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Edward Kersey Cooper: mine manager and mine owner in Hauraki

After having a variety of occupations in several countries, Edward Kersey Cooper arrived in New Zealand in 1880 to manage a manganese mine. From 1881 onwards, he was involved in Hauraki mining, commencing with the Waiorongomai field, where he invested in several claims, mostly unproductive ones, and was a mine manager and company director. Here, as elsewhere, he was not reluctant to criticize others, notably those operating the tramway and county councillors (for their perceived lack of support for the mining industry). He remained an outspoken critic of others during all his years trying to make a success of mining, clearly annoying some of his fellow miners with his outspokenness. In 1886 he moved to Waihi, typically exaggerating his role in finding high-grade ore and also typically clashing with other leading miners. From 1887 onwards he was involved with some important mines at Waitekauri, Thames, and, most disastrously of all, Wharekiraupunga. As all these ventures required more capital than local investors could provide, he spent many years travelling to and from England seeking financial support, which was never sufficient; but the fundamental handicap was not having mines with long term and payable prospects. Like so many mine owners, he was over-sanguine, and his finances were shaky, being forced into bankruptcy in 1892. One solution was, as normal, to seek subsidies from local and national governments, with some success. He was a strong and opinionated critic of some government policies, notably the gold duty, which he sought to have abolished. With reason, he was critical of English companies even though he required English capital. Regarded as a friend to his workers, nonetheless he opposed paying them higher wages. Cooper was also involved in local government, briefly at Te Aroha and for longer at Thames, and when not on the councils was a belligerent critic of many of their policies. A difficult man to deal with, he valiantly struggled for many years to make a success of mining before retiring to England in the early twentieth century.
Working Paper
Type of thesis
Te Aroha Mining District Working Papers
Hart, P. (2016). Edward Kersey Cooper: mine manager and mine owner in Hauraki. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 89). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart

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