Gold Miner The New Zealand Goldrush Journal

Volume 6 (2022)


Waitekauri, Ohinemuri Goldfield

By Kae Lewis

The Jubilee Mine was owned by Edward Kersey Cooper and located on the Waitekauri range, adjoining the old Waitekauri Mine.

Te Aroha New 1 October 1887:

To the Warden at Thames, 25 May 1887:
I hereby apply for a Licensed Holding or Special Claim for Goldmining purposes, EDWARD KERSEY COOPER, Waihi.
Name of Licensed Holding: Jubilee.
Locality: Waitekauri, bounded by the Waitekauri Mine on the south-west and on all other sides by supposed unoccupied ground.
Area: One hundred acres.
Capital: 22,000 Mode of working the land: Adits, winze etc.
Term required: 21 years.
Dated at Thames 25th May 1887.
The above application and any objections will be heard at the Warden's Office, Thames 6 October 1887 at 10.30 a.m. H.A. Stratford, Warden

Kersey Cooper was an Englishman only recently arrived in New Zealand and was well known for his abrasive and confrontational manner. The Jubilee mine at Waitekauri was by no means the only mining property he owned in 1887, others were the Nelson and Winner Claims at Waihi, as well as holding an interest in the Union Mine. In addition, he also owned the Fame-and-Fortune Mine (30 acres) on the Waiotahi at Thames, and in 1889, the Reve d'Or Claim (75 acres) at Tararu, Thames. The Jubilee Claim at Waitekauri was granted to him by the Warden on 11 November 1887. He was actively seeking English financing for all of his claims at one time or another.

New Zealand Herald 22 December 1887:

Edward Kersey Cooper is now successfully placing the Jubilee Special Claim at Waitekauri on the British Market. This property consists of 100 acres and contains several reefs, It's piece de resistance however is an enormous gully, quite unique in its way, which is filled to the brim with broken quartz, quartz boulders and general decomposed ore matter, and auriferous debris. It has been tested to average about half an ounce to the ton, taken en masse. This gully has been known to exist for many years. Miners have worked at it, picked it over, and in several instances, obtained big wages out of it. It was looked upon as something to fall back on, a common property that, strange to say, no one had ever thought of taking up, and working systematically. An old miner, James McGuire, had his eye on it, knowing that eventually it would be a valuable property. He introduced it through A. Lockwood to Kersey Cooper, with the expected result that, after lying neglected for years, it will become one of the most valuable mining properties ever offered to the English investors.

It is estimated that there are about 40,000 tons of quartz in the gully, which as far as it has been prospected (to some 20 feet deep) is worth about 10 dwt to the ton. No dead work is necessary, such as driving or sinking, since the quartz is all immediately workable. A well-known expert, Edward M. Corbett of Waitekauri asserts that the dirt can be won and milled at a total expense of about 4 shillings per ton at a steam-powered mill erected on the ground. There is ample fuel for many years to come in the form of firewood in the immediate vicinity. In addition, the celebrated Waitekauri lode, from which 80,000 in gold has been taken at various times, runs through the ground.

Thames Star 8 May 1888:

English Capital for Waitekauri Jubilee Claim Floated.
The Jubilee special claim has been successfully floated on the London Market by Mr Edward Kersey Cooper. Mr Cooper went to England a few months ago to try to sell the Jubilee Claim which consists of 105 acres. He took with him ten tons of ore selected from thousands of tons of boulders lying on the surface of the property. This ore has been purchased from him in London for 50 a ton. The investors were so pleased with it that Mr Cooper was able to successfuly float the mine on the London Market. It is thought the company will have a capital of 100,000. The sum of 1000 has been sent for the preliminary work needed to open up the mine. Mr E. M. Corbett has been appointed the interim supervisor until Mr Cooper returns, with instructions to put on men to work the ground at once.

New Zealand Herald 14 August 1889:

The Jubilee Gold Mining Company at Waitekauri which is managed by Edward Kersey Cooper will be opened shortly, being nearly completed. This is one of the most perfect plants of its sort in the field.

