Saturday, August 30, 2014

Thames (NZ): The reality behind Mining paintings

Only the residents of Shortland and Grahamstown (Thames), could really comprehend the reality of life on a goldfield. The uniqueness of having mines literally on one's residential doorstep. The noise...the pollution...long work hours, all must have been a challenge.  It is interesting to consider this in context with the idealistic photographs and paintings that appeared and circulated around the world.
 The painting above, is by Walter Boodle of the Moanatai[a]ri Creek c1880. Labelled on the back of the painting held at the Auckland Art Gallery: March 3rd 1880. "Moanatairi Creek on the Thames Goldfield, New Zealand.

The view suggests that miners meander to their diggings along a fairly decent track. The reality below, can be seen in the view up the Moanataiari Valley. The land cleared to allow for the prolific mining that was taking place on any vacant land. Many of you, will have ancestors that lived in these conditions. Not just single men, but families who raised children amongst the mining activities.
Moanataiari Creek
Source: 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A16668'
When the mining settlers arrived on the Thames goldfields, they certainly must have been in awe of the beautiful landscape - but many of these areas were quickly attacked in the search for the illusive GOLD. The painting below is by John Hoyte (1835-1913). It is of the Kopu area south of Thames. The description reads: 1868...Shows the tunnel entrances to a gold mine on the left, with three miners outside, one carrying a shovel. Tree ferns and the smoke from a fire, then a goldminers' tent with two men and a small fire, centre foreground. Hills and a plain with the Waihou and Piako rivers in the distance.
Source: Hoyte, John Barr Clark, 1835-1913. [Hoyte, John Barr Clark, 1835-1913] :[Gold mining near Kopu. ca 1868]. Ref: C-052-009. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.