Volume 4

Alfred Shepherd

Christine Clement

Alfred Shepherd was said to have been born in Yorkshire in 1847 and came to New Zealand in 1868 spending time on the West Coast gold diggings. He was said to done well there and made a return trip to England. He then returned to New Zealand and went to the Thames gold fields. On the 5 April 1874 Alfred married Mary Christie at St Bridget's Roman Catholic Church, Grahamstown at the northern end of present Thames.

Between 1868 and 1871 gold production in the Thames area topped £1,000,000 at its peak and it was soon the second-largest city in New Zealand after Dunedin. Alfred was a gold miner until 1881 when he acquired a hotel at Waitekauri, north of Waikino. He began advertising in the Thames Star on the 17 October 1881: -

Alfred Shepherd
Respectfully desires to inform visitors to the district and all his old friends
that having taken the above Hotel he is prepared to supply the Best Brands of
Ales, Spirits, Wines, Cordials etc, etc
Meals at all hours
Good stabling and feed for horses.

In early 1882 Alfred, John McCombie and some friends discovered a large gold bearing reef at Karangahake, an area over-shadowed by a towering peak which gives the area its name. It soon became obvious that gold mining in that area was going to boom so in October 1883 Alfred began building a hotel on Battery Flat on the south bank of the Ohinemuri River at Karangahake. The Thames Star reported that the hotel would “…contain thirteen rooms and will be furnished with all the etceteras of civilised life.” Unfortunately in November there were massive floods and a quantity of timber which was at the Paeroa landing for the new hotel was swept away. At the December 1883 Ohinemuri Licensing Board meeting Alfred applied for the transfer of his license from the Tramway Hotel at Waitekauri to the Tramway Hotel, at Karangahake. As the mines were all on the south bank, the river the settlement's first store, hotel and Post Office were built there.

At the time there were no bridges across the river and goods were carted from Paeroa to Mackaytown and then lowered with the aid of ropes and windlass down the steep hill behind the hotel. In 1885 a swing bridge was erected. A store was built next to the hotel including the post office and on the 1 April 1888 Alfred became the Karangahake postmaster.

Mary Shepherd not only had to feed a multitude of men who worked and drank hard and often operated the hotel as a hospital. Help was hard to come by and most of the cooking was done on an open fire. The hotel was originally a small cottage but later a second storey was added and the hotel then contained thirty rooms with a large dining room for twenty-five guests. There were fifteen bedrooms and four sitting rooms. Alfred ran an electrical generator from a small creek behind the hotel, but when the river and creek rose, water often flowed through the hotel. In December 1897 Alfred sold the hotel to L D Nathan & Co, Auckland brewers though had already moved to Katikati. The hotel burnt down on the 16 September 1906. A replacement hotel was soon built but again burnt to the ground on the 20 February 1916 and was not rebuilt.

Alfred Shepherd was involved with many gold claims including; - 6 February 1878 Old Siam with others, 9 July 1883 Waitekauri United with others, 12 August 1885 Sunny Corner, 26 November 1885 shareholder in the Woodstock Gold & Silver Mining & Smelting Co Ltd, 15 April 1889 Roderick Dhu, 4 September 1890 Talisman at Karangahake, 26 February 1891 Bonanza, 20 June 1896 Riotanto No 1 and 3 at Katikati and 20 January 1897 Rioalta No 3 claim at Katikati.

Of his claims the Talisman was the most successful and the Thames Star of the 23 May 1892 noted that 'Mr A. Shepherd has a small staff at work in the Talisman and some first class assays have been made from the stone to hand, carrying from £4 19s to £97 per ton in bulk tests'. The Talisman, Crown and Woodstock claims were on the Karangahake mountainside. On the 2 June 1900 the Thames Start reported that the '…ground recently awarded to Alfred Shepherd by Warden's Court was placed on the Auckland market at £30 per share and were largely over-applied for…The ground comprising the sixty five acres of this claim is considered by experts to be one of the most valuable on the Thames goldfield. When formed, the company will have about £600 to its credit.' The directors were Alfred Shepherd, James Hawkes, Edward McDonnell, R G Mackay and William Bailey. By 1905 the Talisman had increased from the original 30 acres to 506 acres by taking over the Bonanza Claim (1896), the Talisman Extended, Royal Mail, Victor-Waihou, and finally Woodstock claim in 1904. In 1906 the first dividend of £30,000 was paid out. The Talisman finally closed in 1918/19 and is said to have yielded around £3 million.

