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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Flanagan O'Brien Down Under - Part 1 - Hokitika

My upcoming posts about my findings while in search of my O'Brien's Down Under will probably span a few weeks.  I plan to take it somewhat slow and do some homework as I share.  I may even repeat some information that I've already posted.

The big news is that I have now found some O'Brien relatives in Australia and New Zealand who have definitive information about Kate Flanagan (Catherine Mary O'Brien).  It's funny because now I'm not exactly sure where my new found relatives live Down Under.  The correspondence has been brief emails here and there and includes more than one O'Brien descendant.

First and foremost, I want to get my bearing on the location that was presented to me.   Second, I will post a very interesting written piece of history that, while it is not truly a source document, it has incredible merit and is quite the find.  Again, I love the discovery process.  Sometimes, I have to sit on information to allow it to sink in.   I have to digest my findings.

So, my first stop is to discuss Hokitika, New Zealand.  O'Brien's found?  Well yes...for a time.  I will come back to my O'Brien's.  They were in this location (at least some of them) and I am pretty certain now that so was Patrick Flanagan and possibly Michael, too.

In the Maori language, Hokitika means "place of return".  The Arahura River is in the surrounding area which is a source of pounamu (greenstone, New Zeland Jade, or nephrite).  There is a museum in Hokitika that is a history museum where stories of the greenstone, gold, and the "dangerous river port and the lively town" are preserved for visitors to see.  There are many historical sites and buildings in this location.

I think what caught my eye the most was "gold".  Did I just stumble across one of the Flanagan Brother's mining locations?   I suppose I might have just narrowed my search for the location of where Patrick Flanagan went in search of gold.

The West Coast Gold Rush in New Zealand occurred from 1864 to 1867.  Gold was found near the Taramakau River in 1864 by two Maori (indigenous Polynesian people).  Other locations where gold was found around this time were at Okarito, Bruce Bay around Charleston and along the Grey River.

Miners came from Australia from the Central Otago Gold Rush and the Victorian Gold Rush.  The prospectors tended to come to the Hokitika area.   25,000 people lived in this area by 1866.  There were more than 100 pubs too.  By 1867, the gold rush began to decline in this location.

Online, there are some amazing maps showing the mining locations along the west coast of New Zealand.

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