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Home arrow Human Interest arrow Local arrow Ngunguru Bush Mystery (1917)
Ngunguru Bush Mystery (1917) PDF Print
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Human Interest - Local
Written by The Northern Advocate 1917   
Saturday, 17 March 2012


Northern Advocate, 3 May 1917

A mystery which at present seems incapable of solution is reported by the Advocate's correspondent at Ngunguru. Rather gruesome concomitants are connected with the affair, which is likely to remain in the region of surmise, on account of its comparative antiquity, unless some very old identity is able to throw light upon the event from assured knowledge of linking events which happened fully half a century ago.

A few days ago a native, of Ngunguru, named Whare Amos, while sowing grass seed on a newly burnt bush clearing, noticed a shilling on the ground, and on looking round saw another coin of the same denomination. Prospects of a ready-made silver mine (at least) induced him to make further investigations. He succeeded so far that he came across ten sovereigns, a half-sovereign, and 2 9s 6d in silver.

The remains of a human skeleton scattered about the vicinity, seemed to indicate that someone who had perished there was accountable for the coin distribution. The gold coins were found all in a heap, as though they had been wrapped in a separate parcel, or contained in a purse.

The locality of the find is on the Ngunguru side of the dividing ridge between Ngunguru and Tutukaka, about half a chain from the track which was used by the natives in passing from one place to the other many years ago. The latest date on any coin (a sovereign) is 1853, placing the occurrence at least fifty years distant. The earliest dated coins were a shilling and a half-crown, of George the Third's reign (1816). One conjecture is that some runaway sailor left his ship at Bay of Islands with the intention of travelling across country to Auckland, and that on the road he was overtaken by sickness or enfeebled by starvation, and laid down in his last sleep.

The Maori theory is that an old man named Taiamu, who disappeared from the Ngunguru settlement many years ago, is identical with the remains found; but it appears that Taiamu's body was found some years beyond the date which the coins indicate, in the Mill Creek, Waiotoe, by some natives from Rotorua who visited Waiotoe to dig gum, on a royalty basis.

Near the remains in the present instance a tomahawk of European manufacture was found, but as the carrying of such an implement in those days was quite an accepted practice, there is no tragic suggestion in the connection. The skull of the victim (if so he may be called) was found at a considerable distance from the other parts, and it has all the characteristics of European race. Buttons also found, in a state of advanced decay, also indicate that the remains are those of a man who, at the time of his demise, wore a reefer jacket as commonly worn by sailors of the period.

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