New Zealand Herald 2 October 1890

Jubilee (special claim): Edward Kersey Cooper has engaged a number of men, with Mr Baker as his manager. An extensive crosscut is being put in from the gully, from which a large quantity of valuable loose stone has been taken for years now. The country traversed is all maiden country and is in close proximity to Butler's reef which is well known as a big gold producer. Mr Cooper reasonably expects to meet with success.

Jubilee Mine
Edward Kersey Cooper took with him ten tons of ore selected from thousands of tons of boulders lying on the surface of the property.
Source: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections NZG-18961031-580-2
Click to enlarge the photo.

Thames Advertiser 12 October 1892:

E.K. Cooper A Bankrupt: Edward Kersey Cooper, mine owner of Thames has filed a petition to be adjudged a bankrupt. His statement: At the end of 1887, I marked off the Jubilee mine at Waitekauri, and the Fame-and-Fortune mine at the Thames, and a special claim for each was granted. I took about 10 tons of quartz from the Jubilee Swamp, and shipped it to England. Then with the necessary plans and reports, I proceeded to England. E. M. Corbett of Waitekauri gave me an estimate for a 10 stamper battery, and plant necessary to treat the Jubilee ore. This included a considerable amount of other machinery necessary to the plant. His estimate was 1,000. After the ore I had shipped had been treated, my friends agreed to furnish the 1,000 for the battery, together with 300 for incidental expenses. Together with the 900 they had previously given me for preliminary expenses, it totalled up to 2,200, from which sum, I gave my friends half the mine.

After my return to New Zealand, I found that Mr Corbett was not able to begin to build the plant for a few months, and through illness, I was not able to attend properly to the mine. Eventually, the battery was finished, including a water race which cost considerably over 3,000, more than originally estimated. My partners then refused to pay any more money, and when the battery started to crush the dirt in the part of the mine known as the swamp, the results were disasterous, and I was obliged to stop. Afterwards, I employed the men prospecting, and I went to considerable expense opening up a block on Butler's reef and other work. I obtained some good stone, ten tons which I sent Home, and obtained a very satisfactory price. I then constructed a tramway connecting the battery and the mine, 75 chains long. Afterwards, I started crushing the 400 tons of ore I had got out. I had been informed that it would give an ounce a ton but the battery was only giving two dwt (a tenth of an ounce) per ton. After considerable work on Butler's reef, which resulted in the reef becoming small and poor, I gave up work here at great loss.

The bankrupt then went on to say in his lengthy statement that his workmen were pressing for payment of their wages, and since he had no means to pay them, he had to file his petition. He attributed all his difficulties to the Jubilee mine. By selling his interest in the Fame-and-Fortune Mine, he had been able to pay his way until now but these shares were no longer saleable. A refusal of some of the shareholders to pay more calls had brought things to a deadlock. He had paid 3,317 in calls on the Fame-and-Fortune mine, his unsecured creditors amounted to 793, and his total assets 5,355, remarking that the amount of his assets will greatly depend on the money the properties that he held as securities were sold for.

Thames Advertiser 26 July 1893:

Supreme Court, Auckland: Proof of debt of A & G Price in the bankrupt estate of Edward Kersey Cooper. The bankrupt filed his schedule last October, and shortly afterwards, the creditors allowed him six months leave to visit London to sell a certain mining property. An extra two months was allowed, making eight months in all. The bankrupt was not yet back, and he had been unable to raise the capital. Proof of debt in the case of Wingate and Co, and John Hague Smith in the same estate was also allowed.

Auckland Star 24 September 1894:

Supreme Court, Auckland. Mr Stewart applied for an order of discharge to be granted to Edward Kersey Cooper. The debtor had paid his creditors 10 shillings in the pound in cash and handed over certain shares. The Official Assignee thought the man had done his best to pay his debts, and there was no opposition. The order to discharge was made.

In December 1895, the Mine was managed by Mr Raithby as general supervisor, with mining operations under the control of the mine manager, William Christie. By then he had found the reef, and they were described as working on ore obtained from "the slip on the western side of the Waitekauri blow." By the end of 1895, they had built a battery and cyanide plant connected to the mine by a tramway.

