The Eliza gold mine, Kaimai Range, Katikati.

The Eliza gold mine, Kaimai Range, Katikati. Named after Eliza Squinobal? (Don’t laugh), written by Bob Scott, March 2016 and donated to Tauranga City Libraries the same month. Acknowledgement Bob Scott.

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The text of Bob Scott's article below.

The Eliza gold mine, Kaimai Range, Katikati. Named after Eliza Squinobal? (Don’t laugh)

Written by Bob Scott, March 2016

A well known gold prospector in the 1890’s, William David Tilsley lodged a special claim for gold mining with the Warden at Paeroa on the 9th March 1896. The claim was named Eliza Special Claim, for 10 acres marked out on the 5th March with pegs marked X. I believe he named it Eliza after his de Facto wife Eliza Squinobal (nee Earl).

Eliza’s parents Stephen and Eliza Earl were early settlers at Aongatete, Katikati and the Earl family history believes that the mine was named after Stephen’s wife Eliza. However it appears that it could be named after their daughter Eliza who married a Joseph Squinobal in 1889. Joseph was a coach driver of Italian descent who presumably met Eliza when driving between Tauranga and Katikati and had a stop at the Post Office adjacent to Earl property at Aongatete. Eliza lived there on her parent’s farm. Joseph married Eliza at Te Aroha but their marriage was very short lived. Joseph disappeared and Eliza (now Squinobal) returned to her parent’s farm at Aongatete with a young son named George Squinobal.
William David (Bill) Tilsley was a prominent gold prospector in the 1890’s. He prospected in areas not previously mined in the great gold rush days. Bill discovered the Komata Reefs (near Paeroa) in June 1891 and he later had claims in the Puriri and Tairua areas. Articles in the Bay of Plenty Times tell us that in 1895 a Tauranga syndicate engaged Bill Tilsley to prospect on land at Te Puke owned by Malcolm Fleming. He found a reef which allowed the syndicate to start mining. Bill’s older brother George Tilsley became the manager of the mine.
Bill moved to prospect in the Kaimai range near Katikati. Newspaper articles tell us that Edward Earl (Eliza’s brother) went with Bill as a guide in the first instance to show the lay of the creeks and tracks. Bill received his miners rights for the Eliza claim on the 4th July 1896.
In 1890 Bill and his brother John were miners at Te Aroha. In the 1895 Electoral Roll Bill aged 27 was shown as a miner, Aongatete, Katikati and his brother John aged 25 also a miner at Aongatete, Katikati. I believe that they were probably living on one of the Earl family farms. On the 1st April 1897 Eliza gave birth to a son who was raised as William Osborne Tilsley. Unfortunately Eliza and Bill Tilsley could not marry until Eliza obtained a divorce and the baby’ birth was officially recorded as William Osborne Squinobal with Bill Tilsley recorded as the father. Eliza already had a young son called George Squinobal born at Te Aroha in 1890. George?? That was Bill Tilsley’s father’s name and not an Earl or Squinobal family name. Funny that. Tragedy was about to strike. Bill, Eliza and her two sons moved to Puriri where Bill worked a claim. Eliza gave birth to a baby girl on the 20th January 1900 but unfortunately the baby only lived for 12 hours. Eliza died 7 days later on the 27th January 1900 aged 32. Eliza and baby Violet were buried together in the Totara Cemetery in Thames. Officially their death certificates name them as Squinobal although they were known as Tilsley.

Bill Tilsley’s younger brother John Tilsley had married Eliza’s younger sister Ada Earl and they took young Bill Tilsley Jnr and raised him until he was old enough to live with his father. Bill Tilsley became a tunneller in World War 1. Bill Tilsley Jnr became a butcher in Thames asnd aged 18 also served in World War 1. Father and son both survived.

Eliza’s brother Stephen Earl took George Squinobal aged 10 and raised him with his wife Elizabeth on his farm at Aongatete. Stephen Earl had had a successful brick making business adjacent to the Whatakao River in the 1880’s. Stephen built a brand new brick works on a new farm adjacent to the Wainui River in 1909. Stephen had no children of his own and built the brick works for his adopted son George Squinobal. In the 1914 electoral roll George was recorded as a brickmaker, Aongatete. Tragically George was killed in World War 1 on the 21st September 1916.
So what happened to the Eliza mine. Two or three owners attempted to create interest from investors with capital. In the great heyday of the gold mining rush there was great interest from overseas from investors for scrip but by the 1990’s interest had wained probably because of so many ventures had not returned any profit and were abandoned. Another major obstacle for the development of the Eliza mine was its location and the lack of easy access.

I will attach a copy of an article from the Bay of Plenty Times in 1896 about Thompson’s Track. The article has been abridged to fit it onto a page. The old track they took to Te Aroha was called the Tuahu Track and was documented as a well formed track starting at Hot Springs Road Katikati and crossing the Kaimai range to Te Aroha. It is the probable route by horse back to the gold fields of Karangahake. The road went inland from Te Aroha bypassing Paeroa.

gentle approach from the Bay of Plenty side. It would have been very expensive to build a road to take in machinery to the Eliza mine and bring out ore. The Department of Conservation has built a 7 Km loop track to the Eliza mine site off Thompsons Track in the Kaimai Range. Details about the walk can be obtained from the Department of Conservation in Tauranga.


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