Rushing for Gold: Life and Commerce on the Goldfields of New Zealand and Australia
Edited by Lloyd Carpenter and Lyndon Fraser (Otago University Press, $45)
Reviewed by Judith Morrell Nathan
This work arose from a conference held in 2012 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Otago gold rushes. The conference was hosted, not as you might expect by the University of Otago, but jointly by the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University where the book’s editors are on the staff. The 20 diverse contributors include seven Australians.
The subheading of this book is somewhat misleading. It is in fact almost entirely confined to the Otago rushes and their links with the rushes in Victoria. The result is a work that provides new insights into the Otago rushes – for example the extent of the two-way traffic between Otago and Victoria, and the cultural diversity of the goldfields, making Central Otago the least Scottish part of Otago-Southland.
The first section focuses particularly on the Victorian connections – commercial, legal, mining and personal, including migration statistics. But for me the most interesting chapters were in the middle sections about the people of the goldfields. Lloyd Carpenter’s chapter on Māori showed that they were aware of gold in various places before its discovery by Pākehā; there were also Māori miners in Australia, California and the Yukon.