Jubilee Mine
The Waitekauri Jubilee Mine showing the main drive of the mine and the water race coming in from above.
Source: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections NZG-18970313-310-3
Click to enlarge the photo.

The Mine owes its present existance to the persistance of Kersey Cooper who wanted to revive the prestige of the district and develop the resources of the Waitekauri Goldfield. The mine had been under offer to an English syndicate for some time. By the end of 1895, they had accepted the offer, so future operations would depend largely on them.'

At this time, the latest developement in the mine was the discovery of a new lode, three feet thick. It followed the general course of the reef system of the Waitekauri District which was northeast by southwest but unusually, there was an underlie to the west. They drove on this lode for a length of 50 feet, and it assayed well. Crushing had not started at the battery because they were waiting for the cyanide plant to be completed.

In the meantime, a new low level of the mine was started from the north side of the spur which overlooked the Waitekauri township. It was 300 feet below the lowest existing level of the mine, known as the Home Level and put in from the same side of the range.

In the new low level, a reef, thought to be the main Waitekauri reef was followed for a length of 50 feet before a slide (fault) intervened and cut the quartz off. At this stage, the direction of the level was changed to east and west, with the hope of picking up the lode again. The drive was in for 500 feet but had still not picked up the lode again. At the face of the lode, it was 900 feet vertically beneath the outcrop of the reef on the surface.

No proper working plan of this extensive mine had ever been made but Harry Adams was preparing one for the owners. It was felt that, with the details of the whole mine, the managers would be able to define the position of the reef before deciding on a new plan of action.

main drive
The main drive of the Waitekauri Jubilee Mine in 1897.
Source: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections NZG-18970313-310-3
Click to enlarge the photo.

The drive at the Jubilee mine is being put in for the public benefit because the New Zealand Government subsidised it by contributing 750 towards the cost. However, no subsidy will be paid until after 1,000 feet of driving is complete. It has been determined that 3,000 feet will need to be driven before they can expect to meet with the main lode.

The Mine Manager, Mr Christie has sunk a winze (a shaft that starts in a tunnel) on the Home level directly under the winze of the old Waitekauri lode but when the depth of 30 feet was reached, he was beaten back by water. The lode was 4 feet wide and contained good gold but the best ore was on the top where it assayed at 3 to 5 a ton, for a width of 18 inches.

Auckland Star 30 April 1898:

Waitekauri Jubilee Company: This company is at present employing a large number of men making extensive alterations to the battery, which will be completed soon. Once crushing operations begin, it is estimated that the Company has enough payable dirt paddocked to keep the battery going constantly for the next twelve months.

Auckland Star 7 June 1898:

The Waitekauri Jubilee Company, after spending a considerable sum of money, have now completed the alterations to their battery and have started up five head of stampers. The whole twenty head will soon be fully working, and judging by the quartz lying ready for crushing, they should soon have regular returns. While the battery was being built, a large amount of preparatory work has been accomplished by the manager Mr Barney, as initiated by his predecessor, Mr Raithby. A large staff of men are now working in the mine and battery, including an assayer and engineer. The Jubilee will shortly be added to the list of our bullion producers.

Auckland Star 7 July 1898:

An accident occurred in the Waitekauri Jubilee Mine on June 18. Francis, timekeeper was endeavouring to stop a bucket which it appears had got loose on the aerial trams, and he was struck and knocked down. He had several ribs broken, besides sustaining a scalp wound on the head. Dr Buckly promptly attended and rendered all assistance possible. Francis had a narrow escape from being badly smashed.

Auckland Star 29 August 1898:

Robert Roy McGregor, a miner working in the Waitekauri Jubilee Mine was killed when going on shift at midnight on Sunday. It appears the deceased and his mate, Robinson, went down in the bucket, with the depth of the shaft being 200 feet. When they were 175 feet down, their light went out. Robinson heard a thud and cried out, "Are you hurt?" but got no reply. Then he felt McGregor fall over towards him and gave the signal for the bucket to be raised. When this was done, McGregor was found to be dead, his skull having been fractured. Exactly how the accident occurred is uncertain, but it is thought that the crossbar which works above the men's head to keep the rope in position, got jammed above. When it was loosened, it came down with a rush and struck McGregor. His hair and blood were found on the bar. Dr Forbes was called in but pronounced life extinct. McGregor was a native of Wanganui, and his people were well-to-do.

