(From the Nelson Examiner.)
After many fluctuations, in the course of which these diggings have been more than once nearly deserted, the population has, during the summer, gradually been increasing. The number now mining here, and Indirectly connected with mining, ia estimated at 120. The diggings extend over some miles, nearly from the Wanganui store to the Anatori, The workings are at present principally confined to the creeks and small rivers, - and as a rule require more rain than we have had during the summer. It is therefore expected that considerable more gold will be got during the winter, and that population will increase. What has been done as yet ? is, however the important question. The answer is doubtful. Two or three claims are spoken of as doing well, particularly at Malone's Creek, but most of the men have been in want of water. But from all I hear, it seems very probable that in a few months theße diggings may be double or treble their present importance.
In face of such a probability, the anomalous state of things now existing here should claim the attention of Governmeat, so that when the time comes they mnst recognise these diggings they will know what to do. A diggiugs on native land, witk no police and no roads, cannot long be carried on. At present, population does not crowd, and there is little litigatiou, perhaps none that arbitration could not deal with. The miners' rights are bargained for with the chief at the store, when that dignitavy wants utu, at so much each, or for the half-dozen ; a bottle of rum sometimes sufficing to extinguish native claims for twelve months. This is easy for the diggers, but be it remembered they get no return for it — no roads, and no real security in their claims should a few lawless strangers arrive.
The chief claim for Government recognition must, no doubt, rest on the permanence and importance of the field. It at present promises both. Of course the diggings, should they extend, will by no means be confined to native territory. But without roads a great drawback to the extension of the field will exist. The Wanganui Inlet is the real port of the district, and for the West Coast, a passable port it is, but requires connecting with the diggings by a bridle track. At present the price of goods at the various landings are not outrageous, (flour 255, meat Bd, tea 3s 9d, &cj, but the difficulty of taking them thence to the diggings is out of all proportion. There are no bridle roads, cattle are in danger of being swamped or having their necks broken in being dragged over the swamps. The Wanganui tideway requires marking with guide posts, for want of which it has already in two fatal instances proved a mere man trap.
Would it not be worth its while if the Government were to recognize the field ? Without presuming to speak the feelings of the diggers, I think it would be far better for the diggers, the natives, and the Government, if the latter were to make arrangements with Rewi (or Rnvai, or whatever the gentleman's name may be), to collect the miner's rights fees and give him half; place a policeman on the field, who might also be factotum, and when the population increases, institute a sitting of the Warden's Court once a month on the spot, as at Takaka. But at present the great want is roads.
The conl mine here still continues to he worked by the lessee, Mr Isaacs, the only thing which limits operations being the scarcity of labor. There is new opened a face of two or three hundred feet of fine coal, of about an average thickness of two feet nine inches. There is a floating band of sandsfone at some parts of the seam varying from one inch to eighteen inches in thickness. The stone, however, saves timber. The mine is well opened and well drained, and a good wharf runs from the mouth of the mine to where the boats anchor and take in coal. There are fair prospects of this becoming a good and permanent mine, as it is already becoming a payable one. I have no time to give a hißtory here of this mine, and of the struggles of Mr Isaacs and his partners, but it would furnish au interesting example of the energy of unassisted private enterprise.
Permanent link to this item
West Coast Times, West Coast Times, Issue 2041, 16 April 1872
WEST WANGANUI. West Coast Times, Issue 2041, 16 April 1872
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.