Despite a poor education, and with no formal engineering qualifications, Henry Hopper Adams became a mine manager at Waiorongomai (five kilometres to the east of Te Aroha), Ohinemuri and then Thames goldfields. He managed engineering and contracting work and amongst other things trialled a new cyanide process for separating out gold. Dr Philip Hart has written extensively about Adams’s career in his ‘Henry Hopper Adams: a Te Aroha miner who became a mine owner’ (available online via Waikato University’s Research Commons).
In 1895, Adams dismantled his house, which was on leased land near Waiorongomai, and had it re-erected at Takapuna. Adams had initially purchased five acres of land around Lake Pupuke in July 1886 and by July 1897 had increased his holdings to over 24 acres. That land formed the basis of his Tahoroto Park estate, which Adams mortgaged to help fund his mining investments back in Thames. From 1898, the family lived in ‘Tower House’ in Kowhai Street, Takapuna.
Adams also built a second house on that estate, leased that out and then bought another 42 acres in the immediate area. In 1912 he bought the adjoining ‘Greydene’ house, which had previously been owned by Carl Franz ‘Frank’ Fischer, of whom I have previously written about in ‘Channel’. In 1944 and 1945, a son, Albert Augustine Adams (1878-1953), was subdividing part of the remaining ‘Greydene’ property.
Adam also leased land from the nearby Catholic endowment of land, hoping to develop it for farming, and between 1916 and 1926 endeavoured to have Maori settlers on parts of that land trespassed.
I have also written about this in the past.
While still very much involved with his goldmining operations, Adams also promoted the dredging of a canal to Barrys Point to allow for passenger ferries and the opening up of that area for settlement. From 1906, he invested in the Takapuna Tramway and Ferry Company and hoped that would lead to a boom in local land sales. Accordingly, he had his Taharoto estate subdivided in 1911, with sections made available for purchase. However, in 1912 he then promoted the idea of the Waitemata County Council taking over ownership of the tram and ferry service, as Takapuna Borough Council didn’t yet exist. This support for ‘municipalisation’ was likely because the financial returns he hoped for didn’t eventuate.
From 1912 Adams milled kauri and other timbers at Barrys Point; any profits went towards his increasingly troubled mining ventures. Nevertheless, in 1908 Adams’s stone crusher at the Lake was described as a ‘white elephant’ and the timber mill was later cashed up. His son, Albert Augustine, also operated a small scoria quarry on land between Lake View Road and the edge of Lake Pupuke (around half way between Rangitira Road and Kowhai Street and around 10 metres above the lake level).
From 1902, Henry Hopper Adams served on the Thames County Council, from 1905 on the Thames Drainage Board and from 1906 also on the Thames Harbour Board. In May 1905 he was also elected unopposed to the Takapuna Ward of the Waitemata County Council, where he served 18 years until 1923. He was also elected to the Auckland Harbour Board in 1911, serving also until 1923, and he served on the Takapuna Borough Council from 1914 to 1915. At the time, Adams was moving regularly between his residence in Takapuna and his business interests in the Thames area.
However, Adams’s mining operations increasingly lost money and at his death his remaining assets, including land, mining claims and licences, passed to his wife Eliza. In July 1930, nearly 16 acres of his Takapuna land, along with the scoria and blue metal quarry and his nine-room house were all put up for auction. In the 1930s, Eliza managed what remained of his assets and died in 1949, aged 92.
My thanks to Philip Hart for checking this piece, David Verran.
By David Verran