Auckland Star 24 September 1898:

A serious accident occurred at the Waitekauri Jubilee mine last night. It appears that sparks from a small engine used in one of the drives set fire to the timbers supporting the wall, with the result that the timbers gave way and a large block of ground caved in, entombing two miners named Wallace and Graham who were at work in the face. Rescue work has been going on all day but so far, the imprisoned men have not been reached. Air compressors are at work, and the hope is that the men will be rescued. The Mining Inspector passed through Paeroa on his way to the scene of the accident.

Auckland Star 29 September 1898:

The dead body of Graham was recovered on Saturday evening, hanging over a slab three feet from the bottom of the man-hole leading from Christie's drive into the Queen Drive. The unfortunate man had evidently known the best means of exit but was suffocating before reaching the pure air in the Queen level. Wallace's body could not be recovered, and it is thought he must have endeavoured to escape by the same level as he had entered, namely Christie's and was overcome by smoke. The Jubilee miners and volunteers made desperate efforts to penetrate the mine in search of the lost miners, but they were driven back. Mr Barney, the mine manager was lowered down the winze by a rope and was hauled up in a fainting condition. Yesterday, every opening which could admit air into the mine was blocked up in order to put the fire out. It is thought that it could be a week before the mine can be reopened.

New details of how the accident occurred has been released: An engine had been placed in a chamber cut out in the Moonstone level, from which level, there was a rise (shaft) to the Christie's level. Above Christie's level, another rise led to the surface. The smokestack from the engine was carried up the first rise nearly to Christie's level, and from there, the smoke went up the open rise. Another rise, further in along Christie's drive, also led to the surface. Wallace and Graham came to work along Christie's drive, then up the second rise 28 feet, and were working in the face of the intermediate level from the rise. The second rise also led down to another level, the Queen, and it was along this level and up the second rise that the search parties came and discovered Graham's body with one leg hanging over a slab. Wallace was probably lying between where Graham was found and the point where the fire broke out, at the top of the flume. Everything possible was done to find Wallace but to no avail.

The search parties got up the second rise and into the level where the men had been working but found it impossible to get along Christie's level towards the fire. In any case, it is probable that both men discovered the smoke long before it was noticed by the engineer below, and tried to escape before the alarm was given below.

The sad fate of the two miners has cast a gloom over Waitekauri, with business being suspended. The fate of the unfortunate men is the sole subject of conversation throughout the whole district.

Wallace's true name is Stevens. He is about 36 years of age and comes from Tasmania. His body was found on 21st October crouched on a heap of mullock at the end of No 1 level.

Barton Adams Graham was a single man, 26 years old, with a brother living in Waihi and his parents in Otago. He had been working in the district for about two years, and at the Jubilee for a month.

Jubilee Battery Waitekauri, scene of the recent disaster, 1898.
Source: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections NZG-18981001-435-0
Click to enlarge the photo.

Thames Star 28 October 1898:

It is estimated that four month's steady work will be needed to repair the damage caused by the fire in the Waitekauri Jubilee Mine.

Despite the optimism expressed in this brief report, the mine did not recover following the fire. It is likely that the fire devasted the finances of the Company or the structure of the mine or both. With three accidents in three months, two of them fatal and a large out-of-control fire, doubt would have been cast on the ability of management to be capable of running a large mine. Shareholders had just outlaid a large sum of money for a massive 20 stamper battery, with cyanide plant and aerial tramway as well as the new multiple levels dug in the mine. Under the circumstances, the shareholders would be unwilling to stump up more cash for repairs, and the Company folded. They did not even continue long enough to process the quartz they had waiting beside the battery. When the owners subsequently let the mine out on tribute, the tributers gained the benefit of the paddocked quartz.

