Parapara Hydroelectric Scheme Homepage       Archaeology Assessment Report.. page 3             contents

INTRODUCTION
Richmond Flat lies adjacent to the Parapara River, where the river makes a significant bend, shortly after Greenwood Creek flows into the Parapara. This area was part of the Aorere goldfields, where one of New Zealand’s first gold rushes took place. One of the many relics from this era is a dam on the Parapara River and an associated tunnel. Richard Lamb proposes to use the dam and tunnel to generate hydroelectricity, with a power station at the confluence of the Parapara River and Glen Gyle Creek. This report was commissioned to investigate the archaeological remains in the area, how the proposal will effect these and to provide recommendations for the mitigation of these effects.

HISTORY OF THE AREA
The exact date at which the Richmond Flat (or even the Parapara River) was rushed is unclear, but the Aorere rush began following the discovery of gold where Appo’s Creek meets Lightband Gully in either 1856 or 1857 (the sources do not agree on the date; see Bell 1907:15 and Newport 1971:55). Certainly, the rush had begun by February 1857. This initial mining took the form of basic alluvial sluicing, including the use of long-toms (Newport 1971:56-57). The presence of gold in the Parapara River was discovered during 1858 (Newport 1971:61). By the end of the decade, the bulk of the mining population had drifted away from the Aorere field and it was estimated that there were only 200 miners in the district (again, there is dispute over the exact number present at the height of the rush; see Newport 1971:70). It is likely that this was a more settled population than that of the preceding years, as men stayed in the district and, with time, companies were formed to exploit the gold resources. During this time, quartz mining was attempted (albeit unsuccessfully) and technological advances such as dredges were employed.

Advances in technology and the formation of companies coalesced in the Richmond Flat/Parapara River area in the form of the somewhat infamous Red Hill Company (see Mouat n.d.b for a detailed history of this company). This company invested a significant amount of (London) capital in the construction of buildings, a battery and at least one water race in the 1880s. The buildings were in Fishers Gully, but the race took water from the Parapara River to Richmond Flat (Mouat n.d.b:43). Richmond Flat was apparently the only area the company sluiced profitably (N. Mountfort, pers. comm.; Plate I), the company having been established to raise money, rather than mine gold. In reference to the Richmond Flat claim mined by the Red Hill Company, Mouat (n.d.b:43) notes that this area had been mined by W. E. Washbourn in the early 1870s. Mouat (n.d.b) also mentions that a tunnel was constructed “next to a hill” on Richmond Flat by the Red Hill Company. The work of the company came to an end in June 1891, when a fire destroyed the buildings. The remaining assets of the Red Hill Company were purchased by the Parapara Hydraulic-sluicing Company.

The Parapara Hydraulic-sluicing Company seems to have been formed following the amalgamation of two previously existing syndicates who had bought claims and water-rights along the Parapara River and in the surrounding gullies (AJHR, 1892 C3:67, 1893 C3:96, 1894 C3:92, 1895 C3:100-102). This process appears to have begun in the late 1880s, with the purchase of land on the Parapara Flat by Messrs. Adams, Logan and Gilmer (AJHR 1892 C3:67). Prospecting began in 1892 (AJHR 1893 C3, Appendix I:xix) and the following year, the construction of a tunnel to carry water from the Parapara River to their claims in Glen Gyle Gully and on Appo’s Flat began. This work continued through into 1894 and the 1895 Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives (C3:102) described the tunnel and

Katharine Watson Archaeology July 2003     Page 3

return to top  /  previous page  /   next page