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Life in Early Poverty Bay

Hectic Days on the West Coast

Hectic Days on the West Coast.

Those were the first hectic days of the rush to the newly discovered gold-fields of the West Coast. Strong persuasion was offered to the Victorian barrister to go there. Probably he needed little urging. Shortly we find him moving his household, consisting of mother and sister, as well as wife and two bairns, to Hokitika. Three exciting years followed. Events moved with dramatic swiftness. People made sudden fortunes—were as suddenly beggared. Untimely death lurked on the rock-strewn coast with its dangerous bar-harbors, and its encroaching ocean; in the swift floods in the Bealey and other mountain torrents which had to be forded by travellers; at the hands of bushrangers hidden in the forest along the course of the Buller, the only track to Nelson; in the hasty quarrels of the diggers; in the threatened clash between Fenians and Orangemen. Fortunately, the last danger was averted; but buildings were burned, a great procession organised in honor of the victims of the “Manchester Murders” and a cross erected to their memory in the cemetery, guarded night and day by an armed body of the malcontents. On the other side, most of the loyalists were enrolled as special constables and patrolled the streets every night. Orangemen threatened to cut down the rebel cross in spite of the guard. And cut down it was one wild night when the guard had sought temporary shelter.