Auckland Star 18 July 1899:

Waitekauri Jubilee: Worth and Francis, local mining men, have taken on the Waitekauri Jubilee on tribute for 12 months, and are making preparations to start work. Ten head of stampers will be used for crushing, and as there is a large paddock of quartz available for immediate crushing, the tributers should get an early return. It is understood that operations will be carried on with 8 men, and Mr Noakes has been employed as the battery superintendant.

Auckland Star 4 September 1899:

Robert Worth lodged 109 oz of bullion, valued at about 300 at the Bank of New Zealand in Paeroa today. This was the result of a clean-up at the Jubilee Mine, Waitekauri, after Worth and his party of tributers had a two weeks' run with 10 head of stamps. A considerable amount of dead work has been done in the mine, opening up the levels destroyed some time ago by fire. In a week or so, the mine will be opened up enough to run the battery continuously.

Auckland Star 26 October 1899:

Worth and his party of tributers in the Waitekauri Jubilee have cleaned up for bullion valued at 316. A large number of men have been employed repairing drives and opening up levels.

Auckland Star 23 November 1899:

Worth and Hollis, tributers in the Waitekauri Jubilee mine have had another crushing and sent in a bar of bullion weighing 127oz which should be worth about 285.

Thames Star 19 January 1900:

Monthly return for the Waitekauri Jubilee tribute: 486.

Thames Star 22 March 1900:

The Waitekauri Jubilee mine has been let on tribute for some time, and the men are on good stone. Unfortunately the scarcity of water is restricting operations to one shift.

Auckland Star 25 October 1900:

Mr E. Kersey Cooper, who was originally in charge of the Waitekauri Jubilee property passed through Paeroa today on his way to Waitekauri to again begin work on the claim. He intends to put in a low level tunnel to open up the reefs at a depth. It will have an important effect on mining in Waitekauri if his efforts to make a payable mine of this property are successful.

Auckland Star 23 September 1901:

Abritrationn Court Proceedings in the Miner's Dispute: Edward Kersey Cooper, examined by Mr Rhodes M.P., said, with regard to the condition of the mining industry, he had been connected with it for 21 years, and had been to London five times. He regarded the industry as in a very tottering condition, and it cannot stand any rise in wages. He is the manager of the Fame-and-Fortune and Jubilee mines, and it is necessary that both these companies be reconstructed, or they must shut down. The way things are now, he cannot see how they can be reconstructed. He could not get enough money locally to buy candles to keep men working for a week. All the money he had spent during the past year has come from London.

Auckland Star 23 April 1902:

Waitekauri Jubilee: Mr Kersey Cooper, accompanied by the mine manager of the Jubilee Company, proceeded this morning to Waitekauri. Mr Cooper is hopeful of ultimate success. No definite information is available as to the result of his trip to London but it is stated to have been satisfactory.

Te Aroha News 27 April 1907:

We have heard through indirect sources of the death at Home of Mr Edward Kersey Cooper who has long been known in the Thames and Waitekauri districts as a mining enthusiast. Mr and Mrs Cooper were in Te Aroha on a visit in February 1906, before returning to England.

Jubilee Workings, Waitekauri Today

Video of the Jubilee Workings as they are today from the Famous in the Maratoto team

The old gold miners had a mad rush up the Waitekauri and stripped it clean of what little there was! Now we have relics and tunnels all over the place. Just a short video of heading up the paper road, onto logging road then into some tunnels of the Jubilee Workings. As the truck comes to a stop, that hill in view is full of tunnels. We managed to get into most, though the loggers have buried some of the entrances, and could be dug out. The depth of outside shaft is approximately 180mtrs, big rock shaft 160 meters to the adit. At a later date, we found the entrance to adit but sadly it had collapsed at the entrance.

Shaft coordinates E1844365.6,N5859501.2

  1. Edward Kersey Cooper: mine manager and mine owner in Hauraki by Philip Hart.(2016) University of Waikato Research Commons.
  2. Jubilee Claim, Chook's Tracks. Ohinemuri Reginal History Journals.
Home Journal