsuccessfully. When the Thames goldfield was opened, with his encouragement, two years later, he mined there for some years, proving himself to be a competent miner but not making his fortune. After working elsewhere, by the mid-1870s he was living with another man’s ‘half-caste’ wife on her land near Te Aroha, having five children with her. Happy to be described as a Pakeha Maori and closely associated with the local hapu, he supported them over land dealings and the development of the district. Despite spending most of his time farming, he remained interested in prospecting, and made some explorations in districts closed to Pakeha. After gold was found at Te Aroha, for a short time he worked with Maori partners in unprofitable claims. Either before or after his second wife had a child by another man in 1886, he left New Zealand to return to his English family; and remarkably, despite his first wife knowing that his liaison had produced children, she accepted him back after his long absence, and they remained together for the rest of their lives.
Working Paper
Type of thesis
Te Aroha Mining District Working Papers
Hart, P. (2016). Joseph Harris Smallman. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 25), Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart

Version History

Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
2023-10-30 16:49:11
Revised on October 5, 2023.
2016-09-27 12:17:52
Revised on September 27, 2016.
2016-06-15 12:44:33
First version
* Selected version