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The mining boom of the 1890s in general and in Hauraki in particular

By the 1890s, mining had slowed down and New Zealand in general was economically depressed. Large amounts of capital could only be obtained from London, where exploration companies were formed to investigate potential goldfields, but, as usual, most investors were after quick profits. The mining boom started in 1894 on the Rand in South Africa, then attention turned to Western Australia in the following year, and by 1896 it was New Zealand’s turn, where overseas capital was made very welcome, for without it large-scale mining development was not possible. As both vendors and investors sought to exploit the industry for their own benefit, there were fears that a brief boom would handicap rather than assist it. Over-capitalized companies were formed, with vendors and company promoters exploiting the system, including by insider trading, although because of the risks involved some did not make the profits expected. Overseas ‘experts’ were used to puff mines, as many investors understood, for in England there was no rush by ordinary investors to acquire shares. In New Zealand speculators made quick profits by gambling on the share market in a manner compared to horse racing. The New Zealand boom is traced from its beginnings in 1895 to its fading away as wild cats collapsed in 1897. Although some people blamed government policy for the boom not continuing, more commonly the gambling fever was seen as the cause, for many mining properties placed on the market had no possibility of success. Yet in the short term there were benefits for the industry, sometimes because lessons were learnt and mistakes understood. In general, it was a pegging-out boom rather than a mining boom.
Working Paper
Type of thesis
Te Aroha Mining District Working Papers
Hart, P. (2016). The mining boom of the 1890s in general and in Hauraki in particular. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 95). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart