Bethia Bringans

Bethia Bringans

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Article from the "Otago Witness" about Pioneer Gold Miners in Alexandra

The article is about the opening of the Pioneer Gates in Alexandra to commemorate the Pioneer Gold Miners of the Early [18]Sixties. Article mentions W Bringans, along with John Dewar, Pioneer Gold Miner and his wife Mrs J Dewar (Bethia Breingans).

March 16, 1926 OTAGO WITNESS 17


Pioneer’s Gates—In Honour of the Pioneer Gold Miners of the Early Sixties.

Such is the inscription engraved on a plain brass tablet and set in the handsome concrete and iron gates that have been erected at the entrance to the valuable and spacious recreation grounds belonging to the Alexandra Borough, which were opened on Tuesday.

The ceremony of officially opening the gates on the diamond jubilee of the Dunstan gold rush made a happy conclusion to the functions held in connection with the diamond jubilee of the local school, and a gathering, many hundreds strong assembled at 2 o’clock in the afternoon when the Alexandra Band, reinforced by Roxburgh bandsmen, and followed by the pupils and ex-pupils of the Alexandra school, marched through the town and halted in the main street at the entrance to the reserve.

There a dais had been erected where representative early pioneers held honoured position. Amongst these were Richard M’Namara, George Field, John Dewar, Henry Symons, and Patrick Weaver—all original miners—pioneers of the early sixties.


The Mayor, Mr W. Black, said he was very proud to be present at a gathering that had for its object the commemoration of the achievements of the miners in the district 60 years ago. The present generation owed a debt of gratitude to those who had faced innumerable difficulties and journeyed from Dunedin and Lawrence, tramped over the barren hills, endured hardships of all kinds from lack of transport and food supplies, to settle the district. Most of the boroughs in the Otago Central district had been established between the years 1865 and 1875, and Alexandra had been created a borough in 1867. Great public spirit had been shown by the men who came to the district in the early days, and much of their time and energies had been devoted to building up the town.

He would particularly stress the great asset that they had left in the recreation area in the centre of the town, which with the foresight so typical of the early pioneers, had been reserved for the benefit of future generations. When the gates were handed over to the council for safe keeping it would be its pleasant duty to keep them in a state worthy of the object for which they were constructed. The committee of the Dunstan Miners Memorial Gates was to be congratulated on the success that had rewarded its efforts.

The following telegrams from the Prime Minister (the Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates) and the Hon. G. J. Anderson were read by the Mayor:--

With reference to your letter I desire to thank your committee for its invitation to be present at the opening of the memorial gates,” telegraphed Mr Coates.

I regret exceedingly my inability to join with the residents in honouring the pioneer miners, who by their pluck, endurance, and industry blazed the trail of settlement in what has become a progressive and flourishing district. I extend my good wishes for a successful function.

The Hon. G. J. Anderson telegraphed:--

My thanks for your cordial invitation to attend opening of the memorial gates. I exceedingly regret that my public engagements will not permit me to attend, and I am gratified to know that the splendid services rendered not only to Otago but to the Dominion by the pioneer miners are being remembered. I most heartily congratulate the committee and all associated with the erection of the memorial.


As chairman of the committee, Mr C. Weaver greeted pioneers—old and young. The gates had been constructed with money obtained from the residue of the Dunstan Diamond Jubilee Fund in 1912 together with a generous donation from the Soldiers’ Memorial Committee and a Government subsidy. They were erected as a tribute to the fine character of the men who came to the district in the sixties and without giving any undue praise, he thought that the traits of character in the early pioneers were reflected in the children of the present day.

In 1863 the gold rush started in New Zealand, and not long after two miners named Hartley and Riley came to the district and took 80lb of gold out of the river near Cromwell. They had made their start from Fraser’s Earnscleugh Station, and their discovery was the origin of the great rush to the district which populated the town of Alexandra.

Praise was due to the officers of the Public Works Department who helped with the plans of the gates.

Two of the pioneers present, Messrs J. Dewar and G. Fields, then unveiled the memorial tablet amidst cheers and applause.

A member of the committee, Mr C. Murphy, also spoke.

“If ever there were ‘sports’ and Empire builders, they were those early pioneers,” he said in the course of a vigorous speech.

The gates were then thrown open, and an impromptu sports meeting in the recreation ground was continued throughout the afternoon. In the evening a public ball was held in the Alexandra Hall, which was gaily decorated for the occasion.

The jubilee celebrations were voted a complete success in every way by the hundreds who took part, and great credit is due to the organising work carried out by a strong committee, consisting of the following ladies and gentlemen:--Messrs C. Weaver (president), W. Bringans, W. Hewitt, A. M’Kellar, A. Bruce, W. Black, C. B. Robertson and E. J. Terry (joint secretaries), W. Mechaelis (rector of the school), E. Iversen, J. D. Thomson, and G. Watts, Mesdames W. M’Leod, J. Dewar, K. Scott, S. Cameron, P. C. Brent, J. H. Rivers, F. Duncombe, and G. Smith. The initial work accomplished by them was very great, and with the large numbers of ex-residents arriving as visitors to the jubilee and with the great amount of detail work to be attended to……..

Linked toBethia Bringans; William Bringans; John Dewar

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