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Public Notice regarding the West Coast, and the best route to get there. 14 April 1865

Archives Reference

CH 287, CP 193, ICPW 663/1865

Letter from George Dobson to John Hall, Secretary for Public Works reporting that the Otira and the pass named after his brother Arthur provided the best route so far discovered to the diggings. George Dobson was murdered a year later at the Arnold River

Archives Reference

CH 287, CP 194, ICPW 528/1865

Treasury Form - Request for Expenses by Edward Dobson. Dobson was the Provincial Engineer and left work on the Lyttelton Rail Tunnel to take charge of the official party (including his son George) searching for a route to the Coast. A grateful Government rejected his claim for expenses, and instead granted him a reward of £100.

Archives Reference

CH 287 ,CP 194, ICPW 821a/1865

Annotated sketch of country at the head of the Poulter River. 4 April 1865

Archives Reference

CH 287, CP 194, ICPW 821/1865

No 1 Map East of Saddle to Lake Sumner

Archives Reference

CH 287, CP 191, ICPW 176/1865

No 2 Sketch map showing several routes from Christchurch to West Coast

Archives Reference

CH 287, CP 191, ICPW 176/1865

Sketch from memory of Hokitika River mouth. 1860

Archives Reference

CH287, CP40, ICPS 65(1)/1863

Tracing of plans for the Hokitika Supreme Court building. 1865

Archives Reference

CH 287, CP 195, ICPW 1242/1865

Petition signed by 600 at Kanieri goldfield complaining of inadequate wardens, including memorial on second page. 8 September 1865.

Archives Reference

CH287, CP70, ICPS 1350/1865

Printed notice offering free pardon to accomplice in a West Coast robbery. 23 October 1865

Archives Reference

CH287, CP71, ICPS 1543(1)/1865

Gold

When gold was discovered on that part of the west coast of the Middle Island controlled by the Canterbury Provincial Government - known then as West Canterbury - the authorities in Christchurch had to establish civil administration on the goldfields (along with the central Government) and other areas below the Grey River. They were also keen to find a safe and practicable route to the goldfields, not only to ensure safe passage for the hundreds of prospectors heading out from Christchurch, but to try and ensure some of that wealth came back across the Southern Alps.

While the old drover's track via the Hurunui was initially the preferred route, a number of exploration parties, both official and unofficial, set out early in 1865 to discover a better path to the Coast. Some of their efforts are documented here.

Experience from the Otago goldfields, and before them the Victorian and Californian diggings, meant that the essential elements of goldfields administration could be established fairly rapidly once resources were made available. The rule of law established through warden's courts was not without its critics, however, and the petition shown here was signed by 600 miners at the Kanieri goldfield. Their complaints about unjust decisions made by wardens formed only one example of goldfields democracy in action.