KARANGAHAKE the years of the gold 1875 -1935

This Monograph has been researched and compiled by Nell Scott Climie, B. E. M and Gary Staples, from numerous recollections of early settlers and their families, and from early written records including newspapers and mining reports.

Some of the material was first used in Karangahake School Jubilee booklets and supplemented more recently in Ohinemuri Regional History Journals. The Paeroa Historical Society undertook its collation, and now presents it in sequence. It is hoped it will provide, both in word and in picture, a brief history of the local goldmining era.

In Journal 1, 1964, Paeroa's President, The Rev. L.M. Rogers, M.A., reminded us in his foreword;

"An interest in local history increases our delight and enjoyment of the present. The beauty of the land around us is enhanced when its features are peopled with the memories of those who lived and worked there in earlier times. By remembering them and recording authentic events we can visualise something of the atmosphere of bygone days."

It is noteworthy that our late President, Mr Fielden Thorp, was descended from the first European settlers who established their home in Paeroa in 1842. It is therefore understandable the Fielden's father and uncles were not only closely associated with the local Maoris, especially Chief Taraia, and Chief Te Moananui of the Ngati Tamatera, but that they also knew James Mackay, and became involved in the search for gold. John Thorp had a share in the original "prospectors' claim".

In 1975 the Centennial Re-enactment of the Opening of this Goldfield created an added interest in our history, resulting in the establishment of the "Fielden Thorp Museum" in Paeroa. Since its opening three years ago, it has drawn over 5000 signatures in our Visitors' Book and congratulatory comments have encouraged this recording of the initial European settlement of Ohinemuri. Karangahake, then, was the centre of attraction.

Hamish A. Wilson, G.M.,


Paeroa and District Historical and Art Society.

December 1982


We gratefully acknowledge any help we have received in connection with the publishing of the Karangahake Story. We remember especially the late T.W.H. Hammond (Thames), George Chappell (Waihi), Ben Gwilliam Sen., King Meagher, Michael McNamara, Mrs Ritchie, the Bunting family and other old identities of Karangahake.

Thanks also to Alan Beck and to Bob Young (Te Puke) for valuable photographic help and to Grace Morran for typing our manuscript.

Finally we thank Mr A. van der Wouden, of the Whakatane & District Historical Society, for his help in getting this story printed. We are glad that this small facet of local history will now be on record for those who are interested.

Nell Scott Climie

Gary Staples.