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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 2 (May 1, 1937)

Frenchman's Gold

page 96

Frenchman's Gold

“And some we got by barter and some we got by trade,
And some we took by courtesy of pike and carronade.”

In the early half of the nineteenth century it was customary for vessels visiting New Zealand to make their landfall at the Cascades (South Island); those three gleaming ribands of water being so distinctive as to preclude any danger of confusion in the similarity of landscape.

During this period a French barque, carrying, in addition to a general cargo, a considerable amount of specie, arrived off the Cascades. Her crew had mutinied and the five survivors of the well-contested battle took to the beach, carrying with them in many trips the gold which formed the most valuable part of the loot.

Transport and roads being alike nonexistent, left them with no alternative but to bury the swag in a cave and pursue a painful and perilous journey to Greymouth by way of the beaches. Sodden with the continuous crossing of flooded and treacherous rivers, lumpy with the bites of mosquitoes by night and sand-flies by day, and staggering on the verge of exhaustion from a diet whose basis was shellfish, four of them ultimately reached civilisation. One of the party, unable to stand the hardships of the trail had fallen sick and taken shelter in the pa of some friendly natives. He was the lucky one, his companions being apprehended and handed over to the captain of a French warship, who incontinently hanged the lot of them.

The sole survivor of the gang later reached white men's dwellings and settled down in the district where Westport now stands. His honesty may be taken as read: his poverty was indubitable, inasmuch as he was never able to save enough money for the charter of a vessel to pick up the hidden loot. Dying, he handed over to his son a map with the necessary bearings marked on it, showing the locality of the mutineer's bullion.

Ridicule provided an even more exasperating handicap to the son than poverty had proved to the father, for the West Coast miners to whom he went with his tale had gold enough and troubles enough of their own without fitting out an expedition to salve a hypothetical hoard which might well have existed only in the rum-inspired romances of the old mutineer. The tale gradually assumed the proportion of a legend and the Coasters refused to regard it as anything else. When it was mentioned they laughed, bought the mentioner a drink—and let it go at that.

It was left to the city whose residents spend the Saturday afternoons but keep the Sabbath, to outfit a party which left Dunedin and landing at Jackson's Bay made a strenuous but futile effort to locate the treasure. The rusted remnants of their equipment may still be seen scattered about where they were abandoned.

(A. Vaugham.) Lake Wahapo, Westland, South. Island, New Zealand.

(A. Vaugham.)
Lake Wahapo, Westland, South. Island, New Zealand.

In the immediate vicinity of the alleged “plant” the tradition still persists. Ask Arawata Bill, that lean old devotee of pick and gold-pan, and he will assure you with more or less lurid emphasis that the gold is there, that he has been within measurable distance of it, but—that tragic tantalising word!

Ask the Nolans or the Crons and they will laugh the idea to scorn— but curiously enough, with a note of belief underlying the laughter. True or false the “Frenchman's Gold” is one of the accepted legends of South Westland.

Is it worth looking for? Who knows?

page 97

The Gateway To The Capital
Continued from p. 25.)

Stairways from this floor lead respectively to a flat roof along the south side (where an excellent view is obtained of the city and surroundings) and to the staff tea and social rooms on the west and north sides.

The main office entrance, however, is the one near the Waterloo Quay side. Here the office of the Chief Messenger and the mail room are on the right while on the left a stairway and two lifts serve the floors above. On the first floor the Comptroller of Stores and his staff occupy the eastern half of the main front and the Mechanical and Workshops' Branch spread over the remainder. The Superintendent of Workshops and his production staff front Waterloo Quay and further on are the Locomotive Superintendent, Chief Clerk and Locomotive Drawing Office. The drawing office has natural light on three sides. Facing the station on the western side of this wing are the Locomotive Designing Engineer, Office Engineer, inspecting officers and records.

Along the north wall are the Electric Traction Engineer and staff and the typistes' room and rest room. On all floors similarly a small rest room is located handy to the typistes' room.

The second floor accommodates the Land Officer and his staff fronting Bunny Street with the Afforestation Officer just round the corner. The Chief Engineer's Branch occupies the whole Waterloo Quay wing on this floor, the Assistant Chief Engineer, Chief Engineer, Designing Engineer and Assistant Designing Engineer face the harbour, the drawing office occupies the north end and continuing round the station side are the plan room and the offices of the Inspecting Engineer, Chief Clerk and clerical staff. The District Engineer and staff occupy the site along the north wall overlooking the concourse roof.

The Bunny Street Facade to the new Railway Station, Wellington. (Rly. Publicity photo.)

The Bunny Street Facade to the new Railway Station, Wellington. (Rly. Publicity photo.)

On the third floor the Refreshment Branch and the Suggestions and Inventions Committee room extend along the south side and the General Manager's records and the General Manager's typistes occupy the balance of this floor on this side of the building.

The fourth floor has the General Manager's suite and the Transportation and Publicity Branches. Fronting Waterloo Quay is a large room for deputations and conferences, then the First Assistant General Manager's office and that of the General Manager's secretary. The General Manager's office is along the northern front with a waiting room adjoining and an office for his personal clerk. The Second Assistant General Manager's office is close at hand on the western wall facing the platforms, and further back on the same side are the Chief Clerk and the Secretarial Branch. The offices of the Publicity manager and his staff, including the staff of the magazine, are along the north wall, and the Transportation Superintendent and his staff on the south-east corner.

On the fifth floor is the photographic and plan printing department, with photostat room, dark rooms and helio-printing room. Outside is a flat roof over the General manager's suite and a plant nursery for the Afforestation Officer is being placed in this roof.

The sixth floor, in addition to the chldren's nursery already mentioned, contains the offices of the Correspondence School, which carries on the instruction of the clerical staff of all branches. Twice yearly examinations test them in the progress made.

A corridor through the latter offices gives access to a flat roof which will undoubtedly be visited by many for the view it affords over the railway yards, the city, the harbour and the Hutt Valley, all fenced about with hills.