The older Shepherd children had attended Mackaytown School but were first day pupils when the Karangahake School opened in 1889.

On 21 May 1894, Ivy Shepherd was enrolled in the Waiotahi Scool by A. Shepherd so the family must have returned to the Thames district briefly. On the 4 September 1896 the Bay of Plenty Times reported that 'Mr A Shepherd notifies that he has taken over the hotel at Katikati latterly conducted by Mr B MacDonell and has changed the name to the Talisman Hotel.' The first advertisements read: -

Late Uretara Hotel
Alfred Shepherd of the Tramway Hotel, Karangahake has taken over this favourite hotel
so long carried on by Mr B MacDonnell
The house has been renovated and refurnished and travellers will have every comfort and attention.
Best Brands of Wines and Spirits
Brown Campbell & Hancock's XXXX Ales and Stout

The Talisman Hotel was described as having seventeen rooms exclusive of those required for the use of the family. Alfred operated the Talisman Hotel until March 1901 when at the Tauranga Licensing Board meeting the license for the Talisman Hotel, Katikati was transferred from A Shepherd to Robert Knox, late of Paroa Bay. On the 26 April 1904 the Bay of Plenty Times began advertising: -

C F Wigley, late steward on the ss Taniwha, in announcing to the public that he has taken over the above hotel, invites one and all to enjoy the attractions which his hotel, from its position and management affords.
The Best is provided for both Man and Beast.
Among the chief attractions of the district, around the hotel are
Good shooting, fishing and boating
THERMAL SPRINGS AND HOT NATURAL BATHS (Mr E F Buckworth's) within twenty minutes' drive of the hotel and an OSTRICH FARM (Rev W Kattern's) within ten minutes' walk of the hotel.
THE TABLE will be under the personal supervision of the Proprietor which should be a guarantee to the public of its appointment being of the best.
This interesting Pleasure Resort is about two hours' drive from Waihi and three and a half from Tauranga.
Parties of more than TEN are asked to wire the Proprietor
C F WIGLEY, Proprietor[1]

Talisman Hotel, Katikati

Alfred Shepherd had purchased Mr Ross's 500 acre property adjoining the old No 3 School in September 1900 and had a fourteen room house built by W J Gray. Alfred called his farm York Park. His two sons worked the farm. In 1901 Alfred became involved with the formation of the Katikati Co-operative Dairy Company and was chosen as the first chairman. The new factory opened on the 6 January 1902 on the north bank of the Waitekohe River (now Forta Leza).

Unfortunately Alfred Shepherd was not a well man. On the 28 November 1888[2] he had been thrown from his horse on the way to a funeral at Paeroa. He was seriously injured and was unconscious and was thought to be suffering from concussion of the spine and brain. He was never the same again and everyone helped do what they could. He was often reported as unwell and for almost a year he ran an advertisement in the Bay of Plenty Times advising that he would not be responsible for any debts contracted by his wife or family which must have been of great embarrassment to them. After 1906 Alfred disappeared and his death date or place is unknown. In June 1906 the house, now at 110 Walker Road East was sold to the Walker Bros then later to the Merriman family.


Thames Star, Ohinemuri Gazette, Bay of Plenty Times
The Shepherd Family of Karangahake - Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 14, October 1970, Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 15, June 1971
The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District] - Karangahake (The Cyclopedia Company, Limited, 1902, Christchurch)
Karangahake township - Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 44, September 2000
Talisman Mine - Karangahake - Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 43, September 1999
Tramway Hotel, Karangahake - Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 32, September 1988


[1] Charles Foster Wigley married Fanny de la Roche in 1892. In 1899 Charles was listed as steward of Holly House, Onehunga and on the 5 June 1901 he applied for an accommodation license along with Robert Knox for '…a house known by the sign of the Talisman Hotel, situate at Katikati, containing fourteen rooms exclusive of those required for the use of the family.' The owner of premises was given as L. D. Nathan and Co., Auckland. The Wigley's do not appear to have had any children but on the 25 September 1911 Arthur Richard and Percy Norris were enrolled at Katikati No.2 School under C F Wigley. By the 1910 Wise Directory Charles Wigley is listed as a butcher of Katikati. He died in January 1944 and Fanny in September 1955. They are both buried in the Katikati cemetery.
[2] Thames Star, Volume XX, Issue 6131, 29 November 1888, Page 2


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