1,723 results for Working or discussion paper

  • Adam Porter: a miner who became a ‘self-made man’

    Hart, Philip (2016)

    Working or discussion paper
    University of Waikato

    Adam Porter won the accolade of being a ‘self-made man’ because of rising from humble beginnings in Scotland. After arriving in New Zealand, aged 12, and working hard for some years, he joined the South Island gold rushes from 1861 onwards, sometimes as a miner and sometimes as an investor, storekeeper and publican. Even as a young man he was involved in local politics. After settling at Thames after the goldfield opened there, he concentrated on prospecting in Ohinemuri and in promoting the interests of the mining industry generally. From 1875 onwards he would be a director of many mining companies, and would encourage the prospecting of new districts, especially in his capacity as an Ohinemuri representative on the county council. Amongst his many policies designed to benefit the community was the promotion of education, including secondary education. By the late 1870s he was based in Auckland. From 1878 onwards he claimed to know that gold was to be found at Te Aroha, and urged the government to acquire Maori land there for Pakeha farmers and prospectors. In mid-1880 he arranged for a government-subsidized prospecting party to examine the mountain under the leadership of Hone Werahiko, and liaised with both the warden and the government on the latter’s behalf, on occasions implying that he had shared in the discovery of gold. He may have tried to obtain control over the new find, but despite this he remained Werahiko’s agent and would be the executor of his estate. As well as investing in the Te Aroha and Waiorongomai fields, he was involved in the development of mines throughout Hauraki in the 1880s. Over time he took an increasingly leading role in promoting the mining industry, as for example a member of the Thames Drainage Board and of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce. For many years he attempted to obtain government assistance for mining, and was also interested in new mining technology. In his last years he was a leading member of the Auckland business community, investing in non-mining ventures and being a good employer (though critics disagreed). He also became involved in local government issues and the temperance movement before speaking his mind on national issues, finally standing for parliament as an independent-minded supporter of his old friend from his West Coast days, Richard John Seddon. Harsh working conditions on the West Coast led to poor health and an early death. He left his family a comfortably legacy, and was remembered as having a genial, kindly, and witty personality but also having a good sense of his own importance. He seized opportunities, sometimes in a manner that offended others, but tried to benefit not only himself but also the wider community.

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  • Robert and Elizabeth Mackie: a Te Aroha butcher and his family

    Hart, Philip (2016)

    Working or discussion paper
    University of Waikato

    Although Elizabeth Mackie was fondly remembered, her husband, Robert, was not. Both were of Scottish parentage, and lived in various places in New Zealand before settling in Te Aroha in the early 1880s. Having participated in the Otago gold rush, he invested in a few unprofitable mines at Waiorongomai and Stoney Creek. As he freely expressed his strong opinions on everything, Mackie was a prominent member of the community, for both good and bad reasons. The good ones were his attempts to assist its development through his willingness to join local committees, notably the school committee, education being of particular interest to him. The bad reason for his prominence was his cantankerous nature, which was reflected in his careers as butcher and farmer and even more so in his private life. He was regularly involved in legal battles and often publicized his grievances in the press. Using his family members as dummies, he acquired land within and on the edge of Te Aroha for farming purposes, and also had farms at Waiorongomai and Wairakau, and clashed with other farmers in all these places. The battle over ‘Clarke’s drain’ wasted council time for many years. Mackie struggled financially all his life, refusing to pay his debts until forced to, placing his property in his wife’s name to evade his creditors, and going bankrupt. He even went to prison, four times, for refusing to pay debts as ordered by the magistrate. Because of his quarrelsome character, sometimes justified (to a degree), as when a daughter was made pregnant by one of his enemies, his wife refused to permit him to be buried in her grave. He was not the only disagreeable resident of the district, but was certainly one of the worst.

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  • Michael Dineen O’Keeffe: president of the Thames miners’ union

    Hart, Philip (2016)

    Working or discussion paper
    University of Waikato

    An Irishman, O’Keeffe remained very ‘Irish’ throughout his long life as a miner. Arriving in New Zealand in 1879, he moved to Te Aroha in 1881 and became one of the more prominent miners at Waiorongomai. Partly because of his wit and vibrant personality he was prominent in the community, and assisted efforts to aid mining and the district more generally. Financially he struggled, for instance being unable to develop a farm at Gordon and becoming bankrupt; whilst the latter was relatively common, he was most unusual in paying his creditors in full, an illustration of his high ethical standards. In the 1890s he mined at Thames and, despite his clearly limited education, studied at the Thames School of Mines to become a certificated mine manager. After being increasingly involved in the Thames Miners’ Union he became its president, and by forcefully standing up for the rights of his members became very prominent for his outspoken views and very popular with most of the members (though the more conservative members were upset by some of his behaviour). Controversially, he wanted the union involved in politics, and particularly controversial was his criticism of an arbitration court judge whose award went against the union. He struggled to satisfy the demands of the Waihi branch, which would later break away. During all this time he was prominent in the wider community. After ceasing to be involved in the union, he mined at Coromandel, Kuaotunu, Karangahake, and Marlborough, managing some mines, but struggling to make much money at any of these places. His financial situation required him to continue mining almost until his death at age 79. After being one of the most well known men in Hauraki, his final years were spent in obscurity.

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