The Rees - True South

The Tiring Battle

tiringbattle1-small.jpgThe formal proclamation of the Wakatipu Gold Fields at the beginning of 1863 plunged Rees into a tiring battle to hold onto his rapidly vanishing dream of a great farm on an idyllic lake shore.

By now, the Wakatipu district was studded with rough-and-tumble mining communities, inhabited by rambunctious, colourful characters like One-eyed Jimmy, Captain Moonlight, Bully Hayes, the Buckinghams, and the bard of the goldfields, Charles Thatcher.

tiringbattle2-small.jpgUnable to turn back the clock, WG turned to the courts. He fought and lost a case to exercise pre-emptive rights to land surrounding his homestead in Queenstown. In the end, he had to purchase his lots in the town like everyone else. He was more successful with his claim to compensation from the Otago Provincial Council for loss of large tracts of his grazing land.

Midway through 1864, the Council announced settlement of the claim – without revealing its terms. Rees and his partners were rumoured to have received 10,000 pounds for the loss of grazing rights to over 240,000 acres.

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